Disney’s Fort Wilderness Primer

IMG_5726My favorite place to camp is hands down the Campground at Disney’s Fort Wilderness.  Allow me to share with you why I love to call this place my second home.  If you have never been to Fort Wilderness, wonder if you should bring your camper here, or are preparing for your first trip then this blog post is just for you.  If you frequent this place, just sit back and enjoy some pictures from your vacation home.

My husband and I have 4 kids and we love to camp.  We pull a big fifth wheel bunkhouse with a 4 door dually.  Some would call this ‘glamping’ and honestly I can’t argue.  It is nicer than most hotel rooms and I am just fine with that.  We make this trek to Fort Wilderness (or The Fort as we lovingly call it) at least once a year but we have been known to come 3 times in a year.  This campground is absolutely beautiful every time we come. 

Well let’s get checked in.

When we arrive at Walt Disney World we enter through the Magic Kingdom gates because Fort Wilderness is a Magic Kingdom resort.

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It is important to stay to the right because immediately after telling the cast member at the gate that you are checking in you will need to make a right turn.  Unless you are tent camping this castmember has figured out where you are going pulling or driving your camper. Follow the purple signs and try to keep your excitement in check. I know it’s hard for me, too!

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Soon you will find yourself here.

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You will have to present a photo ID to the guard at the guard shack.

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But soon he will send you on through to check in.  If it is busy there will be a cast member waving you to the next open check in stall.

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When we park under that roof we are greeted by another castmember. No need to get out your truck or RV. I love it.  Now, a word of caution, this is not your typical campground. Do not expect this castmember to have the knowledge of the guy or gal that checks you into the KOA or the Jellystone.  If you go into this whole thing with that knowledge the conversations you have here will go a little smoother.

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Now if you have rented a Disney golf cart you will pick it up right here at the Outpost.  This whole area at the entrance to the campground is called The Outpost.

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After being assigned a site the real excitement begins. We are finally at Disney and ready to start having fun! Just look around, the attention to detail is wonderful.  See those lamp posts lighting the sidewalk? They’re everywhere and they really set the tone.

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If you are driving an RV with a tow behind on your way into the campground between check in and the loops of campsites there are 2 hitch/unhitch areas where you can pull off and take care of what you need to before you get into your loop.

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We lived in loop 400 while on vacation.  Our first time in that loop.

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Here we are unhooked and set up.  We didn’t get out our rug until a few days into the trip because rain was in the forecast for our first night. 

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The sites are all different sizes and all mixed together.

We need a large site to accommodate our big camper. In most campgrounds that means we are parked by the Prevosts and class A’s which rarely have families with lots of kids to play with.  The nice mix of site sizes usually means my kids have someone to ride bikes with unlike most of the campgrounds we stay in, just another plus for Fort Wilderness.

Most of the sites have these nice 4 sided picnic tables which I love.  It works so well for our family of 6. 

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Here is a view of the hook ups side of things.  You can’t see it well but the electric is hooked up into this fake stump poking out under our main slide so that from the road you don’t see an ugly electric box. It’s that Disney attention to detail that we all love.

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Now, let me show you the comfort station which houses the men’s and women’s bathrooms and the laundry. That white tent is our site and there is a walkway into our loop just beyond the tree to the far left of the picture.

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Each women’s bathroom (never been in the men’s so I have no idea what’s in there) has the same 3 stalls and a handicap stall and 3 sinks.

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They are immaculately clean and have been all of the dozen of trips we have made. Another one of the reasons this is my second home.

The showers are similar, always clean and rarely too busy.

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The handicap stall at the end has a pull down seat that you just can’t see from this angle.

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The other stalls have a bench outside the curtain. And people look at that white floor! At this point I’d like to remind you this a campground Isn’t it beautiful?

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And a nice recess in the wall big enough to hold shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in real size bottles. That’s a super plus in my book.

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Laundry is now high tech at Fort Wilderness. First you use your magic band to get into the laundry room and the bathrooms after hours, no need to remember a code.

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5 washers and 8 dryers. The washers are huge and the dryers work fast.

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Hands down the best improvement of recent years is the laundry view website that will tell you what washers and dryers are in use and when they will be done. You will not see a sign posting this info in laundry but trust me. Google “Laundry View Fort Wilderness” and you will be able to look at any loop’s comfort station.

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Now that we are set up and have made a trip to the comfort station it’s time to roam around The Fort.

We went for a quick bike ride down to the marina area, Disney calls this the Settlement.

If you are using the Fort internal buses then you will see Settlement and Outpost to tell you what way the bus is headed. An Outpost bus will take you to the front desk, bus depot to DHS, EPCOT, and AK, and the trail rides. The Settlement is at the opposite end of the campground from the Check In Outpost. 

We checked out the Trading Post to see what was new, it has been a year since we were here last.  There wasn’t anything new in there that I had to have.

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The boys had to get a quick game of checkers in. The Fort has 2 Trading Posts, The Settlement and The Meadows Trading Posts.  Both are Disney gift shops with some groceries and convience items campers might need. Both have a checker board which my kids love to play.

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Both have restrooms, The Settlement’s are outside and are the closest bathrooms after getting off the ferry boat.

Here is another example of the attention to detail, old advertisements and feed signs. Also down in this area of the campground you can hear the Fort Wilderness soundtrack, a mixture of blue grass, folk, and Native American instrumentals. It is almost unnoticeable until you are driving home still humming it and you actually turn on the bluegrass channel for a while before you lose your mind. 

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The forecasted rain hit while we were playing checkers, but you can see the marina just past the golf cart parking.   At the Marina you can catch a ferry boat to the Magic Kingdom or a different boat that travels between The Fort, The Contemporary, and The Wilderness Lodge.

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You can also rent a pontoon. The little blue and white boats behind the pontoons are single or double seat little speed boats (that aren’t too speedy). You can also enjoy the view from beach or watch fireworks from there each night.

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My kids are tough, they are Buckeyes of course, so as soon as the rain cleared they headed to the playground. There are 4 nice playgrounds in the campground.  So listen up parents when you need your kids to burn off some steam here’s where you can take them.  This is the Settlement playground and it is visible from the porch of Crockett’s Tavern.

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Here’s another view.  When your baby is no longer a baby and you can enjoy an adult beverage while relaxing in a rocking chair on this porch, then you know you have made it! Congratulations! I’ll toast you while I sit here.

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The other playgrounds are at the Meadows Recreation Area, near the dog park by the 300/500 loops and at the entrance to the 1200/1300 loops.  There are few sand volleyball nets, basketball hoops, and tetherball polls as well. 

We took our first camping trip with kids when our BuckeyeFortKids #1 and #2 were only 3years old and 18months, respectively. I loved the 1200/1300 loops because the playground is more young kid oriented and there is a volleyball court that they could play in the sand.  As they got older and more mobile we loved Little Bear in the 1400 loop because they could ride their training wheeled bikes all the way around the loop and we could watch them from our site.

Now that all 4 BuckeyeFortKids can ride their bikes without help or someone watching over them we have outgrown Little Bear and even the 300/500 loop playgrounds.  So now we bring a basketball or find a tether ball.

Meadows Pool has a snack bar, but if you want real food head over here. The Settlement Area has all the true eating establishments.  This is where you will find the buffet at Trail’s End, or the Hoop Dee Do Review Dinner show.  You can also get take out here. When you have become a true Fort lover you will suggest to your family that you get a GAG for dinner and they will all shout with enthusiasm because Trail’s End fried chicken is delicious. So just go to the take out counter and order your Giddy-up And Go and take that wonderful chicken back to your campsite for dinner without the work.

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 And the Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at this pavilion also in The Settlement Area.

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The Concierge for this resort is at the Settlement and it is where you can pick up your Dinner Show tickets, it is near the restrooms for the Trail’s End and the Hoop Dee Do Review.

The only other thing down here at the Settlement is the Tri-Circle D Ranch, a personal favorite of mine. 

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Here you can show your little princess the ponies that pull Cinderella’s carriage. 

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Although you can take a pony ride, I love this place because it is where the draft horses live.

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I was raised on a Clydesdale breeding farm so I am partial to draft horses. Disney uses draft horses in wonderful ways. They pull the trolley on Main Street and currently while the trolley is down they are pulling the show wagon down Main Street. They use them to give hayrides and carriage rides nightly in the campground.  These horses are also used in parades.  Ever see the Headless Horseman in the Halloween parade? His horse lives at the Tri-Circle D Ranch. 

I have been lucky enough to get a couple behind the scenes tours of this facility. Being a Disney working draft horse would be the dream job for any Clydesdale, Belgian, or Percheron. Draft horses enjoy working as much as any person does when they are doing the job they are designed for and are great at.  The horses are treated so well and the staff at this barn work very hard.  Tell those cast members how much you enjoy seeing the horses when you get a chance.

While you are in the barn check out one of my favorites, the Dragon Calliope. Don’t forget to push the button and listen to the calliope’s song.

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Let’s end this Settlement installment with a classic Fort Wilderness scene, the golf cart and walking path towards the Settlement Area.

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We will tackle the Meadows Recreation Area next.

 That first night we headed over to the Campfire Sing A Long. It is always around dusk. A cowboy (or cowgirl) comes out and leads the crowd in some old fashioned cowboy songs and some Disney, like Home on the Range and Mickey Mouse Club Theme song.

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By the time he gets around to introducing Chip and Dale for their meet and greet it is getting dark.

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But then Chip and Dale split the crowd and work their way around meeting, signing autographs and taking pictures.

The Campfire Sing-A-Long is followed by an outdoor movie every night it doesn’t rain, which it did this night just as soon as the movie was starting.  There are 2 fire pits going each night where you can roast marshmallows or hot dogs that you bring along with you (or you can buy at the campfire area-roasting sticks are for sale too).

The Meadows Recreation Area is where the Campfire is located. It is beautiful during the day.  Gorgeous actually.

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Here you will find the 2nd gift shop, The Meadows Trading Post.

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If you want some good old fashioned fun go out the back door and play some hop scotch.

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When you do you will find this.

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You can fish at the Fort. You can go out on Bay Lake, or fish in this pond, or

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in this canal between The Meadows Trading Post and the pool.

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See that fun splash structure through the beautiful green trees?

Here it is a little closer.

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Of course my kids have outgrown this area, but we spent so many hours in that spot over the years. Now this my view of the pool most days. 

IMG_20160417_174712739The kids love the slide.

IMG_20160422_164043215What I haven’t shown you is the hot tub, tennis courts, and the archery area. I guess you will just have to make the trek to the Fort yourself.  This ends the Fort Wilderness Primer. You have seen it all, or most of it.

 

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