Thursday, June 8, 2017

Campground Review: Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

In May we were lucky enough to spend a week at the mecca of all campgrounds: the DISNEY campground called:


We had an amazing time and will definitely be back. It is hard to NOT have a good time while anywhere on the Disney property, but I'm going to try and only review the campground here. Maybe if I get my crap together I will tell you about our whole Disney trip in another post. Don't hold your breath though.

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This was actually our second visit to this campground. Our first visit was in 1995, so OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO. We had very fond memories of our first trip and had always wanted to return so we finally made it happen. Quite a few things changed in those 20 years, but both times we left certain that we would come back again. 

We made our reservations online through the Disney website. As a telephone hater you know this is something I prefer. Not many campgrounds have the ability to make online reservations so this is a plus. We bundled our park tickets and campground reservation all together and we were able to make payments on it for the year leading up to the trip. It had to be paid off 30 days prior to check-in, just like if you were to make reservations at any other Disney resort. So this is not so much a campground specific item but a convenience nonetheless so I'm including it.

The rates at this campground aren't really comparable to other campgrounds but let's be real. This is DISNEY. You don't expect them to be comparable because your experience won't be comparable. I still thought they were very reasonable though - ranging from just $53-$90 a night. They have four levels of campsites - the cheapest being for tents our pop-up campers. The Premium sites are the most expensive   and are large enough to park your biggest RV. But, the difference in price between their top two tiers of campsites was only around $5, so in our opinion there was no need to NOT select the Premium sites. These sites are fully paved and are mostly all surrounded in trees and shrubs so you have privacy. 

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Forgot to take a picture of our site until we were packing up, so the trailer and golf cart take up a ton of our space and make it seem so much smaller. We had plenty of space though! This is site 1447.

One thing you are not able to select online, however, is which loop or site you prefer. I am certain that you can call and request a certain area but I did not do that. I read some reviews which suggested the best loops for premium sites to be within loops 400-700 so that was what I had in mind to request upon arrival. However, our really friendly gate agent told us our site was in the 1400 loop and instead I decided to just go with it.

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I'm actually really glad I just went with it! After checking in and doing some exploring, we did make note of a few favorite sites to request for the future (sites 725, 407, 423, 1410, 1419, 1421 if you are interested), but we were really happy being where we were! Our loop was very close to the pool and Meadow Recreation area and was close to the Settlement area and a playground too.

In a campground this size transportation is important. There are nice sidewalks throughout, but sometimes you need to move quicker than that to catch an early morning bus to a park or to get the overtired children home ASAP. We brought my parent's golf cart to be our main source of transportation and that was perfect. They also rent golf carts and there are several areas where golf carts have their own parking area. If a golf cart isn't available, you won't be stuck walking around the massive campground. They actually have 3 different bus routes within the campground to get you where you want to go. These buses stay within the campground and just do different loops all day long. There are bus stops outside of each loop but we never actually used these buses during our visit. There are also boats that take you directly to Magic Kingdom or to a couple other resorts. SO awesome to be able to hop on one of those boats after a day at Magic Kingdom when the line for the tram or monorail has thousands of people in it.

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(One thing that did change from our first visit 20 years ago was that the bus stops are for internal buses only now. Before, the buses for each park made loops throughout the campground so you just walked to the end of your loop and waited for the bus for Epcot, for example. Now, you would need to catch an internal bus, walk, or golf cart it to the front of the campground to transfer to the buses that take you to other places within the Disney resort.)

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The amenities here are endless. Of course there are pools (we just visited the main pool in the Meadow area, but there is another one in the cabin area also) which has a fun slide and there's also a splash area. There's a sand volleyball court and tennis courts near the pool, and tether ball and basketball courts and playgrounds all around. We took advantage of the pool/slide/splash pad on several occasions and visited the playground (which we had to ourselves) a couple times in the cooler evenings.

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There's an area for horseback rides, and at the other end of the campground a ranch and stable you can visit where the smallest visitors can take pony rides. Charley had a pony ride one afternoon. It was only $6 (I think), cash only, and I had to lead the pony around myself. It was a quick and fun little activity. My one complaint though is that it was hard to find! The horses up front are easy to see so I assumed this would be the location of the pony rides also. But, these horses are just for the horseback trail rides. The ponies and bigger horses are at the complete other end of the campground. If you take an internal bus there, they would be easy to find. But if you are on a golf cart or bike, it was really hard to find which parking lot was near them and exactly where to go. No signs, no direction, nothing. After we finally found the ponies, we couldn't figure out WHERE to go to pay and get our own pony ride. Another parent leading his child around on a pony was finally able to tell us what to do.

After we did that we were able to go into the large stables to see some of the horses that Disney uses for parades or wagon rides or to pull Cinderella's coach.

There were tons of other rentals and things to do though. Here's one menu board of some of the stuff you can rent or do:

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Let's talk about food. Normally while camping you cook your own meals each day, but Disney's campground actually has several other options too. There are two dinner shows hosted here that you can visit whether you stay in the campground or not, but there's also a buffet restaurant which has a separate entrance for take-out. We utilized the take-out place a couple of times for dinner or for a quick pizza. Food was good and prices were as you'd expect at Disney. Pizza wasn't that bad in price or taste. Not that good, either, though. Ha.

Something we believed that the campground was lacking was a place to get a sweet treat! The restaurant had a couple of small options which we were not very impressed with. There's also a food truck each evening at the campfire singalong thing, but it had NO DESSERTS. There are two camp stores which each stock the same things so the best we could do when our sweet tooth called was to get a candy bar or a packaged ice cream. Meh. If Disney allowed us to open an ice cream shop within the campground we would be millionaires.

There was an arcade near the pool and by the restaurant. Charley and I spent an hour there, spent $10 and played every game. Not too shabby for an hour's worth of fun!

We never did the campfire singalong and outdoor movie thing. It started at 8:30ish each night and since we did theme park days every other day, we were either at a theme park at that time, or getting to bed at a decent hour to gear up for the next day's theme park. An 8:30 start is pretty late for my smaller children.

The entire campground is very wooded and nature-y and therefore you'd assume buggy. My children and I are BUG MAGNETS. We are eaten alive all summer long. But, Disney won't have that. They spray for mosquitoes often and none of us ever got a single bug bite. It was amazing! And, if you are still getting bug bites they would supply you with insect repellent for free!

The camp stores weren't my favorite. It was hard to find prices on so much of it, for one, and for two we were unable to find what we were looking for on 3 different occasions. One time we were looking for a forgotten ingredient for our dinner and they didn't have it. Another time I wanted dive sticks for the pool and despite having a section of pool things there were no diving sticks so I had to find something else in the store that would work. The third thing was camper lights (the decorative ones you hang from your awning). We saw another campsite with Mickey lights and thought they would definitely have them in the store. But nope! Nothing like that at all. Tons of souvenirs and things like that though so you don't have to waste time in the theme parks shopping.

The picnic tables at the site were very nice. They were that molded plastic material, square with 4 benches and sat 8. I wanted one for myself until we Googled it and saw they were around $700. (speaking of Google - WiFi was also great here!)

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Some sites even come equipped with themed clothes lines! ;)

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Since the campground is very close to Magic Kingdom, you are able to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach each night. Even without being able to see the lights on the castle, that fireworks show is pretty great so that's another perk. They play the music that goes along with the fireworks from speakers along the dock. There's a little electrical parade out on the lake each night which is pretty cute too.

All in all, I give it a 10 out of 10! Charley proclaimed that this was her best vacation ever and I know we will be back when Laney gets a little older too. (That 8+ hour drive was brutal with at 2 year old that doesn't nap on the go very well.) I don't think you can go wrong at any Disney resort, but I do love the outdoorsy aspect of this one.

Have you been here? I felt like there was so much to do that we couldn't get to it all. What was your favorite? I feel like you either need to be counting down to a Disney vacation, on a Disney vacation, or need to be planning the next one. I'm ready to plan the next one!

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1 comment:

sharon mercier said...

Holy cow, Charley is almost as long as you!!