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.

Thinking about joining DVC? First 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” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out the discounted options at DVC Resale Market. Planning a Walt Disney World trip? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know.

YOUR THOUGHTS

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!

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