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The Legend of Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Welcome guest author Kevin Carpenter who brings us the back-story of the Wilderness Lodge Resort’s Artist Point. Kevin works in professional soccer and has contributed to Celebrations Magazine and ESPN Cleveland. You can follow him on twitter at @kejcarpenter. Thanks, Kevin, for taking us back in time…

Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge remains one of the most popular destinations for a fine dining experience on Disney property. Whether it is the restaurant’s ambience or famous berry cobbler, guests have flocked to Artist Point since its opening.

Yet few know Disney’s “official” backstory for the resort’s flagship dining establishment. The stories that WDW creates around its restaurants, hotels, and attractions help establish the extraordinary attention to detail that is the foundation of these well-known areas of Disney World.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

During Wilderness Lodge’s first few years, all guests would receive a copy of the Silver Creek Star newspaper upon check-in. While this newspaper included information on the resort and various guest amenities, a closer read reveals its true treasure: the Disney-created mythology behind the Wilderness Lodge and, for our purposes, Artist Point.

Wilderness Lodge and Artist Point both officially opened in 1994, but that is not how the Silver Creek Star remembers it…

The Silver Creek Star

The History of Artist Point

Filled with inspiration by the stories of Lewis and Clark, Colonel Ezekiel Moreland set out for the American West in 1822. On his travels, the Colonel made a discovery that would change his life forever: Silver Creek Springs. His prize, a valley full of unrivaled natural splendor, would eventually house the Wilderness Lodge.

The Colonel quickly sent for his daughter to join him at the new settlement. Genevieve Moreland, known to her friends as Jenny, worked back east as an art curator before receiving her father’s summons into the wilderness. Prior to her departure, though, Jenny met Frederich Alonzo Gustaf, the man for whom Artist Point would one day be named. A young Austrian artist, Gustaf dreamed of capturing the majesty of America’s West on his canvas and so joined Jenny’s traveling party. Editor’s Note: Visitors to the Wilderness Lodge will recognize that the private dining menu is courtesy of Miss Jenny! I’ve ordered several yummy items from Miss Jenny’s In-Room Dining.

When Gustaf arrived at Silver Creek Springs, he wasted no time in setting up his painting supplies. He chose the best vantage point he could find – a rocky ledge overlooking the valley’s magnificent vista. Seeing the artist’s intention, Colonel Moreland uttered what proved to be prophetic words: “My friend, this valley is alive. You may be well advised to choose a less precarious location for your work.”

Undaunted, Gustaf began painting. Then the geyser erupted.

Fire Rock Geyser

The explosion knocked Gustaf (and all of his supplies) right off his perch. Thankfully, the artist survived this misadventure … but it didn’t deter him from painting on that rocky ledge in the future. After all, a little fall cannot stop artistic inspiration. In fact, it even became his favorite spot to paint – as long as he remembered to pack up for the day before the geyser went off!

When Jenny Moreland later had a lodge built on her father’s land, she remembered Gustaf’s love for nature and forever immortalized his chosen work area. She had the lodge’s formal dining room built on the exact spot where Gustaf spent his days drawing the beauty of nature. Appropriately, the establishment was named Artist Point.

View From Artist Point

Modern-day guests will now find Artist Point outfitted with spectacular murals and breathtaking views of Bay Lake. It surely provides diners with a similar sense of wonder and awe as that young artist experienced those many years ago.

Mural

So the next time you find yourself dining at Artist Point, please remember to raise a glass to the artistic vision and courage (not to mention foolhardiness) of Frederich Alonzo Gustaf. In Disney’s mind, at least, Artist Point wouldn’t be there at all if not for him.

You can see more little known facts from the Wilderness Lodge at WildernessLodgeSite.com’s History and Secrets page.

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7 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    This is my absolute favorite restaurant in all the fantasy world of Walt, I love the ambiance of the slight glow of the lights, murals of the sprawling westward expanse. The food is some of the best on property, Miss the venison pot stickers but new menu items and the ever abundant wine list is awe inspiring! I love the wooded shiny floor walk up to the hostess booth it gives me pilo-erections (goose bumps) and butterflies! If the lodge don’t make you happy for that special occasion, this wonderful restaurant will give you the satisfaction you deserve!

  2. Nice post! We had our wedding at WDW back in 1998 and stayed at the Wilderness Lodge. Artist Point is where we had our reception. On our visit 10 years later, we still enjoyed our meal at Artist Point (esp that cobbler!!)

  3. Great story…I wish Disney took more time telling the “story” to places like it used to. We’ve only dined at Artist Point once, and it was a great experience.

  4. Beth says:

    I have an Artist Point reservation in my future…I’m looking forward to it!

  5. Liz says:

    I have a special place in my heart for the Wilderness Lodge. My husband proposed to me while at dinner at Artist Point and we spent our honeymoon at WL too. <3

  6. zumpie says:

    Great article. I actually wish WL still distributed this paper at check in–I find it cute and now understand why room service is “Miss Jenny’s”. Artist Point is an excellent restaurant—and I live in the Pacific Northwest and work in hospitality. They do our cuisine light years better than we do!

  7. Thanks for the kind words everyone! Wilderness Lodge is by far my favorite Disney resort, so having the opportunity to write about Artist Point was a lot of fun.

    TWOD & Zumpie – I totally agree. It is a shame that Disney doesn’t give out the Silver Creek Star anymore at check-in. I had been looking for a copy for a long time before finally tracking one down a few months ago. The newspaper is a great read and the Artist Point story is just the tip of the iceberg – there are at least 3 or 4 other back stories to other aspects of Wilderness Lodge in there too.

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