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



Category — d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

Review: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

In July 2017 Disney’s Wilderness Lodge completed a major refurb.  Half of its rooms–those in the southeast wing–were converted into Copper Creek Villas. The old quiet pool was completely redone into the delightful new Boulder Ridge Cove pool. The old quick service, Roaring Fork, was refurbed, and a lovely new counter service option and bar, Geyser Point, opened.

The overall impact is that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, already a great option, gained upgraded and additional amenities, but lost capacity–so fewer people are using the better amenities. In other words, it’s an even better choice than before.

Details follow…

Our most recent stay (our twelfth here–four in the main Lodge, six at Boulder Ridge, and two in Copper Creek) in July 2017 confirms that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the second best deluxe resort at Disney World for first time family visitors.

You can have a wonderful visit at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.

However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort.

(It also suggests that first time visitors should avoid the moderate resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. See this for why.)

Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the deluxe resorts are distinguished by having (on average) the most amenities, nicest views, best dining options, best transport options, largest rooms, best service, and highest prices.

Among the deluxe resorts, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge stands out for having the most stunning kid appeal, moderate convenience, smallest rooms, and lowest prices.

(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)

In addition to the standard accommodations in the northwest wing of the Wilderness Lodge, the Wilderness Lodge also has additional room types in the two Disney Vacation Club offerings associated with it–Copper Creek Villas in the southeast wing of the main Lodge, and Boulder Ridge Villas in its own building outside Copper Creek. These areas are available to anyone to rent–you don’t have to be a member of the Vacation Club. These Villas have their own detailed reviews, at the links.

This review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has seven pages:

ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

Floor Plan Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

Standard rooms at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are tied with those at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as the smallest deluxe rooms on property.

Bed Side Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

The bedroom component of these rooms is smaller than even those at the moderate resorts, being almost a foot narrower and, on the long side, 2.5 feet shorter. See this for more on comparative Disney resort room sizes.

Bunk Beds at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

Most of these rooms sleep four–two each in two queens.  Rooms with a queen and two bunk beds are also available.  The bunk bed mattresses are 5’9″ long, and 39″ wide.  (In real life they are not so blurry.) Rooms with one king bed are also available.

You can add to this capacity of four a child younger than three who sleeps in a crib.  A crib fits well between the closet and dresser.

Partly because of these room sizes, and partly because it is not directly accessible from a theme park, the Wilderness Lodge is also typically the least expensive of the deluxe resorts.

For more on accommodations at the Lodge, see this, and for a photo tour of a standard room, see this.

(The Copper Creek Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas at the Wilderness Lodge are reviewed separately.)

THE POOLS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

The main Copper Creek Springs pool at the Wilderness Lodge was refurbed in 2014 and remains one of the most delightful pools at Disney World. (It was renamed in 2017, from “Silver Creek Springs.”) For more on the Copper Creek Springs pool, see this.

The second pool re-opened in July 2017. Now named Boulder Ridge Cove pool, it has been transformed into a delightful themed space that adults will particularly like. For more on the Boulder Ridge Cove pool, see this.

DINING AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

The Wilderness Lodge has four or four and a half principal dining venues that collectively make it above average among the Disney deluxes for dining.

  • Whispering Canyon Cafe is a raucous and fun setting for family dining
  • The more sophisticated and expensive Artist’s Point is perfect for couples dining
  • The old quick-service option, Roaring Fork, has been renovated, and remains among the best of its kind among the deluxes, but can easily become over-pressed
  • The new Geyser Point combines an upscale waterside bar with new quick service options, one set from the bar menu and one set from a walk-up window, that’s particularly convenient to both pools

Whispering-Canyon-Disneys-Wilderness-Lodge-from-yourfirstvisit.net_1

There’s also easy access via a boat to more great dining options at the Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness.

For more on dining at the Wilderness Lodge, see this.

KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE 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.

On this basis, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the second-best resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.

Kid Appeal.

Whispering Canyon Across the Lobby Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

The kid appeal of the Wilderness Lodge comes from its stunning re-creation of the grandeur of America’s great national park lodges–both inside…

At the Wilderness Lodge

…and outside.

Other wonderful elements both big and small continue the theme of the mountain west and of other western national parks, with some elements recalling the Pacific Northwest.

This is Lewis and Clark country, of great drama, history–and adventure!

The main building and lobby of the Wilderness Lodge–modeled on the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, and featuring totem poles from Duane Pasco–set the stage.  This lobby is jaw-dropping to kids, and also to most adults.

Convenience. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is much less convenient than the Polynesian Resort in carrying out the itineraries for first-time family visitors on this site.

Transport to the Magic Kingdom is by boat and by bus. The buses begin earlier, and are more reliable for scooters and wheelchairs–not all boats can take these.

Transport to the other theme parks is by bus, each of which is shared by at least one other resort.

Boat service is also available to Fort Wilderness (convenient for the Hoop Dee Doo Revue) and the Contemporary Resort (convenient for Chef Mickey’s). These boats begin much earlier than the Magic Kingdom boats, so many families seeking an early start take the boat to the Contemporary, and then walk to the Magic Kingdom.

BEST PLACES TO STAY AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

 This site suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms.

This is because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms.

The single exception is visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.

On the map, the Lodge is the green-roofed connected set of six to seven story high buildings, in a “Y” (or “U”) shape.

The main lodge buildings are in the upper left northwest wing of the Lodge. The new Copper Creek Villas are in the southeast wing.  The  Boulder Ridge Villas  are in the separate orange-roofed building.

More so than most Disney resorts, there are no bad rooms at the Wilderness Lodge.

Those furthest from the main lobby, restaurants, and bus stops are closest to the pools, Geyser Point, and boat dock to the Magic Kingdom, and vice-versa.

Disney is currently booking two room types–Courtyard views and Standard views.

Courtyard view rooms look into the middle area of the Lodge–overlooking either the Copper Creek Springs pool, the stream and waterfall that leads to it, or Bay Lake itself. The opening of the “Y” (or “U”!) as it approaches the pool means pool noise tends not to be an issue, and noise surprisingly isn’t really as much of a problem as you’d think for the rooms that open onto the main lobby.

Standard view room overlook anything else–but because so many trees were cut down on the northwest side of the Lodge for the Cascade Cabins here…

…a vast number of them now have truncated and distant views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Truncated and distant means this is no substitute for seeing these fireworks in the park…but it is pretty cool!

However, not all standard rooms have this view–some are too low, some blocked by trees, and some are just unlucky…

So pick the view you want–or hope for–most, and request an upper floor room (quieter, and better views).

BEST FOR:

Any first time family visitors who can afford it, but can’t get into or can’t afford Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

WORST FOR:

Families too large to fit its 4 person rooms.   See this for more on large families at Walt Disney World.

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

This review continues here.

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August 13, 2017   2 Comments

Theming and Accommodations at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, click here.

THE THEMING OF DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

Entry Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opened in 1994, and its standard rooms were last renovated in 2012. A major refurb and redo that ended in 2017 shifted half of its old rooms into Disney Vacation Club rooms, and added many amenities. A redo of its standard rooms is rumored to start in 2018.

It is officially described on Walt Disney World’s website as

“…inspired by the Great American Northwest National Park lodges from the turn of the 20th century…an architecturally grand Disney Deluxe Resort hotel honoring American craftsmanship and artistry, and celebrating the majesty of the unspoiled wilderness.

“The theme of being in harmony with nature winds through the lodge—inside and out. Authentic decor and genuine artifacts pay homage to ancient Native American cultures and the pioneering spirit of early American explorers.

“From its stunning 7-story lobby, built from 85 loads of Lodgepole Pine, to its 82-foot-tall lobby fireplace, the Resort is as beautiful as it is impressive. Its 727 Guest rooms offer themes of wildlife, nature and Native American designs, and include Honeymoon Suites featuring marble whirlpool tubs.

“On the Resort grounds, look for the bubbling spring that flows into a creek, tumbles over a sparkling waterfall and empties into the swimming pool. Catch the eruption of Fire Rock Geyser, fashioned after Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful, with its plume of water jetting 120 feet into the air.”

The description of the Wilderness Lodge as being “inspired by the great American Northwest,” though presented by Disney itself, and widely repeated in guidebooks and the internet, is a bit of a crock.

The Wilderness Lodge does have elements from the American Northwest–Washington and Oregon–ranging from the stunning totem poles in the main lobby to the menu provenance of its signature restaurant, Artist Point.

And it also celebrates other remarkable western areas, such as the Grand Canyon in the southwest.

That said, the Wilderness Lodge is in fact largely inspired by, and is in homage to, the Mountain West–the basic architecture, the look of the lobby, and the “Fire Rock Geyser” area are all based on Yellowstone, which is not part of America’s Northwest by a long shot.

Yellowstone is principally in Wyoming, but also in Montana and Idaho.  This area is best described as the “Mountain West,” not the Northwest.

Native American Art Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net (683x1024)

The second most significant influence on Wilderness Lodge theming after Yellowstone is the art and artifacts of Native Americans.

Native American Art at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net (683x1024)

Tribes represented in the Lodge cross the country from the southwest (the Navajo and Apache) to the northwest to the great plains to the southeast (Cherokee.)

The third most significant influence is the Grand Canyon in general, and in particular Mary Colter’s masterwork Bright Angel Lodge there, from which the lobby fireplace was adapted and expanded (to 82 feet!!).

(I have always thought that Colter’s work at the Grand Canyon made her the first Imagineer…years before Walt Disney ever thought of the term!)

Painting Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net (670x1024)

Additional theme influences include the great vernacular styles associated with westward expansion and its later re-interpretations–ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright to Thomas Molesworth to the Mission style.

The simplest, but still largely accurate, description of the Wilderness Lodge’s theme would be that it honors the mountain west; a longer but more accurate description would be that it is based on the great National Park Lodges of the early 1900s, and honors the Native Americans who first lived in this land, as well as later explorers and their descendants–hunters, trappers, guides, woodsmen, cowboys, etc.

The Wilderness Lodge was designed by Peter Dominick, who also designed the next-most stunning Disney resort, the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

In an obituary of Dominick (he died in 2009), it was noted that Dominick “understood the building traditions of the Rocky Mountain West…his specialty was wonderful buildings that celebrated the landscape he loved.”

ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

Upstream at Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net

All Disney deluxe resorts have standard rooms; concierge rooms, which Disney calls “club” rooms; and suites. (See this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.)  The Wilderness Lodge has, in addition to these, club-level “deluxe rooms.”

All the Disney deluxes except the Yacht Club also have one or more Disney Vacation Club offerings on property, offering even more room types. These Vacation Club rooms can be booked by anyone just like any other Disney World room–you don’t have to be a member of the Club to do so. I have separate detailed reviews of the two at the Wilderness Lodge, Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek, elsewhere on this site, but will also comment a bit on them below.

Rooms in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are in a connected set of six and seven story high buildings, in a “Y” shape. On the map, the Wilderness Lodge is the green-roofed building at the top center.  Standard rooms are in the wing at the left; accommodations on the right wing of the main Lodge are part of the Copper Creek Villas. The red-roofed area below and to the right is the Boulder Ridge Villas.

At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, standard and club/ concierge rooms sleep four, in two queen beds, or a queen and bunk beds. The floor plan above is for a two-queen standard or club room.

There’s a photo tour of one of these rooms here.

(See photo for an old view of the bunks, the mattresses of which I measured as 5’9″ long and 39″ wide.)

A few standard rooms with a king, sleeping two, are also available.

Standard rooms are sold with “standard” and “courtyard” views.

Courtyard views look into the center of the Y–to the waterfall, pool, or Bay Lake. Standard views–less expensive–look to something else…e.g. a parking lot.

However, a number of standard view rooms on the northwest side of the Lodge look across the new Cascade Cabins and a few trees towards the Magic Kingdom.

All but the lowest or most unlucky of these rooms have a limited but fun view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. This image from July 2017 shows folk watching the Happily Ever After fireworks show from their balconies.

Some shots taken from the third floor of this wing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks:

Though these standard rooms are tied with the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s rooms as the smallest standard deluxe rooms on property, the space rarely feels cramped; it just has no more space than it absolutely needs.

Club rooms–which the rest of the world calls concierge rooms–all on the key-access 7th floor of the northwest side of the Lodge, have the same layout as standard rooms but have various services and amenities added on, as well as a substantial extra cost.

Here’s the club lounge from across the lobby.

The outside balcony half-wall in many of these rooms (as well as other top-floor rooms in other areas of the Lodge) is solid, not railed–limiting views except for standing adults.  Some of these rooms also have sloped ceilings.

Club rooms are not worth the extra cost for most first time family visitors. However, they may be well worth it for families intending to spend more time at the Wilderness Lodge than implied by this site’s itineraries. TikimanPages.com has a great discussion of the value of concierge rooms here. Though focused on the Polynesian, it applies to any deluxe resort.

Deluxe rooms (which used to be called “junior suites”) are suite-like club rooms, although they are found on many floors, not just the 7th.  They sleep 6–four in two queens in the bedroom, and two in a fold-out couch in the sitting room. (See floor plan at right.)  For an ancient review of these rooms, click here.

Suites sleeping 2 to 4 people are available for families seeking a particularly comfortable visit–see this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.  The Yosemite Vice Presidential suite, with 885 square feet, sleeps 4–two in the bedroom in a king, and 2 in a queen sleeper sofa in the parlor. The Yellowstone Presidential Suite has the same sleeping arrangements in 1000 square feet.

There are also many more room types in Copper Creek Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas, sleeping from four to twelve, many with full kitchens. Among them, “Studios” are most comparable to Wilderness Lodge standard rooms. Copper Creek Studios sleep four, and Boulder Ridge Studios sleep five.

(To each of the capacity figures above, you can add one more kid under 3 at time of check in who sleeps in a crib.)

The Wilderness Lodge inspires devotion among its fans–of which I am one.

Families who have stayed at it once will have difficulty understanding why they should ever go to a different Walt Disney World resort hotel.

The Wilderness Lodge’s strengths for first time visitors are its unsurpassed kid appeal and its reasonable prices.

The Wilderness Lodge’s principal negatives compared to other deluxes are its small rooms and relative inconvenience for parks other than the Magic Kingdom.

…and speaking of the rooms:

PHOTO TOUR OF A STANDARD ROOM AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

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August 8, 2017   No Comments

Review: The Boulder Ridge Cove Pool at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, click here.

THE BOULDER RIDGE COVE POOL AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge came out of a major refurb and rebuild in July 2017. Part of the rebuild was the gutting and re-do of the old quiet pool here into what is essentially a brand-new pool, which has been named the Boulder Ridge Cove pool.

The Boulder Ridge Cove pool is nestled between the re-done wing of the main Lodge, which is now the Copper Creek Villas, and the older Disney Vacation Club offering that has been renamed Boulder Ridge Villas. It’s open to all Wilderness Lodge guests–you don’t have to be staying in one of the Villas to use Boulder Ridge Cove.

On the map, the new pool is in red, and the main pool, refurbed in 2014 and renamed in 2017 the Copper Creek Springs pool (it used to be the Silver Creek Springs pool), is in yellow.

The former pool here was largely an un-themed concrete pool surrounded by trees.

The new pool (seen above from the top floor of Boulder Ridge Villas) is larger than the old one, deeply themed, and has extensive amenities. For adults, it’s perhaps even better than the main Copper Creek Springs pool because of its deeper theming–mining and railroad-related–and additional amenities. Kids will likely still prefer the main Springs pool with its slide, games, and water play area.

There’s several entries to the fenced-in pool, including this one from near the new Geyser Point bar and grill, which provides quick service food and a refillable mug station.

Here’s a walkabout of the new pool beginning at that entrance.

In the distance on the far right of this shot is the zero-entry point of the pool.

Boulder Ridge provides the backdrop to this side of the pool. Note the steam crane, the principal theming object of this pool.

This side has a wall–a quarry wall?–that separates the pool from the nearby new Cascade Cabins.

A better view of the steam crane, backed by the Copper Creek wing of the main Lodge.

There’s a delightful variety of seating options that you won’t see at most other Disney World pools.

More from this side of the pool.

The zero-entry area is at the opposite end of this image.

A closer view of the steam crane. Geyser Point is the one story peaked-roof building at the right.

There’s a few cabanas here…

…plus more shaded seating on the Copper Creek side.

Also on the Copper Creek side is this hot tub.

DINING AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

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August 8, 2017   1 Comment

Review: Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

OVERVIEW: COPPER CREEK VILLAS AND CABINS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

Copper Creek Villas and Cabins is the newer of the two Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Opened in July 2017, it adds studios and many multi-bedroom options to the Vacation Club inventory (all available to anyone to book, just like regular rooms) that already existed here in the former villas, now re-named Boulder Ridge.

Most of Copper Creek was rebuilt into what had been half of the Wilderness Lodge, its southeast wing.

But Copper Creek also includes 26 new (and wildly expensive) “Cascade Cabins,” 12 to the north along the waterway between the Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary Resort, and 14 south along Bay Lake.

Most room options at Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are wonderful places for returning visitors to Walt Disney World to stay. But 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 Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge ranks first overall for first-time visitors.

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.)

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 two stays at the Copper Creek Villas at the Wilderness Lodge the week it opened in July 2017.

THE COPPER CREEK 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.

On this basis, The Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge comes in first 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, and 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 and a much more coherent theme. (Copper Creek simultaneously fully participates in the glorious theming of the Wilderness Lodge itself, but is largely themeless on its own.)

However, there’s a little variability here for some families in the Studios. Pick between the Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge 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.

This review has five pages

Lobby Totem Pole Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.net
Kid Appeal. The Copper Creek 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.  (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 COPPER CREEK VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

The Copper Creek 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 and of the new smaller pool Boulder Ridge Cove

Another positive compared to many other DVC villas is the size of the dining room table.

See the Two Bedroom Villa floor plan.

The shared living/dining/kitchen space is in the center–it’s the same in both One and Two Bedroom Villas. The dining table can seat six–which does not seem like a lot compared to the eight people a Two Bedroom Villa here can sleep…

…but it’s much bigger than the dining table at Boulder Ridge, shown above, and also bigger than the equivalent tables in most other DVC resorts.

Moreover, also in 2017 a number of other refurbed or new amenities opened at the Wilderness Lodge. While any guests–those staying in the Lodge, in Copper Creek, or in Boulder Ridge–can use them, these amenities were added as part of the Copper Creek project, and collectively present a step-change improvement in the amenities at the Wilderness Lodge.

The new Geyser Point Bar and Grill adds a lovely waterside bar…

…with wonderful views of Bay Lake (your rainbows may vary).

Nestled among Geyser Point, Boulder Ridge, and Copper Creek…

…in the space of the old plain quiet pool here is the completely re-done Boulder Ridge Cove pool, richly themed to an abandoned mining railroad, and probably overall better than the main pool itself.

Also re-done were the other quick-service option at the Wilderness Lodge, Roaring Fork, and the boat and bike barn.

Still to come is the spa, “Salon by The Springs,” which will go in the old main pool bar.

BEST AND WORST ROOMS AT THE COPPER CREEK 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–southeast–side. The Boulder Ridge Villas are the smaller, reddish-roofed block at the bottom right. The Copper Creek Cascade Cabins are the small buildings along the water.

There really are no bad rooms at Copper Creek. Both sides of Copper Creek have pool views. Rooms closer to Bay Lake are also closer (via stairs) to Geyser Point, both pools and the boat dock that takes you to the Magic Kingdom. Rooms closer to the lobby are closer to the elevators and to the bus stop for the other theme parks.

Best places to stay at the Copper Creek Villas at the Wilderness Lodge

So long as you are able to use the stairs, the best Lodge rooms will be upper floor (because quieter) villas and studios closer to Bay Lake. If you aren’t comfortable on stairs, ask for Upper Floor and Near Elevator.

Among the Cascade Cabins, the northern ones (numbered 8001-8012) have partial, distant views of Happily Ever After, and are closer to the main lobby via the passageway that goes near Roaring Fork, but suffer from lots of boat noise.  The southern Cabins (8013-8026) have a quieter, more tranquil location–although they do get some boat noise–but are distant from all services except Geyser Point and the Boulder Ridge Cove pool.

Worst places to stay at the Copper Creek Villas at the Wilderness Lodge

All first floor rooms have patios, not balconies. On the Boulder Ridge Cove side, this at least makes the new pool and Geyser Point pretty easy to get to–just walk off your patio and you are steps away.  But they will be noisier, less private, and not have as nice a view.

All seventh floor rooms–and some others–have solid-walled balconies, rather than the open railings you’ll find in most lower-floor studios and villas. This quite limits the view you get while seated. Standing views are fine, and seventh floor courtyard view rooms can get truncated views of Happily Ever After over the opposite wing of the Lodge.

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, families wanting to get into the Wilderness Lodge but finding its regular rooms to be sold out.

WORST FOR:

Families on a budget.

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE COPPER CREEK VILLAS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

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August 6, 2017   3 Comments

Theming and Accommodations at Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

(For the first page of this review of Copper Creek Villas, see this.)

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT THE COPPER CREEK VILLAS AT THE WILDERNESS LODGE

There are currently ten official Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World.

Because the two sets of options at the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Saratoga Springs are so different, and the Polynesian offering is so distinctive, for review purposes I count a total of twelve resorts, but rank only eleven.

Their overall ranking for first time family visitors is as follows:

  1. Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  2. Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
  4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
  5. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  6. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
  7. Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  8. Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
  9. Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  10. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
  11. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Treehouse Villas area

My rankings exclude the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, as it does not offer one or two bedroom villas. If the ranking were based solely on studios, the Polynesian offering would be near the top.

These resorts are available to anyone to reserve through the regular Walt Disney World website or the resort reservations phone number at 407-939-7675.

They also are available to the general public at great discounts through renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member.

THEMING AT COPPER CREEK VILLAS

Disney’s Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at the Wilderness Lodge is “rooted in the history of America’s westward expansion, made possible by the building of the transcontinental railroad… It’s a tip of the conductor’s cap to America’s rich railroad history, a period of time that famously captured the imagination of… Walt Disney.”

More specifically, Copper Creek represents the end—and re-use—of the line. According to Disney, the three parts of the Wilderness Lodge complex have theming as follows:

“Disney’s Wilderness Lodge draws inspiration from the majestic vacation lodges of yesteryear that attracted tourists traveling to U.S. National Parks during the dawn of the railroad.

“Boulder Ridge Villas revolves its scene around the rustic communities that emerged along this revolutionary mode of transportation as it grew in popularity.

“Copper Creek Villas & Cabins completes this tale by embodying modern life in America’s Great Northwest. You’ll find relics of this now abandoned railroad cleverly weaved into the Resort’s contemporary vibe.”

Frankly, I’m not at all sure what this claimed Copper Creek theming means.  To be specific, you will not find much in the way of railroad themed material in the rooms, other than the book above…

…and this bed fabric on Studio beds.

There’s a beam in a Studio, but it’s not in the proportions of a railroad tie…

…and there’s some curious metal above the kitchen cabinets in one and two bedroom villas, but it’s not in the cross section of a railroad rail.

Otherwise, the art and decoration of the rooms is rustic, wilderness-y, self-referential to the Wilderness Lodge, and/or Native-American inspired.  You won’t find much in the rooms that speak to railroads at all, much less “abandoned railroads.” (A photo tour of a Studio and its art is here, and a photo tour of a One Bedroom Villa begins here.)

The hallways of the Copper Creek area of the Wilderness Lodge have the art that the Lodge is famous for–but it is either western vistas, Native Americans, or Native American artifacts–all lovely and interesting, and consistent with the rest of the Lodge, but not about “abandoned railroads.”

Oh, also, the four floors of the Copper Creek wing with Grand Villas have this bear.  The floors without Grand Villas have nothing on this wall.

However, there’s substantial new construction between the Copper Creek wing and the old Villas, now renamed Boulder Ridge.

You can see in this re-done outdoor area shared by the Wilderness Lodge, Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge abandoned railroad materials, reminiscent of Big Thunder Mine train, including this part of the new Geyser Point bar and grill area…

…and this part of the new Boulder Ridge Cove pool.

But none of these is dedicated to Copper Creek–rather the opposite–nor do they have anything to do with the transcontinental railroads, so I am at a bit of a loss as to the actual Copper Creek specific theming…

That said, except for the Cascade Cabins, Copper Creek is fully integrated into the main Wilderness Lodge, and the Wilderness Lodge is the most stunning, and most kid-appealing, of all the Disney World resorts…so I’m not sure this absence of specific theming matters much…

ROOMS AT THE COPPER CREEK VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE [Read more →]

August 5, 2017   No Comments

Photo Tour of a Refurbed Room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort entered a building-by-building room refurb project early in 2017.

As of late summer, buildings 7, 8, and 9 (in the 80s and 90s sections) are done, and Building 10 in the 70s section is being worked on. The expectation is that refurbs will continue to happen one or two buildings at a time (Pop has ten buildings) in roughly chronological order.

The key positive features of the refurb are the first queen beds in value resort standard rooms, and the first coffee makers in value resort standard rooms. Less universally praised is the bright white color scheme–exacerbated by the loss of the colorful bed stripes, which is happening generally across Disney World resorts–and the fact that one of the queens is a fold down bed that disappears the table and chairs while it is down.

I had the chance to stay in one of these newly-refurbed Pop Century rooms in late July, so here’s a photo tour and my observations.

One side of the room has a thingy with the coffee maker above and the mini-fridge below, the dresser and TV, and a connecting door, if present.

This side of the room from the back.

The coffee thingy has multiple crannies and cubbies, a general feature of this room. Note the folded luggage rack tucked in at the side.

A closer look at the coffee maker.

The drawer in the thingy contains the coffee supplies and is also nicely sized to shove all of your power cords, tablets and such into.

The mini-fridge, as is common in new Disney World rooms, has a glass front so you can see what’s inside without opening it. I’ve propped the door open in this shot.

The dresser has drawers on one side and shelving and a safe on the other, is flanked with two sets of power points each of which can charge four devices, and is topped with a 54-inch TV.

The three drawers are 31 inches by 13 inches but only 4.5 inches tall.

This is still much more storage in these new rooms than in the un-refurbed rooms–their dresser/ mini-fridge and dresser drawers are shown above.

Back to the refurbed room, next to the drawers are shelves and a safe.

I measured the safe as 19 inches by 15 inches by 6.5 inches tall. If your electronics won’t fit in here, you are on the wrong vacation.

By the connecting door you’ll find this coat rack.

In the back of the room are the sinks, closet, and, in a separate space, the toilet and shower.

In a first for value resort standard rooms, the overall bath and dressing area is closed off from the rest of the room with a sliding solid door, rather than the fabric curtain you’ll find in other such rooms.

Here’s the sliding door almost closed.

Note all the crannies and cubbies around the sink.

The small cabinet to the left of the sink…

…has this hair dryer.

On the right side of the sink you’ll find this make-up mirror.

On the side of this space is a solid hanging closet–another first in a standard value resort room. There’s 19 inches of hanging space inside, and another 9 inches on the rod extension to the right.

The toilet and tub are enclosed by this two-part sliding door.

The tub is enclosed with sliding doors–a more straightforward arrangement for most than a billowing shower curtain, but an awkwardness for bathing children.

The shower has both rain fall and hand-held heads.

The toiletries.

Some of these rooms only have showers, no tubs. This photo came to me from alert reader Ann.

Back into the main area, the other side of the room has a table and chairs and a fixed queen bed.

The bed side from the back.

A closer view of the fixed queen…

…and of the art above it.  Just with this, these refurbed Pop Century rooms have more Disney theming than any other value resort rooms except the Little Mermaid rooms in Art of Animation…and there’s more to come.

Another new feature of this refurbed Pop Century room is space under the bed for storing your suitcases.  There’s 14.5 inches of clearance, which will fit most rolly bags.

There’s a cubbie with power points between the bed and bath wall…

…and another between the bed and table.

The distinctive feature of this room is the fold down bed, found behind this table and chairs.

Stack the chairs in the corner…

…pull the two handles, and the table disappears and this bed replaces it.

Pluto also appears.

I measured the fold-down bed as 59 inches by 79 inches–just an inch short on both dimensions of being a queen, but it’s so much larger than a full (which would be 54″ by 74″) that none can quibble at calling it a queen.

The mattress is a full 12 inches deep–as deep as that of the fixed queen. This bed is entirely appropriate for adults, and in fact adults might prefer it, as they can put the kids in the fixed queen and use the table until they themselves are ready for sleep.

There is yet another cubbie and power point between the fold-down bed and outer wall.

Some shots of the room with both beds down:

And for comparison, a shot of an un-refurbed Pop room with two full beds:

Some have wondered if an air mattress would fit between the table and the door.

I measured the clear space between the full opening of the door and the edge of the table as just about 34 inches.

The addition of the queen-sized beds and coffeemaker is a clear win, as is the safe,  the shower heads, the sliding solid door to the bath area, and the make-up mirror. The loss of the table when both beds are down is a bit of a pain, but as noted there are a couple of work-arounds–e.g. putting the table users in that bed. While bright white, these rooms have more Disney theming than almost any other value resort rooms, and as most resorts have now lost their bed stripes, white bedding is now the thing at Disney World, not a Pop Century specialty.

And I know I repeat myself, but queen beds and a coffee maker wildly improve the livability of these rooms.

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July 22, 2017   41 Comments