We tried out what might be the nicest place to stay at Disney World: Copper Creek Cabins
A trip to Walt Disney World is all about making wishes and dreams come true. Some of those wishes are of the more childlike variety involving princesses, fairy tales and pixie dust. But some Disney dreams are made of more worldly materials.
My first brick-and-mortar Disney World dream years ago was to stay at the iconic Polynesian Village Resort. I'd seen it growing up and even as a young adult, but never had the means to stay there.
About five years ago, I burned the points to make that dream happen and it didn't disappoint. The resort's history, tropical theme, pineapple-flavored Dole Whip, "volcano" waterslide and five-star view of the Magic Kingdom's fireworks were all right up my alley.
Even before its very recent "Moana"-infused renovation, my first (and subsequent) stays at this monorail resort lived up to the hype and severely spoiled me for all future trips to Disney. In fact, I almost warn against people staying at the Polynesian as it's so good you risk not wanting to go back to other spots.
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"The Poly" will probably forever stay at the top of my list of favorite Disney World hotels, but in recent years a new spot caught my eye.
The Copper Creek Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge first opened in the summer of 2017 and have captivated my interest ever since.
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These 26 Pacific Northwest-inspired cabins sit right on the shore of Bay Lake, so you can easily see them if you stay at Wilderness Lodge or as you take the boat from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom. They are called cabins but they aren't rustic by any stretch -- they are more like high-end houses with two bedrooms, an indoor fireplace, a screened-in porch and private hot tub located right on Disney property.
We were never going to be able to justify the over 1,700 square feet of Disney indulgence for just the four of us, but when the opportunity to take a three-generation trip to Disney World presented itself this summer, we threw caution (and money) to the wind and booked two nights at the bucket list-worthy Copper Creek Cabins.
I'd argue that when traveling with friends or a large family, this is the absolute best place to stay at Disney World.
Related: Guide to visiting Walt Disney World
Disney's Copper Creek Cabins are located at Disney's Wilderness Lodge on the shore of Bay Lake. Coincidentally, Wilderness Lodge is also the home of one of Disney's nicest, newly renovated suites if you'd prefer a traditional suite to a cabin. (Take a peek at the transformed and breathtaking Yosemite Suite.)
Disney's Wilderness Lodge is an easy boat ride from the Magic Kingdom. Our particular cabin, No. 8012, was just 100 easy steps from the dock where you can board a boat that will take you almost all the way to Main Street, U.S.A.
The Copper Creek Cabins are not to be confused with the more rustic cabins located at the similarly named and neighboring Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground. Those cabins can also be fun and are very functional and significantly more affordable, but are not at all in the same league as the Copper Creek Cabins.
Even amid a resurging pandemic, there's no shortage of demand for Disney World right now.
Standard hotel rooms at deluxe Disney properties are going for $500 to $700 per night. So, steel yourself for sticker shock for the price of this "cabin."
If you own or rent Disney Vacation Club points, the Copper Creek Cabins start at 86 points per night and go all the way up to 196 points per night on peak dates. If you don't own DVC points, the price to rent points varies but is usually $18 to $20 per point if you rent through a large service such as David's Vacation Club Rentals. It can cost less, to the tune of perhaps $15 per point or even a little less if you're lucky and rent from an individual with points to burn. But know that these days Disney points are in pretty high demand, so you aren't likely to get the $10-per-point deals we were seeing last summer.
If you are paying for the cabins with cash instead of DVC points, they will probably cost at least $2,000 per night booked directly with Disney. And even at that rate, they sell out -- regularly. That is probably more expensive than renting two deluxe Disney hotel rooms, but likely not more than renting three rooms in the event you're okay using the living room's pullout sofa as a "third bedroom" as we did.
Related: We rented DVC points to book a three-bedroom villa -- here's what it was like
It's a bit of a journey to walk from the Wilderness Lodge lobby, down the hallways and beyond the pool to eventually arrive at the lakeside cabins. But, once you're there you are in your own luxurious bubble clad with pine trees, natural light, lake views and stone and wood accents.
You enter your Copper Creek Cabin with a swipe of a MagicBand and step into a wooden-floored hallway.
In our cabin, on the immediate right-hand side of the hallway is the secondary bedroom, which has a queen bed along with a daybed in the window.
There's also a fun pull-down child-sized trundle bed with a cool Chip and Dale design located under the TV.
This room can easily sleep two to three, depending on the ages and sizes of your crew.
A few steps farther down the hallway on the left is the luxurious primary bedroom.
Here you'll find a comfortable king bed with a connected oversized bathroom.
The bathroom not only has a large stand-alone shower but also a double vanity and a separate Jacuzzi-style soaking tub.
If that's not enough luxury, this room also has a private entrance that leads out to the wraparound back porch.
The last branch that leads off the entry hallway before you reach the living area takes you to a smaller hall with a washer and dryer, a half-bath with a sink and toilet and a separate room with another sink and a tub/shower combination.
The way this is all divided helps multiple people get ready in their own private spaces at the same time. This is a clutch design choice given the chaos that can happen when everyone is prepping at the same time before or after long theme park days.
Those areas are all certainly quite nice, but what makes this cabin truly special is the space it devotes to just being together.
This living area boasts a wooden cathedral ceiling with massive windows on almost all sides looking out onto the lake.
There's a double-sided fireplace that can be enjoyed from the indoors or the screened-in porch, a pullout sofa bed, a dining table for eight and an island for storing and preparing all your goodies.
In fact, there's an entire kitchen at your disposal with a full-sized refrigerator, oven, stovetop, microwave and more.
It's outfitted with pretty much all the cooking and dining gear you're likely to need. And if you want to head outside to grill, you can borrow a grill kit from the activity booth at the resort.
While the cabin might have cost a whole bunch of pretty pennies, we did save a few of them back on the trip by having groceries delivered to Disney and then eating several meals in the cabin.
My favorite part of the entire cabin is its private version of "outdoors." The large screened-in porch area was beautiful, functional, fun and special. It was so great I now really want a screened-in area of my own at home.
This mosquito-free space has its own hot tub and speakers that pipe in Disney background music whenever you wish. You can sit at the picnic table or enjoy the chairs next to the fireplace. We absolutely did all that, but that's still not why this is my favorite part of the cabin.
The cherry on top of it all is that you can not only see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the back patio, but the piped-in music switches to the fireworks soundtrack at the appropriate time each evening. And because there's always a touch of magic at Disney, it seems to even play on the right delay to still time perfectly with the fireworks, even though you're actually a bit removed from the action.
For me, it doesn't get much better than drinking a glass of wine surrounded by friends and family in the patio's private hot tub while listening to perfectly timed music and seeing the Disney fireworks without any crowds.
Yes, this experience came with a steep price, but that moment lived up to the bucket list status it was built up to be in my mind.
Celebrating my youngest daughter's birthday around the eight-person table, playing card games into the evening hours and retreating to our own spaces to sleep, only to awaken the next day so close to everything from the Magic Kingdom to the resort's swimming pool was just ... really special.
Related: These are the best places to eat at Disney World
In a year that has taken so much from so many, there have been a few times we've gone "all out," probably to try and psychologically make up for what we lost. This was one of those times.
If the Copper Creek Cabins are also on your Disney bucket list, know that they indeed live up to the hype.
This is especially true when you have time built into your trip to actually enjoy and share the cabins and their private outdoor space with friends and family. We had not only the four of us plus my mom and my sister staying in the cabin, but each evening we hosted several other friends also vacationing at Disney World for meals, hot tub soaks and fireworks viewing.
These cabins are made to be shared and enjoyed, as opposed to a place to just crash at night between 15-hour theme park days.
Whether or not it is worth it is subjective, but I certainly don't regret a penny.
You can enjoy Disney on a wide variety of budgets, but if one day you want to pull off a stay with your friends or family at Copper Creek Cabins, you're in for a very special treat with a side of music and fireworks to boot.