Let's cut to the chase: Camping is hard work. There... I said it. But when it comes to budget, it is the most efficient way to travel while saving money. The unfortunate truth is that campsite prices at Fort Wilderness have almost doubled since only 2 years ago. The cost for a tent-only site is now up to approximately $150 a night and approximately $200 for a full hook up site. This is due to the extreme increase in campers that came out of the pandemic. But if you are still wanting to stay ON PROPERTY at Walt Disney World, the campground at Fort Wilderness is still the cheapest route. So what are the perks of staying on property?
Transportation and extra magic hours... That's it... Of course, the resort hotels offer Disney themed luxury that is pretty cool but the campgrounds are not a luxury resort. It's your home on wheels or your tent. The entire concept is to have that nostalgic camping experience that also offers the free transportation to the parks and those coveted extra magic hours. As far as campgrounds go, it really is the crème de la crème. The campgrounds at Fort Wilderness are massive! This means a lot of walking. Which is why it is an absolute necessity to rent a golf cart or bring your own. This of course will add to your expenses so keep that in mind.
The only thing that is not magical at Walt Disney World is the Disney bus transportation. Specifically the bus transportation at Fort Wilderness. If you like to be at rope drop, at the gate before the park even opens, then you will have to give yourself at least an hour of bus time to make it. The buses can run a few minutes late and some days there are less buses running to the park of your choice than others. And now, thanks to Covid, there is limited space on each bus. As far as the buses at Fort Wilderness, skip the bus stops at each loop site. At every loop of campers/tents, there is a bus stop. These bus stops do not go straight to the parks. They go to other places in the campground, as well as to the main bus stop at the front. Skip this part and drive your car to the front and park in overflow parking. Then head over the the main bus stop. This will eliminate some waiting time and bus hopping. Golf carts are the way of getting around the campground. Even the pool is only closely accessible by golf cart. Golf cart rentals are approximately $65 a day for a four seater and even more for a six seater. The golf cart rentals book up early so as soon as you have made your campsite reservation, call to make your golf cart reservation as well.
What to do at the Campgrounds:
Before Covid, there was even more stuff to do, but as of right now, some things have been temporarily closed, such as Mickey's bbq character meal, chip and dale's campfire sing a long, and the limited capacity at the pools. But there is still a good bit offered at the campground. Archery, horseback riding, outdoor movie nights, and more. There is also a really cool Facebook group that members post items that they have hidden throughout the campground. Original Fort Wilderness Scavenger Hunts is a private Facebook group that is not Disney affiliated but campers hide and hunt for items that other members have hidden and post clues to find. I have to be honest... We could not find a single item before it was found within 2 minutes by someone else. You really have to be at the right place, at the right time. One morning we were out hunting, and you could see dozens of people riding around with there phones out, looking for the same items as us. So when I say this is a popular activity, I mean it.
Be sure to ask the front desk, at check in, for a list of events that will be offered during your stay. Cast members will host pool games, Disney trivia nights, and more. There is also t-shirt tie-dyeing and canoe rentals for an additional price.
The pool is requiring reservations as of right now, but the reservations move quick, so you should not have to wait long. The pool offers a snack bar with several yummy menu items, cocktails and fountain drinks. Grab a souvenir cup and get unlimited refills your entire stay (up to two weeks).
Turkey watching is another unique perk of staying at the Disney campgrounds. There are wild turkeys that stroll through the campgrounds, constantly. I advise against approaching. They can be quite aggressive but otherwise keep to themselves.
There are multiple playgrounds so be sure to stop by one of them and let the kiddos run off some energy, if they even have any left, after a day at one of the parks.
The campgrounds used to have two gift shops open but one is temporarily closed at this time. The one that is open offers some cool souvenirs that you can also find at the World Of Disney store, along with essentials that you may need for camping, including hot dog buns, toiletries, clothes and more. The cast members at this trading post also offer pin trading, one of my kiddos' favorite activities.
Camping at Fort Wilderness is really great, but you just need to go prepared. If you are headed to the campgrounds with camping being your top priority, you will get your money's worth and have loads of fun. If you are going to the campgrounds to visit Walt Disney World on a budget, you are in the wrong place. There are several off property hotels for the same cost that requires less work. Parking your own car at the parks, though costs money, still comes out cheaper than all of the costs combined for staying at the campgrounds and it is SO much quicker. And when the parks are your number one priority, time is of the essence.
I hope this post-covid at the campgrounds at Fort Wilderness Resort blog has helped. Camping is such great fun and makes for the best memories, but it is also supposed to save you money. Be sure to check dates for rate differences at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/ If your vacation time is flexible, you may be able to find the lowest rate. Until next time, cheers!
The Adventurous Alfords