Fort Wilderness Resort Campground Review
Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is an actual campground with both campsites and cabins at Walt Disney World. This review features photos of the both, the dining options and other amenities, and thoughts on the experience of staying at Fort Wilderness.
The overhaul of the Fort Wilderness Cabins is entirely complete (we’ll get to that below). We’ve stayed at Fort Wilderness several times, and this review covers our experiences over the course of our vacations at Fort Wilderness, mostly in anecdotal form.
Fort Wilderness really is an experience, one that feels unlike any other resort at Walt Disney World. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t realize you were just outside of a theme park. Not only is the “resort” isolated from the rest of Walt Disney World, but it’s also largely untouched and under-developed. It also offers a wealth of outdoor recreational activities and perks you won’t find anywhere else at Walt Disney World. With that said, Fort Wilderness definitely is not for everyone…
When I was young, my parents and I used to stay at Fort Wilderness in our camper. The few memories that I could recall from Fort Wilderness are good ones. I remember getting a Dale (dressed in his Chip ‘N’ Dale Hawaiian shirt) plush on one of our first trips there at the Outpost, going to the Hoop De Doo Revue a couple of times, and swimming at River Country, but that’s about it. However, I hadn’t even visited there in roughly 15 years prior to booking a return trip.
When Sarah and I first stayed at Fort Wilderness, we didn’t book it because of my fond memories, but rather, for lack of a better option. By the time we went to book a room, none of the Value Resorts had discounted rooms, and for only $20 more per night, we could do a Fort Wilderness Cabin. Why not, we thought?
My biggest concern initially was the internal bus routes at Fort Wilderness, as we have heard that they can make getting to and from Walt Disney World’s theme parks a pain. After that first trip, I reported back that my concerns were unfounded…
After subsequent stays at Fort Wilderness (and visits there to eat), I think it’s a bit more complicated and at least in part depends upon where you’re staying within the resort, to which park you’re headed, and when you return.
During our most recent stay at the Fort Wilderness Cabins, we were reminded of how frustrating its transportation can be. There are 3 internal bus routes that deliver guests to the front and back of the the resort, with buses departing from the front to take guests to the parks, and boats departing from the back (Settlement) to take guests to Magic Kingdom (and other Bay Lake resorts).
This might not seem bad as a twice-per-day thing, but the resort is so spread out that a bus is also necessary if you want to eat, shop, or swim. The internal bus route is about as efficient as it can be, and although it can be a bit quirky and initially confusing, it gets the job done. Over the course of a week-long trip, though, that extra time can add up–and can get old.
However, this is the price you pay for the seclusion Fort Wilderness offers: it’s a necessary evil if you want this level of spaciousness and seclusion. I don’t think it’s possible to have it both ways, and given the situation, the Fort Wilderness bus routes are very workable. With that said, the spread out nature of the resort is also why so many Fort Wilderness guests rent golf carts.
Likewise, the marina transportation was quick and enjoyable. The smaller boats that transported guests to the Contemporary and Magic Kingdom showed up promptly and provided an enjoyable and unique method of getting from Fort Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom.
Taking a boat from Fort Wilderness is such a great and relaxing form of transportation. Although it’s not technically an “attraction,” this is one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World.
The entertainment and recreational offerings at Fort Wilderness are robust. I’d say the daily slate of entertainment at Fort Wilderness is better than any other resort at Walt Disney World. There are numerous paid offerings, from fishing to archery classes to boating, and more.
There’s also a lot you can do for free. From nature trails to the Electrical Water Pageant to campfires (I’m probably forgetting a lot), there’s a ton to do. Most notable among these is Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-Along, which is a nightly campfire show that occurs at 7 or 8 p.m., depending upon the season.
There’s also the petting zoo at the Tri-Circle-D ranch, and the Settlement Trading Post, which sells is your typical gift shop/grocery location.
If you’re looking to rent a recreational option, the Meadows Recreation Area has a bike barn and the Fort Wilderness waterways and bicycle trails. You can also swim, and play tennis or volleyball at the complex.
Fort Wilderness also contains one of the hidden gems of Walt Disney World: Trail’s End Restaurant. This is an all-you-cant eat (although it has tested an a la carte menu at times) cafeteria found in Pioneer Hall. We already have reviews of the Trail’s End Breakfast Buffet and the Trail’s End Dinner Buffet, and we’re working on one for brunch (spoiler: like the other meals, it’s also awesome).
Speaking of awesome, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a staple of Walt Disney World dining entertainment, and we think it’s a must-do. This long-running show has been entertaining guests for four-plus decades, and many families return again and again. I loved Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue as a kid, and I still love it as an adult.
The cabins were recently overhauled, and we have a comprehensive look at what was changed–including improvements and downgrades–in our new Cabins at Fort Wilderness Review. Suffice to say, these cabins feature a full kitchen, living room (that doubles as a bedroom), and bedroom with queen bed and bunkbeds.
The cabins sleep 6 plus infants in a crib, but sleeping 6 adults comfortably would be quite a feat. Uncomfortably, you could probably sleep 8 people in one of these bad boys.
I’m not really sure what to say about the camp-sites, other than “they exist.” Actually, there’s quite a bit more to know. There are roughly 800 campsites at Fort Wilderness spread out across 20 loops. These campsites are secluded from one another by an overgrowth of brush and trees.
Campsites are back-ins with a combination of paved driveway and sandy pad. Each site is ~25 feet wide and includes a picnic table, charcoal grill, electricity, and water hookups. There are four categories of campsites at Fort Wilderness: premium (big rig-friendly), preferred (better location), full-hookup (includes sewer), and partial (ideal for tents).
There are 15 comfort stations located throughout Fort Wilderness Campground. Some loops have their own comfort station and some of the smaller loops share a centrally located station. They’re all relatively convenient to access.
One final note on the campground front: at Christmas-time, campers go wild decorating their campsites and golf carts at Fort Wilderness with all sorts of displays. (Hence the above photo, which otherwise might seem random.) It’s pretty cool to see, even if you’re not staying at Fort Wilderness.
One of my favorite things to do at Fort Wilderness is get up early and walk to the marina (no matter where we’re staying) to watch the sunrise. This early morning walk of the resort is a great experience, and really made me appreciate the place all the more. It’s so tranquil and undeveloped, and in many ways, still retains a lot of the charm of old school Walt Disney World.
It’s almost as if Fort Wilderness Campground is “off the grid” and hasn’t been victim to as many of the changes made that have sanitized and made some of the other original ‘Vacation Kingdom of the World’ resorts less endearing.
While I would definitely stay at Fort Wilderness again soon at the opportunity, it’s definitely someplace where we’ll stay when we have kids. I look forward to our kids enjoying playing at the playground, fishing, and enjoying other things like the Campfire Sing Along with Chip & Dale.
To me, it seems Fort Wilderness offers more for young children to explore than many of the other resorts at which we stayed. In an era when entertainment for kids primarily occurs in front of an LCD screen, Fort Wilderness is a breath of fresh air.
Overall, Fort Wilderness Campground is a breath of fresh air if you’re looking for somewhere at Walt Disney World that is totally different and lacking the same amount of hustle and bustle as the theme parks. If you want somewhere to stay that will balance out the chaos of the theme parks, or if you just want to get in touch with nature, Fort Wilderness is an exceptional option.
The amenities and entertainment are wonderful, cabins are really well done, and camping at Walt Disney World is a unique experience. My only real quibble is the transportation system, but even that is about as good as it can be considering the nature of the resort. I would not hesitate to book a stay at Fort Wilderness if a more rustic setting appeals to your party. It’s unlike anywhere else at Walt Disney World, and is a great way to shout SERENITY NOW! and get away from it all.
Not sure which Walt Disney World hotel is right for you? Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page, which offers quick-hit capsule reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of every Walt Disney World hotel, plus links to our reviews and photo pages for every hotel we have reviewed. Looking for comprehensive Walt Disney World vacation tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
What do you think of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort? Have you stayed in a cabin at Fort Wilderness? What about one of the campsites? Have any tips in terms of entertainment, dining, or recreation at Fort Wilderness? Are you a “Fort Fiend” or is Fort Wilderness not your style? Any questions? Hearing from readers is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Disney Fort Wilderness is amazing however for the price you have to pay, you can’t give your kids the vacation you had as a child because you’ll go broke….. the last two times we were there, the trees were so low they scraped the top of the RV. Had to complain in order the put us somewhere big rigs were capable of pulling through without knocking your AC off. For the money you pay you think that would be cleared enough then I have this problem. That is the money issue. They raise the rates so high during enjoyable times when the kids are not in school that you can afford to go there it’s sickening that a little bit of magic that you can provide for children nowadays is being stolen away by a empire made solely to provide children with a magical experience. Somebody needs to do something to reverse this to the way it used to be!
We love Fort Wilderness! We rent a camper from Escape RV Rental and have it delivered. The pool is great, and the nightly fireworks are the best part!
Great review! We stayed here about a year ago, and it was fantastic. To help out, I have seen some questions.
Golf carts – super easy, not very expensive (around $60/day). This was a def must for us. It made getting around easy. Furthermore, there is dedicated golf cart parking everywhere. It was at the bus stop (though we would recommend the boat stop for Magic Kingdom. you can either take it straight to MK or take it to the Grand Floridian or Contemporary and walk). I know $60/day can seem like a lot, but it made the vacay special. Early morning and late evening golf cart rides were beautiful. Felt like a National Park, not a resort. I would highly recommend.
Boats – One of the best things about this area. If you have a golf cart, you can easily get a early ride and make rope drop. Furthermore, the buses run early and regularly to the other parks. We made rope drop easily for Animal Kingdom (had only a 1.5 hr wait for Flight of Passage) and Hollywood Studios (we got a morning boarding group for Rise of the Resistance). The boats also made it super easy for getting to Wilderness lodge (walked around and used their snack shop/bakery), the Poly, and the Grand Floridian (walked around and ate dinners at both). Also the boat rides were just relaxing and fun. Many times, especially in the evening we were the only ones on the boat. It was special and an enjoyable way to end out the day.
Hi Tom, would you consider updating this post? We are staying for the first time at the campgrounds soon and I have a few questions. First, do the boats and busses leave early enough to arrive to parks before opening or should I rely on Uber? Also, what is open and running as the restaurants and amenities due to Covid? Thanks!
I would love to know if our golf cart can be driven and left at the bus stop while we go to the parks? This will be our first trip to Fort Wilderness in February.
Tom, do you have a recommendation for renting an RV at Fort Wilderness.
Thanks for the review. I have a dilemma hoping you or one of your lovely readers can help me out. I currently have a room at Wilderness Lodge booked for the 11/25/2020-12/5/2020. I was so looking forward to enjoying the decorations at WL but I think I need to come to peace with the fact that its not going to open back up this year. So now I need to find a new resort. I have no idea what Disney is going to offer me when I call, and I really dont want to stay somewhere I’m not going to like (this year has been crappy enough) so I’m trying to think ahead to see what other options are in my current budget in case Disney doesn’t offer me an option im ok with. The cabins came up (under budget!). I’ve never stayed at them, actually we mostly just stay in the suites at AofA but between the big blue pool scheduled for refurbishment, and wanting to stay somewhere with a more holiday feel I really dont know where else to go. We have 2 young kids (7 and 4) and we are driving so we will have our car. I’m not a nature person at all, but my husband is. Do you think they will still be a good fit for us? Thoughts on pros/cons.
do the kitchens have utensils/ plates etc…
Everything you need is supplied in the kitchen.
We stayed at the cabins at fort wilderness for the first time this week, and absolutely loved it! Only a few times I wished we had rented a golf cart – but honestly we never had to wait very long for a bus to swing by. I think I would have regretted spending money on a cart. As far your quibbles with the inconvenient transportation system – I think it is worth noting two things:
1. You are able to park your own car right beside your own cabin.
2. As a resort guest, you have free parking at all the theme parks.
I know that only applies to guests who drive to Disney, and not fly. But we found it to be incredibly convenient, especially as early morning “rope-droppers”.
We always stay at the cabins! It is a great place, but you really need to know “how” to stay there in order to enjoy it. Unless you want to walk a few extra miles a day your really do need to invest in the electric cart. With long days in the park, I do not want to wear me kids out even before we get onto the bus. The grounds itself has at least a days worth of stuff to do. We always have an off day and hangout at the campground. Riding ponies, swimming, chip n dales movie, crafts etc….
Do they still have the roosters crowing at sunrise? Because as a kid I would have liked to have strangled them.
Very sad lost my camera at fort wilderness 2-8-18 in ladies room would just like my camera card and ids that were in case back keep the camera I can’t believe people can be so selfish
We love “the fort” Stayed once and coming in May 18 for our sixth visit WDW.We drive our rig from MN but it’s still cheaper than a regular room.We eat our meals in our camper and save a lot of money!! It’s just a great way to go.
While this might have already been mentioned by another reader, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate how awesome the comfort stations are at the campground! As a member of a family of avid campers, the state of the bathroom and shower houses is definitely important. Fort Wilderness, by far, had the cleanest comfort station of any I have been to. The cast members at this campground work hard to make a trip to the shower something to enjoy instead of something you dread. No idea how they keep the central Florida bugs from lurking inside. Looking forward to our next trip in a couple of weeks.