Like all good Disney fans, I had visited the Wilderness Lodge Resort many times. Unfortunately I had never had the opportunity of staying there. Luckily for me, that changed a few short weeks ago and I got to finally experience the charm of this unique property. What made it even more special was the fact that it was (and still is) Christmas time. What make is more special? If I gave that away now, you wouldn’t read the rest of this.
I am fully aware that my fellow blogger Tom Bricker wrote about the wonders of Wilderness Lodge at Christmas last year. I assume that no one reads his posts and, even if you did, mine are presumably much more entertaining (his pictures may be slightly better than mine…very slightly). Either way, this is a message worth repeating.
Wilderness Lodge has a strange and wonderful trait in that its main building is a gigantic, soaring, multi-story open area, yet can feel quaint, cozy, and remote at the same time. What this trait supplies is an intimate feeling that…well, feels Christmassy. Simply by walking up a few steps can take you from the loud, bustling lobby into a quiet nook with cushy leather chairs and a roaring fire. From there you can warm your chilly parts, relax in comfort, and look down on all the suckers who don’t know how sweet your spot is.
As a born and raised Pennsylvanian, I associate Christmas with cold, snow, heavy coats, blankets, hot cocoa, drinking enough wine that your crazy relatives start to become less annoying…oops, too much sharing. Anyway, it is hard for me to get too into the Christmas spirit in Disney World because it feels weird to be looking a a giant, decorated Christmas tree while I am wearing shorts and sunglasses. At Wilderness Lodge it feels…less weird (that’s high quality wordplay right there).
The reason for the lower weirdness (I think I need a thesaurus) is the fantastic and practically flawless theme of the Wilderness Lodge Resort. More than any other Disney resort, Wilderness Lodge makes me feel like I am at a cabin in a National Park. This is done through the abundance of stone, woodwork, and water as well as the perfectly placed location that makes “civilization” almost unseen. Regardless of the temperature outside, being in the Wilderness Lodge with a roaring fire, listening to the churning water from the in-lobby “geyser” just feels right.
Of course, as with all resorts, Disney does a fantastic job with Christmas decorations at Wilderness Lodge. The towering “icon” tree in the center of the lobby rightfully draws the most attention with its lovely teepee and canoe ornaments. The secondary wreaths, garland, and light strings are often just as pretty and, much like the other side areas, offer a more quaint feeling than the massive centerpiece.
While not as heavily decorated for Christmas, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the outdoor areas of Wilderness Lodge. At any time of the year, wandering amongst the superb rock work, streams, waterfalls, and wildflowers brings peace and serenity. With the often cool (for Florida) mornings of November and December, these simple features can transport you to a faraway location in a western park such as Yellowstone or Yosemite. Much like the little fireplace nooks, there are also small balconies on the fourth and fifth floors that offer breathtaking views, especially at sunup.
Even if you are not staying at the Wilderness Lodge Resort, I cannot recommend enough stopping by to visit, especially at Christmas time. Give yourself an hour to walk the halls, sit by the fire, gaze at the tree, wander through the rocks, follow the stream, and look out over Bay Lake. It feels a world away from the theme parks, in the best way possible.
Thanks for reading!
If you want even more about the holiday season at Walt Disney World, pick up the Walt Disney World: Holiday Season TouringPlans eGuide 2012, co-written by myself and Tom Bricker. I would suggest a game where you guess who wrote which parts, but it is too easy (mine are the good parts). If you are more of a west coast kind of Disney traveler, there is always the Disneyland: Holiday TouringPlans eGuide 2012, although that is only written by Tom, so fair warning there (I’m kidding, it’s pretty good, just not as good as my writings).