Fort Wilderness is our favorite campground. We want to get that out there right away. This is not going to be an objective review of the campground. Instead we want to share some of the key features that make Fort Wilderness special for us.
First of all, it is important to note that Fort Wilderness is huge. The resort occupies as much land as Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom combined! It is a mile, as the crow flies, from one end to the other. It will take you nearly 30 minutes to walk the shortest route from the entrance to the boat landing – more than an hour if you want to circle the entire campground on foot. There are 28 loops, many of which are themselves the size of most other private campgrounds. Despite its size, it is one of the most secluded campgrounds we have ever stayed at.
The traditional Disney theming starts as soon as you enter the campground. If you are camping (as opposed to staying in a cabin) there is no need to exit your vehicle to check in. You drive right through the Reception Outpost and a cast member checks you in through your car window. Make sure you turn off your engine when you reach the cast member. It will reduce the fumes and make for a quieter experience while the cast member explains everything about the campground to you.
If you are driving a motor home and towing a vehicle, there are a couple pull-offs just past the outpost where you can unhitch the vehicle before heading to your site. You will want to do this as room in the loops is at a premium.
We mentioned earlier that there are 28 loops within Fort Wilderness. There are 5 types of accommodations at Fort Wilderness and each loop caters to one of them. We always stay in the Preferred loops. These are loops 100, 200, and 300. The Preferred loops are right next to the Settlement Trading Post and close to the marina. You can easily walk to the boats or the Trails End restaurant if you are eating there. The 300 loop allows pets. We were concerned when we were first assigned to this loop, but we have since stayed there twice and loud animals have yet to be a concern.
Further back from the Preferred loops are the Premium loops designed for big rigs and the Full Hookup loops that are regular-sized, but more centrally located. The cabin loops are closer to the Outpost side of the campground. While every site has water and electric, be aware that there are Standard sites that do not have any sewer hookups. All Ears has a nice summary of which loops are which so we will not duplicate that here.
The sites themselves come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When you make your reservation you will be asked for the size of your RV as well as whether you have slide-outs and/or an awning. Be aware that you do NOT get to pick your site. It will be assigned to you when you check in. You can request a specific loop, but Disney makes no guarantees. We have a 30 foot trailer and have never had an issue fitting it and our vehicle in any of the sites that we have been assigned. In the preferred loop there is a paved section and then a sandy section for tents. Most of the time we can stay on the paved section, but there was a trip where we backed onto the sand. Either way, there was plenty of room.
One of our favorite features of the campground is the privacy you have at your site. Many campgrounds are little more than a parking lot. You walk out of your camper or tent and feel like you are encroaching upon your neighbors. While the sites at Fort Wilderness are close together, there are bushes and trees between each. It not a lot, but just enough to provide a feeling of privacy.
Each site has a post with the site number and an outlet for use in charging your golf cart, if you have one, or powering decorative lights. There is also a charcoal grill that you can use for cooking. There are no fire pits at the sites. Disney has a list of approved covered fire pits that you can bring with you. Note that if Florida is under drought conditions, all charcoal and wood fires may be banned. In those cases, Disney will provide gas grills in each loop and at the Meadow Trading Post for guests to share.
Hooking up is easy as there is a standard utility pole for your electricity and a spigot for your water. If we had one complaint it is that the sewer access is near the front of the site while the tank drains on most campers are in the back. Make sure you have at least 15-20 feet of sewer hose with you and a sewer hose support. Fort Wilderness does not have a dump station. If you are staying at a site with no sewer hookup and you need to empty your camper, you can call the outpost and a cast member will direct you to a vacant site with a sewer hookup that you can use. We have only stayed at sites with sewer so while we have heard this is the procedure, we have never tested it ourselves.
After you get settled, the first stop many campers make is to the bath house, or comfort station as Disney refers to them. There is generally one comfort station per loop, though a couple of the smaller loops will share one. You are never more than a 5 minute walk from a bathroom. These are consistently the cleanest bathrooms you will ever find at a campground with soap and paper towels always available. The comfort stations also have clean showers available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will need your magic band to access them during quiet hours (midnight – 6am).
At each comfort station is a laundry facility. There are about 6 washers and dryers in each. You will need to use your magic band to enter the facility. Note that these are not typical laundromat machines. They are linked to a central pay station. After loading your clothes, you go to the central kiosk to pay. You must use a credit card as the kiosk will not take change or a magic band. After swiping your card, you select the machines you want to activate and that is that. There is even a website so you can go enjoy yourself and just check your phone to see when your clothes are done. The washers take about 30 minutes and the dryers run for closer to an hour.
If you need supplies, there are two trading posts at Fort Wilderness. Near the marina is the Settlement Trading Post. This is the smaller of the two. It has many gifts as well as a large section with groceries and other camping supplies. The Meadow Trading Post is in the middle of the campground. It is slightly larger and is considered the ‘main’ gift shop for the campground. If you have purchases from a park sent to your resort, this is where you would pick them up.
One final feature of the campground that we love is how quiet it is. We have been there during some of the busier times when we would not think of going to a park. We are always amazed at how you can hear the birds chirping and you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
In later posts we will cover getting to, from, and around Fort Wilderness as well as some of the recreation opportunities within the campground.
Have you stayed at Fort Wilderness? What was your experience at the campground? Let us know in the comments below.