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“Poorly managed, and a bad value”

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Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Ranked #37 of 335 Hotels in Orlando
Certificate of Excellence
Bethesda, Maryland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Poorly managed, and a bad value”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2014

I took my wife and 2 small children to the Wilderness Lodge for 5 nights of our much anticipated first Disney experience. I was pretty excited, as I'd read such good reviews of the hotel. I now know how the term "Mickey Mouse Operation" came about. My experience - from check in to check out - was very disappointing.

At check in, we literally had to step over bags of garbage piled at our room door to get in. The view was of a pond with garbage floating in it. Employees had a very limited knowledge of the hotel, the workings of the Disney theme parks, the transportation, and especially the food plan (TIP: do NOT sign up for the food plan. Nobody at Disney knows how it works. It's stressful, time-consuming, and won't save you money).

I would get 3 different answers from 3 different employees for questions like "where is the gym?". Nobody working there understood how the food plan is supposed to work, or why an 18% gratuity was added to the Mickey Hoe Down even though there were no wait staff or buss people. You feed yourself, clean up after yourself, and are forced to leave a $35 tip (4 adults, 2 kids) for the privilege. The table wasn't even set properly - we had to ask other diners for things like napkins. When I asked employees "who exactly are we tipping?", I got rambling guesses and shrugs with "That's Disney!", as if that explained it.

When visiting Disney, it is critical to have your fastpass and meal reservations down ahead of time, because you cannot realistically change them that day unless your want to switch the times to after 11:00 PM. The problem is the transportation, or rather that the employees of the Wilderness Lodge have no knowledge of how long it takes to get to the parks. I was told that the bus took 20-40 minutes (and never more than 40!) to get to Hollywood Studios from the Wilderness Lodge. It took 1 hour and we missed our fastpass reservation for a popular ride. The next available spot for that ride? 11:45 PM! The same thing happened the next day going to the Animal Kingdom. Again we were told 20-40 minutes, and never more than 40! It took 1 hour and 10 minutes, and again we missed a popular ride. It shouldn't be that hard to teach employees how long the buses take to get around.

The final event that brought me to "Never again with Disney" was at checkout. Again, nobody knew how the Disney Magical Express bus system worked to get us to the airport. I talked to 5 Wilderness Lodge employees, and they all were confused and uncertain about how it worked. When I got out front with my bags, I noticed that they had a kiosk to check your bags directly to the airlines. I talked to 5 employees, and nobody brought this up! Of course, you needed to check your bags 3 hours in advance, and I discovered the service 2 hours and 50 minutes before my flight. When I talked to the bag check person, he laughed and said "Didn't you get an envelope on your door explaining this? Why didn't you get it?". He talked to me as if it was my fault I didn't get the envelope at my door.

The pool at the resort was well run, and the life guards were attentive. But overall, at the Wilderness Lodge, you pay first class prices for third class service. I put the blame firmly at the feet of management - they should be embarrassed by the product they put forth. Avoid this place if you value a well-run resort hotel.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
21 Thank PetermY9332RK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (805)
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2014

Disney really is amazing - the place is like a giant wood cabin! Everything fits the theme, right down to menu items and the lamps in the bedrooms. We chose this one as we were only planning to go to Magic Kingdom. This worked well for us. The boat ride to Magic Kingdom was fun, different and efficient. We were able to come back for a siesta mid-afternoon, then head back to the park to take in some more rides and the parade. The rooms are nice, the pool is great, and even though you can't swim in the lake it provides a lovely setting. The only average thing was the food, ok taste and expensive, but I read that is a common complaint about the Disney resorts. Overall, well worth the experience.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Natalie_Jones88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kansas City, Missouri
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2014

I've been to Disney numerous times and love staying on property. This was my first stay at The Wilderness Lodge and I loved it. Getting around from this resort is much easier on the feet! Especially if your most frequent park is Magic Kingdom! After the park closes you are back at your room in no time at all. It's just a quick 5- minute boat ride, and we rarely had to wait. The boat also takes you to the monorail which takes you to Epcot. The buses to Animal Kingdom were few and far between, so we only visited that park one time during our stay. We had a bunk bed room, it was perfect with two kids. The pool games each afternoon were perfect for the kids. The pool is great for kids and adults as well, the area where the river flows into the pool is so relaxing, similar to a jacuzzi within a pool. We hung onto the edge and let the water pour in over us. There is a version of old faithful off to the end of the pool area and the pool area is not tropical. The food court did not have as many options as the moderate resorts but more than the Yacht and Beach or Boardwalk. Filling your cups is super easy here and you can eat indoors or outdoors, lots of tables in both areas. We loved the Whispering Canyon restaurant for breakfast! We never made it for dinner but I am guessing we'd love that too. Fun place and we never had to wait early morning before heading to the parks. The room rate can get high here, we went in the slower fall season and saved a bunch, highly recommend it if you can get a deal!

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Aulanigirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tupelo, Mississippi, United States
Level Contributor
48 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 April 2014

We stayed here a couple of years ago. The hotel from the outside is gorgeous. Very reminiscent of The Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone- the lobby is gorgeous too. Great arcade and really good restaurants. The reason I only give it 3 stars is, I have also stayed at the Value resorts and as far as the "room" itself? Hardly any difference. We were not in our room enough to make up the huge difference in $$. You are paying more for the ambiance in the lobby etc...NOT your room. We were club level and had a balcony also. It was nice seeing the fireworks from the balcony but I would rather spend more on something besides hotel perks.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Dana S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto
Level Contributor
140 reviews
63 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 April 2014

Stayed here again in Nov 2013 for Christmas party at the Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland Dessert Buffet, as well as several Epcot Food and Wine Festival reservations (Italian Tutto Gusto) and "Frunch" (French regional lunch). Also dined at Ohana, Sci-Fi Diner, Boma, California Grill, Kona, Whispering Canyon, La Hacienda. Was very convenient and enjoyed the theming as a mid30s professional couple with no kids for a Foodie vacation. Spent a day at DisneyQuest. This was an extended 10 day Disney trip - we enjoyed the pool as well as the daily pool activities - great things like painting small plastic frogs, making key chains etc. Also took a walk around the grounds and saw deer, rabbits, etc. This is a convenient location and gives you great access to the theme parks by bus or boat. The Roaring Forks quick service has great flatbreads and ok breakfast. We always book Jiko after a day at Animal Kingdom park for an amazing gourmet dinner. The new wristbands are in effect and were convenient. Make sure you book when Disney has their sales. Room only pricing is often better than the meal plan as we don't always want dessert and would rather have appetizer (meal plan has limitations). And travelocity sometimes has additional % off. This is our go-to Disney resort (I also like Beach Club, hubby likes Animal Kingdom Villa) for best price and location in the deluxe category.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank yvrgirlToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK
Level Contributor
12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 April 2014

Simply loved it here, spent 8 nights here, it is truly a gem in the magical world of Disney. All the staff genuinely love their jobs and it shows. Cannot wait to return one day.
Especially the concierge 'Kirk' who made our trip even more magical with a lovely touch in our room of balloons and candy for our boys.

Room Tip: We stayed in room2150, very nice and comfortable
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank UkBarney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Buffalo, NY
Level Contributor
141 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 April 2014

Our family of 4 has stayed here before and we really enjoy it. This visit was no exception. Here's what we liked:

1) Theme/Grounds - one of the best around. When you walk into the lodge, it is incredibly impressive. It is huge with details like totem poles and a giant fireplace with rocking chairs in front. There is a little "stream" that flows through the hotel and then outside and eventually into the pool, and in the lodge there is a small bridge over it. The kids loved playing (running?) on it! Outside there are 2 pools, the main pool had a small water slide perfect for our 9-year old. There was a "geyser" that erupted every hour (?) and wooden bridges and flickering "lantern" lights at night. The grounds were quite big, and beautiful with flowers everywhere. We enjoyed roasting marshmallows on the beach.

2) Location - Our kids were 9 and 5. We loved the proximity to Magic Kingdom and that we could take a quick ferry ride to the park. We also took a ferry boat ride to the Contemporary where we had reservations at California Grill. We had a car and drove to the other parks/resorts, but bus transportation was available.

3) Restaurants - Roaring Forks proved to be great counter service, and we enjoyed dessert at Territory Lounge one night with the kids. We did not try Whispering Canyon or Artist's Point during our visit, but they were there, too!

4) Free WiFi and nice, warm showers!

Here is what we thought could use improvement:

1) Sleep quality - the shower was nice and hot with good water pressure, but the beds were not very comfortable. They were very soft (too soft) and not supportive. Both my and my husband's backs started to become sore at the end of the week. I brought my own pillow, and was glad I did so.

2) Service - it just wasn't the "Disney" service we have gotten used to. When we arrived, I took my daughter inside to look at the lodge. We were excited. We just got to Disney! My husband was still outside, trying to get my tired 5-year old and some luggage inside. The Disney attendants greeted me outside and immediately began ushering me inside. I explained that I wanted to wait for my husband and joked that I wasn't the one settling the bill. They were pushy. They said if we registered online, no credit card was needed, and moved me along. I was disappointed. I wanted to see my 5-year old's face when he walked into the lodge! But they weren't taking "no" for an answer, so we begrudgingly ended up checking in without my husband and guess what? They DID need his credit card! Despite registering online, they needed it again. And so I missed my 5-year old's face walking in for nothing. We had to wait for my husband at the counter anyway. As my husband pulled up the car, he was immediately greeted by someone who offered to "help him with his bags." My husband asked if he could take them up himself, and was told no. So he joked that "yes, he would love help with the bags!" We waited in our room for them to bring the bags and some Garden Grocer delivery items we ordered online. They brought them up and my husband noticed that we were missing some of the grocery bags. A few minutes later, they found them and brought them to us. My husband tipped him, and then we realized that 2 pieces of luggage were missing including my 9-year old's suitcase. We waited again, and worried, until they eventually found it (within 1/2 hour). In dealing with these "small" issues, we ended up wasting quite a bit of time and missing an opportunity to take the kids to the pool (as promised) before our dinner reservations. Sadly this could have been avoided if we would have been able to take up our own bags as you do at Disney's Hilton Head resort. There were lots of other little things - no Disney experience during our stay. Very little smiling and "magic." No stickers for the kids at check-in or during our stay at the hotel. I remember in years past, they got stickers everywhere! One thing I will say is that the life guards at the pool seemed EXCEPTIONAL. There were multiple life guards who appeared to take their jobs very seriously. They were always monitoring things and we even saw one jump in and pull out a toddler who seemed to have gotten a little excited to reach for a toy in the deep end. We heard a quick whistle and then a jump without hesitation. Impressive. We also had great service at the Territory Lounge.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank TrpReviwr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Property: Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Address: 901 Timberline Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, FL 32830-8426
Region: United States > Florida > Central Florida > Orlando
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Orlando
#11 Luxury Hotel in Orlando
#14 Romantic Hotel in Orlando
#27 Family Hotel in Orlando
#124 Business Hotel in Orlando
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — Disney's Wilderness Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 727
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Escape to the rustic majesty of America's Great Northwest. Inspired by turn-of-the-century National Park lodges, Disney's Wilderness Lodge celebrates American craftsmanship and honors the beauty of the untamed wilderness. Soak in the splendor of the great outdoors, from nature trails through pine forests to rocking chairs that overlook a murmuring creek. Inside, discover towering totem poles, headdresses and more, and sink into a plush leather armchair in front of the roaring fireplace. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Disney Wilderness Hotel
Disney Wilderness Lodge
Disneys Wilderness Hotel
Walt Disney World Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge Orlando
Wilderness Lodge Resort
Wilderness Lodge Disney World
Disney Wilderness Resort
Disneys Wilderness Lodge
Disney's Wilderness Lodge Orlando, Florida

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