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.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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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