Camping at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Twice recently, my family got a chance to camp at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at Walt Disney World. One time, we tent camped, and another time we stayed in our trailer. Both times were really fun, and we can’t wait to go back!
The great thing about Fort Wilderness is that all the campers here — from Scouts in group campsites to retirees in luxury motorcoaches — have a little spot of Disney to call their own. Even people who stay in the cabins seem to enjoy the rustic, laid-back atmosphere of Fort Wilderness. The cabins look nice and have everything you need including an outfitted kitchen — but I won’t be talking about the cabins in this post.
Campsites are grouped in loops across the mile-long resort. Tent and pop-up campers have their own areas, which are less expensive than the rest of the sites — Full Hook-Up, Premium (which includes a cable TV hookup) and Preferred (which gives you a cable hookup, the option of high-speed Internet access, and I suspect convenient locations in the resort). I’ve seen tent campers in the Premium sites, though, so tent campers aren’t limited to just tent sites. If you have a trailer or coach, its size may determine which type of site can accommodate you. Each type of site has a different price range, with Preferred being the most expensive.
As you look around Fort Wilderness, you’ll see all kinds of tents, trailers and coaches. You’ll even see some campsites tricked out with decorations.
I’d heard that around holidays, some campers do up their campsites in style with lots of seasonal decorations. Boy, it’s the truth!
No matter which kind of campsite, campers enjoy the rustic, laid-back atmosphere.
Things to Do
Fort Wilderness is a place that’s a destination itself. On one of our recent trips, our family didn’t even go into a park because we wanted to spend all our time in Fort Wilderness.
We checked out the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool.
There’s another, smaller pool area between Loops 2500 and 2700.
Kids love the Chip ‘n’ Dale Campfire Sing-a-long, followed by an outdoor movie on a large screen (ask about the schedule at check-in), that takes place every night.
Chip and Dale make their way through the audience afterward, and if you want a quick picture with them, be sure to sit on the wooden benches and not the bleachers in the back, where the chipmunks might not have time to visit.
Bring your own marshmallows to roast like we do (to avoid artificial food dyes and corn), or buy a marshmallow-roasting kit and other snacks at the chuck wagon concession at the event.
Kids also like the pony rides!
There are height and weight limits, but older children and adults can saddle up horses for a guided trail ride through Fort Wilderness. There are also two hayrides and private carriage rides every night. (There’s a Segway tour too, if you’re not a horsey type.)
You can rent a canoe or kayak at the Bike Barn (which also rents out bicycles), near Meadow Swimmin’ Pool, and explore Fort Wilderness by water.
The marina is where you rent power boats and explore Bay Lake. At night, campers line up here on the beach and docks for the Electric Water Pageant. It’s a light-animation boat parade set to music and can be seen at all resorts around Bay Lake. It reaches Fort Wilderness around 9:45 pm. The marina is also the place to catch a ferry to the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort or Wilderness Lodge (where there are even more fun things to do).
When it comes to eating, Fort Wilderness does have options. If you don’t want to prepare your own meals, you can eat at Trail’s End Restaurant or Crockett’s Tavern. The Meadow Swimmin’ Pool has a snack bar. There’s also the special Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, an outdoor picnic, for character dining. Hope we can go to that someday!
If you run out of something, need a snack or want to shop for souvenirs, Fort Wilderness has two stores: Settlement Trading Post (near the marina) and Meadow Outpost (near the pool).
I’ve stayed at several Disney World resorts. They all have nice features. Fort Wilderness is a place where it almost seems like a party, though. Maybe people are friendlier when they’re camping, or maybe it’s just the fact you tend to see people more (and more often) at the resort. And I kind of get the impression that some campers come back again and again — almost like they live there! When you’re going in and out of a tent or trailer, too, you start to recognize the faces of your neighbors. You don’t usually get that at the hotels.
Fort Wilderness is really spread out, but there’s no driving your vehicle from one place to the next. Buses run regular routes through the campground, but a lot of people get around the resort on bike or by golf cart. You can rent both bikes and carts at the resort. Or if your campsite is in a good location, you can walk to the pool, marina or bus transportation to the parks.
Another perk: wildlife! My family is always happy to spot wildlife at Disney World — from the ducks in the Magic Kingdom to the rabbits at Epcot to the deer at the Wilderness Lodge Resort — and Fort Wilderness has its share of all these creatures and more.
Now that we have a trailer, our family will probably be going to Fort Wilderness more often. And I think it will add to the Disney memories our kids will make.