DVC’s Boulder Ridge Villas and the Coming Soon Copper Creek Villas & Cabins
When is the latest Disney Vacation Club resort not the newest DVC resort? The answer is when The Walt Disney Company in its infinite wisdom chooses to repurpose an existing property’s space in order to construct new villa options. Specific to 2017, it’s when Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, a Four-Diamond award-winning resort, undoes some of the work it did in 1998-2000, tearing down structures from the former DVC villas in order to build new ones. Everything old is new again! And there’s also a lot of new stuff. With one of the phases only a few weeks away from opening to the public, here’s everything you need to know about Disney’s Copper Creek Villas & Cabins as well as the rebranded Boulder Ridge Villas.
How This All Started
During the spring of 2015, Disney confirmed rumors that their next DVC villas would require new construction…but at an existing property. Rather than foot the bill for an entirely new resort, the corporation decided that their best bet was to beef up Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. As wonderful as that property is, Disney execs had worried for years that the theming in the lobby didn’t match the DVC villas well enough to sell the resort effectively.
Strategists also noticed a trend among DVC members to prioritize monorail properties ahead of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Since it was technically the first and for a long time only DVC resort near Magic Kingdom, it lost a competitive advantage in 2009 when Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened. That prior asset eroded further with the introduction of villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spas and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. With all three of those resorts now offering DVC rooms, the demand for Disney’s Wilderness Lodge had lessened. Disney execs determined that they needed to make a move.
New Theme at an Old Place
Whether DVC fans agree with Disney’s point of view is irrelevant. We’ve known for a while that change was coming, and the only question is what they’ve done. DVC followers received their first insights when blueprints were filed and construction began in 2015. The following year, Disney confirmed a name change for the existing properties at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The existing villas became Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, thereby providing new storytelling opportunities for Disney Imagineers. They suddenly enjoyed a new opportunity to theme the villas with a tight story structure previously missing at this part of the resort. Here’s the key snippet from Disney’s press release:
“The Resort’s new name – Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – gives that rustic community a more distinctive identity and allows Walt Disney Imagineers to bring the community’s story to life in new ways, including through the re-imagined (and soon to be renamed) Hidden Springs Pool area.”
On October 26, 2016, the official Disney site that books hotel reservations for their properties permanently reflected the name change. Around that time, other details started leaking out about an impending new pool, restaurant, and cabins onsite. They also renovated some existing hotel rooms into new villas. They even removed some (but NOT all) of the trees close to World Drive to add new space for more villas. In just a few weeks of construction, Imagineers had fundamentally changed the look and feel of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. They even demolished Hidden Springs Pool, thereby breaking the hearts of a lot of resort loyalists. The good news is that the replacement pool is on schedule to open this summer. And it’s going to be amazing!
Boulder Ridge Cove Is the Hangout Hub
What’s at Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge now? The new pool section is a showpiece and one of the highlights of the repurposed facility. The region called Boulder Ridge Cove features a sun deck and a gorgeous pool. As is the case with many recent DVC pools, it’s zero-entry. More importantly, the theming for the entire area is precise and detailed.
The new Boulder Ridge Cove area represents the Pacific Northwest during that period of time when the Transcontinental Railroad had diminished in popularity. After the 1950s, people traveled by plane and improved interstates more often, lessening the historically broad appeal of the railroad. That left a lot of towns destitute since they existed primarily as railroad stops for travelers, entrepreneurs, and workers. Left with no other option, towns repurposed their train structures into more viable business entities.
In the case of this fictional region, a quarry replaced the train tunnels and bridges. The vestige of this change is the Boulder Ridge Railway and Mining Co. water tower (and functional water slide!), the landmark that skies above the accompanying pool area. Its presence is a constant reminder that pioneers once populated the area rather than DVC aficionados. Abandoned mine carts will also function as background theming, but Disney apparently isn’t directly tying these together with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the attraction with a similar backstory. Disney fans are already trying to find secret links, though.
Did Someone Say Bison Burgers?
The other integral part of Boulder Ridge Cove is the new restaurant. Geyser Point Bar & Grill opened to glowing reviews on February 13, 2017. Suffice to say that it’s rustic in nature. The construction elements are primarily wood and stone, and the seating isn’t enclosed, although there is a roof protecting guests from inclement weather. You also don’t need to worry about the temperature. Heaters and fans are visible in the ceiling above, Disney’s (clever) way of controlling the temperature while still providing an outdoorsy setting for diners. For that matter, they’ve actually covered their bases with retractable walls in the event of truly disruptive weather events.
The restaurant tries to cater to the needs of most of its guests in a single location. Counter service is available for DVC members seeking to grab a quick bite for the road or take something back up to their lounge. A pleasant lounge offers the ambience of an outdoor family patio setting, but anyone who wants to watch a bit of television while they relax can enjoy the several HDTVs mounted above the bar. And the views of Bay Lake are absolutely divine.
In fact, you can see the specialized DVC resort off in the distance if you sit at the right spot. A boat dock is also nearby, meaning that you’ll have the occasional nautical distraction if you’re like me and enjoy watching people enjoy some Bay Lake recreation. For that matter, you should consider Geyser Point Bar & Grill a premiere destination for viewing of the Electric Water Pageant now that it’s open.
As for the food, think of Geyser Point Bar & Grill as the quirkiest quick service restaurant at a DVC hotel, which is fitting since Wilderness Lodge already offers a truly strange meal at Whispering Canyon. The quick service food isn’t just your standard nuggets and burgers. We’re talking about some Pacific Northwest fare that’s too highbrow for a fast food restaurant.
Disney brags about their Bison burger with Tillamook Cheddar, which sounds like something from a Top Chef Quickfire challenge rather than a walk-up counter option at a DVC resort eatery. Someone with an impressive palate (i.e. someone not me) could also order a smoked turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise or a crab cake sandwich with Canadian bacon.
Finally, I should add that the breakfast options are also decent. The restaurant offers nine options, including maple cinnamon pancakes with an apple compote and something they call “smoked salmon everything bialy”. The food options here are plenty good enough that DVC guests who prefer to hang out at the hotel a lot will always have full bellies and smiles on their faces when they dine at Geyser Point Bar & Grill.
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is phase two of the re-imagining of DVC’s presence at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. What we know for certain is that sales are starting very soon for the impending project and that Disney expects them to open to the public later in 2017. The expansion will include 26 lakefront cabins and hundreds of new rooms in the DVC inventory at the resort.
The suspicion is that the cabins are similar in style (and presumably points cost) to the bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The general manager of the DVC program, Ken Potrock, promised that these rooms would hold up to eight guests. These cabins are clearly upscale DVC options. Also, Disney appreciates the value of waterfront housing, and it’s likely that the potential to construct these super villas was integral to the decision to reboot the DVC presence at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Photo courtesy of dvcnews.com
I should also note that 14 of the cabins will reside near (and possibly provide views of) the new pool. Meanwhile, the other dozen will face Magic Kingdom. Park view tiered pricing is unlikely, so whether you get to look at the Most Magical Place on Earth from your room should be potluck rather than something you can book. All of this is speculation that will quickly become confirmed or refuted the moment Disney adds the new inventory into their system.
In terms of location, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins will reside close to Geyser Point Bar & Grill. As far as speculation, Disney has consistently referred to this developed as their 14th DVC property, indicating that its inventory will remain separate from Boulder Ridge Cove. Presuming this is true, guests seeking to stay at one of the updated/new villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will have twice as many opportunities to do so. If one is showing as sold out, make sure to check the same dates for the sister site.