Friday, January 9, 2015

#31 - Wilderness Lodge

Category: Resorts
Category Rank: 4

Park: "Rest of the World"
Park Rank: 7

We end our first half of entries, and our third "ten", with another resort.  And, I have to say, this is one of my personal favorite.  We head to the wild outdoors with the Wilderness Lodge.

On our first trip to WDW, we were a bit naive, not really sure of many things that we were getting into (including the hits to our bank accounts).  One of the biggest things for us was just how a big part of the world experience the resorts were.

Our first stay was at Port Orleans Riverside, which I have well-hinted is still to appear on this list, and we were very amazed at what we saw.  The websites had said that the moderate resorts were on par with a Holiday Inn, but the amount of theming and amenities went well beyond anything I had ever seen from a Holiday Inn (perhaps I have been going to the wrong ones).

We hadn't really planned on visiting other resorts during that trip.  However, we had scheduled a meal at the Whispering Canyons Restaurant during our stay, so we had to stop at the Wilderness Lodge where the restaurant resides.

We were blown away.

Again, it was mentioned that deluxe resorts were something like Doubletree or Marriott, which can have a high level of glitz.  But we were not prepared for the theming.

Wilderness Lodge essentially utilizes the great outdoors as its theme, as the interior to the main lodge is as outdoorsy as it gets.  Its expansive interior is decorated in log cabin decor, but the logs look like redwoods with the size.  There is a small brook running through the lobby, in addition.  And, there are several 50-foot totem poles and an 80 foot fireplace.

The exterior is themed dramatically as well.  A boulder-lined heated pool looks like a real secluded lake from the American Northwest.  There is an active geyser on the property, as well as docks for ferry access to Magic Kingdom.

Though you will hear it again here, it is worth pointing out that the deluxe resorts were set up to mirror certain areas of Magic Kingdom.  Tomorrowland was paired with the Contemptorary resort, Adventureland with the Polynesian, and Main Street with the Grand Floridian (not sure about Fantasyland).  Frontierland pairs up with Wilderness Lodge, both in terms of the semi-rustic feel (which is honestly a perfect fit for me... I'm all about the faux rustic, not so much about the authentic rustic), as well as the majesty of the great forests of America.  Kristen too loves the look and feel of the resort; it is very much a reminder for her of the cabin she and her family visited growing up (her mother has decorated many rooms in her house with a northwoodsy cabin theme).

So... why is it ranked so low?  Yes, it is higher up than Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is very similar in its beauty and majesty.  But it ranks behind 3 other resorts on this list, and unlike AKL, the Wilderness Lodge has a longer history, both for WDW as a whole, and for the Abbey family.

Putting Port Orleans Riverside aside for a second (since much of its nostalgia comes from it being our first resort we stayed at), one thing that Wilderness Lodge has going against it is that it is a bit off the beaten path.  The 3 resorts on the Monorail route all have a stronger connection to WDW history and a greater proximity.  They are visible from the front door of Magic Kingdom, and there is something a bit more timeless about those items, as though they (like MK) must have existed since the beginning of time.  Each of course has its own unique qualities that scream Disney! more so than Wilderness Lodge, which I think screams Awesome! better.  We'll see how well I explain that in the posts coming up.

That the halfway point.  Now things are going to heat up.  I think we have a couple more in this squishy area of either "highly-meaningful-to-us-but-not-to-others" or "vice-versa" area that we are in, before we start hitting those that are both.  Our next one is our second queue, a truly neat one that makes the 75 (!) minute wait for this Hollywood Studios ride somewhat bearable (though I'll still take the fast pass).

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