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







Construction at the Wilderness Lodge and Villas



By Dave Shute

Note 1/31/16: The construction impact on the Wilderness Lodge itself will be much more extensive than implied below.  See this.

Construction kicked off at the Wilderness Lodge and Villas in late 2015 and is expected to extend (at least) through 2016.

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.netThe largest impact will be on the Villas, but around 20% of rooms at the Wilderness Lodge itself may see diminished views, and weekday noise from construction might affect all rooms at both.

Wilderness Lodge guests who book courtyard-view rooms should largely be isolated from view issues.

Villa guests who avoid Bay Lake views will be better off than those who don’t–but since these rooms are not directly bookable as such, Villas guests will be facing more of a challenge.

The images below are from December 2015 from the top floor of the Bay Lake side of the Villas.

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (4)
Above: from the old Villa pool area to the beach.

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (5)

Above: from the old Villa pool area to the Wilderness Lodge.

CONSTRUCTION AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

Most construction is between the southeast edge of the Wilderness Lodge and the northwest side of the Villas, with another smaller area affected at the northwest side of the Lodge.

Wilderness Lodge Construction Areas Late 2015 through 2016 from yourfirstvisit.net

See the map (click it to enlarge it), where using my sophisticated image skills I’ve put blue boxes in the affected areas.

On the map, the Lodge has the green roof, and the Villas the red roof.

Major construction will include removing and re-doing the smaller pool outside of the Villas (the main pool in the middle of the Lodge wings was updated in 2014 and will remain open), adding a restaurant between the Villas and the beach, and adding bungalows along the shores.

As a result, the small pool, beach, boat rentals and playground on this side will be closed.

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

This area as of December 2015 is all screened off with construction fabric. Interestingly, these are printed with woods, and are somewhat see-through.

The see-through means you can tell better than in most recent Disney projects what is going on.

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (6)

For example, the above is not one of my usual lousy photos, but rather the result of holding my lens right up against the construction fabric.

Well, I guess to be precise it is one of my usual lousy photos, but this time at least I have an excuse…

Main Lodge guests who book courtyard views will largely escape the construction.

Views on the Lodge side between the Lodge and the Villas will be affected, and the beach and marina are closed.  Below is the construction wall by the beach:

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (7)

There will also be construction on the far side of the Lodge, but as of December 2015 all that has happened here is some preliminary watershed protection:

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (8)

It will be a lot harder for Villas guests to avoid, as while one can request a “woods” view at the Villas that might avoid the construction, this is not a separately bookable category.

So despite the panic out there on the internet, any first-time Lodge visitors who can afford the upcharges of the Courtyard views (about $100/night, depending on the year and season) should not much worry about this construction.

We had a courtyard view in our December 2015 Wilderness Lodge stay, and thus zero impact from the construction other than a note left in our room (top of page) and some fun pins:

Wilderness Lodge Construction Update from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

Villas guests will have a harder time.

About half of Villas rooms will have views dominated by construction, so it will be much harder to avoid.

I’d advise avoiding the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge at least until we all have a better sense of how these rooms feel.

Many Villas guests are already re-booking, some with some pretty nice arrangements–see this thread on co-author Josh‘s site.

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31 comments

1 Beth { 12.18.15 at 12:39 pm }

Hi Dave,

Do you know if they have taken any VWL rooms out of inventory because they are so deeply affected?

We are attempting to rent points in the fall and are hoping VWL will be an easier “get” because people will want to avoid it. However, if inventory is reduced, it might be tough to get anyway.

Just curious! Thanks.

Beth

2 Dave { 12.19.15 at 7:14 am }

Beth, I don’t know, but I doubt it…

3 Debby { 12.27.15 at 7:46 pm }

So, yes, of course I booked a villa…lol…Jan 31 thru Feb 5 2016 ..I knew about construction and have been to Disney many times previously, so I am not too bothered by it…In which villa would you suggest I ask for when checking in? I understand from your pic that not really ANY good views at this time, but perhaps you could guide us toward something..? Thank you

4 Tasha { 12.28.15 at 12:50 pm }

We are planning a trip for the first week of Dec 2016. As a family of 5, there are few affordable options for us. Do you think the wilderness lodge will be an acceptable choice by then? We plan on renting DVC points. This is our second visit, not first. Thank you.

5 Dave { 12.29.15 at 8:56 am }

Debby, the views on the non-Bay Lake side are the best!!

6 Dave { 12.29.15 at 9:01 am }

Tasha, construction is expected to continue at WL through 2016. Among the DVC studios, the BoardWalk Villas and Polynesia Village studios also sleep 5.

7 Tasha { 12.29.15 at 10:24 am }

The Polynesian does not have enough owners willing to rent out points yet I’m told. And the DVC is not allowing you to book 5 in a boardwalk room as the refurbishment is not finished yet, I’m also told. Perhaps I’ll just go to a moderate that sleeps 5 :(

8 Dave { 12.30.15 at 9:14 am }

Oh, fudge–thanks Tasha, I did not now either of those points.

9 Joan tomei { 01.13.16 at 7:56 am }

Planning a dec 2016 stay at WL in a standard room. Will be getting 3 rooms, bringing kids and grandkids with us. Will the construction bother us in a standard room? Should I try for some upgrade? Would a courtyard view be better? Worth the money? A bunk bed room? Thanks so much for your time.

10 Dave { 01.14.16 at 7:23 am }

Joan, yes, courtyard view rooms are the best choice.

11 Stefanie { 01.18.16 at 11:48 pm }

Hi Josh,
I recently booked a room at the VWL using DVC rental points for May. We booked thru a service which is non refundable. I don’t think we realized the extent of the construction. Do you think it is still worth a stay. we had some other options at the time of the booking, but now i am getting worried. We don’t plan to be around most of the day since we will be at the parks, but I am not sure what to do.

thanks

12 Dave { 01.19.16 at 5:53 pm }

Stefanie, the main worry is daytime construction noise. If you aren’t in your room much, I don’t think it will matter.

13 Drew greene { 02.17.16 at 6:11 pm }

Is there a strong chance this runs into 2017? Would like to possibly stay here in feb or march of next year.

14 Dave { 02.18.16 at 8:51 am }

Drew, yes.

15 Thia { 03.12.16 at 3:28 am }

Hi there! We’re planning our trip for the last week of October 2016. We plan to stay at the W.L. in Standard View w/2 queen beds, can you please tell me how I should specifically request for a room. Example: Building 1, Floor 1, SE – facing view, Room #1000-1010. I wish we could afford to upgrade but our budget is tighter than my belt! Thank you in advance!

16 Dave { 03.12.16 at 10:25 am }

Thia, don’t do it that way, as the folks assigning your room won’t be able to interpret what you want or are trying to avoid. Request an upper floor room that avoids construction noise.

If you are worried about construction, try standard view at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or at the Garden Wing at the Contemporary.

17 Thia { 03.12.16 at 7:50 pm }

Hi Dave! Thank you so much for your quick response I’m very grateful. I took your advise and looked into the Contemporary (we’ve stayed there in the past) but again the price difference is astronomical, I would end up paying an additional $1,113 that’s just too much. I’ve heard Animal Kingdom Lodge is amazing, however my son has ADHD & autistic and my husband has cancer. Travel to and from AK is difficult for this reason we simply avoid it and the park. Wilderness Lodge & the Contemporary have the best transportation for us. WL is like my parents home in Colorado so we’re good there. You hit it on the nail about my concerns with the noise. We typically take afternoon breaks from the parks to avoid sensory overload and melt downs. We take our son on hikes or play on the beach. once centered we head back to the parks for diner and enjoy an easy pace at the parks. I think my only option is to voice my concerns with a cast member before our plans are finalized, hopefully they’ll understand and do the right thing. Again thank you Dave for time & energy this is a wonderful site and I’m glad I came here. Thia

18 Dave { 03.15.16 at 8:26 am }

Thia, Garden Wing standard view rooms are $50-70 more per night your dates than WL rooms…

19 Jennifer OHair { 04.10.16 at 1:39 pm }

We are wanting to book a courtyard view room at WL first week of December 2016. I’m not overly concerned about the views, but instead am worried about afternoon noise. I will have my 9 month old son with me and am planning on daily nap time. Do you think it will be too noisy?

20 Dave { 04.11.16 at 12:01 pm }

Jennifer, any room at WL may be subject to noise. Just to be sure, you might want to pick a different hotel…

21 Jennifer OHair { 04.11.16 at 3:16 pm }

Thank you so much! Think we will look elsewhere.

22 Debbie { 05.18.16 at 12:20 am }

Have all of the courtyard view rooms in the lodge been renovated?

23 Dave { 05.19.16 at 7:15 am }

No, Debbie. Half are untouched, the other half are–it’s believed–being converted to DVC.

24 frank { 06.10.16 at 5:30 am }

Hi David,
What will be the view from the “old” DVC (bottom right of the map) because the new ones (the righ ones) will be in front and will hide the lake view, am I right?

25 Dave { 06.11.16 at 9:24 am }

Frank, the lower DVC rooms already had their views blocked by trees, and I don’t expect any of the new stuff to be higher than treetop height. So there should be no net change in views.

26 Mary { 07.05.16 at 8:16 pm }

Hi Dave,
I have reservations at the Villas in August
Their is a lg group of us, not sure where are rooms are yet.
I am a little concerned about the construction and how it affects people staying in the Villas.
How do you get to the Villas, from Wilderness Lodge.Do you walk that path that I see in the pictures.
Thankyou

27 Dave { 07.06.16 at 2:06 pm }

There’s is a short covered walkway from the main lodge to the villas, Mary. See the map–it’s the narrow green thing connecting the green roofed and red roofed buildings.

28 Linda { 08.09.16 at 6:51 pm }

I spoke to disney, and they said the construction on the villas will be completed by the end of the year, and only the small pool and spa will be closed until march. How true is this ?

29 Kelly B - Destinations In Florida { 08.09.16 at 8:16 pm }

Linda – I\’ve had a few clients visit there and they said the construction has not been a bother at all. Low noise levels. A lot of the visual obstructions are down. And they said the buses and boat have been so empty. If this runs course to how the Poly renovations went, then what they told you seems right on target.

30 Anonymous { 08.09.16 at 9:29 pm }

Thank you !!

31 Dave { 08.10.16 at 4:24 pm }

Linda, honestly we won’t know until they stop…

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