By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Review: Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge



By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

Review - The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

Most (but not all…) room options at Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (a Disney Vacation Club resort) are wonderful places for returning visitors to Walt Disney World to stay.

For typical first-time visitors, I don’t recommend the Disney Vacation Club resorts.

That said, these “DVC” resorts can be a great choice for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.

Among the Disney Vacation Club resorts, the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge ranks second overall for first-time visitors, bested by sister Wilderness Lodge Copper Creek Villas  but specifics vary a bit by room type and family size.

THE DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS

You can have a spectacular visit at any Walt Disney World resort. However, this site recommends that typical first time visitors to Walt Disney World avoid the Disney Vacation Club resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. (You can find extensive detail on the DVC resorts here.)

Living Dining Kitchen Space Villas at the Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

The recommendation comes from the simple fact that the distinguishing feature of these resorts–extra space and full kitchens–will not be of much value to first-time visitors following one of the itineraries on this site, as they won’t be used much.

However, the Disney Vacation Club resorts represent more than 10% of Walt Disney World’s total rooms, and are very appropriate for first time visitors with large families, needing extra sleeping spaces, or looking for a more comfortable place to stay.

Because of this, I’m providing a series of up-to-date reviews. This review is based on my half-dozen stays at the Boulder Ridge Villas at the Wilderness Lodge.

THE BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

Murphy Bed Studio Villas at Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

On this basis, The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge comes in second overall among the Disney Vacation Club resorts. (See this for resort rankings.)

The two Wilderness Lodge options–Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek–have the best overall kid appeal among the DVC options.

Because the glory of the Wilderness Lodge is the architecture of the main building and in particular its lobby, because Copper Creek is in the main building, Copper Creek generally wins out over Boulder Ridge–although the separate building of Boulder Ridge really does have its own unique charm.

However, there’s a little variability here for larger families:

  • Studios: pick between the Copper Creek  and Boulder Ridge studios based on your sleeping needs. Copper Creek studios sleep four on a queen and a fold-out bed that’s as wide as a queen but four inches shorter. Boulder Ridge studios sleep five on three beds–those two beds and a third bed that folds down from the wall–and eliminates the room’s table when it does so.
  • One Bedroom Villas at Boulder Ridge have seating at the dining table for only two–there’s two more dining chairs at a breakfast bar that can be pulled over to the table, but the table remains small. Copper Creek  one bedroom villas seat six at their dining table, although they have no breakfast bar. So for one bedroom villas,  Copper Creek is the better choice
  • Two Bedroom Villas at Boulder Ridge have the same living and dining room space as one bedroom villas, and thus the same dining table problem. In addition, these rooms have seats only for four in their living room–although dining chairs can be pulled around into the living area. As noted, Copper Creek  has a better dining set up, but it does have the same limits to the living room. The better dining table capacity makes Copper Creek the better choice of the two for two bedroom villas. Larger families might find the overall set up at Kidani Village a better choice for two bedrooms villas.
  • The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are one of only three DVC resorts that don’t offer Grand Villas (The Polynesian and Beach Club Villas are the others), so for families seeking such a space–they sleep 12–the Grand Villas at Copper Creek Villas  are the best choice.

This review has six pages

 

Lobby Totem Pole Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net
Kid Appeal. The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge share the services, resources and lobby of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, plus compatible theming. The spectacular kid appeal of the Wilderness Lodge, especially its lobby, makes it number one on the kid appeal list, and the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge share this ranking.  (For more on the Wilderness Lodgesee this.)

Convenience.  Both sets of Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are the fourth-most convenient of all the Disney resort hotels, and the second most convenient of the DVC resorts–after Bay Lake Tower. Boulder Ridge is a little more convenient to the bus stop, which serves Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.  Copper Creek is a little more convenient to the boat dock that serves Magic Kingdom.

OTHER DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF THE BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

Public Space The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has a number of very strong positives.

  • The strongest positive is the spectacular theming of it and its partner resort Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Other shared positives include the nice variety of dining options in the Lodge, and the theming of the main pool
  • On its own, positives include the architecture of its lobby (see photo above), the five person capacity of Studios, and the collection of railroad memorabilia in its first floor Carolwood Room–named after Walt Disney’s outdoor model railroad, the Carolwood Pacific (photo below)

Railroad Mementos at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

The Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge also has some distinctive negatives.

Most significant of these is the layout of the Two Bedroom Villa when used by larger families.

 

Note in the floor plan the king bedroom on the left, and the two queen bedroom on the right.

The shared living/dining/kitchen space is in the center.

The shared living space is about a foot too narrow to be fully functional when the sofa bed in it is unfolded. The effect is to make the living area almost unusable when the sofa bed is open, and, given that the connecting door to the room with two queens is on the balcony side of the sofa bed, access to and from this room is somewhat limited as well.

Dining Table Living Dining Kitchen Space Villas at the Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

Moreover, the dining table only seats two.

TV Side Living Dining Kitchen Space Villas at the Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

More chairs can be grabbed from elsewhere in the villa, and there’s also a small breakfast bar between the kitchen and living room, but really?

This is awkward enough that I would advise a family so large that is cannot fit into the six sleeping spaces of the two bedrooms to stay in a Two Bedroom at Copper Creek or Kidani Village instead.

BEST AND WORST ROOMS AT THE BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE


See the map. The Wilderness Lodge itself is the larger, green-roofed block on the top left–the Copper Creek Villas are in the Lodge, on its right side. The Boulder Ridge Villas are the smaller, reddish-roofed block at the bottom right.

The villas connect to the bus stop and the Wilderness Lodge lobby through a curved covered wooden walkway.

 

Best places to stay at the Boulder Ridge Villas at the Wilderness Lodge

The most convenient rooms are 1501-1505 and 1507.

  • These rooms are the closest to the Wilderness Lodge lobby, and accessible by an entry door that serves only first floor rooms, making for the shortest walk both there and back, and also the shortest walk to the bus stops.
  • They are a mix of studios and one bedrooms; the one bedrooms can be combined with a studio into a two bedroom.
  • As first floor rooms, they have patios, not balconies. Note: avoid 1509—though well-located for convenience, it abuts the ice machine and guest laundry and may be subject to noise from these.

Rooms with the best view:

  • Odd numbered fifth floor rooms 5533 and up have great views of Bay Lake.  The lower numbered of these are more convenient, because they are closer to the elevator.  One of these is a one bedroom; the rest are two bedrooms.
  • Fourth floor odd numbered rooms 4531 and higher also have good views, but with more studios and one-bedrooms available.  The lower numbered of these are closer to the elevator.

Best mix of view and convenience:

  • 4511, a two bedroom, has a moderately good view of Bay Lake, and is equidistant between the elevators and a stairwell that presents the shortest walk to the lobby of the Lodge and the bus stops.  You can’t use this stairwell coming back, but need to go to the elevator instead.
  • 4507, also a two-bedroom, is the next best.

Worst Places to Stay at the Boulder Ridge Villas at the Wilderness Lodge

All first floor rooms have patios, not balconies.

A certain group of even numbered rooms are in the shorter wing of the Villas, and overlook the walkway between it and the Lodge.

This walkway is planked in such a way to in effect create corrugations.  The roar of the wheels of rolling bags over these planks will keep some up at night.

Rooms with such problems include even numbers 1506-1516, 2508-2514, 3506-3514, and 4508 to 4514.

Disney’s room request form for these villas won’t let you get anywhere near this specific…so you’d need to communicate over the phone.

BEST FOR:

Larger families, families seeking a bit of extra privacy or more beds, families looking for a more comfortable place to stay, families looking for particularly kid-appealing DVC space.

WORST FOR:

Especially large families looking for a  two-bedroom villa for 7 or 8 people (with the exceptions noted above), families on a budget.

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

This review continues here!

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17 comments

1 Rebecca Kotsifas { 10.10.14 at 4:02 pm }

saw your review of the new studio at wilderness lodge villas. thanks! I’m wondering, how was the Murphy bed and sofa bed comfort wise? my mom and sister and I planning a 5-night stay there in feb and am I crazy to think we’ll be ok using the Murphy bed? I’m 5’2″ and 115 lbs, figuring it will accommodate me, but what do you think? thanks!

2 Dave { 10.10.14 at 5:26 pm }

Rebecca what a cutie you must be! You will be fine at that size and weight. The fold-out couch is also fine for one adult who is not too heavy or tall.

3 Rebecca Kotsifas { 10.13.14 at 10:03 am }

thanks, Dave! we are really looking forward to it. my sister is running the 5k and I’m running the princess half marathon, so bed comfort is going to paramount while we’re there. thanks again – your site is fantastically helpful.

4 Dave { 10.13.14 at 5:33 pm }

Thanks so much for the kind words, and good luck with the running!!

5 Dan { 10.26.14 at 8:36 am }

Hello!

First off… Love the website! Always a great resource when I’m planning our many different trips to the World 🙂

So my question: my son and I have stayed at WL in one of the newly remodeled studios this past spring. Loved it! My wife and I will be taking our two kids, plus one friend (so 3 kids total) in February. Currently have a 1 bedroom at Kidani booked (our home resort through DVC); however, considering changing to a split stay so that the girls can experience the Wilderness Lodge for a few days too, since they’ve never been. I see that the one bedroom can accommodate five… But with that caveat about no extra bedding/linens/ towels are provided.

So my question is: where does that fifth person sleep? I don’t see the sleeper chair provided in some other resorts, or the Murphy bed… So I’m trying to figure it out. Thanks!

6 Dave { 10.26.14 at 10:36 am }

Hey Dan, thanks so much! The short answer is I dunno! Bringing your own twin-sized air mattress, pump, and sheets and blanket seems the best bet–it’ll fit parallel to and in front of the TV…

7 Nicole { 05.05.16 at 2:28 am }

hi dave! you have the best site. i have been on it ever since we decided to go to WDW for the first time. we are a family of 5….2 adults, and 3 kiddos 5 and under. after reading your site, we booked a 7 night stay at AKL/Kidani, 2 bed room over the 4th of july. you said the jambo had more kid appeal, but that the kidani had more room and the layout was better, so we booked it!!
my question is that we wanted to visit another resort a few days before kidani. i REALLY want to visit the villas at WL, but i am worried about staying there. what do you think? we wanted a 2 bed villa….but i want the kids to really experience great theming like you talk about. is it worth the money to stay here a few days before kidani? do you think a lot will be done by july?

8 Dave { 05.05.16 at 9:51 am }

Nicole, I don’t have inside knowledge as to what it will be like in July, but here are my forecasts:

The rooms will be fine, and the Wilderness Lodge lobby (which is the glory of the place) is likely to be at least 80% as stunning as without the refurb. The area around the villas themselves is a mess and will continue to be a mess…

9 Nicole { 05.05.16 at 11:38 am }

Thanks Dave…this is Nicole again. Thank you for the candid information! Do you have any other recommendations? your site says poly is great, but we need a king sized bed, and really looking for the space. that is why we went for the 2 bedroom at kidani. your personal favorite for dvc is Old key west i read. but it does not have the kid appeal. can you recommend another place for us to stay for a few days before kidani, or do you think we should just stay put at kidani. i know you said the beach club villas only has the pool going for it and not much kid appeal. 🙂

10 Dave { 05.07.16 at 6:03 am }

Nicole, the pool at the BC is great. Bay Lake Tower would also be a good choice. While it has no particular kid appeal itself, it’s kinda nice to be in the heart of the Magic Kingdom area, and to be able to walk to and from there.

11 Nicole { 05.10.16 at 6:18 pm }

Thanks Dave….what about standard connecting rooms at poly? I hear one of the rooms could be a king size bed if requesting. Do you think poly would be a good option for our split stay? Thinking of 3 days at the poly before we head over to our booked kidani 2 bedroom. we are a family of 5…2 adults and 3 kids, under 5! first time to DW…coming from California!

12 Dave { 05.11.16 at 12:37 pm }

Nicole, there are very few king beds at the Poly, and they are not (I think) a separately reservable category.

Here’s a thought: if a king is the issue, connecting rooms at the Four Seasons? Book a king with a queen sofa bed, and a connecting two-full rooms? See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/09/22/review-four-seasons-resort-orlando-at-walt-disney-world/

13 nicole { 05.11.16 at 1:52 pm }

Thank you Dave. I think we are going to keep the connecting rooms at Poly for our split stay, even though we may not get a king bed. we have heard so many wonderful things about the poly, and everything they have for kids. it will be for 3 days, and then off to kidani. thanks again.

14 Big Red { 08.14.17 at 12:57 pm }

Excellent resource, especially with some site being slow to update with the name change and CC rollout. Kudos!

Do you have any advice on rooms 2519, 3519, & 4519 and 2528, 3528, & 4528? These are dedicated two bedrooms with a abnormal layout. Are they more or less spacious than a regular dedicated 2BR? Do they have two balconies? Appreciate any help you can provide.

15 Dave { 08.14.17 at 4:53 pm }

Big Red, I’m embarrassed to say I got nothin’. There are lotsa forums out there dedicated to DVC, on which someone will know something

16 Big Red { 08.15.17 at 10:44 am }

Thanks for the quick reply! I’ve found some minimal info on the interwebs, but most of it is along the lines of, “That room was nice!” – which is helpful, but maybe not as specific on details as I’d like. I’m sure we’ll have a great time no matter what room we get. How can we not when we’re at DW, eh?

17 Dave { 08.15.17 at 5:05 pm }

🙂 Big Red

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