This is a long one, pull up a chair. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge 5/8-5/14. Family of 4 (myself, DW and 2 kids: DD10, DS 3.5), our wedding anniversary fell during this time and it was our kids’ first ever Disney trip. Used touring plans website and app exhaustively for many months leading to trip (personalized touring plans for each park day, reservation finder, blog, youtube, forums etc). Having a toddler we opted to get Park Hopper passes so we could do “half days” and then have the flexibility to hop wherever we wanted later as needed; this was a wise choice as DS was ready for some downtime right around lunch time every day and had we “pressed on” with him he would have been a grouchy mess. Highly recommend taking breaks during the mid-day, even if you don’t have little ones! Also went with the Disney Dining plan for convenience, in hindsight we didn’t get our money’s worth but there were other factors that I’ll get into that led to that. Can’t express how helpful all the TP stuff was in gaining insight on just about everything, and given the circumstances we encountered on our trip having this knowledge base prior to going literally saved the trip from being a complete disaster.
We arrived mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, had booked a standard view room (2 queen beds). We had tried changing our reservations to a bunk bend room during the planning process, unfortunately we waited too long to make the switch so when we called to change there was no longer any availability. We used the TP room request fax prior to arrival. In the request I politely asked if any bunk bed rooms were available as first choice, 2nd choice being an upper level room with view of the castle. Added a few notes about our Anniversary, the kids’ first time in Disney, appreciative of any consideration etc. When checking in they did not ask me about any room requests and I did not mention any to avoid being overbearing, and we were assigned a room and checked in routinely. Much to our surprise (and delight) we tapped into our room and it was a bunk bed room with a nature view (Room 5086)! The kids were super excited about bunk beds and the view was great, we could see the Contemporary very clearly and the MK fireworks were great. The room itself was a tad small (as most reviews indicated) but we never felt overly cramped. The theming is great, the carpeting and upholstery is a bit dated but the wood carvings and general outdoorsy feel was nice. We had a quick bite to eat at Geyser Point (buffalo burger IS as good as advertised) and then headed to MK via the resort boat (the boat is fun for the kids and relaxing, in terms of pure time management, we found that the bus to MK was a bit faster as long as you timed the bus arrival well). Geyser point was cool, it’s Love Bug season so my bug-hating DD was not amused by swatting bugs the entire meal but aside from the bugs we’d recommend it. We went to MK and had FP+'s booked for SDMT, Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh. We all LOVED SDMT. Winnie the Pooh was down during our FP window so we went to Dumbo instead (DD’s favorite Disney character). We had Peter Pan floats from the Ice Cream place near the Pooh ride (forget the name), which were good. Saw the fireworks, took the boat back to WL (much less crowded than bus or monorail lines) and went to bed.
Next day (Thurs) we had our morning planned at MK, back to the resort for a nap/pool then back out around dinner time to Epcot where we had a reservation at Coral Reef. FP’s at MK for BTMR, Splash and Jungle Cruise, loved the mountains, Cruise was a little boring for the kids. Had Citrus swirl floats and lunch at Columbia Harbor House, which was decent (use mobile order people! - line to order was out the door, we mobile ordered and literally walked in, picked up our food and sat down to eat. Why would you not mobile order I don’t get it.). After a pool break at the resort we bused over to Epcot, visited the seas pavilion and Nemo ride prior to dinner at Coral Reef, kids loved them both as they are animal lovers. For dinner we were seated promptly at our reservation time and got a table right against the glass, kids loved the atmosphere. Food was good not great, shrimp and grits was good but small portion, DW and DS had steak which was cooked perfectly but under seasoned, DD had chicken and risotto which she loved. Was able to snag a FP for Soarin, and everyone LOVED this ride (DW and DD’s favorite ride of the entire trip). Also hit Spaceship Earth with no wait and headed home as DS was getting cranky. Watched the fireworks from our room and turned in early. Little did we know this would be the last “routine” day we would have on the entire trip.
Starting around 9pm I came down with a stomach bug, we won’t get too graphic but I spent most the night in the bathroom visiting the Tidy Bowl Man. Initially thought it was food poisoning as I didn’t have a fever, I had shrimp for dinner and everybody else was fine, but that would be proven wrong a few days later (more on that shortly). I couldn’t keep anything down. We had planned the morning at Epcot, again afternoon break and then back to MK for Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner and evening (it was our anniversary and my wife has always wanted to eat at the castle). My DW begged me to stay behind this morning because I hadn’t slept or had anything to eat or drink besides water, but men are stubborn (stupid?) and I wasn’t going to have my trip ruined by some funky shrimp so I decided to tough it out and join the group. We rope dropped Soarin because we loved it. The line was 10 min. As we were waiting in line I could feel my stomach churning, then I could feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead, then I started getting dizzy and next thing I know I wake up on the floor! I passed out in the standby line for Soarin’ at Disney World. My DW and DD are crying because they think I had a heart attack, my 3 year old hugs me and laughingly says “Dada stop falling!” Embarrassed beyond belief I stand up and 2 cast members promptly insist I sit down in the wheelchair they brought over. I insist that my family ride Soarin while I wait it out at the exit. After a rest break and a banana I decide to head back to the resort to sleep while the fam finishes out the morning at Epcot, where they hit Test Track, Mission Space and 3 Cabelleros. They had a blast. I slept and wished for death. We all took a little mid day nap and then it was time for MK and Cindy Castle. To this point I’ve had a couple bananas, some water and a Powerade, and I convince my wife that I’ll just walk slow and at least sit with the family while they eat. My wife called the front desk, explained the situation and asked if we’d be able to switch our reservation to a different day, but nothing was available, so the front desk offered us a complimentary Minnievan to drive us to MK so I wouldn’t have to wait or walk as much, which I thought was very nice of them. I must say that the check-in staff at the castle were the only rude castmembers we encountered in the entirety of our stay, rude, pushy and just unpleasant, basically the opposite of all the other workers we encountered everywhere else. We get inside Castle and meet Cinderella, lovely, we get upstairs to sit and our waiter comes over, gives out the swords and wands, takes our orders. I ask him for ginger ale (FYI you can’t get ginger ale ANYWHERE in Disney World - at least nowhere we looked), I settle for a Sprite. I tell him about my stomach and the lovely chef comes over and says she will make me some chicken soup and rice, which was so thoughtful. DD loved meeting all the princesses, DS hates strangers so he couldn’t care less about the princesses, he preferred to whack Daddy with his sword for the majority of dinner. After dinner we rode Pooh Bear because we missed it the night before and I got a last min FP for it. Shortly after we returned to the room in the evening we received a knock on the door and it was a delivery from WL front desk. They gave us a gift bag with 2 anniversary mugs, coloring books and crayons for the kids, a picture frame and big stuffed Mickey and Minnie. It was the sweetest thing, we couldn’t believe it. That night I was able to actually sleep, and hope for the rest of the trip was restored.
Next day (Sat) was Hollywood Studios day, and I woke up feeling like a new man. We scored a FP for SDD but not until 3pm, which was worrisome because DS typically doesn’t last until 3pm without a break. We decided to rope drop TSL (non SDD stuff). Rope drop itself was packed but not the anarchy shoving match I’ve read about on the forums. Crowded but manageable. We hit ASS first (forum suggestion - thanks guys!), which was literally walk on, and we did that twice walk-on with literally no wait. After that we did TSMM, which was a 20min standby wait, but it didn’t seem bad with the indoor queue and Mr. Potato entertaining the kids. After that we headed over to the Disney Jr. area where the kids met Doc McStuffins and Pluto and we watched the Little Mermaid, kids loved it. We had FP’s for Tower of Terror and RRC, DS was too little for these but he’s a huge Cars fan so we did rider swap for ToT while DS got to do the Cars show twice (he loved it, little ones who like cars will enjoy the show). Unfortunately RRC was down so we didn’t get to ride it, which was ok with the fam because my wife isn’t a fan and DD doesn’t like to go upside down. We had lunch at backlot express, which was packed, it was typical burger place, food was not great, a little dirty. After lunch we decided to bus back to the resort and rest, it was hot today and DS was getting cranky. We returned to HS at 3pm to ride SDD, and of course it was great. We then used our anytime FPP for RRC (which was down) for Star Tours instead, which I loved because I’m a Star Wars nerd. Then we returned to the resort for dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe. My wife enjoyed her meal, I personally was not impressed. I had the new “Pig” skillet and frankly I found most of the meat to be too dry and flavorless (although to be fair my appetite wasn’t fully restored yet either so perhaps it’s better than I’m suggesting). Our waiter was nice but there were no antics whatsoever. After dinner the kids wanted to hit the pool again, so we spent a little time at the pool, had some cupcakes from Roaring Fork and again turned in early to watch fireworks from the room. I was feeling better, everything seemed back to normal until about 10pm when DS woke up and puked all over the floor. Great, a puking 3 year old. Poor boy puked close to a dozen times and couldn’t keep down anything, including water. After about 3 hours of this my wife called the front desk to ask if they had any medical staff in house who could take a look at him or if there were any after hours/urgent care centers close by. The front desk called EMS to our room around 2am, DS was asleep at this point and the EMT’s offered to either take him to the ER or wait out the night and we could taxi to urgent care in the morning, which made more sense considering the little guy had finally fallen asleep. So much for normalcy!
Sunday (mother’s day), DS slept well and awoke in good spirits, but we decided it was best for him to stay at the resort to rest instead of battle the heat and crowds at the parks. My wife volunteered to stay with him while I took DD to Animal Kingdom. Again we had a half day planned with FP’s for FOP, EE and KRR. We rope dropped Navi River Journey and it was essentially a walk-on, then headed straight to KS. To my surprise we ended up waiting close to 20min despite getting there right around 9am; it seems people are getting smarter. Anyway it was a lovely ride, amazing animals. We walked the Gorilla trail afterwards hoping to catch the new baby gorilla, no sign of the baby but the adults were out and amazing. Next up was EE, which was awesome, and we walked the Jungle Trek thereafter to see the Tigers and such, again it was nice. Then it was FOP time, and this is the best ride I’ve ever been on, just incredible, I felt terrible my wife missed it. It was super hot and humid today and DD was fading, she asked if we could skip KRR and return to the resort for lunch and pool time, which I obliged. We had a nice lunch at Roaring Fork, visited with DW and DS, DS was no longer puking but still not eating much, was staying hydrated and nibbling on crackers and bananas. That night we had reservation for Snow White dinner at Artist Point. DS was not able to eat anything there so DW and DD went to the dinner while I stayed with DS. Once again Wilderness Lodge showed great customer service, they actually packaged up a full meal for me and made some soup for DS and we were able to eat in the room (they didn’t charge us for DS’s meal either). I’ve read mixed reviews about the food but the meal was my wife’s favorite of the entire vacation, we both had the veal shank (falling off the bone), the desserts were great, the apps were a little blah but overall it was a fine meal. DS kept his soup down and appeared to be on the mend, so we were hoping tomorrow would be a good day as it was our last full day at Disney. Of course that was wishful thinking because DADDY got sick again! Once again I was up all night in the bathroom. I was smarter this time and made sure to hydrate a lot in between bathroom visits, this seemed to give me energy the following morning. My poor wife was in disbelief.
Our plan for the last day (Mon) was to return to MK where we had FP’s for all the mountains (SDMT, BTMR, SM). I was feeling tired but with hydration, immodium and a banana I felt better than earlier in the trip and was confident I could make it without collapsing again. We rope dropped Peter Pan and then rode on SDMT. We had an early lunch reservation for BOG, we rode Voyage of the Little Mermaid just before lunch (30 min wait, our longest wait of the trip, posted and expected times were 10min so we hopped on line, this was only major error I found the whole trip in terms of wait times in the app). Lunch at BOG, what amazing scenery, can’t comment much on the food quality as I couldn’t really eat anything. Poor Daddy had meals at Cindy Castle and Beast Castle and couldn’t eat anything at either, what a shame. Kids and DW liked the food and loved the atmosphere. After lunch it POURED, thunderstorms and all, lasted for several hours so BTMR and Splash Mountain FP’s were converted to anytime passes, we decided to head back to resort to rest and wait out the weather, perhaps returning to the park later after dinner, which was at O’Hana. We took a bus to MK and then monorailed to Polynesian for dinner. About 5 mins after arriving DS said he needed to puke again. Wonderful. Took him to the bathroom, no puke, said “I just want to do it at the room”. My wife, who wasn’t particularly hungry all of a sudden, volunteered to take him back to the room to see what would happen, so DD and I stayed and had a nice meal. On our way home from the meal DW called to report that DS was fine, he didn’t puke and was happily playing, but that SHE was now sick. Poor wifey made it the whole trip taking care of the rest of us and then on the eve of leaving she gets sick. We came back and I took DS to the pool so DW could rest, DD was all of a sudden tired (uh oh) and wanted to hang out in room. While we were at pool, DD also became sick! So DW and DD were a revolving door in/out of the bathroom, had matching puke buckets next to their beds (how adorable). After a couple hours DW really took a turn for the worse, chills, fever, didn’t feel strong enough to even get out of bed. We phoned our family doctor back in NY who prescribed some Zofran over the phone, unfortunately at this time of night only pharmacy open was 15 min away! The hotel again stepped up the plate and offered me a complimentary taxi to the pharmacy. When I returned my wife looked awful and DD almost as bad, both were crying and appeared to be in agony, and I’ve seen my wife give birth and know how tough she is, I was now getting worried. I made the decision that they both should get medically attention, so once again EMS comes to our room and they start IV’s on both of them right in bed. Both my wife and daughter were then taken via ambulance to the local emergency room for more fluids and meds. Through a miracle of God my son actually slept through the entire commotion – lights on, 4 EMT’s in our room talking, stretchers, hotel security, the works.
Our magical express bus was to take us to the airport at 7:30am for a 10:30 flight home, DW and DD did not get home from the hospital until almost 6am. We were not packed, they were exhausted, there was no way this was going to happen. THIS IS WHY YOU GET TRIP INSURANCE. We had to change our flight to later that night, which cost us almost $400 more PER TICKET to do, insurance is footing the bill. Wilderness Lodge, again with the amazing customer service, allowed us to stay in the room way past check out time until our flight (DME scheduled for 7:30pm), and they offered us the room for an additional night free of charge if we needed it. We spent most of the day hanging out in the room and the surround areas in the main lodge. It was torrential downpours most of the day, and to our surprise Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Piglet, Stitch and Donald Duck all showed up to the WL lobby for meet and greets! Must be something they do during bad weather days! In any event DD got to meet Stitch and Mickey and Donald and that brightened her spirits. WL sent us complimentary room service (soup, toast, rice, bananas) while there, it was incredible how they really went out of their way to help us out, and we couldn’t thank them enough. Between the rest, meds and just wanting to get home, we ventured out to our 10:30pm flight, landing in Buffalo, NY at 1:05am, got home around 2:30am.
Was it ideal to have stomach bugs and ED visits during your crazy expensive Disney vacation that you spent a year planning and multiple years saving up funds for? Of course not, but we still had a great time and the kids want to go back. Mommy and Daddy would like a little break, but the kids can’t wait to go back. If not for all the planning and tips and tricks picked up from TP, we wouldn’t have been as organized or been able to prioritize our experiences. I also again can’t say enough about how great WL treated us; they weren’t obligated to pay for offsite transportation and extended room stays (they upgraded our room for free too keep in mind) and food and merch, my wife and I were so impressed with their kindness and support. We obviously did not get our money’s worth on the meal plan, had our stomachs cooperated we certainly would have. We also missed out on a few attractions we hoped to see, but under the circumstances I think we did pretty well. I would whole-heartedly recommend WL to anyone. The customer service was above and beyond wonderful and the resort itself is breathtakingly beautiful, particularly to an outdoors-loving family such as ours. Is the transportation as convenient as being at the Poly or Contemporary? No, but it’s not far off, and you still have to take the bus to HS or AK from the monorail resorts too. WL also appeared way more quiet and peaceful than the monorail resorts, even with Whispering Canyon Café noise.
Thanks for reading this incredibly long report, hopefully this is useful to people and if you have questions about WL, planning, local medical facilities…just ask!