The Wonders of the Lodge Tour at Wilderness Lodge & Villas, Walt Disney World

Another free resort tour at Walt Disney World is “The Wonders of the Lodge” tour at Wilderness Lodge and Villas. Offered Wednesday through Saturday at 9:00 a.m., meet at the large lobby fireplace.

WARNING – THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG POST – WARNING

Ranger Jack was our tour guide, and to the best of our understanding, at present, he does all of these tours and the Flag Family flag raising most mornings (here’s a description of that). We were the only two people on the tour that day, we had a lot of opportunity to ask questions (the tour took roughly an hour and fifteen minutes).

Ranger Jack has been at Walt Disney World for 22 years and at Wilderness Lodge for 14.5 years… he loves doing these tours and interacting with guests.

We’re leaving out a LOT of detail. This is going to be primarily a pictorial blog post. So let’s get started…

First of all, the Wilderness Lodge Villas are based on railroad hotels that came about in the 1860’s after the transcontinental railroad was completed; and Wilderness Lodge itself is modelled after a number of National Parks hotels. Both are heavily influenced by the beauty and development of the Pacific Northwest (specifically Washington, Oregon, and Montana). The discovery of gold in the 1840’s led to cities and towns developing in the 1850’s and then then transcontinental railroad in the 1860’s. The first National Parks and Land Grants took place between 1870’s and 1890’s. Theodore Roosevelt allocated the funds for roads and hotels in the National Parks in the early 1900’s.

Our photo tour starts at Wilderness Lodge Villas DVC…

Wilderness Lodge Villas (a DVC Resort) - the exterior is evocative of 1870's railroad style hotels, there are three different exteriors (shingle, clapboard, and board & batten)

Wilderness Lodge Villas (a DVC Resort) – the exterior is evocative of 1870’s railroad style hotels, there are three different exteriors (shingle, clapboard, and board & batten)

Close-up of Wilderness Lodge Villas exterior, clear view of the shingle siding and the lapboard siding.

Close-up of Wilderness Lodge Villas exterior, clear view of the shingle siding and the lapboard siding.

Along the walkway into Wilderness Lodge Villas, examples of lodge pole pine construction.

Along the walkway into Wilderness Lodge Villas, examples of lodge pole pine construction.

The Carrolwood Pacific room inside the Wilderness Lodge Villas.

The Carrolwood Pacific room inside the Wilderness Lodge Villas.

The glass on either side of the fireplace in the Carrolwood Pacific room at Wilderness Lodge Villas contains bubble marks - there was such a hurry to get the railroad hotels completed that imperfections were tolerated.

The glass on either side of the fireplace in the Carrolwood Pacific room at Wilderness Lodge Villas contains bubble marks – there was such a hurry to get the railroad hotels completed that imperfections were tolerated.

Two cars from Walt Disney's original Carrolwood Pacific Railroad.

Two cars from Walt Disney’s original Carrolwood Pacific Railroad.

The "3-17-50" on this car is the date of the Carrolwood Pacific Railroad's inaugural run.

The “3-17-50” on this car is the date of the Carrolwood Pacific Railroad’s inaugural run.

The "0-7734" is another visual surprise from Walt's Imagineers that built the Carrolwood Pacific Railroad...

The “0-7734” is another visual surprise from Walt’s Imagineers that built the Carrolwood Pacific Railroad…

This is what it looks like if you're sitting on top of the railroad car...

This is what it looks like if you’re sitting on top of the railroad car…

The lobby space (or atrium) at Wilderness Lodge Villas - again, we see lodge pole pine construction. This space is octagonal and emblematic of a railroad roundhouse.

The lobby space (or atrium) at Wilderness Lodge Villas – again, we see lodge pole pine construction. This space is octagonal and emblematic of a railroad roundhouse.

Each of the four seasons (winter, summer, spring, autumn) and the four directions (north, south, east, west) are represented in folk art inside the Wilderness Lodge Villas atrium.

Each of the four seasons (winter, summer, spring, autumn) and the four directions (north, south, east, west) are represented in folk art inside the Wilderness Lodge Villas atrium.

... more folk art ...

… more folk art …

The furniture at railroad hotels was often mismatched. As settlers moved westward on the railroads, they often left behind furniture that they'd brought with them. When they arrived in the territories they found craftsmen who could make them new furniture.

The furniture at railroad hotels was often mismatched. As settlers moved westward on the railroads, they often left behind furniture that they’d brought with them. When they arrived in the territories they found craftsmen who could make them new furniture.

Now we return to Wilderness Lodge Resort…

In the Wilderness Lodge Lobby, you'll find this footbridge crossing over the hot springs... The springs turn into Silver Creek which empties into the swimming pool and then flows into Bay Lake (not really!)

In the Wilderness Lodge Lobby, you’ll find this footbridge crossing over the hot springs… The springs turn into Silver Creek which empties into the swimming pool and then flows into Bay Lake (not really!)

The four large light fixtures in the Wilderness Lodge lobby are based on the Phaska Hotel's light fixtures and are much larger, they're made of wrought iron and cowhide (the same light fixtures are seen in the Whispering Canyon Cafe).

The four large light fixtures in the Wilderness Lodge lobby are based on the Phaska Hotel’s light fixtures and are much larger, they’re made of wrought iron and cowhide (the same light fixtures are seen in the Whispering Canyon Cafe).

The fireplace in the Wilderness Lodge lobby demonstrate all of the different rock found in the Grand Canyon (there are over 100 colors in the fireplace).

The fireplace in the Wilderness Lodge lobby demonstrate all of the different rock found in the Grand Canyon (there are over 100 colors in the fireplace).

The floors in the Wilderness Lodge lobby are not Disney-stone, they're real stone

The floors in the Wilderness Lodge lobby are not Disney-stone, they’re real stone

The stonework on the floor isn't just slabs of rock, it's also intricate designs much like marquetry.

The stonework on the floor isn’t just slabs of rock, it’s also intricate designs much like marquetry.

Real lodge pole pine taken from deadwood forests... the architects used 85 truckloads of lodge pole pine in the construction of Wilderness Lodge (not used for structural support).

Real lodge pole pine taken from deadwood forests… the architects used 85 truckloads of lodge pole pine in the construction of Wilderness Lodge (not used for structural support).

The center pole is Disney-wood (i.e. steel structural support imagineered to look like wood), it is surrounded by carved lodge pole pine. There is an animal carved atop each pole.

The center pole is Disney-wood (i.e. steel structural support imagineered to look like wood), it is surrounded by carved lodge pole pine. There is an animal carved atop each pole.

The facade of the lobby is beautiful, the actual construction is your standard office construction. The facade is the world's largest set of lincoln logs (premade and assembled on site).

The facade of the lobby is beautiful, the actual construction is your standard office construction. The facade is the world’s largest set of lincoln logs (premade and assembled on site).

The furniture in the Wilderness Lodge Lobby is real Stickley furnishings!

The furniture in the Wilderness Lodge Lobby is real Stickley furnishings!

The furniture in Whispering Canyon Cafe is reminiscent of the Rough Rider atmosphere, made popular by Thomas Lonesworth.

The furniture in Whispering Canyon Cafe is reminiscent of the Rough Rider atmosphere, made popular by Thomas Lonesworth.

There is a quiet section attached to Whispering Canyon Cafe, this is called the library area. The furniture here is prairie-style arts-and-crafts (think Frank Lloyd Wright). The bookcases in the background contain artifacts from the grand national parks and the railroad hotels periods.

There is a quiet section attached to Whispering Canyon Cafe, this is called the library area. The furniture here is prairie-style arts-and-crafts (think Frank Lloyd Wright). The bookcases in the background contain artifacts from the grand national parks and the railroad hotels periods.

The library room is beautiful, we rarely see it used because it's usually only opened during very busy times at the resort.

The library room is beautiful, we rarely see it used because it’s usually only opened during very busy times at the resort.

Territory Lounge…

A transit (surveyor tool) sits outside of Territory Lounge, this space is dedicated to America's great explorers...

A transit (surveyor tool) sits outside of Territory Lounge, this space is dedicated to America’s great explorers…

Territory Lounge is small-ish and typically dark (even with the lights on!). There are two carved bears guarding the backbar. (Sorry for the rather blurry picture of Ranger Jack)

Territory Lounge is small-ish and typically dark (even with the lights on!). There are two carved bears guarding the backbar. (Sorry for the rather blurry picture of Ranger Jack)

Ceiling in Territory Lounge - maps for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Ceiling in Territory Lounge – maps for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

There are a number of display cases on the wall at Territory Lounge, this one contains Surveying Tools. There are others that contain artifacts dedicated to Teddy Roosevelt (because he revamped the National Parks), to photography during the late 1800's, and to the trappers who caught food and furs.

There are a number of display cases on the wall at Territory Lounge, this one contains Surveying Tools. There are others that contain artifacts dedicated to Teddy Roosevelt (because he revamped the National Parks), to photography during the late 1800’s, and to the trappers who caught food and furs.

An American flag from 1861, there are 34 stars representing the states. This flag was a gift from the state of Oregon.

An American flag from 1861, there are 34 stars representing the states. This flag was a gift from the state of Oregon.

A flag, circa 1890, donated to Wilderness Lodge from the state of Wyoming.

A flag, circa 1890, donated to Wilderness Lodge from the state of Wyoming.

The floor in Territory Lounge is rather unique. It's mesquite wood but is laid "upright" creating an interesting texture.

The floor in Territory Lounge is rather unique. It’s mesquite wood but is laid “upright” creating an interesting texture.

As you transition from Territory Lounge into Artists Point, the trimming get more detailed (cherry wood door framing).

As you transition from Territory Lounge into Artists Point, the trimming get more detailed (cherry wood door framing).

Artist Point…

The long-view into Artist Point. This area contains more Arts-and-Crafts details, for example the chair upholstery is evocative of William Morris designs.

The long-view into Artist Point. This area contains more Arts-and-Crafts details, for example the chair upholstery is evocative of William Morris designs.

There are two murals inside Artist Point... in the style of John Meer. (you'll find an Audio Animatronic of John Meer in the American Adventure at Epcot discussing the need for preserving wild spaces with Teddy Roosevelt.)

There are two murals inside Artist Point… in the style of John Meer. (you’ll find an Audio Animatronic of John Meer in the American Adventure at Epcot discussing the need for preserving wild spaces with Teddy Roosevelt.)

The second mural... If you look carefully, you'll see Asian influences in the Artist Point decor - that's because of the Asian influence in the Pacific Northwest.

The second mural… If you look carefully, you’ll see Asian influences in the Artist Point decor – that’s because of the Asian influence in the Pacific Northwest.

Quarter-sawn oak dresser used for service inside Artist Point. Artist Point represents a place for artists to collaborate and create.

Quarter-sawn oak dresser used for service inside Artist Point. Artist Point represents a place for artists to collaborate and create.

This dining room is beautiful. We had our first "fancy" Walt Disney World dinner at Artist Point in 1994.

This dining room is beautiful. We had our first “fancy” Walt Disney World dinner at Artist Point in 1994.

The Lobby floor…

Looking down at the lobby from the 5th floor... There are lightning bolts coming off of each of the four lodge pole clusters, they come together in the center to represent the cosmos. The two pale triangles represent nature and the two red & brown triangles represent mankind.

Looking down at the lobby from the 5th floor… There are lightning bolts coming off of each of the four lodge pole clusters, they come together in the center to represent the cosmos. The two pale triangles represent nature and the two red & brown triangles represent mankind.

The two triangles...

The two triangles…

One last photo, the view from the Sunset Terrace towards the pool and Bay Lake...

One last photo, the view from the Sunset Terrace towards the pool and Bay Lake…

Other items of interest…

  • Wilderness Lodge is the cumulation of a dream that Walt Disney had for Walt Disney World. Early drawings have been found of a hotel to be located at Fort Wilderness, a hotel evocative of the National Parks and of the small hotels you’d find along the railroad. Of course, that was much smaller than Wilderness Lodge or Wilderness Lodge Villas… 
  • Wilderness Lodge Villas was built after Wilderness Lodge, William Robertson (a Disney Legend) came out of retirement to create the carvings found in WLV; he had originally done the carvings inside WL lobby (not the totem poles, they were created by Dwayne Pascal in 6 months with only 3 or 4 helpers)

[By the way, the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Fan Site has a lot of good information about the Lodge.]

 

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