For Madigan’s first birthday we decided that instead of throwing a party we would head to Disney instead. Funny enough, even after booking a night at the Wilderness Lodge (which we were able to snag at $205 a night) this trip will be cheaper than the birthday party we threw for our 6 year old at home.
So we booked a night at the Wilderness Lodge. We loaded everyone up around 3 am and our little Mini transported us from South Florida to the Pacific Northwest mountains. There wasn’t a palm tree in sight. Well, sort of. It was the perfect setting to break free from the day to day stress of daily life and celebrate Madigan’s birthday.
Inspired by the National Park lodges of the 1900’s this resort may look like the Grand Californian at Disneyland but inside it’s a resort all of its own.
Upon entering the lobby you are surrounded by hefty beams, comfy furniture, and a giant fireplace that just begs for you to cuddle up and read a book. If only my two adventurers would sit long enough for me to get past the title page. Not to mention they use music from some of my favorite movie scores to set the mood, so my mind is always racing thinking of Tombstone, Little Women, The Magnificent Seven, and more.
But what is perfect about staying here with two little versions of me is that there is so much to explore. We had fun searching through all of the details. You can get lost just looking at all the carved animals, lamp shades, and totem poles. In fact they even have two, yes two, Hidden Mickey Hunts. One at the main lodge and one at the Villas.
The details don’t stop in the main parts of the lobby. They even expand to the rooms. The
rooms are decorated with that woodsy feel. The walls are classic yet interesting looking asthough they etched leaves into them. From the hard wood floor entryway, to the carved scene of animals on the headboard, plush comfy queen size beds, and Chip and Dale tiles in the bathroom, it is perfect for those of us that love the idea of camping in the outdoors but not really (cough, cough… Maryann). Some of the rooms even have bunk beds. How fun is that?
Stepping out into the balcony we had a breathtaking view of the pool stretching back towards the main part of the building. Even with the mid day hubbub of the pool, it was still relaxing. Your eye can’t keep from taking in all the beauty from the bubbling spring in the lobby, flowing into a creek, over a waterfall, down towards the pool, past the geyser, and out into Bay Lake. After the parks had closed and the girls were nestled in their beds, we spent a nice relaxing hour sitting outside, taking in the sights, talking, reflecting and having our yearly celebration “birthday” toast. That costs us about $22 at the Roaring Fork. Yes, that was a little too much for a snack and 2 beers. But it was quick and we were able to relax while the girls slept.
Whispering Canyon Cafe is a “must” do. We didn’t dine there this visit but their breakfast is one I can’t help but mention. They have a menu that includes an all you care to enjoy skillet. There are no characters because the waitstaff provides all the entertainment you need. I did take a moment to glance at their dinner menu and I think the next time we visit we will be trying it out. And if you do go… don’t forget to ask for ketchup.
Since we drove up early we decided to take a break from the park fun (and the heat… and the rain) and headed back to our room for some rest, relaxation… oh who am I kidding… we went to the pool. They also have a Children’s water splash area (opened in January 2015) that makes our pool time much more enjoyable. I don’t have to worry about either one of them in the water. It’s zero entry and provided Ainsley with tons of water slide, water bucket filling/ dumping, fountain splashing entertainment to keep her busy and tire her Commando Disney butt out. Because it is zero entry with just a few inches of water Madigan was able to play in the water as well without assistance. She had a blast sitting and walking in the water with Kevin or me and splashing to her little hearts content. We even slid her half way down the slide a few times, which she loved.
After the pool Kevin and Ainsley took a little siesta, to gear up for our evening at the Magic Kingdom. While they slept Madigan and I moseyed over to the Villas and discovered the 1860’s railroad hotels of the American West. Inside I was surprised to find relaxing common areas with game tables, rocking chairs, fireplaces, and trains… Yes, trains. Rooms such as the Carolwood Pacific Room (named after Walt Disney’s own backyard railroad) where you might even be able to spy some train treasures from Disney’s personal collection. It’s a must do for the youngest (and the young at heart) of railway train fans. I just wish mine wasn’t in the room sleeping.
They even have a running path (or for those that prefer the leisurely stroll or even a bike ride) that connects to Fort Wilderness.
Now, yes, the resort is currently undergoing renovations. It looks like the entire other side of resort (right side of the resort over by the Villas) is being renovated. They also had some closings of the nature trail and some other locations. But for only being there the one night and 2 days we were not really effected by it. The outdoor movies (and campfire) activities have been moved in doors. The boat and bike rental location is also closed, but bikes can be rented from the concierge desk. They did give us these really cool “Under Construction” pins. From what we saw on our trip to and from the Magic Kingdom it looks like a lot of the construction is making way for the new Cabins that will be part of the Disney Vacation Club. Rumor has it they will be similar to the bungalows at the Polynesian.
For 2 days all traces of Florida disappeared. The wild flowers took over and whisked us past the creek wishing we could stay another night. There is something so nostalgic and yet very romantic about this resort. It’s definitely won our hearts and has become a new favorite place to call home. Don’t tell Maryann but I could totally see owning a part of Disney right here when the new DVC opens up. I know we will be coming back… probably sooner than we should. And the next time? I wanna check out those bunk beds.
Have you ever stayed in the Pacific Northwest in the middle of Walt Disney World? What was your favorite part of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge?