Review: Copper Creek’s Cascade Cabins at Wilderness Lodge
The Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are the newest Disney Vacation Club resort at Walt Disney World. In this review, we’ll share photos from our recent stay in the waterfront Cascade Cabins, share whether it’s worth the exorbitant amount of DVC points (or money), and discuss how it compares to the Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
For this stay, our friends invited us to join their families for two-nights at the Cascade Cabins. Sensing that this might be our only opportunity to ever experience the cabins, we jumped at the chance. Although the Disney Tourist Blog empire has numerous liquid assets (a priceless collection of rare POG Slammers and tie-dyed Beanie Babies), our war chest does not have quite enough DVC points to swing even a single night’s stay at the Cascade Cabins.
Nor am I sure I’d even want to spend the points on the Cascade Cabins if we did have them. After our (how do we put this charitably?) abysmal experience at the Bora Bora Bungalows, I was a bit skeptical of the Cascade Cabins. The Cascade Cabins far exceeded our expectations; but in fairness, “up” was really the only direction for our experience to go…
The good news here is that our impression of the Cascade Cabins is not a matter of the Bora Bora Bungalows lowering the bar so much that these cabins were easily able to trip over it. The Cascade Cabins at Wilderness Lodge are flat-out good, the perfect melding of a rustic style with elegance and luxury.
I’ll get back to this because this melding is more than just buzzword lingo, and is something that really impressed me. First, let’s take a look around the cabin…
I’m not going to go through and give a blow by blow account of the cabin. To summarize (top to bottom in the photos), there’s a bedroom by the front of the cabin, a master bedroom with private bath, second bathroom (with separate rooms for the toilet and shower), and the main living area consisting of the kitchen, dining room, and living room.
This living area faces the water and has a screened-in porch, which also connects to the master bedroom. The porch (which I foolishly forgot to photograph) has a small hot tub with space for 2-4 people.
The living area is the obvious highlight, with its exposed beams and double-sided stone-hearth fireplace, it feels rustic. This is counter-balanced by leather chairs, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and other luxurious details.
More than anything else, this area exemplifies the balance of rustic design with modern luxury. Too bad Disney can’t “simply” add a beautiful stone-hearth fireplace and high beam ceilings to all of Wilderness Lodge’s hotel rooms!
While the layout between these cabins and the Bora Bora Bungalows at the Poly is largely the same, one clear and important difference is the fully screened-in porch. Gone is the totally pointless plunge-pool, replaced with a hot tub that can actually accommodate more than one person at a time.
The space also has a large picnic table, and seating on the reverse side of the fireplace. As neat as the Bora Bora Bungalows’ view of Magic Kingdom might be, I’ll take the utility of the Cascade Cabins over that. Another highlight for me is being able to pump in background music (I’m not sure if the loop is brand new–parts of it are reminiscent of the wonderful Grizzly Peak Airfield BGM.)
For me, the highlight of staying in the Cascade Cabins was coming back to the room after a long night in Epcot, going back to the hot tub, turning up the background music, and decompressing for about a half-hour before going to bed.
Also different from the Bora Bora Bungalows is the cost. This cabin is still (spoiler alert) quite expensive, but it’s not nearly as outrageous as its counterpart at the Poly. Across all seasons, the point chart is around 25% less expensive for the Cascade Cabins than it is for the Bora Bora Bungalows.
Arguably, this point spread reflects the regular difference between the Poly and Wilderness Lodge. From that perspective, it might come as little surprise. However, I’d respond that the finishings, level of detail, and overall quality of the Cascade Cabins are higher than the Bora Bora Bungalows.
I think that’s saying something, as aside from our negative (anecdotal) experience at the bungalows, I felt that I was fairly positive on them, even saying that I really liked the style and “the Bora Bora Bungalows had won me over” by the end of our stay. I still feel that way about the bungalows, and would put the Cascade Cabins a notch or two above that, having corrected some of the shortcomings of the bungalows.
Still, that price is a bitter pill to swallow. As a DVC owner, it’s easy to overlook the “cost” of accommodations since points can feel like monopoly money (or Disney Dining Plan credits!), which is probably the idea. However, the fact that points can be rented out instead of used gives us a baseline that we can easily quantify this cost in points, and it’s around $1,500+ per night.
Whether that’s a fair price is a matter of personal perspective. We are particularly frugal–even with our points–and tend to stay in Studio Villas only, and only during the Adventure and Choice seasons (the two cheapest ones). From that perspective, I view the Cascade Cabins as too expensive to justify.
Then again, I also view a standard hotel room in the Grand Floridian as too expensive…and I feel the same way about a room at Pop Century on New Year’s Eve. Obviously, others disagree, or else Walt Disney World could not price these rooms so high.
Setting aside my own personal perspective on cost, the question remains as to whether these cabins are overpriced relative to other Walt Disney World accommodations. That’s a much closer call. When comparing the Cascade Cabins to Grand Villas (which are larger but lack the uniqueness) around the various DVC resorts, I’d say these cabins are still about 10-20% overpriced given what they offer. Now, lowering the price by 20% is not going to get me to jump up and book these (still too rich for my blood), but that’s about where I feel the price should be.
Overall, aside from the per night cost, there’s little fault to find with the Cascade Cabins. It does not feel like any corners were cut with regard to the construction of these cabins. The general design and layout are great, and the details and finishing are top-notch. Then there’s the general feel of the cabins, which is pitch-perfect tonally, a rare feat for Disney when it comes to anything that strives to have a rustic theme while still feeling refined.
…Of course, all of this pertains to the Cascade Cabins when judged in a vacuum. Once you get beyond the cabins and start looking at the entire expansion of the area they occupy, there’s more to critique. On Page 2, we’ll talk overall impressions of the Copper Creek Villas & Cabins, and how the project enhances and detracts from Wilderness Lodge. Click here to continue reading.
After buying into DVC three years ago, we are finally staying at our home resort of Boulder Ridge Villas. We don’t have a before Copper Canyons vs post Copper Canyons perspective that will lead some to be disappointed to an extent. All I can say is that we were very impressed with the resort in total, and the Western lodge theme rings loud and true to us, giant sidewalks notwithstanding. Of particular significance was the boat transportation to Magic Kingdom. At the end of the day catching a boat to Wilderness Lodge appeared to be much less problematic than catching buses or the Monorail. For me personally, it is my favorite resort that we have stayed at so far – in comparison to Bay Lake Tower, Saratoga Springs, Boardwalk, Grand Californian and Animal Kingdom.
We finally got back to WDW, with a stay at Copper Creek split between the villas and cabins. I felt the cabins were gorgeous (read all about it above), if a bit inefficiently designed from a sleeping standpoint. The master bedroom has an overly-large California king bed, while the second (and too small ) bedroom doesn’t even have a queen or two double beds. And while Disney says the unit can sleep eight people, have fun moving the way too heavy coffee table every night/morning to set up and put away the sleeper sofa. If the kitchen area was just a few feet smaller (there is a ton of wasted space that of course looks amazing!), then perhaps the second bedroom could accommodate a queen bed. The Cascade Cabins just aren’t optimized for couples travelling together, as one will get the short straw and a bed that doesn’t work so well for two adults who are used to a little more mattress space. The pull-out couch works well for kids, as does the pull-down bed (just make sure they watch their heads at night to avoid a nasty bump!). The cabins are ultimately optimized for families of 4, with the (small) kids comfortably situated in the second bedroom and the parents in the amazing master.
Sleeping arrangements aside, my favorite part of the cabin was the back porch. Just an absolutely serene space to sit and look out on Bay Lake while listening to the Disney soundtrack.
I just stayed for two nights, the bed in the guest bedroom is a queen bed. My brother, his wife and 8 year old stayed in the guest bedroom. My parents stayed in the master and myself and a friend “roughed” it in the living room. My brother, who is 5’9″ and about 250 lbs ended up staying on the twin bed. in the guest room.
Spot on about that coffee table. It is heavy, but it was doable. Still, we opened both the queen sofa and the single sleeper, and with both beds open, it was tight. Still loved it though. Would do it again in a heart beat.
The photos inside are Gorgeous! The more I read articles like this the more I want to stay in Every resort! It looks so magical. #waltlife #disneylove #waltlifeboxes
I’m sure I’ll never stay in one of the cabins, but I appreciate getting the peek inside.
I was also concerned about the thinning of trees before my visit last month, but it really wasn’t an issue. I still feel the Lodge has kept it’s secluded feel, and the young trees they’ve planted extensively will take it to new levels in short time. Pines actually grow fairly fast.
My wife & I noted the larger walkways and assumed they were done that way for fire access. Either way, we didn’t see the extra space as a positive or a negative. But I understand your argument against the added size.
My biggest takeaway from our Boulder Ridge Villa stay was the unbelievably awesome addition of Geyser Point Bar & Grill as well as the very, very solid upgrade of the pool next door. Those combined areas now constitute my favorite area of real estate in all of Walt Disney World, and have vaulted the Wilderness Lodge into position as my favorite WDW Resort, hands down.
Amazing job by Disney!!
This post is definitely giving me vacation envy and a new hotel experience to add to my bucket list. Thanks!
I too really wish they just continued with the national park theme instead of the railroad theme. Given how overcrowded national parks have been in recent years, I’m not the only one who loves them :-).
You discuss theme in this post quite a bit. I would love to see a future post about attractions in the park fitting into the theme of their lands (for example, while I like Monsters Inc at Disney CA I don’t think it is thematically appropriate for Hollywood land -although with changes to hollywood tower I expect a re-theming of the entire land of some sort anyways).
Another thing to note. At night… There doesn’t seem to be any privacy in the living room areas. I don’t see any type of blinds to pull down. People on the boats can see everything going on in the cabins. There should at least be some blinds for the big windows.
There are huge, two-layer shades that you control with a switch next to the lights. We slept in the living room, and it was pitch black in there thanks to those. 🙂
I have to agree with the destruction of the trees to make all this happen. The seclusion of the lodge has been destroyed in the process. They seem to be moving away from a truly themed set of designs to make everything open and ‘airy’ to an extreme. I do agree that it may grow back but that will take 10+ years to return to the way it was. When they first built the lodge they didn’t cut down all the trees of old growth around the lake areas like they did this time. As a developer myself I can tell you that it makes the work much harder with the equipment when the large trees are still on the property. But it is a much better environment once you work around them and have them still there after.
I also agree on the totally unnecessary walkways. The over exaggeration of them also makes more reflection of the sun in the summer making the walk from building to building hotter where as before when the tree canopy there was a nice cool breeze.
“When they first built the lodge they didn’t cut down all the trees of old growth around the lake areas like they did this time.”
Sadly, it’s no surprise that they did things differently this time. While I think the quality of the construction is quite high, modern Disney looking for ways to cut corners and lower costs is still no shock.
I’m not sure have the backstory correct. As I understood it, it is a repurposed CAMP – the cabins were where management lived, the “rooms” were dorms for the workers. The pool was the quarry, and so on. As presented, they didn’t polish up a resort – they made one from the work camp.
Now – is it any less convoluted? Not really, and it certainly requires more than 10 seconds to explain.
The quarry would be the pool, and the other buildings part of the camp that worked it (so I guess, the cabins were barracks and Geyser Point was a mess hall?). They polished up that and turned it into a resort. Sorry if I wasn’t clear about that.
I know there’s a lot more to it than that, but that level of story is superfluous when it could’ve just continued to be themed to “National Park lodge.”
My wife and I got a private tour of the cabins. Like the poly bungalows they are nice but the price is out of whack. Of you could get a few families to chip in with their DVC points it would be more reasonable.
It would be magical to have an upgrade to these. Hehe 🙂
The too-wide walkways are also one of my complaints after the Poly refurb. The paths throughout the Poly were widened, though primarily on the DVC side. As you point out, this detracts from the ambiance and the theme of the area (whether tropical or western).
One reason for this, I believe, was to provide required access for fire and emergency equipment to the Bungalows. I’m guessing this may be the same case at the Wilderness Lodge? Either way, there has to be a better solution, because the pathways are incongruous with the rest of the resort.
Someone in our party suggested the same about vehicle access (be it emergency ones, or Disney’s own maintenance and other vehicles). Assuming it’s true (and I think that’s a big assumption), I think your point about a better solution is accurate.
In the case of Wilderness Lodge, there are access points from the parking lots adjacent to the cabins, meaning the widest portions of the walkways *could* be located there or from an out-of-the-way backstage area. Instead, the largest area of walkway is in the middle of the resort, near Geyser Point and it fans out from there. There’s also a lot Imagineering could’ve done to minimize the look of the walkways, be it with a tree canopy, or something (anything).
The cabins looks majestic. I don’t know if it was your photos or if the place is actually that majestic, but I kept scrolling back to look at them. They truly look like the perfect melding of modern styles with a rustic backstory, as you mentioned. Those beautiful woods used all over for different furniture give the cabins a wonderful, timeless quality. (I hope they used the good woods, rather than just painting over cheap woods).
This is one of the most beautiful hotel rooms I’ve ever seen. But I’m with you, the price tag is too high for me to stomach, even for special occasions. I feel like I could only justify it if it was my last day on Earth.
Thanks for the kind words, but if anything, I think my photos don’t do the cabins justice. In fact, the reason there are some night photos is because I was so displeased with my daytime ones. I packed my flash away in my luggage (which was being transferred from Pop Century), so some of the shots left a lot to be desired.
As for the actual quality, it’s incredibly high. The furniture is incredibly sturdy (downright HEAVY) at times, and this came as quite a surprise to us. It seems like DVC cheaped out with Bay Lake Tower when it was built, and has been paying the price sense (I feel like that resort has more problems with damage than any other). Since BLT, I’ve noticed a distinct improvement in quality across new DVC resorts.
Haven’t seen the new construction myself, but from those pictures, your critiques of Copper Creek’s thematic impact are spot on. I recognize that reaction because it’s come up regarding many recent DVC expansions:
-BLT (I’m surprisingly okay with the look of it, but it clearly detracts from CR’s signature A-frame and original symmetry)
-Kidani (Great on the inside, but why does a huge section of the exterior look like an unthemed military bunker? In the front when approaching it, no less?)
-GF (the new building looks awful compared to the original structures – it’s oversized, blocky, and missing some of architectural queues that give GF its charm)
-Poly (your criticism of the new walkways at WL is exactly how I felt outside the Great Ceremonial House. The beach is also ruined for those who aren’t in the bungalows)
This is an awful ratio, as Disney knew how to do better (Boulder Creek, BCV) but sacrificed thematic integrity for construction efficiencies and capacity. It’s too bad, because some of us have noticed, and it’s increasingly drained the magic and immersion from these resorts.
Agreed on most of those. I think that the good news here is that the biggest problem is one that’ll slowly heal over time. Conversely, Grand Floridian is not going to get windows on the sides of the building or additional lattice work, and Bay Lake Tower is never going to decrease in height so that it doesn’t take away from the A-frame.
So if anything, the silver lining is that this has been the least destructive DVC expansion since pre-Kidani–at least in the long term.
Curious if you could hear the horns from the boats at night when you were in the cabin. We stayed at WL in June, right before these opened, and the boat captains commented that they sounded their horns up until 11 pm or so (in the summer). I felt like that could be fairly disruptive to the cabins. Overall I thought they looked good, though.
I never heard the boats, but our room was the second from the last cabin on the far side away from the boats. We were actually farther away from the dock than many rooms would be in the main building.
We were at Boulder Ridge last week. Our room overlooked the new cabins. They looked very nice. But the horns from the boats are loud and long and every time we took the boat to/from MK we commented on how aggravating it would be if we spent the money to stay at those cabins only to hear those horns every 20 minutes or so. Especially if we had kids whose sleep was disturbed after busy park days. We could hear them in our room at Boulder Ridge.