Camping at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness is unlike any other campground. It has a cult-like following and entire forums dedicated to just it (see: www.fortfiends.net). It’s also one of the few campgrounds that you might consider a travel agent to help you get a reservation and is a place that you don’t know your site assignment until you get there. It’s the kind of campground that people say that they compare all others to (or, there are those who think it’s nothing special). One thing is for sure- it’s different, very different.
The fort has 4 different basic campsite types. You don’t reserve a specific site, you reserve a type and the site assigners pick a site for you (don’t worry, you can request specific details- I’ll cover that later). Listed below are the site types in order of least to most expensive:
- Partial Hookup Sites – these sites don’t have sewer and are typically geared towards the pop-up/tenting crowd. Though there are reports of everything from hybrids to fifth wheels to class A RVs in them. If you reserve it and if you fits, you get the site. Just be aware- the Fort doesn’t have a dump station. The upshot, their bathrooms are very clean and very well kept.
- Full Hookup Sites – these sites generally have a paved area in the front portion of the site and then a shell/sand mix. The sites entry are more narrow then the back part of the site making backing in a little more difficult for bigger rigs.
- Preferred Sites – these sites are identical in size/shape to Full Hookup sites, their location is just “preferred” being close to the marina/lake. The loops for the preferred sites are older than the Full Hookup sites, so they can be more cozy getting your rig around. I’ve used these twice now and was able to park my 42′ fiver with 22′ crew cab/long bed truck. In one case, there was an ill-placed recycling center that I had to come within inches of; in the other case, there was no one across from me so I didn’t have any obstacles. Other people’s vehicles make or break getting into the sites.
- Premium Sites – these sites have a wider opening than the Full/Preferred sites and are fully paved front to back. These sites are in “Premium” locations (i.e. closer to the pool/store). I have a reservation for one of these, so we’ll see how they go.
As I mentioned above, the FortFiends.net website is a wealth of information. Most of what’s in this blog post is information that I’ve gleaned from the site and being on their forum. They’re a friendly group of folks and so very helpful. The people who run the forum have an app called Fort Wilderness Sites (for iPhone and for Android). This gives you details on almost all of the sites at the campground- length, width, difficulty in backing in, and pictures of the sites themselves. Many FortFiends members will have the app open when they get to the check-in window; if they don’t like what they see, they’ll ask for a new site.
Making Site Requests
As I mentioned, you don’t get to request a specific site when you make your reservation. Heck, you don’t even get to make a request for a specific loop until you get much closer to your reservation time. Shortly prior to your reservation, you’ll get to do an online check in and within that, you can put in any specific requests. Many people will also follow it up with a fax to the reservations line a few days ahead of their reservation.
The requests can be for specific sites or specific loops. Generally if you’re going to request a specific site, include why so that if your first choice isn’t available, they can get you into something that suits you. If you want to be near a bathhouse or far away from the internal roads or backed up to the canal or near the dog park, that’s the kind of thing that helps the site assigners figure out what is best for you. I’ll talk about them in a moment, but a Fort-knowledgeable travel agent can help you with this.
A Travel Agent – really?
Yep, a travel agent. The Fort shares Disney World’s reservation system. It’s not great and they play games with the length of stays. Discounts are offered, but you have to call and ask for the less money. And, since it’s Disney, it’s often swamped/sold out. A travel agent doesn’t cost you anything and you don’t pay anything less by booking it yourself. A travel agent, however, can be very helpful in finding you a hard to attain site at a busy time, continually looking for discounts and having them applied, and helping you navigate the reservation/request process with Disney. And finally, Disney World isn’t like other theme parks where you just show up. If you want to enjoy your time the best, you generally need to pre-plan. A travel agent can help you there with dinner reservations at 6-months out, FastPasses at 60 days out, etc.
I get no commission and no kickbacks, but I strongly recommend either Kelly with Kingdom Destinations (email: Kelly@KingdomDestinations.com) or Jason with Mouse Counselors (email: Jason@MouseCounselors.com). Both are avid Fort goers and Disney fans themselves.
Fort Size & Internal Transportation
When you’re within the campground, you’re not allowed to drive your own vehicle to the different locations. There is no automobile parking at the pool, the store, the marina, etc. The Fort is pretty good sized. To get around, Disney offers its own buses. But I seem to have terrible luck with bus timing and am generally beyond frustrated when it takes 30 minutes to get to or from the pool. The campground is bike friendly (you bike on the walking paths). And they offer golf cart rentals. As with most things Disney, the rentals come at a premium – something like $60-70/night. Disney is cracking down on 3rd party vendors, but there are still ways to get a rental from an outside vendor. I’ve rented from Kenny at Tee Time Golf Carts (and they come highly recommended from people who have rented from him in the past). The cost savings is nearly 1/2 per day.
Getting to and from the parks at Disney World is handled by their own system of buses, boats, and Monorail. Many people never move their vehicles once they get there. To get to the park buses, you have to take a fort-internal bus to the front of the campground. Then there are bus stops that take you to the individual parks. A secret, though- it’s often times quicker to just drive yourself. Parking is free for people staying on property. The downside is that the walk from the parking lot to the gate can be a bit of a hoof.
The amenities at the Fort are pretty wide ranging. You have the standard stuff- pools and playgrounds. They have multiple restaurants on-site – a quick service eatery, snack bar, a sit-down buffet style restaurant and some fantastic dinner shows (Hoop-Dee-Doo and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ). There are a wide variety of recreation activities; things like fishing off of the shores and docks, taking archery lessons, renting various watercraft, or taking a carriage ride. They also do an S’mores Campfire with Chip and Dale and regularly have movies. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention being able to watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks or the Electric Water Parade. Make sure that you check out Disney’s pages on recreation activities and head over to FortFiends.net for schedules.
My wife and I are avid Disney Junkies. We go fairly often and enjoy ourselves there. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them or point you where you can get more information. And, visit FortFiends.net!