When we worked with our travel agent Samantha last fall, I asked for a variety of options and for her opinions on them. She gave us options in each price range and I did some research on my own. Some of the factors I took into consideration as we looked included:
|Maggie checks out the bed in relief of FINALLY getting to Disney.|
- Proximity to parks
- Size of the rooms
- Discount percentage
- Cost (over all and per day)
After looking at our options, we decided on the Wilderness Lodge. The final decision came down to proximity to the parks [Wilderness Lodge is near the Magic Kingdom and Epcot] and room size. The Wilderness Lodge is a Deluxe Resort and if we were going to have 4 of us in one room for 7 nights, I wanted a little room to move.
The Wilderness Lodge has boats every 20 minutes to Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary and buses every 20 minutes to all the parks. We ended up using a combination of every type of travel, including the monorail, but next time we'll only use that if we are at a hotel on the monorail. It just ended up taking too much time.
This is a beautiful hotel. As with everything at Walt Disney World, once you get to your stop, you kind of forget there is an outside world. The resort has the "wilderness" feel, right down to a smell of leather throughout the hotel.
Our room was very nice. 2 queen sized beds and a small balcony, that I was at first disappointed it overlooked the parking lot. Until that night when we heard some loud crashes -- just as we were starting to think about calling the front desk, we realized it was the fireworks: we were able to see the highest fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. So, even though we never actually went to a park to watch fireworks, we got to see/hear them every night!
Beautiful landscaping surrounds the hotel. A wide variety of flowers and plants. Lots of rabbits that Jessie had to look for each time we headed to the boat dock. We didn't see half of it I'm sure. We spent our first evening just wandering around.
The girls were, of course, happy to see the pool. We ended up spending a lot of time in the pool, which was a nice way to cool off after spending time in the parks. The pools had life vests for little ones to wear [even Maggie wore one a couple of times] and Jessie got brave enough to let go and "swim" on her own many times. The main pool had a small slide. They also had a splash park, but Maggie was too tall and Jessie wasn't interested in the splashing. They had a smaller 24 hour pool hidden away with jets coming from the bottom. Both girls enjoyed attempting to swim through the jetted water. The water in both pools was incredibly warm, but cooling enough to make it nice.
The hotel had a beach area with soft sand. We weren't able to go into the water, but it was a nice area to play and watch a nightly movie. We never stayed for a full movie, but Jessie & I did watch enough of "Maleficent" for me to be curious to see the entire film.
The hotel had 3 restaurants: 1 "quick service" Roaring Forks, 1 mid-level Whispering Canyon Cafe, and 1 Fine Dining Artist Point. We ate quite a bit at Roaring Forks, which was like a fast food restaurant, though we did have to wait a little bit. The food was good and I really enjoyed my chocolate waffles one morning! We purchased refillable mugs there, but after discovering they were ONLY good at the resorts, I wished we had only purchased 2 to share rather than 1 for each of us. We just didn't spend enough time in our hotel to make that worthwhile.
Rocky and I had dinner one night at Whispering Canyon Cafe and, while the food was good, there is nothing "whispering" about this restaurant. They encourage everyone to be loud and to "play along" with singing happy birthday, sending ketchup to the table that requests "more ketchup." and for a couple out for a date night, this was the wrong choice. After eating, we did go over to Artist Point for a drink and the atmosphere was much more what we had been looking for.
That night, the girls went to the Cub's Den, a childcare center right on site. The cost is $15/kid/hour and a 2 hour minimum. The girls LOVED it. They got to play with all sorts of Disney toys, had dinner, watched a couple of Disney shows. It was a nice night away for all of us!
The gift shop here had a lot of non-gift shop items -- grocery store items for your room. We didn't even go in the gift shop until one of our last days, but I really wish I had known we could get a pint of milk or yogurt there! It would have been really nice for a quick breakfast. As it was, I did use Garden Grocer to deliver some grocery items to us. It was nice to be able to have 24 bottles of water, chips, power bars, sunblock!, delivered to our hotel and not have to worry about carrying it on or paying too much within the park. I received a text when our order was at our hotel and the bell service brought it to our room. We were missing an item initially, but it was delivered the next day when I sent them an email to let them know. I HIGHLY recommend this service. I will definitely use it again if/when we return to Orlando.
Overall, we really enjoyed staying at this hotel. This hotel matched "us" -- it wasn't too flashly, it was cozy and homey. The staff was friendly and helpful; the 2 issues we had with our room were taken care of fairly quickly. We liked that it was closer to Magic Kingdom than we originally thought and the boat ride there was very quick. The buses were great [with the exception of the one to Hollywood Studios that was 40 minutes late AND full -- on Star Wars weekend of all times]. We would definitely stay at this hotel again. We decided the only thing that would have made it perfect would have been if it were on the monorail, but we're even a little iffy on that thought.