The cabins in this 750-acre campground right across the lake from the Magic Kingdom don't exactly constitute roughing it, as they are compact, air-conditioned log homes that accommodate four grown-ups and two youngsters, and come complete with daily housekeeping. The campground is a resort in itself, with loads of entertainment options, including outdoor movies, singing around the campfire, and the hokey but still fun and very popular Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review dinner show. Horse-and-carriage or wagon rides are available, along with pony rides for the kids, and bikes or electric cart rentals for getting around the large campground.
YOU SHOULD KNOW There are no spots to park cars at the comfort stations, eateries or entertainment sites at Fort Wilderness, other than a few limited-time spaces to pick up groceries and supplies. Guests either hike, and it can be quite a hike from one end of this 750-acre campground to the other, bike, bus, or rent electric carts to get around.
Much the same shape as a mobile home, these log covered cabins are compact abodes for a family of six, with a rustic, Northwest woodsy decor. A queen bed and two bunks in the bedroom and a double sleeper sofa in the living room make for cozy sleeping, but there are two TVs, and the door closes on the bedroom. The well-equipped kitchen has a full sized refrigerator, a convection/microwave oven, a two burner cook-top, toaster, coffee-maker, and a dishwasher. A family of six can eat comfortably at the oval table, which has a banquette bench on the wall, and three chairs.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The storage space, though not voluminous, is cleverly distributed. Plenty of under-bed space in the bedroom for suitcases and the cupboards, along with the drawers beneath the televisions allow you to tuck away a reasonable amount of clothing.
The vanity surface is roomy enough for a family of six to keep their essentials, and there are some shelves and drawers for storage. The shower/bath has a curtain closure, and plenty of towels and toiletries are supplied.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Battles may arise over the single sink and mirror when the group is in a rush to get ready for the day ahead.
The lobby is simply a place to check in, with a few seats for waiting in line on a busy day.
Two small-ish pools serve the whole campground, thus can be crowded.
The Campground has several casual restaurants, all decorated in similarly rustic, woodsy themes, where home-style cooking and buffets serve up plenty of food. Breakfast, brunch and dinner buffets are available at Trail's End Restaurant, located, as are most of the eateries, in the central Settlement area. P&J's Southern Takeout, next door, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner to go, including fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy. The resort offers two popular dinner shows: Mickey's Backyard BBQ, where Mickey, Minnie and pals dance up a storm at the buffet; and last, but not least, is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review, a family-style dinner accompanied by vaudeville-style entertainment.
Reserve ahead for the dinner shows, as they are often booked for months in advance.
Crockett's Tavern, another down-home kind of spot, offers cocktails made with moonshine, along with beer and wine.
So long as Disney is your primary goal, the on-property transportation systems should be sufficient. The Campground is on the bus line, and the water launches take you to the Contemporary, and its monorail station. Buses access all of the on-property parks and water parks, in addition to Disney Springs. If Universal or SeaWorld are on your itinerary, a car or rideshare is the best bet.
If you tire of fried chicken and ribs, more elevated dining is just a water taxi away. Wilderness Lodge, one stop from the campground, has several choices for meals, from the raucous kid-centric fun at Whispering Canyon Cafe, to the more upscale Geyser Point, where small dishes, craft beers, and cocktails are on offer. At Artist Point, the fine dining spot at the Lodge, food inspired by the Pacific Northwest fills the menu. For a truly spectacular change of pace, head around the lagoon on the water taxi to The Grand Floridian Resort and Victoria & Albert's, where uniformed staff treats you like royalty while you consume a 10-course gourmet meal.
Wilderness Lodge, one short trip by water taxi, is home to Geyser Point, a sophisticated open-air watering hole right on the lake-front, where a full-service bar offers up everything from craft beers to cocktails. The boats also deliver guests to the Contemporary's bars and lounges, some with views of fireworks. Further afield is The Grand Floridian, where you can sit on Narcoossee's verandah and watch the Electrical Water Pageant.
WHY WE LIKE IT
If camping is not your thing, but being close to nature is, the cabins are the place for you. Six people can sleep in air-conditioned comfort, or watch some examples of wild Florida--everything from rabbits and ducks to the occasional armadillo--wandering around the resort. Call us sentimental, but the silliness of the Hoop-Dee-Doo musical review still makes us laugh, and the sight of kids enjoying themselves as a group, singing along and laughing out loud at the antics on stage is worth the price of a ticket.