OVERVIEW: BOULDER RIDGE VILLAS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
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.
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.)
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
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
- The overview page you are on now
- Theming and accommodations at Boulder Ridge Villas
- A photo tour of a Studio at Boulder Ridge Villas
- A photo tour of the living/dining/kitchen space of One and Two Bedroom Villas at at Boulder Ridge Villas
- A photo tour of the master bedroom and bath space of One and Two Bedroom Villas at at Boulder Ridge Villas
- The amenities and art of Boulder Ridge Villas
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 Lodge, see 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
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)
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.
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.
Moreover, the dining table only seats two.
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.
Especially large families looking for a two-bedroom villa for 7 or 8 people (with the exceptions noted above), families on a budget.
This review continues here!