First of all, it irks me when people mix up Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. Fort Wilderness is the campgrounds, Wilderness Lodge is a high end resort property, in Disney’s “Deluxe” level (same as Polynesian, Grand Floridian, etc). Not to say one is better than the other, but they are distinctly different. The two properties do appear very near each other on the Disney property, and both offer transportation by boat to the Magic Kingdom, which is one of the best ways to commute (yeah, I’m calling it commute – that’s what it feels like, no?).
Now then, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opened in 1994 and follows a Pacific Northwest theme. The lobby is modeled after the Old Faithful Inn, and in fact the main “attraction” of the resort is a replica of Old Faithful, a geyser that shoots every hour on the hour, you can’t get more faithful then that.
Our first experience at the resort was eating in the Whispering Canyon Cafe while we waited for our room to be ready. Now the Cafe has a theme, I won’t call it a nice theme, or a good theme, but it does have a theme. Perhaps I was tired from the drive, or just overwhelmed by my first trip to Disney with children (and my first Disney trip where I was not the child… er, arguably anyways) but I was not comfortable, and honestly did not like my experience. I’ve heard others who loved it so I would strike this opinion as a grouchy tired man.
Next, our rooms were nicely decorated and fit well with the theme. Somehow the balcony overlooks what appears to be a forest that I could believe represents the Pacific Northwest. How this was accomplished in southern Florida, I can not ecologically explain, but they did an amazing job. The room, however, is not special and somewhat small in comparison with some of the other resorts I have experienced. We were conveniently located, and the room was clean and comfortable.
The pool area is very nice as is the overall set up and ability to get around. I very much miss the monorail, for if you stay at this property, it is unlikely that you would ever get to use the monorail system but for purposely going to do so.
The monorail is the most convenient method of transit and is also my favorite, perhaps because it was a great memory as a child, and I know my children could care less about the boat they prefer the monorail. But, if you have stayed elsewhere and want to give this a try, while we would probably not return to this property, I would recommend it for those that like to try new places and have new experiences.