We took our boys for their first trip to Disney World this past Christmas and we had a wonderful time. I’ll be sharing a bunch of different posts about our experience. If you have zero interest in Disney, then I apologize but for those of you who may have an interest in taking your kids at some point I think you might find some of these helpful.
To kick things off I want to share about the resort where we stayed- Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
There are many places to stay when you visit Disney World. We opted to stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge because we wanted to be on-site and we like the proximity to Magic Kingdom. If you’re just beginning to do your research for a trip to Disney World you should know that you can stay on-property or off-property.
Off-property hotels are going to be less expensive but you have to figure out your own transportation to the parks, pay for parking, and spend some time getting there each day. Another big bonus to staying on-property is that you get to go into the parks early or stay late on days with Extra Magic Hours.
For example, on the second day of our trip the Magic Kingdom opened at 8 am to everyone but we were able to get in at 7 am. That hour might not sound like much but during that time when there are far less people in the park you can get much, much more done in terms of rides. There are hardly any lines and the emptier park makes for a much more pleasant experience.
So if you stay on-property there are a variety of hotels that you can stay at. Disney organizes these into 3 groups- Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Values are your least expensive and Deluxe are your most expensive. Wilderness Lodge is a Deluxe, but it is typically the least expensive of the Deluxe (depending on your room type, special offers, etc).
Here’s what we love about Wilderness Lodge:
Wilderness Lodge is close to the Magic Kingdom. To get to the Magic Kingdom you just head down to the boat dock and take a short boat ride over to the Magic Kingdom. We love boats so to us this was a very pleasant way to get there. Unless you stay at one of the other resorts where you can take the boat (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, the Contemporary, or the Fort Wilderness Campground) then you will have to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom.
It’s not a terrible way to travel (Disney bus service is pretty good) but it’s just not as magical and can take a little longer if you run into traffic or something. We have boys who were 5 and 3 at the time of our trip so we spent more time at Magic Kingdom than any other park. Your plans/preferences might be different though, in which case you might want to base your resort choice off of a different location preference.
When we arrive at Wilderness Lodge my husband checked in while we checked out the lobby. We then went up to the room to check it out. When we walked in, my jaw dropped.
I could see the castle. CINDERELLA CASTLE!
We were supposed to have a regular room overlooking the parking lot but they upgraded us. I’m thinking maybe it was due to the construction and refurbishment of many rooms during our visit, but there’s really no way of knowing why we got the upgrade. I loved our view so, so much. We could see the castle very clearly as well as the monorail and the contemporary.
Many nights we got our kids settled into their jammies with a snack and we watched the fireworks. I did not bring my good camera on the trip so these iphone pictures don’t do it justice, but it was spectacular. Please note that not every room has this view at Wilderness Lodge so if you want this then you would need to ask to be sure that you got a room with this view or hope you get lucky like us.
Our children are really fish. Staying in a Deluxe resort you get a very nice pool area. All Disney resorts have a pool but the Deluxe ones have multiple pools, hot tub spas, and a kids’ splash area. With all the walking involved in a week at Disney we knew we would want to spend some down time at the pool. The main pool was open during our stay but the Hidden Springs pool was closed for renovation.
The renovation should be complete by this summer and even includes a new restaurant over there. The pictures that I have are of the main pool area. My kids really enjoyed the splash area, but they do restrict the splash area to children under 48 inches tall. My 5 year old was too tall for the area which was a little disappointing for him. He’s a tall 5 year so if you have tall 4 or 5 years old he or she may not get to play in this fun area.
The resort is beautiful and peaceful. You do feel like you’re at an old lodge. My children really loved all the details like animals carved into things, drawer pulls that looked like sticks, etc. Being there at Christmas time was especially nice with the giant tree in the lobby and the large fire place.
The grounds outside are very pretty as well. Walking down to the bus stop they have these beautiful flowers that smell so so good.
The front desk was super helpful. They were also very cheerful and kind. In every interaction I felt like the cast members loved their jobs. Disney is expensive but the service and experience is top notch.
The Bunk Beds
UPDATE: There are no longer bunk beds in the rooms since the refurbishment! I think the only remaining bunk beds are now at the cabins at the Fort Wilderness campground.
If my 5 year old were to write this post this would be his number 1 reason to stay at the Wilderness Lodge. The room that we were upgraded to had bunk beds and my son is now begging for a bunk bed for home. He loved coming back to the room and climbing up to his bed to relax and watch a little tv before bed.
The only Disney resorts with bunk beds are Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. Not all Wilderness Lodge rooms have bunk beds, so don’t worry if you don’t want them.
Overall we loved our experience at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. I would love to stay there when we go back some day. This year is an exciting time to stay there as the new pool are will be reopening as well as a new restaurant.
Have you ever stayed there? Or do you have another Disney resort you really love? Let me know in the comments! I have another post you might like about the best moderate Disney resort too.