Are you looking to combine your love of camping with all the amenities of a five-star resort? If so, then Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is ideal for you and your family. It goes without saying that roaming around Disney’s Magical Kingdom is one of the most memorable experiences on earth. From fantasy theme parks to playgrounds and shows filled with enchantment and wonder, Walt Disney World is bound to have a one-of-a-kind attraction uniquely tailored to your inner child and the delight of any little ones you’re traveling with.
Guests of Fort Wilderness are able to transport themselves to another world by camping in the middle of nature underneath the stars.
You’ll be greeted by a wide array of woodland friends -- deer, ducks, rabbits, armadillos -- who inhabit over 750 acres of Fort Wilderness pine and cypress forests. You’ll walk along charming hiking paths and drown out your thoughts to the sound of crickets chirping on a balmy summer’s eve. You’ll discover great swimming areas as you take in the scenic wonderment of this natural American gem.
Set on vacationing at Fort Wilderness and looking for helpful tips to guide your trip planning? TravelAwaits has asked Disney travel experts to share their best insights to help you plan and experience the trip of a lifetime. Get ready to pack your camping gear and set your sights on a well-executed trip to a Disney destination full of mystery and beauty.
About Fort Wilderness Resort And Campground
If this is your first visit to Fort Wilderness, then you should know the amenities in store for you will not disappoint. Fort Wilderness is a spacious area for tent and RV camping. For those looking to enjoy the cabin experience, the resort also offers fully equipped, air-conditioned log cabins available for rent.
Expert Len Testa, a frequent traveler and co-author of the 2020 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, told TravelAwaits that Fort Wilderness offers what are arguably the most recreational activities and facilities of all the Disney resorts. The area features two video arcades, campfire programs, movies, a dinner theater, swimming pools, a beach, and walking paths, plus bike, boat, canoe, golf-cart, and kayak rentals.
She went on to share that you can enjoy horseback riding, wagon rides, and tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, and that there are multiple dining options, from a full-service restaurant to a food truck and a tavern. Within walking distance of the campsites, you’ll find toilets, showers, pay phones, ice machines, and laundry facilities.
1. Bring Your Furry Companion, But Be Sure To Request A Pet-Friendly Campsite
One of the best things about Fort Wilderness is that all are welcome, and that includes your best furry friend. Pups are most certainly welcome at the resort, but you’ll have to notify Fort Wilderness prior to your arrival. Siera Duiser, a travel agent with Destinations in Florida, told TravelAwaits, “Guests with a pet do need to request a dog-friendly campsite at the time of booking and then bring the dog's vaccine record to the front desk when checking in. Disney even provides a welcome gift for the dogs at check in.”
2. Reserve A Golf Cart In Advance To Assist In Getting Around The Resort
Fort Wilderness’s 750 acres of green forests, with all the charms of hanging moss and uneven ground, can pose a challenge to easily navigating the resort. Fortunately, golf carts are available for guests to take advantage of. Dusier shares, “Many guests do like to rent a golf cart for their stay at Fort Wilderness to make it easier getting around the property. The golf carts are limited and often sell out, so it is best to reserve them as early as possible.”
3. Dine In At Trails End, A Delicious And Affordable Hidden Gem
One of the best things about vacationing at Fort Wilderness is that you’ll never be at loss for delicious restaurant options. From hearty buffets to fun-filled dinner shows, you can satisfy your cravings and accommodate your budget by choosing from one of many affordable eating options on site.
Dusier said one restaurant in particular is a must do. Where do you have to dine during your Fort Wilderness stay? Trail’s End Restaurant. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Dusier told TravelAwaits, “One of the best hidden gem restaurants at Disney is Trails End, which is at the campground. It has a delicious buffet and is one of the most affordable dining options on the property. They also have a take out counter with grab-and-go items.”
4. Set Aside Time To Meet Your Neighbors
One aspect of Fort Wilderness that makes it such a memorable experience is its intimate, small-town feel. There are very few resorts one can travel to where the culture so enthusiastically encourages visitors to interact with and meet the other guests. Expert Kimberly Button, a Disney blogger, author of The Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook, and former full-time RVer, told TravelAwaits you should “plan time to meet your neighbors.”
She said if that sounds like small-town America, it’s because that's how Fort Wilderness feels. “There's not too many places left where you can walk by someone's house, strike up a conversation, and soon be sharing drinks on their picnic table. That's how Fort Wilderness is. Spend a morning or evening walking the loops, saying hi to people and -- most importantly -- checking out their Disney decorations! A lot of people go crazy decorating with Disney, especially at Christmas time, so you'll want to explore the campground loops.”
5. Spend The Day In Fort Wilderness
It’s common for travelers planning a trip to Disney World to budget all of their time for the theme parks. And while the theme parks are among the best in the world, Button told TravelAwaits that if you don’t plan carefully, you’ll miss out on the enjoyable, laid-back experience of Fort Wilderness.
“Leave a day just to enjoy Fort Wilderness,” she said. “With the pools, a water play area, campfire sing-alongs, and more, it's a shame to spend all day every day in the theme parks. You'll want to leave lots of room open for relaxing and enjoying this laid-back lifestyle.”
6. Arrange For Boat Transportation
Getting around Fort Wilderness is now easier and more enjoyable than ever since you can travel to and from on a ferry or boat. The Walt Disney World Water Transportation services the Magic Kingdom park, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Most routes run on 15 to 30 minute intervals.
When asked about the boat transportation, Button shared her insights on the service: “Boat transportation from Fort Wilderness will bring you to the Contemporary Resort or Magic Kingdom. From there, you can hop a monorail to explore the Polynesian Resort with its tropical feel or the elegance of the Grand Floridian Resort. You truly can enjoy so much from this one location.”
7. Walk The Path Along Pioneer Hall For A Chance To See Woodland Wildlife
One of the most wondrous sights to behold at Fort Wilderness is being greeted by the woodland wildlife that lives there. While deer can at times be very timid creatures, Testa told TravelAwaits that if you take the path along Pioneer Hall, you can be sure to see deer and other wildlife.
If you’re in the mood to walk, she suggests looking for the path near Pioneer Hall that leads to the Wilderness Lodge area. It’s a flat, paved walkway about three-quarters of a mile long that Testa says is ideal for seeing deer and other woodland creatures. The path also provides convenient access to the dining options around Wilderness Lodge.
8. Choose Your Campsite Wisely
You know the saying A horse is only as good as its rider? Well, a camping trip is only as good as its campsite. In order to experience the richness of a camping trip (including quick access to facilities and amenities), it’s imperative that you select the best campsite. Fortunately, our experts share their insights on what the best Fort Wilderness campsite is depending on your desired camping experience.
From the upcoming 2020 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World: “For tent and RV campers, there’s a fairly stark trade-off between sites convenient to pools, restaurants, trading posts, and other amenities and those that are most scenic, shady, and quiet. RVers who prefer to be near guest services, the marina, the beach, and the restaurant and tavern should go for Loops 100, 200, 700, and 400 in that order.”
Testa said loops 100 and 400 are close to ongoing hotel construction, which might mean less-than-peaceful-sounding days.
Loops 1400, 1300, 1000, and 1500 are near one of the campground’s facility areas, giving campers quick access to a pool, trading post, bikes and golf carts, and the campfire program. Testa said she shared these in order of preference.
For campers after a more tranquil, scenic setting, Testa recommended loops 1800, 1900, 1700, and 1600 (in that order), as well as the sites on the 700 loop, although she noted that loop may be subject to construction noise.
According to Testa, the best loop of all is Loop 300, which offers what she calls a lovely setting with close proximity to amenities. Tent and pop-up campers should go for loop 1500 or 2000. Loop 1500 is nearest to a pool, convenience store, and the campfire program.
Also from the upcoming 2020 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World: “With the exception of Loops 1800 and 1900, avoid sites within 40 yards of the loop entrance [as] these are almost always flanked by one of the main traffic arteries within Fort Wilderness. Further, sites on the outside of the loop are almost always preferable to those in the center. RVers should note that all sites are back-ins and that the loop access roads are pretty tight and narrow.”
9. Avoid The Crowds: Consider Camping At Fort Wilderness In The Off Season
Regardless of where you live, early summer is without a doubt one of the more popular times to go on a camping trip. However, at popular camping destinations like Fort Wilderness, camping during peak seasons can mean the added stress of large crowds and long lines. To ensure that you can enjoy the richness of all that Fort Wilderness has to offer, expert Nikida Metellus, owner of ThemeParkHipster, said you should consider planning your trip in the off-season.
Metellus told TravelAwaits she uses Disney crowd calendars (like this one from MagicGuides) to help determine the best season to book Fort Wilderness Campground stays. “I recommend early November or mid-January. You will be able to maximize your days and really enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort area.”
10. Cap Your Night Off With A View Of The Happily Ever After Fireworks Show
Sometimes the perfect ending to an amazing vacation day means capping your evening off with an extraordinary fireworks and nighttime spectacular show. Gather the whole family and take in a journey of dazzling light, color, and song as you reel in the last moments of a truly magical vacation at the Magic Kingdom. Metellus told TravelAwaits, “A classic nightly treat is to watch the Electric Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon and to cap your night off with a spectacular lakeside view of the Happily Ever After fireworks show over at the Magic Kingdom.”
11. Follow This Disney Fort Wilderness Packing Checklist
Getting ready for any camping trip is hard work. Organizing gear, confirming your reservation, packing the car while double checking that everyone has what they need can certainly be overwhelming. While you can rest assured that Fort Wilderness will have what you need in the event you leave a few items at home, Metellus has compiled a list of items you’ll want to take with you on your fun-filled Fort Wilderness vacation.
Disney Day Bag Essentials
- Hand wipes
- Hat for sunny days
- Disney MagicBand
- Portable phone charger
- Reusable water bottle
- Theme park guide books
- Rain ponchos
- Water mist sprayer
- Waterproof zippered bags
A Few More Must-Haves When Packing For Your Disney Camping Vacation
- Active and casual clothing
- Bathing suits
- First aid kit
- Flip flops
- Sleeping bag
- Trash bags
- Extra underwear and socks
- Bottled Water
- Water Shoes
On the hunt for other great glamping opportunities, but prefer to stay on the West Coast? Check out our favorite gorgeous glamping spots near Yosemite National Park. Think you're too old for a Disney vacation? Our adult's guide to a Disney World getaway will have you thinking again!
Photo Credit: WDW Info
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