Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort opened on November 19th, 1971, making it one of the oldest resorts on property. From day one, this resort offered campsites, and it’s the only resort at Disney World Resort that has ever made this option available for guests.
Starting at around just $60 a night, these campsites are less expensive than other Disney resort hotels. What’s more, most rooms can only hold four people whereas the campsites can provide lodging for up to 10 people!
You get affordable (dare I say even cheap, by Disney standards) accommodations and all the perks that come with staying on property including Extra Magic Hours, free MagicBands, Disney’s Magical Express, and free transportation between parks and resorts.
Let’s take a look at five things you need to know about camping at Fort Wilderness Resort.
1. Creature Comforts
Disney receives some of the highest ratings for comfort and attention to detail, and that’s no different at the Fort Wilderness Campsites.
Each site has a paved parking area (think of it as free parking) and a firm sandy pad perfect for pitching a tent or parking a camper. They’re also equipped with at least basic water and electrical hookup (cleverly disguised as tree stumps), a charcoal grill, and picnic table. Internet is also available.
Some sites even have full hookup complete with sanitary disposal, which is used mostly for larger campers and Recreational Vehicles. Some sites are equipped with cable hookup as well.
In addition to amenities at your campsite, there are several Comfort Stations located throughout the camping area where you’ll find private restrooms and shower facilities, laundry, an icemaker, and phones. These areas are even air-conditioned, so you can escape the Florida heat if necessary.
2. Lots to Do
When Fort Wilderness first opened, there wasn’t much to do. Disney quickly realized that guests were forced to go off property to find additional entertainment, so they introduced entertainment options, including a personal favorite, the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. The show started as a temporary gig for some college students, but it became so popular that the show continued. It’s one of the most popular dinner shows on property today, over 40 years after its inception.
In addition to Hoop Dee Doo, there is also Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, which is a character dining dinner show.
You can also go horseback riding, take a carriage ride, rent bicycles, play volleyball and basketball, or enjoy Magic Kingdom‘s Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show and the Electrical Water Pageant from Clementine’s Beach. Every night, Chip & Dale host a Campfire Sing-along as well.
3. Rent or Buy supplies
Some people can drive to Disney World and are happy to do so. Others are too far way or don’t want to be in a car that long. While it’s easiest to load up your car or drive your RV or tow-behind camper to The Campsites at Fort Wilderness, it’s not always feasible. If you can’t bring your own supplies, you can rent or buy them in Orlando.
Renting camping supplies would be the easiest option, especially if you’re flying, but you should know that it’s not always available. Officially, Disney rents cots and tents to groups of 20 or more staying at Creekside Meadow, but practice seems to have different rules. Many people have noted that Disney has rented them supplies during their stay. However, you’ll have to notify them that you need supplies before arriving, or you risk no availability. You can also find companies nearby that rent everything from camping tents to complete, luxury RVs.
Your other option is to purchase supplies from Amazon and have them shipped to Fort Wilderness or pick them up at a nearby department store. If you’re flying, this unfortunately means that you’ll probably have to leave your supplies behind. There are forums that allow you to connect to guests arriving in the future, and you can advertise available supplies there, or you can dispose of them yourself. This may sound like a waste of money, but if spend $100 on an inexpensive tent, some blankets, and maybe even an air mattress and you stay five nights, you’ll only spend $20 a night for these supplies. It’s still far less expensive than renting a hotel room.
There is also a camping store on property that sells basic supplies like firewood and food.
4. Make Reservations Early
The Campsites at Fort Wilderness fill up quickly. They’re hugely popular, and some people rent them week after week and essentially live there full-time (usually in a nicely equipped RV).
While there are hundreds of sites, you should make reservations early to ensure that you’ll get a spot that fits your needs.
Whether you’re totally new to camping or you’re an old pro, you should know that there are some drawbacks to staying at Fort Wilderness.
First, the campground area is huge and the resort is even bigger. To get to the parks, Disney Springs, or any of the other resorts, you’ll have to take a bus from your loop to an internal location where you’ll board another bus to your destination. This is why the preferred mode of transportation is golf cart. If you can afford it, you should plan to rent a golf cart – especially if you’re staying in a loop that is on the outskirts. Plus, they are fun to drive.
Second, camping even at Disney World is in a natural environment meaning there are wild animals. It’s not uncommon to see an opossum, raccoon, or even an occasional snake or alligator in your travels. Be aware of where you’re walking and keep your food contained so as not to attract unwanted diners! Disney does its best to protect guests from unwanted visitors, but you should do your part too.
Next, consider when you’re visiting. The weather isn’t always, shall we say, hospitable? In the winter months, it can get cool; consider bringing (or buying) an electric heater especially if you’re tent camping. In the summer, it can get downright hot. If your RV or camper is equipped with AC, it shouldn’t be a problem, but camping in 98°+ temps with super high humidity can be a little unnerving.
Third, sometimes the Comfort Stations fill up. If the showers or toilets are occupied, you may have to wait for a bit. People are usually considerate of others, but you might not have instant access like you would in your own hotel room. Plan accordingly and try not to be in too much of a rush to get anywhere.
Finally, probably the biggest drawback of camping is that you have to pack additional supplies. If you’re driving, you’ll need lots of space for things like your tent, a cot or air mattress, sleeping bags, food, etc. If you’re flying, it might be impossible to bring everything you need on an airplane.
Camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness: Fun, or Too Rustic?