The wilderness is calling, and it must be explored. Gather your friends, family, and favorite travel companions and prepare for the vacation of a lifetime at Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Welcome to the Wilderness
Whether you are driving your own vehicle, or you turn up on a bus or shuttle, you will immediately recognize the change in atmosphere as you get near to your destination. As you are approaching Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, you will be surrounded by other cars filled with guests who are eager to make their way into the Magic Kingdom for the day. The road will be crowded, and signs will be directing people to venture off in many different directions.
But, as you make the turn into Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the forest will appear as if by magic. Towering trees will create shade and the canopy will help cool off the area. Drive a bit further into the trees and you will be greeted by a colossal archway, handcrafted to let you know you have reached your new vacation home, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
You and your travel party will be able to park, retrieve your bags, and scurry into the Main Lodge and Check-in area in no time. This big and beautiful building has been fashioned to look like an enormous log cabin. The wood is very pleasing to the eye and it is sure to delight all the members of your party. They will certainly be prepared to encounter a cozy environment.
Check- In Time
As with most Walt Disney World Resorts, there are multiple ways for your party to check-into the hotel. You may use the My Disney Experience App to check into the resort online. Most of the time, I recommend using this method. It is so efficient. You can check-in online and even make special requests for your party, right through the app.
Then, when your hotel room is ready, you will receive a complimentary text message letting you know the room number and the location of your room. But, for the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, I think the main lobby and check-in area is so extraordinary, that you might just want to skip the digital experience and meet the clerks at the registration station.
While all Walt Disney World cast members tend to be a pleasure to work with, the staff you find at the Walt Disney World Wilderness Lodge is especially lively.
They are happy to see you and get you and your party into your accommodations quickly. While you are handling things at the front desk, the rest of your group can survey the territory. The lobby is beautifully laid out and decorated with rustic appeal. Even the little ones in your crew won’t mind waiting for a bit because they will be too busy finding nooks and crannies they would like to explore.
Making Your Way to Your Room
When staying in the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, you will leave the main resort area, and walk a little ways into the wooded accommodations. These walkways are so pleasant. You will get a peek of the Disney bus transportation system, the arcade room, and the jogging trail.
I love taking this route to my own room because I always feel better when I can get familiarized with the landscape before spending my time in a resort. When a resort is too large or expansive, a person can feel lost and disoriented. This will not be the case for you and your family. You will walk past many places of interest en route to your resort room.
Selecting an Accommodation
There are three distinct room styles for you to choose from when vacationing in the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. No matter your selection, you will open the doors and be greeted to a suite that is designed with scenes from Walt Disney Pictures film Bambi in mind. Photographs and prints from the film will be hanging neatly on pegs throughout the suite. Earth tones are prevalent.
Gleaming wood furniture pieces adorn the room. Green carpets make you feel as though you are traipsing through the forest. This sensation will only be heightened as you step onto your balcony or patio and take a deep breath of fresh air, straight from the forest. You may feel instantly relaxed as you soak in the beauty surrounding you.
While all the suites have a similar decorative theme, the rooms themselves vary from each other slightly. The first room option is a deluxe studio. Inside the deluxe studio, there is one queen bed, one double-sized sleeper sofa, and one single pull-down bed.
This accommodation is marketed as one that can service up to five adults. I have taken my family of four into this room, and it works well for us, but we have two children in our party. Asking adults to cozy up together on a double-sized sleeper sofa is a big request.
Many people struggle with the sleeper sofas because they are not nearly as comfortable as a normal, plush bed. Also, the double-sized sleeper sofa is a touch smaller than most adults would spring for in their own home. As for the pull-down bed, my eldest son loved this feature.
The bed itself is a murphy bed which is built into the wooden TV stand and dresser area. As he pulled down the bed, there was a mural picturing the characters from Bambi. He was enchanted by the effect. He also enjoyed playing there throughout the time we were in the hotel room, but he didn’t end up sleeping there.
Because this bed sits below the television it is illuminated in a harsh way when the TV is playing. As with most of the pull-down bed accommodations through the Walt Disney World Resort, I would not recommend having an adult sleep in this area. I would guess these pull-down beds could safely host a guest who weighed 150-200 pounds, but I never feel quite sure of that and I wouldn’t want to ask an adult to sleep in a bed that wouldn’t give them very much support.
If you have a travel party of four, and it includes children, you may want to stick with the deluxe studio. The cost for this room is approximately $450 per night. If you have a party of four, but it contains only adults, you may want to upgrade to the one-bedroom villa. This accommodation costs about $635 per night, but it is much more likely to service the grown-ups in your party.
In a one-bedroom villa, there will be a master bedroom area in which you will find a king-sized bed. There is a full kitchen, as well. This includes a full-sized refrigerator, freezer, stove top, and dishwashing machine. In the living room area, the sofa will convert into a queen-sized sleeper bed. I don’t have too many nice things to say about the sleeper beds, but I like that this one is queen-sized. While the bed itself might not be the softest one available, there is plenty of room, and that makes a difference.
For those in search of even more space, it would be wise to look into the two-bedroom villa. This spacious suite, features all the amenities of a one-bedroom villa, but it adds a couple of beds in a separate bedroom. This can be very nice when one is traveling with teenagers or the grandparents have come along on the journey.
By having the second bedroom, the members of your travel party will feel like they have their own personal areas and that will help everyone relax more. The two-bedroom villa sells for approximately $1,020 a night. It includes one king bed, two queen beds, and one queen-sized sleeper sofa.
It will accommodate up to eight adults. If you have a small child in your travel party, there will also be a Pack n’ Play crib inside the master suite’s closet. This will give you the extra room you need for your child. In the two-bedroom suite, you can expect a well- furnished kitchen area, including a table. (High chairs are usually in the rooms, in case you need them for the kids.)
When you splurge for the two-bedroom suite, you and your party will also have two bathrooms. Near the second bathroom, there will be a washer and dryer unit. Detergent is provided for your convenience.
After my family enjoyed our stay in a deluxe studio, we decided on our next visit to give the two-bedroom suite a try. We liked the amenities, but we were not wowed by them. While all the necessary features are there, we found that some of them seemed date. As Disney Vacation Club Members, we have stayed in most of the Walt Disney World Resorts and we have come to find that some of the hotels have nicer bedrooms and bathrooms than the others.
The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Resort are very nice, but they lack the sparkle and shine which you might find if you decided to go to a different resort.
Reasons You Should Stay at This Resort
There are many reasons why, when planning your Walt Disney World vacation, you should elect to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, but there are a few special reasons you may want to stay here, at Boulder Ridge Vilas.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White: This venue features the newest addition to the character dining at Disney World experience. Unlike any other character dining events, Storybook Dining features Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While you and your little ones can get cozy with these beloved characters, you will also be noshing on premium food items. Sometimes, when having a character dining experience, you may have a buffet or a family-style food service.
At Artist Point, the food takes center stage. The Prime Rib and roasted chicken are the most delicious menu items and are sure to be devoured by the adult members of your party. For the little ones, they may decide to go with the Princess Pasta or a smaller portion of the Prime Rib. If you are traveling with someone who loves Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this is a must-see.
You will need to make your dining reservations well in advance for this dining opportunity because this space will fill up quickly. Using the My Disney Experience App or calling the Disney Dining Reservations hotline will help you secure your spot. I recommend doing it as soon as you book your resort stay. Dining reservations open 180 days in advance and this hot spot will fill up almost instantly.
“Extra” Extra Magic Hours: If you have got friends in your party who are jumping for joy to get over to Hollywood Studios to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, they will hug you so much for making this reservation. As a guest at one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts, you will be treated to “Extra” Extra Magic Hours.
Put simply, that means you and your group will receive additional time in the theme parks. Hollywood Studios is one of those select parks. From 6 a.m.-9 a.m., you may go to the park while it is only opened to special guests, like yourself.
The theme park will not open to the general public until after your “Extra” Extra Magic Hours have completed. If you are anxious to ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, this is the best way to do it. I know waking up and getting over to the parks before six a.m. can be a challenge, but it is worth it when you only have to wait in line for thirty minutes instead of 240.
The Travel Options: Staying at the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opens up a plethora of travel options for you and your party. Due to the proximity of the resort to the Magic Kingdom, you will have the unique chance to board a small boat and cruise on over to the Magic Kingdom in style. (Aside from the Wilderness Lodge, only Disney’s Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resort guests have the same opportunity to ride a boat directly to the admission gates.
This makes your ride to the park very distinct because you are amongst an elite group.) While others traveling to the park will have to ride trams, ferry boats, and monorails, your little vessel will deliver you right to the park, so your vacation time in the theme park may begin immediately.
If you are not planning to spend the day in the Magic Kingdom, you can also catch a Disney Transportation bus to any of the other Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, as well as Disney Springs. You may recall from your trip to your villa that the bus loop is very near your hotel room. This can be a nice perk when you are trying to take advantage of those “Extra” Extra Magic Hours.
Rooms with a View: If you want one of my favorite Disney World tips for toddlers, then here it is: book a room with a “theme park view” at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. While some might tell you this is a good idea no matter who is in your travel party, I find it to be particularly helpful to those traveling with toddlers.
When you book a theme park view at this resort, what you get is a balcony overlooking the Magic Kingdom. From there, you will be able to see the Happily Ever After firework show as night falls. Shortly after it concludes, the Electric Water Pageant will coast through the Seven Seas Lagoon, also conveniently located right outside of your window. I like this perk for those with toddlers because even though watching the nighttime shows in the park can be a thrill, it can also be impractical.
After a long day on your feet, pushing a stroller, and trying to find ways to beat the Florida heat, you may be exhausted. Standing around Cinderella’s Castle at the end of the day might be the last thing you want to do. If that sounds like you, or someone in your travel party, then booking this accommodation will make everyone rejoice.
Whispering Canyon Café: Easily one of my favorite restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort, Whispering Canyon Café is a triumph. Located just inside the main hotel lobby area, the Whispering Canyon Café appears and is there to feed even the hungriest members of your crew.
Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the menu is certain to satisfy. There are extra large sandwiches for purchase, as well as my personal favorite: a family-style barbecue bonanza. All the best barbecue treats are part of this all-you-care-to enjoy skillet. For dinner, dig into brisket, roasted chicken, pulled pork, and ribs. Here at the Whispering Canyon Café, the side dishes are just as delectable as the main courses.
My kids eat extra helpings of the French Fries, while I have so many servings of the mashed potatoes, I nearly need a wheel barrow to be called in so I can roll out of the place. Don’t forget to try the all-you-care to drink milkshakes. These are a house specialty and with good reason.
The thick, creamy, and cool milkshakes will hit the spot. For those looking for a refreshing burst of fun, try the strawberry shake. But for others who want to go for something a little different, ask your server to mix the caramel and chocolate flavors. You may order as many shakes as you like, so have fun with this menu.
Speaking of having fun, the wait staff at the Whispering Canyon Café are an animated bunch. Throughout the meal, they will conduct sing-a-longs for kids, and if you are lucky, the Dads in the room will be asked to deliver their best rendition of “I’m a Little Teapot.” If you go to Whispering Canyon Café, come hungry and willing to participate. Oh, and don’t forget to ask for some ketchup with your French Fries.
Should I Book a Reservation?
When evaluating the overall quality of this resort and whether it is worth the money, I have to land decidedly on the positive side. This unique resort is charming and I think, if you are traveling with children, you will be truly pleased with the overall experience. On a scale of 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest possible rating I could give this resort, I would give it 3 ½ to 4 stars.
While that isn’t as decisive a rating as I would normally give, I find it appropriate because there are many things I love about this place, but there are also a few other items that do not fall onto my favorite things list. For instance, while I love the Disney Transportation system, and I will almost always recommend taking the bus to and from the theme parks, this can be a bit tedious when staying at the Wilderness Lodge.
Most large resorts have multiple bus stops within their route because the resorts themselves are so massive that the bus stops are spread throughout. At the Wilderness Lodge, you think you are getting a quick trip to the parks, because there is only one bus stop for this resort, but that is not the case. Not only does your bus pick up guests from the Wilderness Lodge, but it also drives over to Fort Wilderness to pick up people who are staying there.
These locations are technically close to one another, but the trip adds at least ten minutes onto your travel time. So, if you are thinking of taking a bus over to one of the theme parks or Disney Springs, you may have to allot a half hour or more for travel time.
Another point that some, like myself, might see as a disadvantage concerns the pool area. Don’t let me lead you astray: the pool area is beautiful. If you are staying in the Boulder Ridge Villas, you have access to the main pool, with its water slides, as well as a smaller pool area that is conveniently located right behind your lodgings.
This smaller area has a mid-sized pool, a hot tub, and a number of cabanas. The downside of this pool area is that it is always packed. No matter the time of year or the time of day, you can find people in this pool. Also, the area has very little shade naturally provided.
So, unless you are willing to reserve a cabana, you will be out in the hot Florida sun. I find due to the lack of shade, some of the metal fixtures that would normally help you get in or out of pool or hot tub tend to heat up very quickly. Then you can’t really use them because the metal is blazing hot.
For my first-time travelers, the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge may be the perfect pick for you. There are so many bright spots, and only a few disadvantages, that the good certainly outweighs the bad. I would highly recommend staying in this resort and enjoying a relaxing vacation at Walt Disney World.
- If you enjoyed this article, please “like” our brand new Countdown to Magic Facebook page!