The campsites at this extensive resort are one answer to the expense of a Disney vacation. Guests can camp here for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room, while still enjoying the convenience of staying within the Disney World resort.
Don’t assume that the “resort” part of the name is just an affectation – Fort Wilderness truly offers a wide range of services and entertainments for its guests similar to what you might find at other value or moderate Disney resorts. While the comfort of your sleeping arrangements will depend on what you provide for yourself, Disney does its best to ensure that the rest of your stay has the Disney touch.
Fort Wilderness Layout
Fort Wilderness is a maze of winding roads and loops, but with a map it is easy to find your way around. The resort sits on 750 acres of land in the Magic Kingdom resort area, and has space dedicated to campgrounds, family cabins, and a recreation area.
At the entrance to Fort Wilderness is the Reception Outpost with the check-in desk for guests. At the far end of the resort is Bay Lake (the Magic Kingdom sits on the opposite shore) and the guest services building, along with several other important resort amenities such as the Settlement Trading Post and the Trail’s End restaurant.
There are over 700 campsites at Fort Wilderness that can handle tents, trailers, or RVs. Sites are landscaped with pine and cypress to give a bit of privacy from other campers. The sites have a picnic table and a charcoal grill, and those with RVs or trailers can take advantage of sewer, water, electrical, and cable television hook-ups. Wireless internet is also available for an additional fee.
There are four different types of campsites available at a range of prices, and they vary in size as well as the specific hook-ups they provide. All sites can accommodate up to ten guests in each.
You can get camping supplies, food, and souvenirs at the Settlement Trading Post.
There are numerous Comfort Stations throughout Fort Wilderness where campers may access private restrooms and showers, use coin operated washing machines and dryers, or take advantage of the ice machines. These stations are air-conditioned, which is wonderful on a hot Florida day!
In the center of the Fort Wilderness Resort is the Meadow Recreation Area, and close to the lake is the Settlement Recreation Area. These areas are home to some of the perks unique to this particular resort, and there are a heap of fun opportunities to be found here.
Resort guests can rent bikes to ride around the bike trails that run throughout the Recreation Areas. They may also rent many different kinds of watercraft such as kayaks or pontoon boats for use on Bay Lake or the Fort Wilderness waterways.
Guests who love sports can visit the area to play tennis, shuffleboard, or volleyball, or swim in the waterways of the resort.
The Meadow Recreation area hosts the campfire program, where kids can join in the Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long, and guests of all ages can enjoy a classic Disney film.
The Meadow is also home to the resort’s largest pool, the Meadow Swimmin’ Hole, which features a large water slide as well as a hot tub.
Finally, eager video gamers can find the Daniel Boone Wilderness Arcade at the Meadow, while the Davy Crockett Wilderness Arcade is at the Settlement Recreation Area.
Fort Wilderness has two stores called “trading posts” in keeping with Disney’s frontier theme for the resort. These stores are more extensive that the usual souvenir shops that appear in Disney resorts, which typically carry a few snack and toiletries but not much else of a practical nature. Since the Fort Wilderness cabins have full kitchens and most campers will also cook at least some of their meals, the trading posts are stocked with a good range of basic groceries.
The Meadow Trading Post is part of the Meadow Recreation Area, and the Settlement Trading Post is near the shore of Bay Lake. In addition to groceries, both stores carry gifts, snacks and beverages, and sundries. The Meadow Trading Post also has a deli.
Dining at Fort Wilderness
There are a number of different family dining options for guests at the Fort Wilderness campsites. When you tire of coking your own food over that charcoal grill, there are a few places where you can kick back and let someone else do the cooking for you. This is a vacation, after all!
Pioneer Hall is home to the Trail’s End Restaurant and The Hoop Dee Doo Revue.
Trail’s End Restaurant
Trail’s End looks like the mess hall at a ranch or backcountry lodge, and it serves hearty American style meals. For breakfast, you can order from a range of cold and hot breakfast items, including Mickey waffles and biscuits and gravy. For lunch, you might dig into some chili or fried chicken. At dinner time the menu expands to include barbeque ribs, pasta, and other satisfying dishes.
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
Mickey and friends put on a rousing show during this all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet. Country music, line dancing, rope tricks, and more will keep you jumping, dancing and laughing – provided that you aren’t too stuffed to move, of course! Make a reservation for this popular dinner show to ensure the whole family gets to join in the fun.
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
This vaudeville-style show has become a true Disney World establishment. The talented group of actors will have you in stitches with their comedy sketches, and have you dancing and singing along to their musical numbers. And the Southern-style cooking isn’t bad either.
Tri-Circle-D is a functioning ranch that happens to be located on the grounds of the Fort Wilderness Resort. It is the home of Cinderella’s ponies as well as the other horses that can be seen around the Magic Kingdom. Guests can enjoy a variety of activities here, from 45 minute trail rides for older children and adults, to pony rides for little tykes. Horse lovers can also take a tour of the stables and visit with the horses when they’re “off-duty”!
For those in the mood to step back in time, the ranch also provides carriage rides around the trails of Fort Wilderness and beyond. During the month of Halloween, the carriage rides become haunted carriage rides, and you will take a tour of the woods at night while your driver narrates “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.
Fort Wilderness is the only pet-friendly resort at Disney World. Guests can keep their pets with them in specified pet-approved campsites, and there is also a place to board dogs if you feel that they would be happier in doggy day care while you enjoy the Disney parks. There is even a dog park at Fort Wilderness where dogs can run around off-leash.
Pros and Cons
The campsites are the clear choice for guests on an RV vacation who do not want to pay for accommodation in addition to their vehicle. They are also a great budget option for guests with camping experience and the proper equipment.
The campsites are not ideal for guests who arrive in Orlando by airplane, since camping equipment is likely too bulky to carry on board a plane. And while the campsites on their own are cheaper than a hotel room, they become significantly more expensive if you have to purchase equipment in order to stay there comfortably. As a result, the campsites are only a true budget option for guests who already own camping gear and have the experience to camp efficiently.