Yeah, you read that right. Walt Disney World does have a campground! And it’s honestly one of our most favorite places to stay in all of Walt Disney World. In this post, we’re going to tell you all about camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, why it’s so awesome, and we’ll give you some tips to help you plan your stay.
What is Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground?
Fort Wilderness is Disney World’s official campground on property. Some people may be surprised, in fact, I’d visited Disney World numerous times before I realized Fort Wilderness was there. But actually, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground was one of the original resorts that opened back in the early 1970s when Disney World came about. So it’s been around for a long time. However, most of us just think of the big Disney resorts when we think about booking a trip to Disney, so it’s nice to know that they actually do have a campground option.
Where is Fort Wilderness Campground?
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is right in the heart of all the action. It’s on Disney property along the shores of Bay Lake, which is the large lake adjacent to the Seven Seas Lagoon. The Seven Seas Lagoon is where you will find Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort, and the Magic Kingdom theme park. The famous Contemporary Resort actually straddles the narrow piece of land between the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.
Bay Lake is actually connected to the Seven Seas Lagoon by a canal, so technically, you can travel by boat from Fort Wilderness direct to the Magic Kingdom theme park! But we’ll talk more about that later.
Read also: 5 Reasons You Should Stay at Disney Resort
The Benefits & Perks of Staying at Fort Wilderness
One of the things that we love about staying at an official Disney Resort is all the perks and benefits that you get. These things are really what make your vacation special, and there’s a lot of conveniences too.
For example, whenever you stay at a Disney Resort you also get the option of attending the “Extra Magic Hours” in the theme parks. These are times when the park is open only to resort guests. So you can enter some parks early on certain days, and stay late in parks on other days. Extra Magic Hours are great because there are far fewer crowds and you can see and do even more!
Another benefit of staying at a Disney Resort is that you can book things like your park tickets, dining, plans, dinner shows, and even your Fast Passes in advance of your trip through their online portal. This is a super convenient way to plan your trip, and it helps with your budgeting because you can book it all together.
Did I mention booking Fast Passes in advance?
As Disney gets more crowded, this is a HUGE benefit! Many of the most popular rides have long lines, and the Fast Passes may run out quickly. But if you are staying at a Disney resort property, then you get first access to these Fast Passes before the general public – which means you will get to see and do a lot more than other people!
So when you book a stay at Fort Wilderness, even if you are camping in an RV or a tent, you will also get access to all these same amenities and perks as other Disney resort guests.
One of the other perks that we enjoy about Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground is all the space! Even compared to other Disney resorts, this resort is huge! There are a ton of things to do here (which we’ll talk about later).
Types of Accommodation at Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort
The great thing about booking a stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground is that they have a variety of accommodation types to suit your needs. From cabins to full hook-up RV spaces, and even tent sites. And we’ve been lucky enough to experience all three of these different types of accommodations at Fort Wilderness.
Fort Wilderness Cabins
The cabins at Fort Wilderness are fantastic. They are fully equipped with a kitchen, dining and living area, bathroom and separate bedroom. Bedrooms have a combination of beds, including bunks, and there is even a pullout couch in the living room. Cabins typically sleep around 6 people and they also have an outdoor patio with a table and a grill.
The cabins are considered deluxe accommodations, and they start at over $300 per night. But because you can sleep so many people, you can get a small group together and it’s a good deal.
RV Camping & Hookups
One of the most popular ways to stay at Fort Wilderness is RV camping. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground has a number of different site options, including full hook-ups. The standard sites include a clean and well-maintained paved area as well as a picnic area and table. They have a great hook up equipment, including extra hoses for you! They also have great comfort stations located in each loop, complete with very clean showers and laundry areas that do accept credit cards (yay – no change needed!).
There are different levels of sites, so you could choose a more deluxe site that has larger patio areas and general space around the site. Or you may choose a preferred location that is super close to activities.
Tent Camping & Partial Hook-Ups
Fort Wilderness also has sites for partial hook-ups, which includes water and electricity only. These are great for people who are staying in vans, pop-up trailers, or even tents. The great thing about these sites is that they are really nicely maintained with lots of space and they are very cheap! In fact, starting at around $60 per night these are probably the cheapest way to stay at an official Disney Resort and get all of the amenities and perks of being on the property!
The thing to keep in mind is that this is Florida. So the brutal summertime heat, humidity, and torrential rains are probably not best suited for tent camping. Definitely keep this in mind! We have tent camped before, but we did it in the late fall season and it was still a little hot and muggy on some days. However, during our most recent visit to Fort Wilderness, it was January and the cool, crisp air would have been perfect to tent camp!
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Map of the Area
Fort Wilderness is located on Disney World property near the Wilderness Lodge along Bay Lake. When you enter the property, there is a drive-through check-in area for RV’s which is great because you don’t even have to exit the vehicle! After you get checked in, they will give you the scoop and hand you some helpful Fort Wilderness maps and schedules.
The front area where you enter has a small parking lot for extra cars and day visitors (like for the Hoop De Doo show) and the Tri-Circle D Ranch (which has horseback riding etc.). There is also a bus terminal at the front where you can catch buses to popular Disney areas such as Disney Springs, and some of the resorts and theme parks.
Once you drive into the Fort Wilderness park, they have a great little pull-off where you can unhitch and hitch up your rig. It’s super easy and you don’t have to worry about blocking traffic if you want to unhook your tow car (like we did). Then you can just follow the signs to your designated loop.
It’s a Big Resort
There are a lot of loops around Fort Wilderness, for both RV camping, tents (no hookups) and the cabins. Convenient bus stops line the different routes and are located at the entrance to every loop. This way, once you set up your campsite and park you don’t actually need to move the car to drive around. Just take the buses around the resort area to get to different parts.
The middle area is where you will find the Meadows Swimming pool, bike barn, archery, kayak rentals, movie and campfire sing-a-long area (held nightly) as well as a store for supplies. Down by the water, the Outpost is where you will find the restaurants such as Trails End (they do take out orders too) as well as the Hoop De Doo Revue dinner show. There is another store here for supplies, as well as a marina along the water where you can rent boats. This is also where you can pick up boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom theme park, or over to the Wilderness Lodge or Contemporary Resorts (where you can catch the monorail to Epcot too!).
Things to do at Fort Wilderness
As we have mentioned briefly above, there are a ton of things to do at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at Disney World. We love staying here because we can just hang out at our campsite, or wander around on the many trails or biking on the bike paths.
Of course, there is the Meadows area with the heated swimming pool and hot tubs too. They have a lot of games every day in the pool area and even play music. You may even catch a trivia game when you are there! They also have events like dodge ball and more.
Things to do with Kids at Fort Wilderness
There’s an arcade if the kids want to play some games, playgrounds, as well as tennis and pickleball. You could choose to rent a kayak to paddle around, or even rent family-style bikes (get everyone on board peddling together!). They also have fishing areas or you could go out on a fishing charter on the lake! You can also rent boats out on the like, even little “sprites” or individual boats which zip around with just 1 or 2 people (hint: they go faster with just one person and are a lot of fun!).
Of course, there’s also the nightly campfire sing-a-long with Chip and Dale where you can roast marshmallows over the fire and make s’mores while singing and dancing along. Then they show a movie outside on the giant big screen every night!
For a great time, definitely check out the Hoop De Doo Revue – the longest-running and most popular Disney show on Disney World property. I can’t recommend it enough! Honestly, we’ve been to this show more times than we can count, and it never gets old. The food is fantastic (and they feed you really well) and the show is super entertaining. It’s just a really great time – but be sure to book your tickets in advance because shows do fill up!
Other things to do at Fort Wilderness
Lastly, the Tri-Circle D Ranch is a stable where you can go on horseback rides around the park and at night they even have horse and carriage rides. It’s a lovely way to spend the evening. And then maybe when you are finished, you can walk out to the beach or the dock on the lake and watch the fireworks out over the lake above the Magic Kingdom park. It’s a lovely way to spend the day, they even play the music for you so you can hear it at Fort Wilderness!
Transportation at Fort Wilderness
One of the perks of staying on property at a Disney World Resort is that you don’t have to worry about much and they make it very convenient, especially when it comes to transportation. You can get around to all the theme parks, water parks, resorts and Disney Springs shopping complex by bus, monorail, boat or Skyliner gondola so you don’t have to drive your car around – or your RV!
Buses, Bikes & Walking Paths
However, the Fort Wilderness Campground is so big that they actually have transportation within the resort area as well. Buses run throughout the property on 3 different loops: purple, yellow, or orange. Each color has a slightly different route, so be sure to check the map to find your loop and where you want to go so you know which color to get on.
Bus stops are located at the entrances to all the camping and cabin loops at Fort Wilderness, and they go between the front entrance of the resort, to the Meadows area and down to the Outpost and back. While you can walk or ride your bike along the trails, taking the bus is a pretty quick way to go especially if your feet are tired after a long day at the theme parks.
Golf Carts at Fort Wilderness!
Another option for people staying at Fort Wilderness is to drive golf carts around. In fact, this is a really popular mode of transportation at Fort Wilderness. You can bring your own golf cart or you can rent one per day or for your entire visit. The prices are a bit high if you rent on the property, but you can also contact nearby rental agencies in the Orlando area who will deliver the golf cart and pick it up from Fort Wilderness for free at a fraction of the price.
Golf carts are a fun and super convenient way to get around so you don’t have to wait for the bus. There is plenty of golf cart parking at the main areas of Fort Wilderness, and you will see them zipping about all over the place. What’s really fun is when people decorate them with lights and even music. And during the holiday season, people go all out decorating their golf carts – so much so, that Fort Wilderness puts on regular “golf cart parades” so people can ride along and show off their decked-out golf carts!
Tips for Planning Your Stay at Fort Wilderness at Disney World
Below are some of our tips for planning your stay at Fort Wilderness. Or if you prefer, you can watch our video below that goes over much of the same information!
1. How Do You Want to Stay?
We always tell people when they are booking at Fort Wilderness to first think about the type of vacation they want and how they want to stay. If you can bring your RV, then that’s awesome and one of our recommended ways to stay! But, if you can’t bring your RV, then you could rent one nearby or even do some tent camping in the non-hook up area. If you want to stay in a cabin, then be prepared to pay a much higher price! However, the cabins are awesome and have everything you need. Plus, you can share with a few people and split the cost.
2. Research & Plan Out Your Itinerary
Disney World is massive. So don’t expect just to show up and wing it. I mean, you can…but likely, you won’t get to do everything you want. If you really want to maximize your time at Disney World, then you will need to do your research in advance and plan out your itinerary carefully. That way, you can make sure to fit in everything you want to do into the time you have.
3. Don’t Forget to Make Time to Enjoy Fort Wilderness!
The challenging part about planning a trip to Disney World is that there is so much to do that you may end up not having time to enjoy the Fort Wilderness Campground. And that would be a tragedy…because Fort Wilderness has so many fun things to do! So while you are building out your itinerary, I highly recommend that you leave plenty of time to relax and enjoy the Fort Wilderness resort. At least a full day or some partial days here or there are a nice way to break up the trip and enjoy yourself.
4. Plan Ahead for Transportation
As we’ve mentioned, there is transportation at Fort Wilderness. Which is great because you don’t really need to bring an extra vehicle, if you don’t want to. You can use the resort transportation to get anywhere you need. Or you can bring bikes or a golf cart. However, it’s important for you to plan out the transportation that you plan to use while building out your itinerary because you will need to build in plenty of extra time for taking Disney’s transportation. While the waits usually aren’t super long, you still should account for walking distance to and from buses, and waiting for the next bus (or boat) to arrive. You never want to be in a rush, trust me. It just ruins the trip.
5. Book In Advance if You Want to Stay at Fort Wilderness
It’s no surprise that for the same reasons that we love Fort Wilderness…so do many other people! It is an extremely popular Disney resort, so that means you need to make reservations well in advance. During this last trip, we booked in August and the earliest we could get 5 nights in a row was in late January! We spoke to many people who said they book one whole year in advance. So definitely keep this in mind for your trip.
They Have a Dog Park at Fort Wilderness!
If you follow our travels, then you know that one of the things we look for in an RV park is if they have a great dog park for our Laborador-mix rescue, Hana. She goes everywhere with us and loves being able to meet and play with other dogs during her travels.
View this post on Instagram
And Fort Wilderness has a wonderful dog park for the pups to enjoy! They actually have 2 large parks, one for big dogs and another for small dogs. Each has great grassy areas for running and even some trees for shade. They have a few benches for seating, water, and other necessities.
It was great to be able to walk from our site down to the dog park a couple of times a day so Hana could run and have fun. But she also enjoyed all the walking paths and watching squirrels from our campsite!
Fort Wilderness is Different than Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
An important thing to know is that Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort is an entirely different resort from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a beautiful resort (one of our other favorites besides the campground). It is a huge national park-style resort that feels like you are staying at Yellowstone or Yosemite National Park.
But it’s not the campground or cabin resort.
The two resorts are connected by boat, so you can take a boat from the marina area of Fort Wilderness over to the Wilderness Lodge to wander around or have dinner at any of the restaurants (and they have a couple of really good ones such as Whispering Canyon Café for a funny experience or Artists Point for a more sophisticated night dining out). Taking the boat is really easy and it’s a nice boat ride. The resorts are both located along the same lake.
Why We Love Staying at Fort Wilderness Campground
There are many resorts that we enjoy at Disney World, and Fort Wilderness is absolutely one of our top favorites! The reason is that there are just so many fun things to do all over the resort, it really feels like you can get away from it all. It combines the peaceful aspect of camping, which we really enjoy, with the excitement of a Disney vacation.
Where else can you go ride Space Mountain and see Mickey Mouse, zip around on a golf cart, grill a steak outside your RV, watch the deer run across from your campsite, roast marshmallows with Chip and Dale, watch a movie under the stars then watch fireworks over the lake? Then fall asleep on your own pillow in your RV.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground is such a quiet and serene place. We enjoy watching wildlife and relaxing outdoors. Then having fun at the parks or going out for dinner or watching a dinner show like the Hoop De Doo. It’s a wonderful place for a family vacation and one of the best resorts to stay if you are planning a trip to Disney World.