8 Fort Wilderness Surprises

by | Apr 23, 2020 | WDW Blog

Did you know that Walt Disney World has a 750-acre campground, just across the water from Magic Kingdom (which is only a measly 107 acres big!)?

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground offers campsites for tents or RVs, plus fully furnished cabins—and it’s one of the best value choices for accommodations on property!  But if you think you’ll be “roughing it” with a stay here, think again!

I toured Fort Wilderness this January and was delighted by what this resort had to offer.  So much so that today I’m going to share with you 8 Fort Wilderness surprises that blew me away!

1. Community is key

At Fort Wilderness, guests can expect to have a lot more interaction with those outside their immediate travel party, just as you might at any campsite across America.

There are plenty of opportunities to meet your neighbors and make new friends when you head to the pool or the pickleball court, or even at mealtime!  Picnic areas and shared communal grills create an atmosphere that encourages campers to get to know one another.

In fact, since many guests come back year after year (and a lot of them stay for weeks at a time!), a real community bond has formed and guest-led initiatives like decorating campsites for the holidays has become a popular point of interest for guests and even visitors who pop by for the day.

fort wilderness boat

Boat transportation from Magic Kingdom and Wilderness Lodge takes you across Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Photo by Danny Shuster

2. So many modes of transportation

750 acres is a BIG space so it’s no surprise there are plenty of ways to get around Fort Wilderness, but let’s start with getting to the resort.

Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are accessible by boat from the marina at Bay Lake, and busses run to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

fort wilderness golf cart

Rent a golf cart (or bring your own) to get around easily. Photo by Danny Shuster

Once you arrive, an internal bus system helps transport guests to the various amenities and cabin/campsite sections.  Personal automobiles are not permitted for transportation around the resort so many guests choose to rent golf carts ($67/day) or bring their own.

I’ll admit—driving around the property on a golf cart was one of the best afternoons I’ve ever had at a Disney resort!  I’ll be heading back during the holidays to rent a cart and drive around to take in the decorations!

Bikes are another popular option to get around quickly, and walking is always an option (if you have the time and energy!)

fort wilderness pool

The meadow pool at Fort Wilderness. Photo by Danny Shuster

3. You might not spend much time in the parks

As I said, a lot of families stay here for extended periods of time, but what I was so surprised to learn is that guests often plan their vacations around being at Fort Wilderness with only a few days spent in the parks! That’s a real departure from the type of Disney vacations many of us are used to. But it’s easy to see why…

fort wilderness water play

This water play area was the first of it’s kind at WDW! Photo by Danny Shuster

There is SO MUCH TO DO!  There are two pools (one features a waterslide and water play area—bonus surprise: Fort Wilderness was the FIRST resort at WDW to have a feature like this, though it’s becoming popular at many deluxe resorts).

There are also archery and Segway experiences, horseback and wagon rides, campfire sing-a-longs, fishing, motorized boat rentals, kayaking and canoeing, jogging trails, playgrounds, arcades, carriage and sleigh rides plus sports like volleyball, basketball, and pickleball.

fort wilderness recreation

Recreation rentals include boats, bikes, and more. Photo by Danny Shuster

You can bring your own gear or rent bikes, fishing rods, kayaks, and more. They even sell fishing bait!  With all that, you’ve got an entire fun-filled vacation at your feet (without ever stepping foot into a theme park!).

4. Space for big families—including pets!

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Fort Wilderness is a GREAT choice for bigger families, or families traveling together.  Cabins sleep up to 6, and campsites offer space up to twelve. Plus there is so much wide-open space that you’ll never feel crowded, which is a huge blessing after a long day in the parks during peak season.

If you’re camping, you can bring tents, RVs, and pop up campers—so whatever kind of space and sleeping arrangements your family needs, you’re sure to find space.  Pets are even welcome here, so you don’t have to leave your furry family members at home!

fort wilderness river country tower

A repurposed water tower from River Country. Photo by Danny Shuster

5. Calling all River Country fans

Do you long for the good old days of  WDW?  River Country was the original Disney water park from 1976-2001, way before Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach arrived on the scene.

If you’ve got that nostalgic feeling for the waterpark of days past, you’re going to LOVE this surprise!  The water tower that once stood in River Country is now a fixture at the Meadow pool and waterslide.

fort wilderness craft class

6. It’s not just nature: art is celebrated!

If you’re looking to unleash your inner artist after being inspired by mother nature, look no further! Fort Wilderness offers a weekly activity where you can paint your own wooden masterpiece while you enjoy a beverage and some snacks at Crockett’s Craft Corner Wine & Woodshop. You can sign up for this activity in person once you arrive at Fort Wilderness for an added fee.

fort wilderness movies

The best spot for movies under the stars. Photo by Danny Shuster

If the passive art of cinema is more your speed, there are nightly Movies Under the Stars hosted here, as at all WDW Resorts.

But this is the BEST one in my opinion, because there is a dedicated area with lots of seating and even a snack kiosk (other resorts tend to hold these on lawns or by pools with pool chairs and towels serving as seating).

fort wilderness hidden mickey

Spotting hidden Mickeys at Fort Wilderness is fun! Photo by Danny Shuster

7. It’s Super Affordable

Hands down, this is the most affordable place to stay at WDW, if you’re staying in the campsites – and especially if you’re bringing the maximum number of guests with you.  The average cost for a tent campsite is $79/night – or less than $8/person if you have a party of 10!  Even premium campsites for large RVs have an average rate of $133/night.  You can’t beat that!

While the cabins cost a little more at $419/night on average that’s still a good deal when most other resorts that can accommodate that party size average double to quadruple that… or more!

Yes, there are some added costs to partake in amenities like horseback riding , Segways, boat rentals, etc.  But there are also a LOT of included-with-your-stay activities like swimming, sing-a-longs, movies, and more.  If you bring your own bikes and fishing poles you can add to the fun.  And there’s always the hit game of spot-the-hidden-Mickeys!

fort wilderness new barn

A sneak peek of the new barn coming to Tri-Circle D Ranch. Photo by Danny Shuster

8. You Can Own a Disney Horse

While touring the resort we were able to check out Tri-Circle D Ranch, where the WDW horses are stabled and where all equestrian activities take place (other than carriage rides at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort).  They are in the process of building a brand new barn to open this year, but that’s not the big news.  Surprise—YOU CAN OWN A DISNEY HORSE!  For real, not one of those “adopt an animal” fees.

Once Disney horses get to a certain point in their career they are ready to retire, and Disney works to match them with the perfect forever-home.  So if you want to be on the list to become a permanent caregiver to a Disney horse after their glory days on Main Street, U.S.A. are done, you can put in an application for consideration.  How cool is that?!

Does getting back to nature with lots of space to breathe and family fun sound like the most magical way ever to experience Walt Disney World? See what all the fuss is about and book your next stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground! Get a FREE quote on your stay from our partners at Destinations to Travel!

Thanks to Disney for hosting us on a 3-night Resort Showcase where we got to tour and experience many of Walt Disney World’s resorts and restaurants, including Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. #wdwresorts #deliciousdisney

Written by Stephanie Shuster

Written by Stephanie Shuster

A lifelong Disney fan with a passion for globetrotting, I’m driven by a desire to build a community where people like me can let their Disney flag fly with pride. As CEO and Owner of WDW Magazine, I lead a team that connects thousands of Disney fans to the Most Magical Place on Earth from wherever they are.