By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon 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

Fort 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.
The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

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 (all lops became pet friendly in late 2017) 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 right in purply-blue. Here you’ll find trail rides and all park, water park, and Disney Springs 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. 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

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. 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.

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.  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 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.

In extreme fire conditions–not uncommon in the spring until the rainy season starts in later May–you may be precluded from using your charcoal grill as well.

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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61 comments

1 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?

2 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!

3 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!

4 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.

5 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

6 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.

7 Kassidy { 01.24.17 at 11:17 am }

We are visiting Fort Wilderness in November for the first time. We have a 36 foot motorhome with 1 slide, but may upgrade to little larger of a rig by then. We got a reservation for a full hook up site. My question is, will these fit all motorhomes between 36-38 feet long with 1-2 slides? Also, what loop would you recommend for our first time with 3 kids ages 5-11? We are planning on visiting all 4 main parks as well as spending a day devoted to just Fort Wilderness. I appreciate the advice!

8 Dave { 01.25.17 at 8:02 am }

Hi Kassidy, yes you can fit big motorhomes into full-hook up sites, some have more than 50 feet of asphalt and are 15 feet wide. There’s only a few full hook up loops, all of which are similar, but 1600 is the best.

9 Senthil { 02.13.17 at 4:17 pm }

Hi, We have a Pop-up reservation for April, I was wondering if I will be able to park a 26\’ Class C rv in these pop-up sites or do I need a full Hookup ? Any insight is greatly appreciated.

10 Dave { 02.14.17 at 11:17 am }

Senthil a class c of that size should fit, but you won’t have a sewer connection.

11 Becky Wms { 06.08.17 at 11:21 pm }

Dave – we’re planning on a 1-week stay at Fort Wilderness in mid-January 2018. We will be renting a “hybrid popup trailer” or “tent trailer” with hard sides like a travel trailer and 2-3 pull-out bed areas like a popup. It will need full hookups. Are we limited to the tent/popup sites which don’t have sewer, or are we allowed to park in full hookup, preferred, and premium loops? Thanks!

12 Dave { 06.09.17 at 2:11 pm }

Sure, Becky. Just book the site type you prefer–full, preferred or premium.

13 Shaf { 11.08.17 at 3:18 pm }

It says “at the bottom left in purply-blue”. Did you mean bottom right?

14 Dave { 11.09.17 at 9:23 am }

Thanks, Shaf! My dyslexia strikes again…fixed now.

15 Becky { 11.15.17 at 10:15 am }

I reserved a full-hookup campsite at FW for this weekend. We are planning to bring a pop-up. A few family friends would like to come as well. The description of the site says it can fit an RV and two tents. With that description, do you think campsite accommodate two pop-ups?

16 Dave { 11.15.17 at 4:12 pm }

Hi Becky, the rule is “one rig or tent, plus also a second tent.” So by policy they won’t allow two RVs. You may get lucky–but that’s not a chance I would take.

17 Wes Leath { 12.23.17 at 9:37 pm }

We are planning a trip to FW in May 2018 with our 20′ R-pod. Info regarding “full hookups” is rather confusing. In some of the info it says that the full hookup sites have sewer while in others it seems to say they don’t. My question is rather simple: Do the Full Hookup sites have sewer or don’t they??? If they do not, does the campground have a dump station. Also, if the DO NOT have sewer then these sites should NEVER be advertised and/or listed as “Full” hookup. The classification should be “E & W” (Electric and Water). Full hookup ALWAYS includes a sewer hookup!!!

18 Dave { 12.24.17 at 7:22 am }

Hi Wes, yes the full hookup site have sewer!

19 Angela { 12.28.17 at 3:19 pm }

We are planning a vacation in December 2018. First time to visit Disney – 2 adults and 3yr old boy and 5 ur old girl. We will be renting a camper . It is our first time at Disney . My husband not an avid camper . But I think wil will be super fun. Would you suggest a camper in loop 400 or would you suggest we try a cabin. We will probably rent a golf cart too. I just want the experience to be as least stressful as possible . I would expect if we do rent a camper to get a large one and have it set up for us. Just would like easy access to Magic kingdom and dining as I expect us to purchase the meal plan . Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks !

20 Dave { 12.29.17 at 9:10 am }

Angela, honestly adding a camper when you are not experienced with its systems is not a recipe for “least stressful as possible.” If I were you I’d aim for either a cabin or a regular hotel room.

21 Kelly B - Destinations in Florida { 12.28.17 at 3:53 pm }

Hi Angela – I’m Kelly, the designated Destinations In Florida travel agent for YourFirstVisit.net. I bet you are so excited about planning your first family visit to Disney.

After reading through your post, I wanted to make a few suggestions to make your trip a bit more magical. Most families that stay at the campsites do so to save money. They own their own campers/tents and cook most of their meals. With you needing to rent a camper and golfcart, as well as your desire to purchase the meal plan – you won’t be saving money. Or time. The resort is large and you’ll spend a lot of time getting back and forth from the campsite to transportation.

With the ages of your children, and the fact that your husband may not be a “Happy Camper”, I would love to suggest the Art of Animation Family Suites. (They are around the same price as the cabins) would be great. This resort is designed for families with young children. A bus ride away from all the parks. Amazing food court. It’s just DISNEY at every turn.

If you do decide to go with a campsite, you want to book that now. Campsites book up quicker than any other resort. I would love to help you and your family plan your vacation. All of my services are FREE when you book a vacation package. You can reach me at 980-429-4499 or KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com. Thanks

22 Klattu { 01.24.18 at 10:06 am }

1st time for us. Camping questions…to make reservations, does only the first day need to be the 499 days in advance to qualify ? Our plans are for 12 nights Christmas week 2019 (no choice). 35′ MH, no kids, no dogs, cat will be inside only. We don’t plan on bringing a car, Yamaha scooter and 2 Segways. We will find enough to do for that many days ? Why would we miss having a car ? I have ticket questions, will search your site for answers first.

23 Dave { 01.25.18 at 8:05 am }

Hi Klattu, yes, 499 days from check in. Your segways and scooter may not help a lot as you won’t have places to park them at the Fort–golf carts, yes, other such vehicles, no. Moreover, your scooter is permitted only if it is electric. Annoying rules are here. So I’d go with a golf cart to help you get around the Fort. At that time of year, personal cars (like a rental) can be a pain as the roads among the parks are so clotted.

24 Ken J. { 02.01.18 at 3:16 am }

Great site. Have reservations at premium site 5/2018. We have a 42ft 5th wheel, 2 vehicles, 6 adults and 2 dogs. Like location of loop 300 and 700. Can we fit in the 300 loop sites? Should I change our reservations from premium to a preferred site to save money? Also how do we request a specific site location in a loop or request extra shade?

25 Dave { 02.01.18 at 12:49 pm }

Ken, from what I can tell from the Fortfiends FW Sites app, sites at 300 range from 38 to 51 feet long, and 13 to 16 feet wide. SO two vehicles looks tight. You will probably get good advice by asking you question on the fortfiends forum here: http://www.fortfiends.net/forum/18-fort-wilderness-loops-information/

However, 300 sells out pretty quickly so shifting to it may be a moot point. You can call in both your loop request and your general site wishes.

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