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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 2000.

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.

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.

Fort Wilderness Campsite On Line Check In from yourfirstvisit.net

First note the items at the very top–even if they describe you, if you have selected a premium site, you need not check these as the premiums 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

TOPICS COVERED IN THIS REVIEW

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10 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.

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