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Wilderness Lodge trip 2017 - Upgrades, Tours and Backstage, Oh My!

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My family and I have been to WDW many times, and with the exception of the first time I went with my wife (then fiancé), we have always stayed at the fort. The first time i went to WDW, we stayed at POFQ, which was great, but with the kids the fort and it's cabins have been the best fit.

We stayed at the cabins back in February, and since I knew I had a convention coming up in Orlando in April, my wife and I upgraded our week-long park hoppers to annual passes. We haven't taken more than a weekend trip away alone since we had kids, so this was a nice break in advance of our upcoming 20th anniversary. I had booked a room at the Wilderness Lodge for our stay, since we wouldn't be bringing the kids along this trip (many thanks to my SIL for staying with them last week). Don't worry, there is a trip to the fort in here too.

At the time, all I could get was a standard room, parking lot view. Meh. I called a few weeks ago to see if we could get a better room, and managed to get a courtyard view, so at least it was an improvement.

Monday morning we saw the kids off to school and headed for the airport. After a speedy flight, we arrived at MCO ahead of schedule.


Picked up our rental car, and off we went. It wasn't long before we were on property and headed to the resort.


Since I had checked in online, and we hadn't received our text yet, we checked our bags with bell services and decided to head out to Geyser Point for lunch. As we were walking through the lobby I got the text that our room was ready, so we headed over to check-in and get our bags, and I also wanted to sign us up for the express transportation.

Well, color me surprised.

Somehow, our standard room got upgraded to a club level room, with a Magic Kingdom fireworks view. Never having stayed in club level before, we had no idea what to expect, and were surprised when the desk said someone would be right down to escort us up.


And, what a view it was.


You'll also notice the new Copper Creek Cabins below. More on those later.

Buttons and the Old Faithful Club hours:


There were some complementary pins in the room as a gift, due to the ongoing construction at the Lodge:



Complementary chocolates, and a 'private dining' menu also:



The room was certainly spacious:



The detail on the headboards was pretty cool:


As we were waiting for our bags to be brought up, we took a walk down to the Club Lounge for a tour:





Beer on tap!


Coffee bar:





Killer view:




Our bags arrived, and we unpacked and headed out to check out the pool and Geyser Point, but not without a last look from the balcony.


LOTS more to come!

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A couple more more photos from the room before I continue, the 'Blazing Oaks Smokehouse' was in the service yard below our room, so we had some awesome smells wafting in all week.


A couple photos of the Copper Creek Cabin construction:




We headed out to Geyser Point; we had been there before in February just after they opened, so we were curious to see how things were settling in.

Someone here was asking about the Territory Lounge and if they were serving breakfast while Roaring Forks was closed, so here is your answer. Sorry that it's blurry.


The falls are still falling, no matter what the name is.


The old pool bar is closed in with construction walls, except for the bathrooms. Heading out to Geyser Point, you can see the plantings are starting to take and green up nicely. One thing Disney does well is landscaping.



I really like the plastic glassware they have at the bar there, it feels a lot like glass and adds an upscale feel to the place:


And the view certainly isn't bad, either.


The bar was busier than this picture shows, but it's a good one to illustrate one facet of the bird problem. See the beam above the bar? The birds like to site on that beam and a; do their business, and b; divebomb the tables and steal food - quite brazenly.




I really like the feel of this lounge. They do need more snacky food options, but the service was great every time we went and the food we had was very good. Pro tip - you can ask just for a bowl of their homemade potato chips, without the chopped brisket dip.

We were having dinner that evening at Artist Point, so we headed back up to the room to change and I stopped to take a picture from the hallway overlooking the pool:


You can see the construction walls around the old pool bar pretty clearly. This building is going to become a poolside 'spa', so you can get your nails did while you watch the rugrats.

The beds were turned down and the remote was tucked in for the night:


I checked out the balcony view again, this time a monorail was coming out of the Contemporary:


Another view of the lake as we headed down for dinner:


Dinner was great. I really think Artist Point is one of my favorite restaurants on property. The food is always great, the service is consistently fantastic, and I love the atmosphere there. We ordered the cheese plate and a bottle of wine while we listened to the menu specials. My wife opted for the Cedar Plank Salmon, and I had the 8oz filet with Point Reyes blue cheese on top. We skipped dessert as neither one of us had room and we wanted to check out the club level dessert offerings later. No pics from dinner though.

Wishes was at 9 that night, and we wanted to check the view out from the balcony. It was, after all, supposed to be a 'fireworks view'.

We weren't disappointed. Tough to get a good photo, though. I blame the bottle of wine.







And yes, we had some dessert after. The club level food comes from Artist Point, so they had cobbler and pastries as well as a cheese and wine selection.

Tomorrow, a day off from the conference and we are off to Magic Kingdom and an unplanned 4 parks, 4(+) rides, 4(+) drinks, test the express transportation kind of day!

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10 minutes ago, DaveInTN said:

Is there a way to get the fireworks music in the room, like on a tv channel or something?

Not that I am aware of. You could hear Wishes start pretty clearly, but when the fireworks started it was hard to hear anything.

On a positive/bonus note, you could hear multiple performances of the Electrical Water Pageant every night!

21 hours ago, Tri-Circle-D said:

The view from your room is great, but it would have been better before all those trees got chopped down to build those cabins.



41 minutes ago, DaveInTN said:

Would the MK view have been as sweeping before the trees were cut down?  

I don't think the view would have been at all the same with the existing trees still there. You would have seen the fireworks and probably the tops of space mountain and maybe the castle. Maybe part of the Astro Orbiter.

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2 hours ago, shoreline99 said:

Not that I am aware of. You could hear Wishes start pretty clearly, but when the fireworks started it was hard to hear anything.

On a positive/bonus note, you could hear multiple performances of the Electrical Water Pageant every night!


I don't think the view would have been at all the same with the existing trees still there. You would have seen the fireworks and probably the tops of space mountain and maybe the castle. Maybe part of the Astro Orbiter.

On a different board, a poster send an awesome picture from his standard room,  5056, at WL.   Due to the trees being gone,  this standard room is now an MK with fireworks view, too.    I'm wondering if all the higher storied rooms on that wing will lose their 'standard room' rating, soon?

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Tuesday morning found us ready to head to EPCOT to check out the Flower & Garden & Food festival. The plan was to head over to Magic Kingdom and take the express bus from there to EPCOT, and to hang at EPCOT for the day.

Morning views at the Lodge:



A quick boat ride, and welcome to the MK!


We walked through the morning show. That Louis the Alligator must have been roasting, as the temperature was already starting to climb and it was humid.


The express bus stop at the MK is in Tomorrowland, so we took a right and headed over.


AAaaaaaand we got there just as the EPCOT bus pulled away. My one gripe with the express bus is that there was no schedule posted, so we had to wait 30 minutes for the next bus (fortunately, the internet came to our rescue with a master schedule). After doing a little browsing in Star Traders and Merchant of Venus, we were on our way to EPCOT.

The bus stop in EPCOT is by the Guest Services office near SSE.


I love the Figment topiary.


After a quick stop in Club Cool, we were headed to the Land to use our Soarin' fastpasses. Ride at EPCOT, check.



Can't say that I'm a big fan of the new film. Abrupt cuts and really distorted landmarks make it hard to watch, IMHO.

It was shaping up to be a beautiful day. I always love seeing how the topiaries are used from year to year.



We grabbed a bite at Urban Farm Eats, which has a really nice exhibit on small gardens that I recommend for anyone looking at maximizing their growing space.  - raised beds, vertical gardens, and other space saving ideas. We split the crabless cake and beef tenderloin, which were both tasty.



They really do a beautiful job planting for this festival.



The butterfly tent was a popular stop, but there weren't as many residents as other times we've been there. I got a few pics though.



We decided to head over to World Showcase to do some exploring. The sun was climbing and so were the temps.


I grabbed an order of fish & chips from the outside stand, and we ducked into the Rose & Crown to see if our friendly bartender Carl was there today.



And he was, and that Guinness sure tasted good with our lunch. Beer, check.

From here we walked over the bridge to the French Pavilion for one of those Macarons we've heard so much about:



We were planning on staying at EPCOT all day, but at this point we called an audible. Hollywood Studios wasn't on our agenda this trip, and we were coming back to EPCOT later in the week, so we decided to walk back and take the express bus over. I was able to get us fastpasses for R&RC, and our timing worked out that it was basically a walk-on. The bus drop at HS is right by the ride.


Ride, check.

I wasn't so lucky with getting a fastpass for ToT, so we did some shopping in the stores along Sunset Boulevard and the main drag.



Not having the kids with us this trip really gave us some options. All the times we've eaten at the 50's Prime Time Diner we've never had a chance to sit in the Tune In Lounge to people watch and have a drink, so we stopped in there to correct that oversight. Beer, check.



You'll note the dapper gentleman sitting at the bar; he and his companion were a few days early for Dapper Day but still looked the part!

After checking the bus schedule, at this point we decided to go all in and try to hit all four parks that day! We made it back to the express bus just in time, and headed over to Animal Kingdom. While we were heading there, I was able to grab us fastpasses for Expedition Everest. I guess we had some serious TCD luck with us that day.

The express drop off in AK is behind the Festival of the Lion King show building, so we headed from there over towards Asia.


I love the new Rivers of Light arena, it really opened up the views around that entire area.


Disco Yeti, Check.


When we were there in February, the Nomad Lounge had just opened and when we stopped in, the service left something to be desired. We decided to check it out again and had a much better experience. They have a decent small plates menu, and we split the spring rolls and the sliders, both of which were very good. Their Kungaloosh! Spiced Ale was also very tasty. I really like the vibe of the outdoor porch - right now it's really laid back and not crowded, but boy will that change in a  month or so.



AK beer, check.

We spent a while walking around in the shops and taking in the shade, and the park wasn't too crowded so I was able to walk on Everest again as a single rider.

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I'm going to extend this post just to finish up Tuesday.


We headed over to the express bus and hopped back to the MK. On the way, I made a fast pass for Big Thunder, and was also able to make a reservation for Skipper's Canteen for dinner. Pirates of the Caribbean was pretty much a walk-on, so we headed there before our dinner reservation. Ride, Check

Skipper's menu has changed a bit, and we had been snacking all day, so we ordered the SEA shu mai and the steak salad to split. And a couple of drinks! One in each park and our first time having a drink in the MK.


The kitchen brought us two full portions of the salad, with one portion of the steak split between them. These things were huge.


Still a great place to eat, and their menu is IMHO one of the best sit down options in the MK.

After dinner we rode BTM - one of the best rides at MK, especially after dark - then headed back towards Main Street for a little browsing in the stores.


We decided to head out to the boat dock to watch Wishes, so we could catch the launch back to WL as soon as it was over. Long day. A few fireworks photos:



From the launch back we caught a bonus show of the Electrical Water Pageant:


And back where it all started.



Tomorrow was going to be a long day, and our four park day logged in at just over 10 miles of walking according to my fitbit.




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Beautiful pictures from Epcot. I love the F&G festival, it's so pretty.

I like the idea of a ride and a drink at each park. I may have to implement that next trip.

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Beautiful pictures from Epcot. I love the F&G festival, it's so pretty.

I like the idea of a ride and a drink at each park. I may have to implement that next trip.

Really wasn't bad with the express transportation. And spacing out four drinks during the day isn't hard either.

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I have done 4 parks in one day quite a few times. The Express Transportation option is clearly a game changer.  What an awesome day you had, and you had incredible good luck with being able to book same day Fastpasses.  Good job!


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