Our first trip to Disney was nearly six years ago. My kids enjoyed pin trading, meeting the characters throughout the park and eating our way around the World Showcase. We loved our trip and the only thing we swore we’d do differently if we ever returned was to stay at one of the Disney resorts.
When we planned a trip back to Disney for only one night we wanted a hotel that would give us the most bang for our buck. Turned out, it wasn’t a hotel at all, but the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground, that fit that description.
The cast member that checked us in was very friendly and helpful, just what I remembered from our previous Disney experience.
We found our site relatively easy and were mildly surprised by the size of the sites, which were much larger than I expected them to be. I also appreciated that each loop of campsites is located within close proximity to a comfort station that not only includes the cleanest bathrooms I’ve ever seen at a campground, but also a laundry facility as well.
Our loop of campsites was located directly across from the pool and hot tub – that is open 24 hours a day.
There are also volleyball nets, a playground and a small game room for campers.
The Meadow Trading Post sells souvenirs, basic food items that you may run out of and snack items.
I was excited to find several penny pressing machines at various locations (the Meadow Trading Post, Settlement Trading Post, outside the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, and the Outpost Depot) throughout the campground. Don’t leave home without a stockpile of pennies and quarters!
In addition to scheduled crafts, activities and organized games, each night the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground welcomes special guests Chip ‘n Dale for a Campfire Sing-a-Long followed by a movie.
The Sing-a-Long was really fun and upbeat and I couldn’t help but think of how much fun my kids would have had stayed at the campground when they were younger!
They may be teenagers but they didn’t pass up their chance to have their picture taken with Chip! I appreciated that Chip ‘n Dale took the time to pass through each row of seats one by one to welcome each guest.
If you want to spend a bit more money you could take a horse drawn carriage or wagon ride. You could also purchase tickets for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. Or you could take advantage of more freebies on the property.
The beach at the boat launch is the perfect spot to watch the Electrical Water Pageant and if you stick around afterward you’ll also be able to see the firework display from the Magic Kingdom.
I know Disney couldn’t predict that those guests were going to be such a disruption, but my husband was extremely disappointed by the way security handled things on each occasion that he had to call. After three calls and no resolution, with our neighbors pacing around our tent, alternating between taunting my family with a string of expletives and making vomiting noises only stopping long enough to pee- yes- you read that right, he urinated on our tent- my family had had enough. This was the single worst camping experience they had ever had.
While my son and I were having the time of our lives at the Star Tours Meet-up, the rest of my family were being terrorized by the drunks next door. When I returned with the van at nearly 3 in the morning, we packed up our tent and headed out. Which is why we spent the rest of the night not in the tent, but in one of the cabins at the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground. I guess we could thank our neighbors for the upgrade.
The cute kitchen, dining room, and living area is fully stocked with dishes, pots, pans and dish towels. There is also a Murphy bed that pulls down from the wall, which is where my husband and I slept.
We gave the kids the bedroom and they were excited to see the folded Mickey towel that welcomed them. You can never be too old for those extra touches.
Though my husband still was not appeased, the kids and I were happy that we didn’t need to search for a hotel room in Orlando at 3 in the morning.
If you’re considering a trip to the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground, I suggest if you think you’ll have any problems at all with your neighbors, call the Outpost early in the day and request a new campsite. My husband’s suggestion? If your neighbors give you as much grief as he had, skip Disney security and call the police. What should have been a great camping trip turned into a horrible experience that we never expected to have at Fort Wilderness. Did we feel safe at the Happiest Place on Earth? Absolutely not, and had we been at any other campsite, more than likely, the offending neighbors would have been kicked out of the campsite, or reprimanded a bit sterner.
So, is the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground really an affordable alternative to the Disney resorts? Honestly, my opinion of Fort Wilderness drastically changed after hearing and seeing the incredible nonsense my family put up with in my absence. Yes, the campground definitely has some benefits, but so do a lot of other resorts. Unless you are dead set on camping, or really can’t afford to stay at Disney any other way, I’d really think long and hard about tent camping at Fort Wilderness. We won’t do it again. Ever.
That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t welcome another night in a cabin though. After all, the cabin has a door. That locks.
I know some of you have probably experienced the Disney Fort Wilderness campground, and I hope it was more pleasant. Why not leave a comment and share your experience?
Tuesday 24th of April 2012
Oh what a shame, that an otherwise wonderful experience can be so ruined by people! Truly a shame! I have been a travel agent for 20+ years, and if it makes you feel any better, I've seen hotels have the same issue.
You have to get pushy with management, there's no other way to handle it.
We're going on Friday for 2 nights and as we live close by and have seasons passes, we will hopefully go often,,,,,,,,,,,,,I just hope we don't have issues like that!
I like to have a drink at night, maybe even TWO, but geesh! If you can't hold your liquor without being a jerk, DON'T DRINK.
Wednesday 25th of April 2012
I agree, I have also had equally bad experiences at hotels- few and far between, but it certainly happens. It all boils down to commmon courtesy for those around you- some people have none. :( That being said, I hope that you have very courteous neighbors on your trip to Fort Wilderness! I hope it's memorable- just not for the same reason our trip was. :)
Wednesday 7th of March 2012
Hi I've been going there since the 70's I grew up there and so did all 4 of my children, I've also had rough experiences with guest neighbors at the Fort. It is unreal how grown people can be so disrespectful, they get large groups on a pad and sit up drinking and playing loud music, it is so tacky, they ban alcohol at State parks I truly believe they should ban alcohol at the resort campsites as well, if a person wants to drink let them get a cabin or a room at another resort. Clanging of beer bottles and the general demeanor of a person changes the more alcohol they ingest, they put themselves, their children, and other guests at risk and in danger. One thing I cannot stand is when I see the parents stay at the campsite drinking and send their kids off to do whatever, thinking there are no dangers out there, well there are buses, trucks, RV's and a lot of vehicle traffic, so why would they send their kids out in that, assuming they will do the right thing and watch out for traffic. Or leave it up to the lifeguards to babysit their kids. It's ridiculous and extremely ignorant.It takes work and planning to set up a campsite right, if your staying on for a few days, it should not have to be taken down and moved, because grown people do not know how to act in public. I personally had 71 people kicked out of the 1500 loop last year after repeated phone calls from myself and other guests in the loop, with me finally calling the manager as I walked threw the loop, so the manager could hear on the other end of the phone the very loud music, they brought in 2 sheriffs and blocked off the loop and kicked them out, one man was actually arrested from the group,. I also think that they should not group that many people in a loop at one time, because they get a gang like mentality. It was pathetic! Yes there are some campers that can go and just have one or two drinks but to many times and more often, there are people that go there set up camp and get looped on the stuff and turn into bumbling idiots, I say stay the heck home drunko losers!They seriously need to ban all alcohol at the campsites, they serve drinks at Crocketts Tavern and Trails End Buffet, also at the dinner shows.But to see grown people just sitting in the street, or at a campsite, or loitering at the comfort station getting faced, is ridiculous. I don't think it's fair at all, and they need to put an end to it.Yes it sucks for the ones that are responsible, but on the other hand they do serve alcohol at the Settlement, so if all you want is 1 or 2 there you go.. Another thing if you have a large group of 4 or more take into consideration the tone and sound of your voices, no one at the next site really needs to know if you want a hot dog or hamburger, or what you did that day, if you have a crying baby try to get him quite, if it's early in the morning keep your children quite or take them to a park or playground.If your car has an alarm try to figure it out so it's not going off all hours of the night.I know this is all common since but let me say I've seen and heard a lot of people with 0 at the Fort.The beauty and all in all wonderfulness of the place is why we keep going back. I have the front desk on speed dial on my phone as well as the Orange County Sheriff's office.I call on everything that is out of line. If someone on a golf cart is out of line or not abiding by Disney's rules for them get the cart number or make if it's a private cart, and call in on them, they will go visit them at their site. It may sound harsh but I'm not going there and spending money to have my or my guests put up with someones irresponsible actions and tacky stupidity.If your in a situation with these types of losers, you can have the engineering dept. help break down and reset up another site, if they are not booked. When you book and check in, request that you do not wish to next to a group who is drinking alcohol at their site. That is what I've started doing and it has worked so far. It's a wonderful place when they are not around to ruin it. They need AA not Disney. Happy Camper here.
Thursday 8th of March 2012
Thanks for sharing your experience, Renee. I read your comment to my husband and he shook his head with each point that you made. He really regrets that he counted on Disney security to handle things and didn't call the police. Each time he called security, our neighbors behavior got worse. One man actually came to our site to act like he was puking by our tent. They also urinated in our site- all while my 14 year old (at the time) daughter got more and more upset. My husband said if he had to do it over again, he'd call the police in a heartbeat. I haven't given up on Disney, but I am very disappointed by the way they handled (or not) our complaints and concerns.
Thursday 2nd of June 2011
I absolutely loved our experience there. I never travel during the busiest seasons though. NEVER ever. Disney is always busy but sometimes are worse than others. I've also stayed in a Disney hotel...and we missed the campground experience that time. I would go back to Fort Wilderness in a heartbeat.
Wednesday 1st of June 2011
I'm sorry you had such a rotten experience with drunks. Too bad they didn't boot them out of the park right away! Or give you the cute little cabin right away! My kids would have l.o.v.e.d staying there! :) As we drove past them, we wondered what it looked like inside. Now we know! :)
We camped at Fort Wilderness with my brother-in-law's family last November and it was really nice! We spent a whole day relaxing and playing in Fort Wilderness before going to Magic Kingdom & Epcott Center. It wasn't crowded, the bathrooms, as you mentioned, were fabulous. The laundry facilities were really nice and when I was doing my laundry it was on the scheduled maintenance day, so the repairman told me to put my wet clothes into the dryers that he had just started. So I dried 2 loads for free! :) Another thing that we were very appreciative of is that they let our two families camp on one site together. Across the little road, there were 3 couples camping on one site ( I think 3 brothers and their wives). We loved the campfire sing-along with Chip & Dale and all 5 cousins (and their parents) had a great time dancing and singing, as well as roasting marshmallows. I would recommend, though, that you bring your own marshmallows/s'mores stuff, because it's quite pricey to buy their stuff. (We only bought their sticks.)
We enjoyed the fireworks on the beach, and took advantage of the pools and other fun things to do. Everyone, including other guests, were super friendly. Our kids had never been to Disney World, so it was really like a dream come true to be there. The bus service within the campground was nice, too. It was relaxing to just forget about driving. (You're only allowed one car per campsite, so we were glad to have the bus service.)
My kids, too, enjoyed the penny press machines. We live overseas, and big souvenirs aren't desirable to haul around the world, so the penny press machines made for some fun little memories to carry home.
Our kids were 9, 10 & 12 at the time & our nieces were 7 & 9. I thought the ages were perfect for every activity at the park. If they were teenagers, I would have let them go to the pool as a group (without adults), or really just about anywhere at the campground. It was a great & relaxing experience.
Tonya @ Live the Adventure
Wednesday 1st of June 2011
I just knew that someone had to have had a great camping experience there!:)
We really LOVED all other aspects of Fort Wilderness and you are absolutelyright- though you are at Disney- it's not crowded because people are in theparks. The pool wasn't crowded, the game room was deserted and theSing-a-long had plenty of seating. Of course, we did go early in the seasonbut there is so much to do at Disney and you really do want to make surethat you squeeze all value out of that park ticket, in the parks. :)
We opted not to buy tickets this time around- it simply wasn't worth it tous for one day when we are planning a return visit (and we have been therebefore) but by the time we visited Downtown Disney and took part in thecampground activities, none of us felt like we were missing a thing. I thinkthe campground is a great way for someone to experience Disney withoutshelling out the money to go in the park...though I do think everyone shouldgo to Disney at least once if they can swing it.