Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort

Many years ago, a lifelong passion for hotels was born at Walt Disney World. Over the course of our many family vacations, I fell in love with the Disney resorts, and their ability to transport guests to far off lands. Disney's "Imagineers" accomplished this by immersing guests in the theme of each resort. At the Polynesian, we are taken to a remote island in the Pacific, while the Contemporary teleports us years into the future. Sadly, at Disney's newer resorts theme has taken a backseat to what is cost effective. In the Wilderness Lodge Resort, however, we were given perhaps the most brilliantly themed property of them all, just before the bean counters took control.

Disney Wilderness Lodge
The Wilderness Lodge

As the name suggests, the theme of the Wilderness Lodge Resort is that of a turn of the century retreat at one of America's national parks. Before setting foot inside the hotel, the theme was evident from it's exterior which bore a striking resemblance to Lincoln Logs. Once we stepped inside, however, it was hard to know if this was really Orlando or Yellowstone.
Disney Wilderness Lodge
The incredible lobby

While looking around the lobby, wide-eyed and jaw almost on the floor, nearly all of my senses were being stimulated at once. The giant floor to ceiling totem poles were an incredible sight, in the distance I could hear flowing water from a "hot spring" across the lobby, and I'm almost certain there was a hint of pine sap in the air. Of course, there was the mixture of screaming kids tossed in for good measure, but in that moment I had forgotten this was actually a Disney vacation. We were truly at a lodge in the wilderness, and it felt a long, long way from Orlando.
Disney Wilderness Lodge
The bubbling "hot spring"

Before heading upstairs to the room, I decided to spend a little more time exploring the great outdoors. The "hot spring" I heard bubbling in the lobby turns into a stream which flows through the grounds of the resort, eventually ending in the enormous swimming pool. On the other side of the pool is a replica of Old Faithful geyser, which true to the original erupts every several minutes. All of this is found on the shores of Bay Lake, and the only thing missing are a few snow capped mountains in the background. Actually, I'm surprised Disney didn't figure out how to add some...
Disney Wilderness Lodge
Old Faithful...at Disney World

The theme of the resort carried into the guest room as well, with an abundance of wood furnishings and faux antiques. Overall, the room was a bit of a let down, of course the old bedspread essentially sealed that fate. On the other hand, the view from our private balcony was great, and for the first time I actually preferred the "great outdoors" to the inside of a hotel room.
Disney Wilderness Lodge
The room wasn't exactly my style...

What sets the Wilderness Lodge apart from nearly every other resort, both at Disney and beyond, is the total immersion in the theme. The sights, sounds, and even smells, take guests on a journey to the middle of Yosimite, all within a mile of Cinderella Castle. It's something that Disney does better than anyone else, but is decidedly absent from their newer resorts. In Wilderness Lodge, however, they may have saved the best for last...

Enjoy Your Stay