By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







Review: The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort



By Dave Shute

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, click here.)

THE CAMPSITES AT DISNEY’S FORT WILDERNESS RESORT

The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.netFort Wilderness opened in November 1971, just a month after Walt Disney World itself opened, and has been expanded and rehabbed multiple times since.

The entire Fort Wilderness resort comprises not only the campsites, but also cabins, group campgrounds, and shared resources—such as a beach, marina, dining areas, stores, stables, pools, boat docks for transport to the Magic Kingdom (and two other Disney Resorts—the Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary Resort), etc.

At the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, according to Walt Disney World’s website,

“you’ll find family fun as big as the great outdoors. Nestled on 750 wooded acres of lush pine and cypress trees, the fully-equipped campsites let you camp out in comfort. Time seems to slow down while you wander the quiet trails, and roaming ducks, deer and rabbits add to the sense that you are far away from the bustle of modern civilization.”

The 800 or so campsites occupy the bulk of the resort and are grouped in 20 loops, numbered 100 through 2100.

Because…

  • Different areas of the campground have different amenities
  • Fort Wilderness is sprawling and inconvenient to get around
  • Some loops are optimized for particular types of gear, and
  • There’s other factors like pet friendliness and noise,

…picking the best loop for the specifics of your trip is a key decision.  

I’ll start with the different areas of the resort and then move on to loop types. For the areas of the resort, follow along on the map (click it to enlarge it).

Annotated Map Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Check-in is at the southern section of the resort. This area, called the Outpost, is circled (“ovalled”??) at the bottom left in purply-blue. Here you’ll find trail rides and all park, water park, and Downtown Disney transport except to the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom transport is via boats from the Settlement, at the far north end of the resort). Internal buses also stop here.

As you head into the resort, you’ll pass the loops with cabins on your left. A quiet pool is in this area as well, open to all Fort Wilderness guests, not just those staying in cabins, but there’s no camping loop it’s particularly convenient to.

Ahead you’ll find a four-way stop sign.  Go left and you’ll get to Creekside Meadow, the group camping area, circled in white.  When full, Creekside Meadow can hold more than 160 happy, boisterous youth…a point we will return to.

If instead you go straight, you’ll pass the Meadow area, circled in yellow on the map, where you’ll find the main themed pool, a shop, bike rentals and boat rentals, the campfire program area, playgrounds, sports areas, and other amenities.

Keep heading north and you will run into the Settlement area, circled in red at the top of the map. Here you’ll find docks for boat transport to the Magic Kingdom, and also to the Contemporary Resort and the Wilderness Lodge. Also here is a bus stop to the Wilderness Lodge, another shop, all dining except the offering at the main pool, a marina, pony rides, and other amenities.

Also worth noting is the location of the dog park, circled in brown on the top right.

THE FOUR CAMPSITE TYPES AT FORT WILDERNESS

Disney sells four different campsite types: Tent or Pop-Up, Full Hook-Up, Preferred, and Premium.

Four Campsite Types at Fort Wilderness

While all campsites allow one rig or tent, plus also a second tent (and can be booked for up to ten people) there are profound differences among the types, plus other points worth noting.

TENT OR POP-UP SITES AT FORT WILDERNESS

Tent Loop Site Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Some loops are optimized for tent camping and have small asphalt areas and large sand tent pads.

Sunny Site Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Disney used to call these “Partial Hook Up” sites, and is now more commonly calling them “Tent or Pop-Up Sites.”

Trailer Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

You can book them for tent camping or for a pop-up or camper van. The images are from the 1500 loop. Note that teeny tiny trailers are also permissible.

These sites all have a picnic table, charcoal grill, water and electricity, and internet access is available via a modem kit campers need to pick up (and put a deposit on). Tent campers also need to know some key stuff about gear and weather, which I cover later in this review.

There’s two “Tent or Pop-Up” loops, 1500 and 2000. Neither allows pets. Loop 1500 is the better choice on almost any dimension, as it is closer to the Meadow area, while 2000 is not only a hike from any amenities, but is also right next to the sometimes-noisy Creekside Meadow group camping area.

PREMIUM SITES AT FORT WILDERNESS

Fort-Wilderness-Premium-Campsite1

Some loops have asphalt optimized for 45 foot big rigs and (essentially) no tent pads–loops 400-1400.  These sites have longer and wider asphalt, and enhanced shoulder curves to help with the back-in (all Fort Wilderness RV sites are back-in).

Premium Site Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

You can add a tent too, but it is very likely to be on the asphalt, have no staking ground, and limited guying options. Disney calls these “Premium” loops. The images are from the 600 loop.

These loops come with a picnic table, charcoal grill, water, electricity, sewer, cable, and available internet access.

More than half the sites at Fort Wilderness are “Premium” sites, so you can find loops tuned to almost any way you plan to camp at the Fort.

  • For a Magic Kingdom, dining, or water-sports focused trip, premium loops 400, 500 and 700 are near the Settlement (all these are pet friendly).

Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

  • For a pool or sing-along/movies focused trip, premium loops 600, 1000, 1300, and 1400 are closest to the Meadow. Loop 600 is pet friendly.  600 and 1400 are on the north end of the Meadow area, and hence closest among these four to the Settlement. In my view, for families not certain how they will use Fort Wilderness, 600 and 1400 are thus the best Premium sites.
  • Premium loops 1100 and 1200 are not far from the Meadow area, but not as close as the four just discussed.
  • Premium loops 800 and 900 look pretty good on the map until you notice how close they are to the potentially noisy Creekside Meadow–especially loop 900, which is connected to Creekside Meadow via a bridge, so tons of youth campers may walk through 900 on their way to the Meadow area. Both loops are pet friendly.

FULL HOOK-UP SITES AT FORT WILDERNESS

Full Hook Up 1600 Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Some loops combine good-sized asphalt with a medium tent pad, and are best for those planning both an RV and a tent, or an RV smaller than the very largest sizes.  They are fine for tent-campers who don’t mind camping in a sea of RVs, as well. Disney calls these “Full Hook-Up” loops.

Full Hook Up 1600 Loop Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

These loops come with a picnic table, charcoal grill, water, electricity, sewer, cable, and available internet access.

The full hook-up loops are loops 1600-1900, and are all pet-friendly.  Loop 1600 is closest to the Meadow area and best among these for first-timers.  The two images are from loop 1600. Loops 1800 and 1900 are among the most isolated loops at the Fort and a bit of a hike from the bus stop, or anything else for that matter.

PREFERRED LOOPS AT FORT WILDERNESS

Preferred loops have the same characteristics as full-hook up loops–that is, they have both extensive asphalt for rigs plus a sand pad for a tent.

These loops come with a picnic table, charcoal grill, water, electricity, sewer, cable, and available internet access.

What makes the three preferred loops–100, 200 and 300–“preferred” is how close they are to the Settlement. Loop 100 is so close that it can be noisy.  Loop 300 is pet friendly, and is next to the dog park. Loop 200 is probably the best choice overall, although loop 300 is just a bit closer to the Meadow area and to the bus stop.

LOOP 2100

Loop 2100 is the newest camping loop, and does not fit precisely any category. It seems to be designed more for RVs than for campers with both tents and RVs. See this.

PICKING YOUR FORT WILDERNESS CAMPSITE

The online check-in form for the campsites lets you directly request a loop, and describe certain features of your rig. I’ve posted it below larger than my usual images (and as always on this site, just click it to make it bigger) as there’s some complexities worth talking through.

 

The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort Online Check-in from yourfirstvisit.net

First note the items near the top left–fifth wheel and awnings. Even if they describe you, if you have selected a premium site, you need not check these, as the premium sites can fit anything. But you’ve selected a preferred or full hook-up site, and one or both applies, be sure to check them, as the layout of these sites varies and your site will fit you better if you tell Disney what you need.

Second, ignore “Upper Floor,” “Lower Floor,” and “Near Elevator”. There are no floors, and no elevators.  These don’t belong here at all.

“Near Transport” will put you closer to the roadways where the buses run, and thus lead to shorter walks, especially in some of the deeper or distant loops like most of the full hook-up options.  These “near transport” sites can be noisier–although with the sounds of buses, ferryboat horns, and train whistles from the Magic Kingdom no one would call Fort Wilderness quiet.

There’s plenty of comfort stations at Fort Wilderness, but except in loop 2000 it is possible to be to be a bit of a hike away.  Click “Near Comfort Station” if being closer to one matters to you.

Most sites are woods view, but a few have more open vistas–see the images below for examples:

Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

Sunny Site Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

So select “Woods View” if that is important to you.

CAMPFIRES AT FORT WILDERNESS

Dinner Campsite Tour Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Each campsite comes with a charcoal grill.

Don’t count on a campfire otherwise.

Firepits Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

If there is no local fire hazard at your campsite during the time you are there, Disney will permit campfires, but only in fully enclosed portable fire pits with solid (not metal mesh) tops and legs that bring them off the ground. See the image for examples of approved and not-approved fire pits.

You have to bring these yourself.

ODDS AND ENDS

You don’t have to own an RV to do RV camping at Fort Wilderness.  Plenty of RV rental sites are located in the Orlando area. Some will even set up your RV at the campground for you!

Tents and cots are available for rent from Fort Wilderness itself. Strictly, they are only for use at one of the group campsites.  But call Fort Wilderness–if they are not claimed by groups, they may be made available to you.

Fort Wilderness is a huge favorite and a family tradition for many.

It’s not uncommon for RV owners to camp there for weeks, perhaps cycling in different sets of grandchildren.

Christmas at a Fort Wilderness Campsite from yourfirstvisit.net

Halloween and Christmas decorations put up by campers have become ever more elaborate each year, and make the resort particularly charming and silly at these times of the year–to the extent that the overflow parking can be closed to those without a reservation because of all the sightseers!

The campsites’ biggest negatives are their lack of visual kid appeal, the resort’s sheer size, and its internal bus system, which no matter how well it runs, adds time to every theme park visit.

Returning visitors often find the Campgrounds at Disney’s Fort Wilderness to be a favorite, particularly if they have or rent a car to avoid some of the buses, need space for a large family, and want to enjoy some of the distinct amenities of Fort Wilderness—one of America’s best campgrounds.

TENT CAMPING TIPS FOR DISNEY’S FORT WILDERNESS RESORT

This review continues here
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42 comments

1 crystal { 01.02.13 at 10:02 am }

Hi! we are planning a disney trip in april and plan on staying in the camp sites with our tent. We usually stay in hotels, but the kids want to camp! We camp here at home, but it’s winter here and our 2 kids want to tent it, so we’re going to, plus it’s way cheaper! we have never been here though and dont really have a clue? How long of a walk is it to the bathrooms? are there lots of them? Also, do they have showers? And if it’s hot is there anywhere to get out of the sun and in the a/c? And do you know how much it is to rent bikes or a gulf cart while your there? THank you so much!

2 Dave { 01.02.13 at 5:36 pm }

Hi Crystal! I’ve got tons of stuff on the campsites beginning here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/11/02/review-the-campsites-at-disneys-fort-wilderness-resort/ I love tent camping and love WDW and find they go together great. My wife, on the other hand, thinks I’m nuts. She loves both but thinks they should be kept separate. But you can’t beat the price…

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3 COCO { 10.07.13 at 9:31 am }

Very very good details and tips, thank you so much!!

4 Dave { 10.08.13 at 7:50 am }

Thanks, Coco!

5 Andrea { 07.31.14 at 11:36 am }

I’m unfamiliar with sand stakes. Are they the big hard plastic ones or the big metal ones?

6 Dave { 07.31.14 at 1:56 pm }
7 minnie gandy { 10.23.14 at 2:29 pm }

Our family of 10 will be tent camping may24-30. I need to know everything about camping at www. Bath houses? Do we bring our own towels? Electricity? Really everything you can tell me to make our camping experience a great one . We will h ave more than one tent and 4 kids. Ages 12,11,19,7.

8 Dave { 10.24.14 at 7:25 am }

Minnie there’s thousands of words on the campsites beginning here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/11/02/review-the-campsites-at-disneys-fort-wilderness-resort/ Bring your own towels. Every loop has a bath house. Electricity at every site. Let me know after you’ve read the rest any more questions!

9 JT Everett { 06.03.15 at 9:28 pm }

Hi. We have a Polaris RZR. Will they let us use it for short trips around Fort wilderness.

10 Dave { 06.05.15 at 8:19 am }

JT–I don’t think so, see this.

11 Mary { 07.15.15 at 3:10 pm }

We are staying at a premium site in December. We have stayed at many Disney resorts, first time at Ft. Wilderness. We want a loop that is wooded and quite but still accessible to Meadows. Is there a premium loop like this?

12 Dave { 07.16.15 at 7:30 am }

Sure Mary–1200 or (especially) 1000 would suit.

13 Chris { 07.30.15 at 10:59 pm }

Hi, I’m so glad you run this site and thank you for all the great info. My question is, which premium loop is generally quieter? We aren’t worried about getting around as we have a golf cart. I’m thinking quiet areas would be better for rest since I’m a very light sleeper. Any loops with mostly water views as well? Thanks for any help you can provide. :)

14 Dave { 07.31.15 at 7:36 am }

Hey Chris, noise at FW comes from the group camp at Creekside Meadows, from the pool and evening show in the Meadow area, from boat horns at the Settlement, and, if the wind is right, from ferry, boat and train horns at the Magic Kingdom. Plus there’s the rumbling of buses making their way around the resort itself. And the Magic Kingdom fireworks. And the Electrical Water Pageant…

All of which is to say that this is not anywhere a quiet campground.

That said, target loops 1100 and 1200. They are the furthest from the shore and MK, so you’ll get a little less noise there. Not water views, though. There aren’t a lot of those. The most extensive water views are in half of loop 600, which gets Meadow noise…

15 Chris { 07.31.15 at 12:44 pm }

Thank you! I guess anywhere will have to work and I’ll look into 600. If its a bit noisy at least I’ll have a view. I’m sure noise won’t bother my family much, just me. It’ll be OK that’s why they make earplugs.

16 Barry { 09.06.15 at 11:19 am }

Im 66 year’s old ~coming for the first time.~ 33 foot 5th wheel 3 slides ~2 pets which is my best loop for a first timer there

17 Dave { 09.08.15 at 12:17 pm }

Barry, you have lots of great options. You want to pick from among loops 300-900. 300 may be a little too narrow for your slides, and 800 and 900 can be noisy. I’d aim for 400, 500, 600, and 700, with 400 probably the best choice.

18 Jennifer { 10.24.15 at 6:18 am }

Hi we are planning to come in April. 40ft travel trailer with 3slide outs. What type site would you recommend? Also just planning magic kingdom with a 3 and 9yr old. Any suggestions on sites?

19 Dave { 10.24.15 at 7:52 am }

Jennifer, at that scope you want a premium site, unless you also plan to pitch a tent. An MK focused trip means you want one of the loops closer to the boat dock–that is, 400, 500 or 700.

20 Annie P { 12.07.15 at 1:07 am }

I tried for months to find a site for our travel trailer around New Years. Finally a tent/pop up site became available, and I grabbed it, figuring that some pop-ups are as long as our 22 foot camper. We are traveling around Florida the whole month, so it’s not like we can abandon it somewhere. We can take a tent and camp in it, but then we’ll have to store the camper in some overflow. Do you think Disney would permit us to put a 22 foot camper in the pop-up area; if not, do you know where we’ll need to store the camper while we use a tent. Like I said, I took the only site available.

21 Dave { 12.08.15 at 6:43 am }

Annie, there were some very small trailers in my last pop up loop–see the photo: Trailer Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

If they don’t let you, there is a parking area for excess/checked out/not yet checked in vehicles right next to the check in area.

22 Elizabeth { 03.07.16 at 10:41 am }

Ideally, I’d like to be in the 1500 Loop near a comfort station for tent camping–but being in the 1500 Loop is a lot more important to me than being near a comfort station. If I want to “guarantee” the 1500 Loop, would you suggest just limiting my Room Request to just that one request? Do you think it would make a difference?

23 Dave { 03.08.16 at 5:28 am }

Elizabeth, there’s no guarantees. That said, yes, I would limit the request to just 1500.

24 Catherine { 03.28.16 at 4:12 pm }

All so confusing. we booked a full hook up site since that is what was available. Can you tell me how big the sand pad is there? I need to make sure we have enough room for tents.
thanks so much in advance

25 Dave { 03.30.16 at 3:34 pm }

Catherine, there’s some variation. All will fit a big tent, some will fit two.

26 Amy { 03.31.16 at 2:42 pm }

So I booked the most expensive one? Not sure if that is called premium or preferred? I want closest to main area, boat launch, dining, etc but also with close access to fishing canals. Where do you recommend? We also need a spot for a tent along with our 29 ft camper!

27 Dave { 04.01.16 at 2:47 pm }

Amy, check your reservation–it should say which type you booked. The most expensive “premium” options have NO tent pads. What I hope you booked is a “preferred” site which puts you close to the boat dock but also has a tent pad as well as space for your camper.

28 Allen { 05.13.16 at 2:39 pm }

Dave, we’ve stayed at FW couple yrs ago in Dec in one of the cabins and LOVED it, fell in love with FW. We recently bought a travel trailer and looking fwd to this Oct to visit again. Suggestions on premium loops? We have 2 small dogs, a 5 yr old plus 4 adults. Would like to be close to either water views or wooded area, a comfort station and within walking distance of the movie, chip and dale campfire areas. I was thinking 400,500 or 700 (maybe even preferred 300 loop). Your ideas? THANKS in advance.

29 Dave { 05.14.16 at 10:56 am }

Hi Alle, any of these, plus 600, would be sound!

30 Todd Guidry { 05.26.16 at 5:52 pm }

My wife and two kids will in in fort wilderness june 11 -17 40th motor home 4 slides we have our own golf cart will be doing magic kingdom, like to have some shade and quite , don’t mind being away along as we can leave the golf cart at boat dock when going to magic kingdom.. whats best was thinking 1600 loop

31 Todd Guidry { 05.26.16 at 9:07 pm }

looking for shade being june, we have 40 ft motor home 4 slides and awnings. will have our own golf cart , don’t mind being off the trail or isolated some is ok . full hook ups needed.

32 Dave { 05.27.16 at 1:30 pm }

Todd, you probably want a “premium” loop with that rig, so 1600 might have too short a pad. Of the premiums (600-1400), 500 is probably the quietest.

33 Wendy { 06.01.16 at 11:42 am }

Your site has been so helpful. We are trying to book our Ft. Wilderness trip for January. I noticed WDW hasn’t opened the calendar up to book during this time. Do you know when I should be able to book for Jan. 2017? Also, there will be 3 families traveling and we would like to all be together – is it possible to request 3 sites together? Last question, we have a 38ft. pull behind with 3 slides and are going primarily for our 8 year old daughter and will spend lots of time at Magic Kingdom… I read where you suggested loop 400. Is this still the best option for us? Thank you so much for moderating and helping all of us!

34 Kelly B - Destinations In Florida { 06.02.16 at 8:13 am }

Hi Wendy – I\’m Kelly, the designated Destinations In Florida travel agent for YourFirstVisit.net. We are expecting to see 2017 package prices released towards the end of June or the beginning of July. I would be more than happy to contact you when the prices are released, just send me your contact information at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or give me a call at 980-429-4499.

Disney does its best to accomodate requests, such as sites or rooms together, but they are just that ….requests. Not guarantees.

I do want to mention that campsites are some of the most sought after reservations on property, they go fast. Did you know that you can make room only (or in your case campsite) reservations up to 499 days in advance? This will require changing to a package and a new deposit. In most cases it is not necessary – but with needed 3 sites you may want to think about this option for your vacation.

35 Roz { 06.05.16 at 6:19 am }

I’m a traveling nurse and I travel with my tiny house. It’s RV certified, 26′ long. Will it be welcome at Fort Wilderness?

36 Dave { 06.06.16 at 8:32 am }

Roz, great question, for which I don’t have an informed answer. Suggest that you post your query either at http://www.fortfiends.net/ or at http://disboards.com/threads/disneys-fort-wilderness-cabins-campgrounds-information-questions.3218169/

You might wan to include a picture and a few specs (e.g. trailer length width and house height), nature of sewer/water/electrical hookups).

37 Will O { 09.01.16 at 5:39 pm }

Dave, We have a group of Scouts (total of 16) that want to stay in the campground. A few years ago we had 8 and stayed in 2 partial hook up spots next to each other with tents. I really don’t think group camping area is what we want. I was thinking of the 1500 area you mentioned to others. I was thinking we might need 3 locations. What are your ideas for the best camping location for a group?

38 Dave { 09.02.16 at 8:38 am }

Will, as I’m sure you know the key constraints are a max of two tents per site and ten people per site. Loop 1500 has very few sites and is in high demand, so that if you have to go to 3 sites it might be hard to get them all in 1500. Loop 2000 is also a tent loop and is both much bigger and less in demand.

I agree that regular sites look like more fun than the group site… but I would take it in a minute if I could ever convince my troop to go (I’ve been Committee Chairman for almost a decade, but logistics–drive time from Northeast Ohio, summer weather, potential to compete with Summer Camp, etc–keep getting in the way!

39 Elizabeth { 09.07.16 at 9:16 pm }

Today I went to make my “room” request for camping: Loop 1500. But it seems that WDW no longer allows you to request particular loops, unless I am doing something wrong. The only choices I got were the first 3, then choices 6-10, then the 2 about firewood & the 5 about tents. So not only could I not request a particular loop, I couldn’t even request “Near Comfort Station.” Any chance I was on the wrong page or trying to request too soon?! Thanks!

40 Dave { 09.08.16 at 6:52 am }

Elizabeth that’s really goofy. I ran a test reservation and got the same thing. All I can suggest is coming back to it to see if it gets fixed…In the meantime call to submit your loop request.

41 Patti Meeks { 10.27.16 at 9:38 am }

I have a 41ft 5th wheel with 3 slides and awning. We will bring a 2yr and infant and 2 dogs. I booked a full hookup site but have to pick a pet loop. Which one would you recommend. We will be visiting all the parks. Thanks

42 Dave { 10.28.16 at 6:59 am }

Patti, all the full hook up sites are pet friendly. However, with your rig, you’d be better off in a premium loo–loops 400-700 are well located and pet friendly.

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