Inside Wilderness Lodge’s Grand Villas
Wilderness Lodge’s largest and most expensive rooms are its 3-Bedroom Grand Villas, which sleep 12 guests and range in price from ~$2,500 to $4,500 per night. In this Walt Disney World resort tour, we’ll share photos & video, take a look at the good & bad, and thoughts on attention to detail and thematic integrity.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Wilderness Lodge. It’s my personal favorite resort, WDW’s best spot at Christmas, our #2 pick for Disney Vacation Club properties, home to the top Club Level–the list of “accolades” Wilderness Lodge has received from this blog goes on and on. However, you’ve either probably already read our effusive praise or don’t care, so I’ll simply drop a link to our Ultimate Guide to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for further reading.
Last year, we had the chance to briefly tour the resort’s Yosemite Suite, which is essentially my dream hotel room at Walt Disney World. We’ve also had the chance to stay in the Cascade Cabins at Wilderness Lodge, which are surprisingly nice. So when some friends let us crash their reservation and check out their room a few hours before they’d fly into Orlando, we took advantage of the opportunity to spend a few hours in the Grand Villa…
Before we get to the Copper Creek Grand Villa tour and review, let’s briefly tackle the backstory, timeline, and resort layout as that can be a bit confusing. Wilderness Lodge is actually three distinct resorts: the main and original building that’s inspired by U.S. National Park Lodges welcoming train travelers in the 1900s; Boulder Ridge Villas, the standalone DVC wing that draws inspiration from the rustic communities along the railroad in the 1800s; and Copper Creek Villas & Cabins, which reflect the lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest today.
As the backstory goes, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge was home to the early settlers heading westward on the railroad. Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is inspired by the resourcefulness of those Westerners who turned remnants of an abandoned railroad into contemporary communities. Where this gets a bit muddied is in the fact that Copper Creek Villas was not a pure expansion–the resort also encompasses repurposed rooms that were previously part of the main Wilderness Lodge building’s hotel inventory.
I’m not sure whether this info really clarifies anything, but it’s ultimately the Imagineering canon for why the rooms at Copper Creek have a modern sensibility to them. Anyway, let’s start the Grand Villa photo tour…
In terms of basics, the 3-Bedroom Grand Villas at Copper Creek can accommodate up to 12 guests with a king-size bed, 4 queen-size beds, and one queen-size sleeper sofa. They include a full kitchen, washer and dryer, alcove with full-sized dining room table, living room with sectional couch, multiple balconies, and a master bathroom fitted with a bubble-jet tub and an in-mirror TV.
While the Cascade Cabin is a more unique room category and is larger in size, it accommodates fewer guests (8 v. 12) and has one less bedroom than the Grand Villa. Each have their own distinct appeal.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been apprehensive about changes to Wilderness Lodge, and hot & cold on the refurbishments and expansions to the resort.
This is because I believe Wilderness Lodge is the pinnacle of themed design at Walt Disney World and has been since the resort opened. Subsequent changes have almost all been compromises, attempting to make the property appeal to those who don’t like the U.S. National Park lodge style and should, frankly, simply stay elsewhere.
I’m also a realist who can understand and acknowledge that Walt Disney World is not a pristine thematic capsule, and telling guests “stay somewhere else” is never going to happen. These are functional hotel rooms and timeshare units that will be renovated in accordance with guest demand and current tastes.
Accordingly, my view on the updates to Wilderness Lodge is more or less that of “reluctant realist.” How do the refurbishments, additions, etc. comport with the existing theme while also offering something fresh and modern?
The Copper Creek Grand Villa does a really great job of that.
It probably helps that immediately after this, we toured a BoardWalk Grand Villa that felt quaint and antiquated by comparison–and not in good ways. That was a nice reminder that while theme is important, it’s not everything. Moreover, it was a good reminder that even supposedly timeless styles are interpreted through a contemporary lens. (Meaning that the BoardWalk Grand Villa resembles 1940s Atlantic City by way of 1990s Florida.)
However, we also similarly praised the Cascade Cabins for their balance of sophisticated style and bucolic beauty, so this isn’t exactly some epiphany about the upsides of hotel room modernization. (To the contrary, as much as we liked the Grand Villa, we still prefer the Cascade Cabins.)
There are a lot of functional improvements that we’ve discussed elsewhere, and those definitely improve the rooms. What won me over, though, is the many design flourishes and details that are thematically appropriate for Wilderness Lodge.
More significantly, these aren’t just lazy afterthoughts like photos of Walt Disney at Mineral King to score cheap points with fans. They’re ambitious–like the feature wall above, which makes a big visual impact.
There’s also a lot of rich wood, which is fitting given the resort. There are also patterns befitting of Wilderness Lodge and visual motifs that evoke U.S. National Parks. For instance, mirrors reminiscent of Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park and rugs mimicking layers of sediment in Grand Canyon National Park. I’m a huge fan of all this.
The Copper Creek Grand Villa is also flat-out comfortable and homey.
While we didn’t have the chance to test-drive any of the beds, we did lounge around on the couch for a few hours. It was absolutely glorious.
Unfortunately, it was a rainy and gloomy couple of hours, so I don’t have photos of the balconies (above is a file photo from a previous stay offering a similar view), but those were also great.
Really serene and tranquil, with great views of all around Wilderness Lodge–ranging from the main pool to the Cascade Cabins and Contemporary Resort.
Another highlight is the sublime master bath, perfect for treating yo self after a long day in Magic Kingdom. The room is divided by a gorgeous marble wall.
On one side you’ll find a vanity with double sinks and an in-mirror TV, an oversized shower with pebble flooring and two shower heads–including a rain shower. The other side has a stand-alone, bubble-jet tub and a wall of windows. One thing I appreciate throughout the Grand Villa is that Disney maintained the original style of Wilderness Lodge’s windows. This would not have been an easy or cheap thing to “modernize,” and I’m glad they didn’t.
You’ll find the same style of windows in the dining room alcove, which I also love thanks primarily to the recessed ceiling lighting and stand-up balcony. There’s only one thing that I actively dislike about the Copper Creek Grand Villa: gear art.
I don’t even know what this style is. Shabby chic? Hipster? Pinterest Tackiness? Definitely arrived upon by someone disconnected from reality. That is, unless the interior designers believe that early settlers heading westward actually decorated their humble abodes with discarded gears. Who knows, maybe 100 years from now, interior designers will believe millennials lined our living room shelves with old Duralast car batteries and worn out John Deere brake discs.
There’s a reason this blog derides the style that can best be described as “rustic hipsters move into an old barn and find some eclectic decor on clearance at Anthropologie” that has proliferated at Walt Disney World in recent years: it’s awful.
More than just awful, it’s stupid. No matter how much backstory Imagineering spews forth, there’s no explaining why anyone would adorn their walls with gears. Moreover, the “country, farmhouse, shabby chic” trend is already cliche and passé, leaving Disney with the same datedness problem that led to so many spots being remodeled. The only difference now is that they’re dated and thematically incoherent.
But I digress. Despite the last several paragraphs ranting about it, Imagineering has not overindulged with the repurposed, faux rustic decor in the Copper Creek Grand Villas.
Instead, we get a lot of vintage National Park photos, concept art for Wilderness Lodge itself, and integrated organic designs. By and large, the decor strikes the right balance between theme and contemporary comfort commensurate with a ~$3,000 per night hotel room.
This is accomplished via a smart use of woods, textures, and color.
For instance, the kitchen feels clean and modern, but is punctuated by huge exposed wood beams. The entry table is both sharp and natural. There are many examples throughout the Grand Villa of melding modern & luxurious with rustic & natural. The end result can feel simultaneously humble and sumptuous.
Finally, here’s a video by Sarah that should help make more sense of the floor-plan for those thinking about booking a stay in the 3-Bedroom Grand Villa at Wilderness Lodge, or just curious to see more:
Ultimately, I really like the Copper Creek Grand Villa–even as a staunch fan of Wilderness Lodge and its original design. In my view, this room strikes the perfect balance of theme and luxury, offering something fitting for Walt Disney World fans and more casual guests who expect a multi-thousand dollar room to match its price point.
In the grand scheme of things, my quibbles with the room are relatively minor (gear rant notwithstanding) and I really like most of the stylistic choices. There’s also something to be said for being on a high floor of Wilderness Lodge with, essentially, panoramic views thanks to several balconies. The Grand Villa is still bested by the Cascade Cabins in terms of personality and charm, but this is certainly no slouch–and has one additional bedroom and sleeps 4 more guests.
If you’re thinking about joining DVC, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. This covers the pros & cons, resale v. direct, how much money you’ll save, and other important things to know before taking the plunge. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” with the recommendations in How to Save BIG on Deluxe Disney Accommodations Renting DVC Points.
What do you think of the Grand Villa at Wilderness Lodge? Would you rank this among the best resort rooms at Walt Disney World, or is it not to your tastes? Glad to see the style has been updated, or are you a fan of the original rustic look of Wilderness Lodge’s rooms? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
WL is definitely the best resort! While I haven’t been to all of the National Park lodges, I’ve been to all of them at Yellowstone and numerous others. If people don’t like all the wood and ‘rustic’ decor then they can stay somewhere else. No compromise!
While I understand the psychological effect that some people think white linens are somehow more clean, they are an eyesore and quite boring. That trend just flat-out sucks.
Agree on the gears thing. While you are likely to find such laying in people’s yards out west, having them framed and on the wall is dumb. I’ve been to many old mines and sure, I always wanted to find an ore cart to take home, but never did.
Overall the decor looks pretty good. The furniture doesn’t quite fit but it’s close enough. For this much money (rack rates, which no room is possibly worth), I expect a 100″ TV in the main room. Is that even an 82″ set? The white counters in the kitchen though are garbage. When will this absurd fad be done with? They look terrible. At least cabinets aren’t white too…
I like the video. It really helps get a better sense of the layout and just how spacious the suite is.
I do not care for this expensive villa at all for the same reasons I do not care for Animal Kingdom. Too drab and dreary
I realize it’s a “themed” resort but if I want the Yellowstone lodge feel, I’ll travel to Wyoming and Montana.
When in sunny Florida, I want light and bright and happiness
To each their own, I know, but I prefer other resorts much more.
We stayed in one of these in August and absolutely loved it! It was beautiful, comfortable and roomy and the master bath is great. They are significantly bigger than the cabins which was ultimately our deciding factor when choosing between the two for our trip. We chose a second floor villa so we could have easy access from outdoors and did not have to use the lobby if we didn’t need to and it was just steps to Geyser Point and the pools. But the second floor is quite dark. That was our only negative.
“Rustic hipsters move into an old barn and find some eclectic decor on clearance at Anthropologie”
This cracked me up. It seems like the only aesthetics that exist for anything new are “rustic hipster” and “faux repurposed industrial.” Or the even more atrocious mix of the two, which seems to be prevalent here in Sacramento.
Agreed! It’s just…dumb. And of course they would mispronounce it as aes-tetic since they didn’t learn English in school.
Who else wants Scott to post pics of his kitchen???
I’ve always wanted to stay at Wilderness Lodge since it opened. Had a reservation during your “favorite week” last month and was upgraded to a 1-bedroom villa at Boulder. Ended up that we had to cancel for obvious reasons….stupid virus. I’ve been wanting to rebook at WL but still don’t see it listed, even as far out as next holiday season in November. Any idea what’s up?
They’re actively working on the hotel-side room refurbishments (or at least were last time we were there), so I’d expect the resort to reopen at some point next year. It’s just TBD at this point, so no 2021 dates are open yet.
You can’t book for cash until at least 11 months out since BRV is sold out to DVC members (other than the points that DVC owns and what members have traded out – but with limited trades at this time, that won’t be much at all). Villas at WL (the original name for Boulder Ridge) doesn’t have any grand villas, just studios, one and two bedroom villas (similar to Beach Club Villas).
I attended the annual member meeting on Dec 10 and they said the BRV renovations wouldn’t start now until 2022 and probably late 2022.
Tom, on those Roman Shades in the CCV GV bathroom, are they manual or electronic? The Roman Shades on the OKW porch doors are obnoxious to open and close with the short chain and hiding under the shade. I can only imagine how awful it would be trying to open and close that Roman Shade at the Copper Creek GV.
Just got back yesterday from a stay a Boulder Ridge and enjoyed that a lot. We have also stayed in the Lodge club level a few times. Wilderness lodge is one of our favorites. Saw some refurbishment going on in the main lodge. Where are the grand villas located?
Unless you have a large family I suspect that cycling 12 people through 3 bathrooms is going to take a while. Heck, a fair number of married couples don’t cope well sharing a bathroom. I’d have to have a lot more than a million dollars before I felt this was a good expenditure of my money unless it was at the $2,500 price where the price of 3 separate rooms at a deluxe resort is close enough that being able to have everyone together in the living areas would possibly make it worthwhile. YMMV, of course, but I’d certainly consider some of the rental homes which go for far less.
“This is because I believe Wilderness Lodge is the pinnacle of themed design at Walt Disney World and has been since the resort opened. Subsequent changes have almost all been compromises, attempting to make the property appeal to those who don’t like the U.S. National Park lodge style and should, frankly, simply stay elsewhere.”
So, SO this.
Completely agree! If you want bland crap, stay at Holiday Inn or elsewhere.
I think the Grand Villa rooms are really nice. I wish they would have incorporated some nods to old west trains like the one in the Villas lobby of Walt’s.
I have stayed in the Yellowstone Presidential suite and that was hands down the most memorable stay I have ever had at Disney. When I read the Yosemite Suite article you wrote it brought me back to the experience staying in the Yellowstone suite and how I loved the view and all the balconies. Nothing better than the view with the water parade!!!!
I would be hard pressed to pick one of these over the two main suits in the Wilderness lodge. It would only be an option for me if I was going to fill every bed up. Even at that I might spring for another resorts villa like Animal kingdom 3 Bedroom Savana view villa instead.
Either way thanks for the video its great to be able to see the inside of this type unit.
How many Grand Villas are there at WL? (Copper Creek) . Do you know if these are hard to book at the 7 month mark for DVC owners or renters?
From my experience, if you only want a night or two outside of a peak season, you can usually still get one of these or a cabin at the 7 month mark booking through Disney. I can’t comment on the rental situation. A full week likely won’t be available unless it’s a cabin way off-peak. The higher point category rooms stay available longer. People seem to value more frequent or longer stays over the size of the accommodations with DVC. That’s why studios vanish so quickly.
For anyone looking at this 3BR or another and thinking: “only in my dreams”; if you have a post-holiday, mid-Pandemic split-stay booked, one of these (or a cabin) may be yours for a couple of nights with an upgrade from a 2BR unit. It won’t happen if you have a full week booked at one resort, but if you are staying a night or two at the beginning or end of your stay, it’s definitely possible. I only mention this because we were given two upgrades in one week (GF and SS) during our split-stay last month. It was the first week of November (but over Halloween weekend), and I haven’t been monitoring DVC occupancy recently, but there might not be a better time than early ’21 for an upgrade …
As for the unit, great review! I would take this over the cabins any day. I added my comments on that page two years ago when we stayed in one. Aside from the porch (I don’t even need the hot tub), this one has all of the needed space the cabins don’t. The aesthetics are very similar. Maybe we shouldn’t have cancelled our Copper Creek reservation…
Maybe one day….
It is interesting to me how the new rooms have seemed to move away from bathtubs (in non-master baths). As my kids are older I don’t personally mind so much but when they were younger I would not have loved bathing them in a huge master jetted soaking tub.
am i the only one not a fan of platform beds? because it’s just asking to bang your shin into the corner.
Agree about the platform beds. At least once a day I bang my knee on the corners of the bed!
Plus the mattress tends to slide off the platform and the bottom (flat sheet) gets untucked. It makes the bed kind of firm compared to a box spring.
I wish we could get the scratch together to stay at WL. After just getting back it’s the first time we don’t have a return trip booked as a result of price increases.
Nitpicky typo: “which is essentially by dream”.
Think that’s a my.
Great photos and article (per the usual).
Thanks for the heads up–fixed it.
As for Wilderness Lodge (or any DVC resort), it might be worth keeping an eye on confirmed reservations at DVC Rental Store & David’s – https://dvcrentalstore.com/confirmed-reservations/#confirmed-reservations-inventory/
I’d only go that route at the last minute at a point when I was 100% sure I wouldn’t be cancelling the trip…but that’s the way to do it, anyway, as discounts will be at their highest then.
Thanks for the idea.
It’s tough with coming from a 12 hour drive my wife don’t do or flight, but that might be our route. I’ll have to register for their notifications.
We had another amazing trip (using tons of your recommendations). My son finally “got” the American Adventure!
I was blown away that the cost for the same week next year was up about 20%. I’m hoping occupancy doesn’t meet projections and deals drop.
My wife and I are homesteading a piece of land surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forrest in Ky. We stayed at Wilderness Lodge the first year it opened. Imagine our surprise when here in southern KY we walked into a warehouse and found all of the salvaged furniture from the lodge. Now the Old Hickory furniture bed stands, TV and video stands and even the room refrigerator and microwave stands. We bought them for pennies on the dollar and they now are our kitchen cabinets with homemade copper counter tops. We also used them for our coffee station , our night stand and bathroom cabinets. They were a perfect economical solution for our tiny pseudo log cabin nestled in the Ky mountains. Loved the read! Btw got the pics to prove it!
Scott, that’s absolutely awesome.
I have some Cast Member friends who bought furniture when Animal Kingdom Lodge redid its rooms, but just a few pieces. Sounds like you really cleaned up!
I was going to buy one of the headboards they were selling on ebay but the shipping from KY was crazy high…
Tom, I keep waiting for you to express an opinion I vehemently disagree with, but it hasn’t happened yet! DWL is my favorite resort, hands down. As soon as I find a way of boosting my hotel budget 5 times over, I’ll be staying in one of these rooms.
“…rustic hipsters move into an old barn and find some eclectic decor on clearance at Anthropologie…” Just made my day.
I’ve actually used a similar line before–and no offense to Anthropologie, as 50% of our household likes that store.
Hahahaha. ” 50 % of our household likes that store”
Does that percentage include the dog and cat??? LOL