Wilderness Lodge is one of my favorite resorts in all of Walt Disney World. As a deluxe resort, though, I admittedly don’t get the chance to stay there as often as I’d like because of the prices. Luckily, with a lower than normal nightly rate due to the ongoing extensive resort renovations coupled with an annual pass discount, the decision to pull the trigger on a four night stay was that much easier.
If you have an upcoming trip to Wilderness Lodge planned or are considering making a reservation before renovations are complete, you’re probably wondering if the construction will negatively impact your trip. I’m happy to report that construction was never a detriment to our trip and I’d happily stay there again in the resort’s current state. With that in mind, think of this article as a a resort review combined with a construction update.
Upon arriving at the Wilderness Lodge late at night after heading directly to Hollywood Studios from the airport, I took a few minutes to enjoy the ambiance of the resort’s lobby, which is one of my favorites in all of Disney behind Contemporary and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Unbeknownst to me, the lobby was also in the midst of construction, which I wouldn’t have noticed if my fiancee, Sarah, didn’t point it out to me. Despite one entire side of the Wilderness Lodge lobby being boarded up on the upper levels, I clearly didn’t think it was that noticeable. See the picture above for yourself.
For those of you that were “lucky” enough to see the Polynesian during its extensive transformation into the Polynesian Village Resort, you may remember that the entire middle portion of the lobby was boarded up on the upper level, which created an almost claustrophobic effect for anyone present. Thankfully, this is nowhere near as bad. While I wouldn’t have recommended guests stay at Polynesian during the aforementioned renovations, I’m happy to say that the lobby at Wilderness Lodge doesn’t suffer from the same effect. Other than the boarded upper levels, the more significant victim of construction is that the main elevators in the lobby are down. While there are still elevators operating down the hallway past Roaring Forks, I can see how this could be an inconvenience to guests.
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With today’s airline baggage fees, you can often reap significant savings by traveling with only carry on luggage. This is not much of challenge if your trip to Walt Disney World is only a few days long. Just pack the basics and wear your heaviest or bulkiest items while in transit. However, if your Disney visit is longer, it can be a challenge to cram enough clothing for a week or two into a tiny roller bag. The solution: do some laundry.
Door to Guest Laudry Room at All Star Sports, pool chairs reflected in the window
Anyone who knows me well can attest that I am NOT a fan of doing chores while on vacation, but the prospect of having to fork over several hundred dollars to an airline for my family to all bring checked suitcases is enough to make even me do laundry while visiting Walt Disney World. The good news is that Disney makes it about as quick and painless as possible to refresh your wardrobe during your trip.
By far the easiest laundry situation is Disney’s Villa Resorts (currently Bay Lake Tower, Saratoga Springs, Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, Old Key West, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas). The one, two, and three bedroom villas all include a washer/dryer right in the room, usually tucked away in a closet. The laundry area comes stocked with a starter single-use box of detergent. If you’re doing more loads, you’re welcome to bring detergent powder from home or purchase more single boxes in the resort gift shop. As Disney Vacation Club members, my family often stays in villa rooms. While I don’t often make good use of the full kitchen, I do love being able to wash out sweaty tees or dry wet swimsuits in the room laundry.
Change machine and supplies, Bay Lake Tower
Even if you’re not in a villa, you’ll still have easy access to laundry facilities no matter where you stay at Walt Disney World. Every Disney resort hotel has at least one, and sometimes several, public guest laundry room. Frequently, the laundry rooms are located near one of the resort’s pools. This allows you to keep an eye on your clothes while you lounge in the sun or take the touringplans recommended mid-afternoon swim. The location of your resort’s laundry rooms is noted on the map you will receive from the front desk upon check-in.
The hotel laundry rooms are set up like traditional laundromats, only much cleaner. Most laundry rooms have between three and seven each of washers and dryers, allowing you to accomplish several loads at once. The machines are coin operated, taking quarters only. All the laundry rooms I’ve seen have included a change dispensing machine (fee in dollars and get back quarters) and a vending machine for clothes washing basics such as detergent and fabric softener. While prices can change, you can expect to spend approximately $5.00 total for each load of wash. Two dollars or $2.50 for the wash, $1.00 or $1.50 for soap, $1.00 to $1.50 for drying, depending on the density of your wash. (Jeans and towels take longer to dry than light cotton baby onesies.)
In addition to wash facilities, many of the guest laundry rooms also include a comfortable chair or two and sometimes a television set. There are also hotel phones in the laundry rooms so that you can easily keep in touch with family members in the room or contact housekeeping to report any problems.
Valet service pricing sheet.
If you’re interested in getting your clothing clean, but not interested in doing the wash yourself, valet service is available at all the Walt Disney World resort hotels. Valet service includes dry cleaning, pressing, or straight up laundry. Again, prices can change, but for ballpark information some sample rates as of December 2011 were: dry clean suit, $11.50; dry clean skirt, $6.50, dry clean shirt, $6.25; launder socks $2.00; launder pajamas, $6.00; launder tee shirt, $4.50. Obviously, it is much more cost effective to launder washable items yourself, but the dry cleaning rates are not far off what my local New York cleaner charges. If you’re in a pinch, it’s nice to know the option is there. However, while pricing for valet services seems to be uniform across all resort levels, the level of work you’ll have to do to get valet service varies at the Disney resorts. At the value resorts, if you’d like an item drycleaned, you must bring it to the bell services desk near the main resort lobby. At the moderate and deluxe resorts, you’ll find a laundry bag and valet price list hanging in the closet of your room. Touch the housekeeping button on your room phone and someone will come to the room to collect your items for you.
Valet service is available seven days a week. Items sent for service before 8:30 a.m. will be returned to you the same day, usually by 6:00 p.m. And for those who wish to do some touch-up pressing on their own, irons and ironing boards are standard equipment in all WDW hotel rooms.
How do you keep your clothing fresh while you’re on your Walt Disney World vacation? Have you ever done laundry during your trip? What have your experiences been?