This picture is of our site when we stayed in 2014. We had no trouble with our 40′ fifth wheel and truck and as you can see we had plenty of space front to back and side to side. We just took it slow and paid close attention to our surroundings.
I believe that everyone should camp at Fort Wilderness at least once. If you are coming to Florida, particularly central Florida, then staying at Fort Wilderness should be on the list of places to stay. The truth is, that most campgrounds around Disney are going to be about the same price. So you might as well enjoy a really nice resort and experience if you are going to pay roughly the same thing. What I like about Fort Wilderness is that it allows you to enjoy Disney magic even if you don’t spend the money to go into the parks. There is a ton of things to do there, the cast members are great and the campground itself is beautiful. I particularly enjoy the fact that there are a variety of sites that are wooded and treed, so you feel like you are camping a little more in a traditional sense than many other central Florida campgrounds and RV resorts that are more open and have more of a parking lot feel. All that being said, there are a few things to consider (in my opinion) when camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness.
It is difficult to get into. By this I mean getting a reservation. Like all things Disney, it is popular and a high demand location. If you are looking to get a reservation at any peak time, you must book well in advance. Any holiday and most weekends tend to fill up quickly. In addition, the bigger the unit, the harder it is to get a site during peak times. We have discovered that the best times to go would be late April-early June (with the exception of Memorial Day weekend) and August-mid September. That’s not to say that some times during those dates won’t be busy (it is Disney after all), but they tend to be a little easier to get reservations.
It can be difficult to get into. No, I am not repeating myself, this time I am referring to the physical layout of the campground. It is generally well laid out in my opinion, but it was designed in the 70s with much smaller rigs in mind. RVs today are considerably larger, but the layout hasn’t changed much. The roads are narrow and winding and some of the sites are at challenging angles. The larger the unit, the more care you will need to take when navigating the campground. They have different “levels” of sites with basic/primitive sites up through premium sites. If you are in a large motor home or fifth wheel, always opt for a premium site which they have designated for big rigs. I wouldn’t say that Fort Wilderness is truly big rig friendly, but there are plenty of sites that will accommodate big rigs. Just take it slow and don’t come in after dark.
The campground is HUGE. In order to get too and from many of the amenities and entertainment at the campground, you will need to either a) get a good pair of walking shoes, b) rent a golf cart or c) take the bus. With the exception of your campsite and getting in and out of the campground, you will not be able to drive your car to the pool or dining or activities. There is literally no car parking. However, you do have options. Depending on which loop you are in and what amenities you are interested in, you will likely be able to walk to your chosen activity. It may be a long walk, but your on vacation and you are there to enjoy the scenes. If walking isn’t your thing or a truly viable option, you can rent a golf cart for your stay. This is one of the more popular means of transportation around Fort Wilderness. So popular in fact, that during holiday and/or special events, you will find the regulars or die hard Disney fans will even decorate their golf carts. This in and of itself is interesting to see. If renting a golf cart isn’t in the budget, then the buses that travel throughout the campground is a great option. The buses will take you anywhere you need to go at pretty much any time. It does take some time depending on where you are and where you need to go, so you have to do a little bit of planning if you have reservations but Disney transportation is quite reliable and a great choice to get you where you need to go.
Feel the magic. You get the Disney magic without being completely immersed in traditional Disney fashion. In other words, it is not overwhelming. Whether you go into one of the shops or have dinner at one of the restaurants at Fort Wilderness, you know you are at Disney, but because of the campy/western feel of the campground you can enjoy traditional camping. The kids (or adults) can still meet with Mickey and his pals at a variety of entertainment venues such as Mickey’s Backyard BBQ or the sing along with Chip and Dale.
Take advantage of the resort amenities. Like most campgrounds, there are many things to enjoy that don’t revolve around the theme park. There are a ton of activities, movies, swimming pools and other entertainment that will keep you occupied during your stay. There are hiking trails, fishing excursions, playgrounds, volleyball and basketball courts also. They even have horseback riding and archery as well. There is even a huge dog park for the fur kids to play in.
No RV, no problem! If you don’t have an RV and are tired of the hotel scene, stay at one of the cabins. These cabins are a little more pricey, but they are great! They have most of the amenities of home, including kitchens and bathrooms so it’s like a hotel room in the woods.
A great place to stay for your Disney vacation. If you are in fact, heading to the Disney parks as part of your vacation plans, than staying on property at Fort Wilderness at least once is a must do. You can eliminate a lot of headache by being at the campground and utilizing their transportation to get you to and from the theme parks with ease. We found that when doing a specific Disney vacation, that staying at Fort Wilderness eliminated primarily the driving back and forth to our site. If we are at Magic Kingdom for the day and need to get back to the camper to let the dogs out or grab a bite for lunch, we could just hop on the boat and head right back to the campground and then take a bus to our loop. Again, it does add a little bit of time, but not fighting traffic in central Florida is a huge bonus in my book.
It can be expensive. Like everything else at Disney, it can be expensive to camp at Fort Wilderness. We have seen the prices range from $60-$160 a night for campsites and upwards of $300 for a cabin. But if you organize, plan and budget properly, it can be a great experience. It’s all about the experience.
We have stayed at Fort Wilderness a few times over the years and each time we had nothing short of a great experience. The campground is one of the cleanest we have ever encountered. The cast members take great care in cleaning each site after it’s been occupied, there are trash/recycling receptacles everywhere, the comfort stations are immaculate and the common areas are always pristine.
Since we have wintered in central Florida for a few years now, we don’t always stay at Fort Wilderness, but when we are specifically doing a few days at Disney, we will pull the rig there so that we can enjoy our “stay cation” without driving back and forth to the campground we normally stay at. When people ask if it is worth it, we always say yes, particularly if they have never camped at Fort Wilderness before. Some people will say it is just not worth the money. Well, my father always told me that if you really want to do it and you are willing to pay it, then it is worth it. Once you have camped at Fort Wilderness yourself at least once, you will be able to decide if it is right for you and if you would do it again. There are, of course, many other camping options near Disney that can be less expensive. But there are trade-offs. For us, it is a treat to plan a trip to Fort Wilderness for our Disney adventure.