The landscape sure has changed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
With this summer’s opening of the Disney Vacation Club Copper Creek Villas and Cabins, it was anticipated that more and elevated dining options would be needed at the already popular Resort. Hence the refurbishment of Roaring Fork as well as the addition of Geyser Point Bar & Grill.
And honestly, Geyser Point really is a terrific new spot. But today I’m taking you back to where it all started (in regards to great lounges at Wilderness Lodge): Territory Lounge. I don’t care how many terrific enhancements they make to the Lodge. This spot will continue to rank among the best lounges in Walt Disney World, in my opinion.
They serve great drinks (with lots of Canadian beer options), but even better than the drinks is the upscale pub grub with old favorites served up in new ways, and less familiar dishes heavily inspired by the Pacific Northwest.
And then there’s the location. The Wilderness Lodge is a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom, making it an ideal place to escape the heat (or the crowds) for a bit. So, let’s step in.
Territory Lounge is plucked straight out of the Pacific Northwest, complete with traditional building materials like rustic logs reminiscent of a cozy cabin. Plus you’ll spy hand-hewn statues of bears, tons of wood paneling, and warm, low lighting.
Seating areas abound, including some nice comfy couches and armchairs perfect for hanging out with friends. There’s also Americana to spare on the walls!
And there are flat-screen TVs so you can keep up with scores from the big — or small — games.
But that little bit o’ tech doesn’t detract from the small details like the craftsman-style lanterns topping the tables, which create a really intimate vibe.
Trust me when I say it does not take a minute to feel comfortable and relaxed at Territory Lounge. And the food? Let’s just say it only adds to the warm and fuzzy feels. (Maybe that’s also the alcohol helping…)
I’ve enjoyed many a stop at the Lounge, but the menu continues to change a bit with every visit. It’s full of comfort foods like popcorn, chicken wings, and even a burger and pizza, but everything is given a bit of a twist. Popcorn, for example, is served with yuzu kosho (a Japanese fermented sauce made with chili peppers) and nori (edible seaweed).
The little asterisk at the bottom of the menu lets loungers know that some of the items are coming out of the kitchen of neighboring restaurant, Artist Point, giving guests the chance to enjoy some Signature restaurant bites right from the lounge. Nice!
My first dish was one such item. And it was brand spanking new to the Territory Lounge on the night I visited! The Ahi Tuna Tataki Rice makes a seriously powerful first impression. The plate of delicately balanced flavors is cloistered in fragile, massive Japanese rice cakes. These relatively flavorless crisps are dusted with Nori Powder. In the forefront is a small forest of Shiso Leaves.
Beautiful, right? When you pull back the rice crisps, you find the plump pieces of Ahi Tuna Tataki. This flavorful, silky fish has a terrific bite to it. The other thoughtful components include Daikon Radish, Avocado Cream, Green Onion, Soy Sauce, and Thai Chili Sauce. As with all properly crafted Japanese food, this dish was in perfect, fresh balance.
But lest you think I’ve gone all dainty-bites-of-lovely-fish on ya, I also ordered a dish that’s been around Territory Lounge for years (even though it’s different these days).
The Oregon Chardonnay Fondue is something I order on every single visit. Previously the fondue was served with fruit and cubes of bread. But now it comes with — wait for it — Pretzel Bread.
And grapes. But whatever. Pretzel Bread!! I’m happy to report that this is just as delicious as ever. As always, the Chardonnay Fondue is a neat interpretation of a cheese dip, and it’s served over a little steno burner to keep it nice and warm.
That said, while Pretzel Bread pretty much always rocks, I feel like the current serving style shrinks the portion of this favorite a bit. And the previous cubed bread gave it more of that traditional, “gather-’round-friends” feel that encompasses the whole fondue experience. But maybe that’s just me…
Full of tuna and fondue, one might think I was done for the evening. But there’s just no way to leave Territory Lounge without a plate of fries, because in the old days they served up truffle fries with a sauce so good that I brought everything back to my room to eat. All by myself. Watching Must Do Disney.
But now the fries are Poutine style, y’all! The fries are house cut (no frozen factory fries here!). They are topped with a Veal Jus (YUM!), melty Cheese Curds, and tiny flecks of Green Onion.
So much indulgence on one plate… more than plenty to soak up any of those Disney drinks you may have ordered on the side. Because, seriously, I say “on the side” since this is one lounge where I consider the drinks to take second billing to the food.
Nosh or Not?
You’ll want to high-tail it to Territory Lounge if:
- You are a connoisseur of upscale bar grub!
- You want a break from the Magic Kingdom but don’t want to go too far.
- You love the Wilderness Lodge or want to check it out — but don’t want to make an Advance Dining Reservation or consume a full meal.
You can skip Territory Lounge if:
- You’d rather enjoy the lovely Florida weather outside at Geyser Point Bar & Grill.
- You have a tight touring schedule and can’t spare the time to travel away from the Kingdom.
Aw, who am I kidding… I’d never recommend skipping Territory Lounge! Unless you have, like, an aversion to cozy atmospheres and excellent eats 😉 . I’ll probably run into you there on my next trip!
What’s your favorite Disney World bar or lounge?