Pros: Best theme of any Disney resort! So many things to do!
Cons: Not walking distance to any of the theme parks.
If your idea of "roughing it" is pretending to be in the great outdoors, but actually being in an amenity rich resort, then you are a lot like me! If you enjoy the idea of a vacation at a national park, but would prefer a theme park, then have I got the place for you! Disney's Wilderness Lodge resort!
The Wilderness Lodge is themed like the great lodges of the Pacific Northwest, and the themeing is amazing! Whenever I visit this resort, I feel as if I have been transported from central Florida, to a land of towering trees, bubbling brooks, and thundering waterfalls.
Just walking into the lobby of this gorgeous resort is an experience. As soon as you step foot through the doors you hear sweeping songs from the west. You look around and see totem poles, big comfortable rocking chairs, a gigantic fireplace, and enormous animal skin (no buffalos were harmed in the construction of this resort) chandeliers hanging from the several stories high celing. In the distance you might see a wooden bridge that crosses an indorr creek that flows outside to the pool. You forget you are at Walt Disney World, until your eye catches a few of the well integrated hidden Mickey's, and until you are greeted by a friendly cast member ready to help you find your room.
The Wilderness Lodge is one of Disney's Deluxe resorts, located near the Magic Kingdom theme park. By deluxe resort standards it isn't in the most convenient area, but it is just a short boat ride to the Magic Kingdom. In some ways this is a big advantage. Because it is very slightly off the beaten path, the Imagineers were able to really go big on this resort. An example is the geyser that lies just past the swimming pool overlooking the lake. While you can't see the Magic Kingdom from the Wilderness Lodge, you are close enough to hear park's opening ceremony in the morning, and the fireworks at night.
There are several different types of rooms, but we stayed in one of the rooms facing the woods (and a kind of sad pond) with a queen bed and a set of bunk beds. The kids loved the bunk beds, so much so that they never tried to sneak into our bed! The room was not as large as other rooms in the deluxe category, but it was still very roomy and very comfortable. The beds are made to look like they have been built from trees, and the colors are dark woods and American Indian inspired designs. A flat screen TV mounted on the wall gives it a feel of modern comforts, and there is a small refrigerator to keep your drinks cold.
Outside of the room there is a lot to do! One of my favorite things to do is explore the resort. The theming is so immersive that they offer free tours of the lobby just to tell the stories behind the design elements! Check at the concierge desk for times. The pool is more aesthetically pleasing than others on property, but otherwise it is about average. The water flowing in from the lobby over the rocks is really cool though. There are a couple of hot tubs at the back of the complex close to the geyser, but unfortunately, like most hot tubs at Disney they are very crowded.
Out past the pool there is a rental hut where you can rent bikes and surry bikes, and a great playground for the kids, right on the beach at the lake! There are also a bunch of lounge chairs on the beach where you can sit, relax, or catch a glimpse of the Electrical Water Pageant each night. There is also a bar where you can grab a soda or your favorite adult beverage!
Dining is a definite highlight at the Wilderness Lodge. Roaring Fork Snacks is the quick service "food court" at the resort. It isn't very big inside (there is a lot of outdoor seating), but there is a lot of good food to choose from, and it has a fixins bar for your burger or sandwich. We really like the made to order flat bread pizzas. If they are offering it, try the BBQ Chicken flatbread.
In addition to Roaring Fork, the Wilderness Lodge has two sit down restaurants, Whispering Canyon Cafe, and Artist Point. Whisperidrinkng Canyon is a loud and rowdy cafe that is great for a fun dinner! Be sure to ask for a large drink, and ketchup! You can order off al a carte, but I recommend getting the all you care to eat family platter! All the ribs, sausage, potatoes, and salad you can eat! This is not a place for a romantic dinner! If that is what you are looking for try...
Artist Point, one of Disney's Signature restaurants. I have never eaten here, but you can bet that you will get a great Pcific Northwest inspired meal. Their specialty is the Cedar Plank Salmon, and I have heard that it absolutely melts in your mouth!
With all of these things you may need to extend your vacation by a couple days!
The only real negative that I see with the Wilderness Lodge is that for a deluxe resort, it is not walking distance to one of the theme parks. The location is good, but not as good as the resorts on the Monorail, or in the Epcot resort area.
One more thing... If you are planning on visting Disney World during the holidays (mid-November-January 1st), there is not a better resort to stay at for Christmas decorations! The Christmas tree that they put up in the lobby is jaw dropping! It is just a great resort to stay at for a wonderful family holiday, or vacation anytime of the year!