Where to Stay: Rocky Mountain High at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney Vacation Guide to one of the best Disney hotel accommodations
You don’t have to give up luxury to commune with nature, especially when it comes to the magic that Disney creates. One of the best places to stay is the Wilderness Lodge – it has such attention to detail that it’s worth a walk through the resort even if you’re not staying there!
A Rocky Mountain Lodge
Inspired by the western national park lodges, forests of towering pine, cypress and oak trees engulf this Disney resort, nestled on the shores of Bay Lake. Its exterior celebrates nature with a bubbling hot spring, a waterfall and an “Old Faithful” geyser, while the interior detail and craftsmanship pays tribute to Native American cultures and American explorers.
The totem poles
The focal point of the 7-story lobby are two hand-carved totem poles that rise for 55 feet toward the rooms. Each totems’ animal figures, from whales to raccoons, represent various myths and legends that are a part of the Native American culture; with the raven on top of one totem pole and an eagle on the other. On a whimsical note, that only Disney can get away with, a 10-foot totem outside of the Lodge’s Mercantile has Goofy perched on the shoulders of Donald Duck, with Mickey Mouse topping the pole.
You can’t miss the massive 3-sided fireplace in the lobby, layered with rocks that represent the exposed rock strata in the Grand Canyon. Sit in one of the leather armchairs, gaze at the colored hues within the 82 foot stone fireplace and contemplate the grandeur of the western mountains.
Symbols of the west are everywhere you turn. Bordering the rawhide teepee-shaped chandeliers, are buffaloes and horses etched out of bronze and steel. Even the floor’s inlaid pattern of burl walnut, brazilian cherry, white oak and bird’s-eye maple symbolizes the unity of seasons with cosmos, and man with animal. Throughout the resort, from the sitting rooms to the restaurants, authentic Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux and Blackfoot reproductions represent the Native American influence on the western landscape.
Wildlife, nature and Native American designs are part of the resort’s 728-rooms, continuing the northwest theme of the grounds. All come with the usual Disney amenities and even standard rooms get a view of the woods or courtyard (note that Courtyard rooms are noisier). Top-floor rooms get better views and if you want to see the fireworks from your bedroom, ask for a room on the north side. If you’re looking for deluxe accomodation, try the Villas with space ranging from 340 to 1,000 square feet. Sizes go from studios to two and three bedroom suites, where you you have your own kitchen, washer and dryer to provide the comforts of home.
Tip: If you’ve found all of the hidden Mickeys in the resort, you can continue to look for them on the bedspreads.
Sashay to the rustic and rowdy Whispering Canyon Cafe if you’re looking for a Wild West setting, complete with log beams, Mission-style tables and western murals. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can choose from the menu or all-you-can-eat “skillets”. Both offer down-home cookin’ from smoked ribs, pulled pork and oven-roasted chicken to all the fixin’s a cowgirl or cowboy could want – think cornbread, baked beans. Songs and stories will entertain the kids (they become part of the show) and the hearty portions will have you stoked for your next day at Disney.
Artist Point, by contrast is fine dining and you’ll have to dress business casual. The contemporary dishes are excellent and the view of Bay Lake and Silver Creek Falls sets the stage for a romantic evening, especially when lit at night.
Fire Rock Geyser
Inspired by Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, this geyser bursts forth on schedule! From 7 a.m. till 10 p.m., you’ll see a plume of water erupt 120 feet toward the sky.
Wonders of the Lodge tour
Take a free walking tour to learn about the lodge’s architecture, landscaping and artwork. From paintings to headdresses and totem poles to drums, each corner of the lodge has a story. The walks depart from the Lobby Concierge at 9 a.m. from Wednesday to Saturday.
Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long
Take in some of nature’s magic and gather around a good old fashioned campfire – stare into the embers, sing a round and wish upon the stars. Afterward you can snuggle up under the stars and watch a classic Disney film.
If you want a night to yourself, children aged 3 to 12 are entertained at the Cub’s Den with western themed arts and crafts, Disney movies and food. This service is available from 4:30 p.m. till midnight or you can opt for a Disney approved independent childcare provider for in-room babysitting or assistance during theme park visits.
From the Lodge’s lobby, follow the spring water that gurgles from the stones – you’ll find it widens into a creek in the upper courtyard and then cascades down the 15-foot waterfall into the Silver Creek Springs pool. Bordered by rocks and trees, the pool’s forest setting seems as if it’s part of the rocky landscape, but it also has a slide, hot tub and pool bar.
If you need more activity than the pool can provide, check out the following activities:
- canoeing & boating on Bay Lake
- 24-hour playground
- high-tech games room
- sunbathe on Bay Lake’s sandy beach
- catch and release fishing
- cycling or jogging the 3/4 mile trail to Fort Wilderness
The Perks/Access to the Parks
The main perk with staying at any Disney resort is access to all other Disney resorts and complimentary transportation to Disney’s theme parks, hotels, water parks and attractions. The best thing at the Wilderness Lodge is that you can cross the Seven Seas Lagoon by boat and arrive directly at the Magic Kingdom.
As soon as you can, ask about becoming a Flag Family at the Wilderness Lodge. Best done when you check-in, you might have a chance to go onto the roof and help raise or lower the flag.
What is your favorite holiday accommodation at Disney World?