Fodor's Expert Review The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
4510 N. Fort Wilderness Trail, Walt Disney World, Florida, 32830, United States See on Map Fodor's Choice
One of the cheapest ways to stay on WDW property is in your own tent or RV, especially since some of the 799 sites in this secluded, 750-acre pine and cypress forest campground can accommodate up to 10 people. A real community of repeat guests has arisen in the past couple of decades, and Christmas time brings a decorating frenzy of lights. The campground has 15 comfort stations for hot showers, as well as laundry facilities, restaurants, pools, and a general store. Transportation in the campground and to and from the parks is available, either by bus or water launch. Recreation and entertainment options include a campfire and marshmallow roast with Disney characters and a Disney movie, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review, a nightly dinner show at Pioneer Hall, trail rides, wagon rides, archery, and canoeing.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Using the buses to navigate this vast campground or to go from the campground to the parks can gobble up a lot of time. Many visitors rent golf carts for convenience inside the campground, then take the bus to visit the theme parks.
The room depends on the camper, as the resort offers accommodations for all levels, from primitive to luxury. Four different sites are available, from bargain-priced tent sites with water and electricity to RV sites equipped with electric hookup, cable TV, Internet access, water and sewage hookups, outdoor charcoal grills and picnic tables. All sites offer a concrete pad and include a grill, a picnic table, electricity, water and free Wi-Fi.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Don't forget the insect repellent, because mosquitoes are not only quite irritating, especially in the warmer months, but also can be carriers of disease.
The campground has 15 comfort stations, distributed fairly equally throughout, with more in the tent area and fewer in the RV area, since most RVs have their own bathrooms. The stations are clean, air-conditioned spaces, with toilets, showers (with private dressing areas), laundry facilities and ice machines.
Built to resemble a rustic lodge, with log and stone walls, and rough-hewn furniture, the Reception Outpost provides an attractive, and cool, spot to check in, or to leave luggage if you arrive early and your campsite isn't ready for occupancy.
Two swimming pools serve both the campsites and the cabins. One has a helter-skelter waterslide and a water-play area for youngsters, while the other offers a quieter experience. Whirlpools at both pools salve park-weary muscles.
No spa onsite, but guests can access spas at other Disney World resorts.
No fitness center, but lots of outdoor activities are there for the asking, such as biking, fishing, horseback riding, archery, canoeing, kayaking, jogging and more.
The dining options are perfectly suited to this campground in a Florida pine forest. Rustic home-cooked all you can eat meals are available for breakfast and dinner at Trail's End Restaurant. Mickey waffles join biscuits and sausage gravy on the breakfast buffet, and dinner offerings include ribs, shrimp, fish and more. There's also a chuck wagon (or food truck to city slickers) that serves up burgers and hotdogs. A couple of snack bars ensure you don't go hungry on your long treks between your campsite and the restaurants and entertainment. But the butter on the mashed potatoes at this resort is the Hoop-Dee-Doo-Musical Review, a rip-roaring old-fashioned Vaudeville style dinner show at the rustic, two-story Pioneer Hall, where bottomless buckets of chicken and ribs join salads and desserts to ensure no one leaves hungry.
The Hoop-Dee-Doo show is very popular, and sells out most nights, so reservations should be made well in advance. There are interactive opportunities for both kids and adults, so be sure to joke and have fun with the servers. You may find yourself in the middle of the action.
Crockett's Tavern, next to Pioneer Hall, offers casual snacks along with beer and wine to enjoy in a rocking chair on the porch.
Once you park your car at the campground, you have several options for getting around. The campground is vast, and the only place to park your car is at your campsite, so getting to the restaurants, pools or comfort stations can be a hike. Many visitors rent bikes during the day, but they are not available at night. The most popular method of travel is by golf cart, available for rent at Fort Wilderness, or at rental agencies nearby. To get to the parks and to Disney Springs, the sprawling network of buses and water transportation is at your service. Bus travel can take a chunk out of your day, as traffic can be heavy and depending on where you want to go, you may have to transfer from one bus-line to another. If you are driving around Disney, traffic can be congested because many of the major roadways are undergoing construction that is expected to continue through 2020.
If you are looking for a little more sophistication than can be found at Fort Wilderness, a 5-minute boat ride takes you next door to Wilderness Lodge and Artist Point, a fine dining restaurant with views of the lake. For family fare, along with family fun, the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Lodge serves up broomstick pony races and lots of jokes with casual, all-you-can-eat meals. A few more minutes on the boat brings you to The Contemporary Hotel and the splendid California Grill, which sits atop the hotel with views of Cinderella's castle and the fireworks, if you time it right. About 20 minutes by car or ride-sharing service takes you to Disney Springs, where more than 50 restaurants and several celebrity chefs vie for your attention.
Hop on the boat and take a short ride to Wilderness Lodge, where the open air Geyser Point Bar & Grill sits on the waterfront and offers a full bar of cocktails, wine and beer and small-plate food. Or head for the California Grill Lounge, a supremely sophisticated watering hole atop the Contemporary Hotel, or catch a ride-sharing service to the Disney Springs eating and drinking extravaganza.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Fort Wilderness offers Disney visitors the natural beauty of Florida just minutes from the busy theme parks. If you like camping, the price is unbeatable, with no lack of amenities. The trip across the lake from the campground to the Magic Kingdom is almost surreal, as you leave the relative serenity of the forested site and head into high-energy, kid-packed, Mickey-and-Minnie land. The reverse trip is a perfect way to relax after an intense park visit.