In Episode 5 we continue the conversation with Jim Korkis about the history and backstories of Disney’s Copper Creek Cabins and Villas at the Wilderness Lodge. This blog post is a high-level summary for show notes and photographs of things discussed in the podcast. For more information, you may want to see the articles Jim posted on MousePlanet.com. “The Wilderness Lodge Saga – Part One” and “The Wilderness Lodge Saga – Part Two.”
Jim explains that there is a back story to everything. Michael Eisner set a policy in place that “Everything Speaks” and that Disney Imagineers do must be driven by a story to create an immersive experience. Jim recalls a story where hotel management wanted to offer coffee to guests. However, the folding card table used to serve coffee didn’t match the period and theming of the Wilderness Lodge. Therefore, Imagineers created a rolling coffee cart to bring out for guests each morning. We were not able to find the coffee table for a picture; however, Andrew Darden, one of our listeners was able to find this picture to illustrate the point. The merchandise does look slightly out of period; however, the solid black tablecloths over the folding table blend in with the table to maintain the theme.
At check-in, front desk staff provided guests an 1800’s themed newspaper called “The Silver Creek Star” to explain the backstory of the Wilderness Lodge. This newspaper described how the geyser was created by spirits who were unhappy with some settlers' actions in the area. Jim discusses the history and engineering of the spring found in the lobby. The spring's design creates the illusion that water bubbles up inside the building, slowly winds down to the feature pool, and eventually makes its way into Bay Lake. Jim talks about “Sandpaper Trees” with very rough leaves that settlers used as sandpaper. These trees are not indigenous to Florida but were brought in to make the resort more authentic.
Jim explains the transcontinental railroad theming of the lodge also pulled in some Chinese influences in the hallway leading down toward The Roaring Fork restaurant. Another design challenge was building the Boulder Ridge Villas. These villas have a storyline that predates the lodge. The villas came about to as housing for the railroad workers that built the transcontinental railroad. The villas at Boulder Ridge were designed to look like a train roundhouse. Jim discusses a hidden Mickey carved into the lobby area at Boulder Ridge Villas; he loves taking people there and having them search for the hidden mickey. Once you see it, you cannot un-see the mouse. There's a hidden Mickey in the photo below. Spoiler Alert! – Clicking this link or the picture below will reveal the Hidden Mickey – Spoiler Alert!
Boulder Ridge has a train room that was once called “the Iron Spike Room.” This room changed its name to the “Carolwood Pacific Room” because it houses artifacts from the railroad that Walt had built in his backyard. One object on display is a set of tracks from Walt's backyard railroad. Walt personally made two cars on show. Jim points out a photo of Salvador Dali riding the railroad cars.
DVC Members often ask, “What is the connection between Copper Creek Cabins and Villas with Walt Disney?” The storyline for Copper Creek Villas explains that remaining objects from the railroad era became building materials for the cabins and villas. The significant tie to Walt comes from the fact that Walt was a huge railroad fan.
Jim shares a final secret: Disney recycled the crane in the Boulder Ridge pool from Catastrophe Canyon area of the Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Jim discusses Secret Stories of Walt Disney World which is shown below in the Amazon links.
Jim makes his living researching and writing. If you enjoyed listening to Jim, we encourage you to support his research efforts by purchasing one of his books on Amazon or directly from the publisher at Theme Park Press. You can support Jim and the show by using these Amazon affiliate links.
Special thanks to Andrew Darden, My DVC Points Community Group moderator on Facebook, for taking time from his vacation at Copper Creek to take photographs for Episodes 4, 5, 6, and 7. Andrew is an original owner at Old Key West. We can't wait to share Andrew's DVC stories and memories with you.