By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Copper Creek Villas and Cabins



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE COPPER CREEK VILLAS AND CABINS AT DISNEY’S WILDERNESS LODGE

By Jim Korkis

The Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge opened in July 2017 as the fourteenth Disney Vacation Club resort

Imagineer project manager Mitch Mioelli stated, “We were pulling from different materials and objects that were indigenous to the Pacific Northwest.

“What we wanted to do, knowing that this resort would have been here for hundreds of years, is take materials that these settlers would have found on site and the rejuvenation and sort of re-gentrification of the area. It’s found objects that would have almost been artifacts from the mining area from the railroad. They would have been repurposed and built into their everyday houses and everyday construction.”

“Everything was coming westward on the trains and this is really an homage to Walt (Disney) and his love of trains and the westward expansion of the United States. So we played on that to make everyone feel that this was an early settlement. Everything is rooted in the history of railroad and the natural environment. We wanted to make it feel like the interior expanded into the exterior, so there’s floor-to-ceiling windows.”

Ken Potrock, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Disney Vacation Club said that “our guests have told us they don’t want any old hotel; they want themed hotels. They want a hotel that has a back story. They want to hear “is there a connection to Walt Disney?’ So we worked hard to give them what they wanted.”

Where the tale of the original structures at Wilderness Lodge draw their story from the 1800s, the new Copper Creek Villas & Cabins are tied to a slightly later period, when the railroad, mining, and quarry managers and foremen brought their families out west and built homes (like the cabins) along the lakes with some of the materials and objects found in the area.

The story is that the units employ “up-cycling” of materials like rustic tracks and reclaimed wood, as well as giant cogs that form a wall hanging and an occasional Hidden Mickey. Light fixtures are made from shards of colored glass from the quarry and, above the dining table, a chandelier features a giant cog from a crane.

Artwork in the rooms plus exposed steel beams and lots of wood are all used to reinforce the story. However, there are also playful references to Ruke and Tuke from Brother Bear (2003) and Chip ‘n’ Dale. The villas and cabins also have imitation wood flooring that according to Miorelli was “hand-scraped to make it feel like it came out of a sawmill.”

The Living-Dining Area of a Copper Creek Villa

The former Hidden Springs pool was replaced with a significantly larger pool named the Boulder Ridge Cove pool, with a zero-entry feature, more deck space, and a lot of decorative rockwork all around that is reminiscent of the sort of natural stone quarry that may be found in the Pacific Northwest. Nearby is a crane recycled from Disney Hollywood Studios now closed Catastrophe Canyon.

The Imagineers attempted to maintain a linear time lime for the entire set of buildings, from the arrival of the Transcontinental Railroad in the Pacific Northwest spurring the development of rustic residential communities (Boulder Ridge Villas) to grand vacation lodges that attracted visitors coming to the U.S. National Parks (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge).

This was followed decades later by the abandonment of the railroad (in favor of cars, planes, etc.), at which time resourceful locals turned railroad relics (abandoned quarries, mines, train stations, railroad-supervisor residences, etc.) into new living spaces for today’s travelers (Copper Creek Villas & Cabins).

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Thanks, Jim! There’s reviews of all three parts of the Wilderness Lodge complex on this site:

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, More Secret Stories of Disneyland, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

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