Years ago, in a stroke of brilliance, the Disney Imagineers looked at the wooded area around Bay Lake and were inspired. They made the decision that they wanted a camping lodge on the shores of the lake to go along with the original Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground that had been around since the early days of Walt Disney World. They wanted it to capture that comfortable, warm, home-like atmosphere.
To do this they brought in the famous Denver architect Peter Dominick. Drawing from his love of the West and specifically his home state of Colorado, his main inspirations came from the building traditions of the Rocky Mountain West. Targeting the look and feel of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, Dominick created Disney’s Wilderness Lodge with an iconic resort design that has stood the test of time. He later went on to design both the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Grand Californian Hotel.
Like many who have stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge my wife, Cheryl, and I are addicted to this resort. It is without a doubt our favorite, though no resort is perfect as Kristen has indicated in the past. One thing is certain that the amenities, warmth, and general coziness of the resort bring many smiles to many faces. Now if I’m coming back to a resort after a day in the park I often want a snack and possibly a nightcap. Often I don’t want the heaviness of a meal at Whispering Canyon Cafe or Artist Point, or the busy nature of the Roaring Fork.
Fortunately the lodge has a place that’s perfect for this, the Territory Lounge. You’ll find it located on the bottom of the ramp that leads up to Artist Point. Its location is marked by a map of part of the Rockies (where lies a Hidden Mickey) and a sextant. Like the rest of the Lodge, the Lounge has very warm and inviting atmosphere. The chairs are all extremely comfortable and provide a feel of sitting and relaxing in your own living room. The colors range from rich, deep walnuts to tans, and shades in between.
While sitting in here is relaxing, you might be hard pressed to discover the story of the Lounge itself. There is some gorgeous artwork on the walls of buffalo, deer, and moose roaming the open wilderness. On the ceiling is a mural depicting some frontiersman (and another Hidden Mickey), while on the walls you’ll find two flags. The first is of the state of Wyoming, and the second is a flag of the United States bearing only 34 stars – indicating only 34 states. In one of the lightbox cabinets on the wall you’ll notice a pair of boots that are indicated to have belonged to Teddy Roosevelt.
This means that you are sitting in a bar most likely in Wyoming – primary home of Yellowstone National Park since 1872 – in a time period most likely after 1861 (the year Kansas became our 34th State), and after Teddy Roosevelt moved on from the Dakota Badlands in the late 1880s – as indicated by his boots. Wyoming did not become a state until 1890. It is after all the “Territory” Lounge and not the “State” Lounge.
That this is a bar with strong connections to both Teddy Roosevelt and the wild frontier is even more interesting when you consider the famous anecdote of Roosevelt’s famed bar fight in Mingusville, MT (now known as Wibaux). In this story Roosevelt walks into a bar and is confronted by a drunk, gun toting patron who then tries to force him to buy drinks for the entire bar. He proceeds to use his training as a boxer to take the man down amidst gunfire (no joke). Thus cementing much of the early legends of Teddy Roosevelt himself, and his coolness forever.
Opened from 4:30p – 12am daily, the Territory Lounge serves alcohol and some light fare. And if you’re looking to watch a sports game or race, it has a wide screen TV disguised as a picture on the wall. The bar itself sits in the center of the room, and is its most prominent feature. It is adorned with two carved wooden bears that are very reminiscent of the rest of the Lodge designs.
As well as being a full service bar, there are beers on tap including Red Hook ESB, Widmer, Moosehead, and Bud Light. You also have complete access to the Artist Point wine menu. My go to wine on the menu is the Charles Smith “Boom Boom!” Syrah. Presumably you can even order the cordials here as well.
The menu is very simple consisting of only 5 choices:
Nachos with Beef Chili, Cheddar Cheese, and Salsa – $9
BLT Flatbread – $8
Pulled Pork Flatbread – $8
Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings – $9
Artist Point Cheese Plate – $13
My favorite item is the Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings – you know how people rave about the chicken wings at Ohana’s? For my palette, these are better. If you order some wine, I’d go with the Cheese Plate which is fantastic, consisting of some great cheeses, raisins, honey and mini-toast. I’ve picked around the edges of the Nachos on a number of occasions (can’t mix meat and cheese so I need to avoid the meat). And I can’t have either flatbread as they both include pork.
The great thing is that the Territory Lounge is seldom crowded. If you’re on an “adult only” vacation and looking for a place to go this bar seldom has kids inside (another pick would be Mizner’s Lounge in the Grand Floridian). It’s just a very relaxing place inside what is already a very relaxing resort. If you’re looking for a bar to have a business meeting at I can tell you this one works nicely as I’ve done this twice. The side tables near the lightboxes are perfect for this. Overall the Territory Lounge is a fantastic little hideaway bar, and I highly recommend it.
What about you? Have you been to the Territory Lounge? Would you go now? Would you stay away? Did you realize it was so cool? (c’mon Teddy Roosevelt). Or would you just load up the truck and move to Beverly?