It’s been a while since I sat down to write about Walt Disney World and I’m so excited that today’s topic is about our recent stay in a Fort Wilderness preferred campsite!
Fort Wilderness is dear to my heart because it is the first Disney property I ever stayed on way back in the early 1980’s.
I stayed in a camper with my family in one of the original 3 loops, which are now considered “preferred sites” and I also tent camped there with my youth group as a teen.
Part of the reason I was so excited to buy an RV last year was planning a trip to Fort Wilderness!
Today, I’ll review our preferred campsite, which just so happened to be in one of those original loops!
If you’re wondering what to pack for camping at Fort Wilderness, be sure to check out my packing tips next.
Back then, Fort Wilderness was home to the fresh water park River Country and we loved going there as kids!
When we started bringing our own kids to Disney World, we had a great time exploring newer resorts like Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, and Yacht Club Resort among many others.
But when we bought our first RV, I knew Fort Wilderness was going to happen and I had to get planning!
If you are planning to bring your trailer to camp at Fort Wilderness, there are a few things you should know before you go.
If you are new to trailer camping, be sure to grab our list of must-haves before your first RV trip!
How to Pick Your Fort Wilderness Campsite
If you haven’t been before, it’s hard to explain just how enormous this campground is.
Fort Wilderness is set on 750 acres of land at Walt Disney World and in case you are like me and still can’t imagine it, that means it’s more than a square mile all told.
This means the sites are beautifully surrounded by nature, walking/bike paths, horse trails, and lots of fun activities, but it also means that getting from one end to the other is not as simple as you may be accustomed to at other campgrounds.
This is why choosing your site category matters.
There are two main areas where you can find activities, food, and shops. These are the Settlement and The Meadow.
You will find the following at the Settlement:
- Pioneer Hall
- Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (temporarily closed due to Covid)
- Crockett’s Tavern
- Trails End Restaurant (temporarily closed due to Covid)
- Davy Crockett’s Wilderness Arcade (temporarily closed due to Covid)
- Settlement Trading Post
- Boat transportation to Magic Kingdom
- Beach area to watch Electrical Water Pageant and/or Magic Kingdom fireworks when available
- Marina & Boat Rentals
- Tri-Circle D Ranch Stables
- P&J’s Southern Takeout
- The Chuck Wagon (RV style food truck that rotates between Settlement and Meadow)
At the Meadow, these amenities can be found:
- Meadow Trading Post
- Bike Barn (rentals)
- Chip & Dale’s Campfire singalong (temporarily closed due to Covid)
- Outdoor Movie Screen
- Meadow Swimmin’ Pool
- Tennis Courts
- Daniel Boone Wilderness Arcade (temporarily closed due to Covid)
- Meadow Snack Bar (limited hours)
- The Chuck Wagon (RV style food truck that rotates between Settlement and Meadow)
There are five types of sites at Fort Wilderness as well as cabins and they each offer similar but different options.
Generally speaking, the camping site types from most to least expensive are as follows:
- Meadows Premium
- Full Hook-Up
This is a great post about all the different types of sites at the campground if you want to see how they compare. I’ll focus on our experience in a preferred site below. But beyond price there are a few things to think about.
For instance, if it’s important that you are close to the main “settlement” area, which has the marina, dining, store, and playground, the preferred loops are the closest. That said, since they are also the original loops, they are a bit smaller and can be a tight squeeze for some bigger rigs.
If you want a larger site and being closer to the Meadows pool and amphitheater is more important, you may want to look into Premium or Meadows Premium, which are more centrally located but quite a hike to the marina transportation.
Busses are available throughout the campground. Just be sure to factor in travel time if you need to be anywhere at a specific time. It can take a while!
If budget is your main concern, Full Hook-Up sites are typically lower priced, but also furthest away from everything.
That said, if you plan to bike or use a golf cart to get around, it shouldn’t be an issue and many people say these are their favorite and sometimes most spacious sites.
For this trip, we knew we would not be able to bike because we brought our dog with us. We also didn’t plan to rent a golf cart so we chose a preferred site.
It worked out perfectly for us!
What to Book in Advance at Fort Wilderness
Speaking of golf carts, many people swear by them for the best experience at the Fort. But they do book well in advance so if you think you may want one, go ahead and book it as soon as you can.
Lots of people bring their own carts, and there are also third-party vendors who rent them locally so having a cart really depends on the type of vacation you plan to have.
Something to consider is will you be in the parks all day or spending most of your time at the campground? Disney carts are about $67/day so plan accordingly.
Even though we didn’t need a cart, they sure looked fun!
For reference, the week we were there I inquired if there were any available carts during our stay and they were completely booked. So don’t sleep on this reservation if you want it!
Other activities like horseback riding, the Hoop Dee Doo Revue (temporarily closed due to Covid), and carriage rides should be booked in advance once they reopen.
Typically pony rides, archery, bicycles, and canoes/kayaks can be rented on demand as long as they are available.
Can You Bring Dogs to Fort Wilderness?
We were so excited to bring our rescue pup Pepper with us on this trip! Fort Wilderness is definitely pet friendly, though there are some rules.
Dogs are allowed on paths, in the dog parks and of course at your campsite. Outside your trailer or the dog park, your pup must be on a leash at all times.
They can’t be brought to the pool or inside any restaurants or shops (unless it’s a service animal).
Waggin’ Tails Dog Park is divided into two fenced in areas. One side is for small dogs (under 30lbs) and the other is for large dogs.
The parks each have one shelter with a picnic table, as well as a dog “water fountain” several waste bag stations with bags and trash cans, as well as a hose to rinse off if you need it.
Pepper had a blast going to the park and we loved watching her make some new buddies!
What is a Fort Wilderness Preferred Campsite like?
Like I said above, the preferred campsite option is likely the priciest category due to it’s proximity to so many things. Preferred sites will be in loops 100, 200, or 300 and these loops are closest to the Settlement area.
Our site was #311 which as you can see on the map is perfectly situated between the Settlement and Meadow areas as well as practically next to the dog park. Our site is also marked on the image below.
What we spent in extra nightly cost, we saved by not needing a golf cart to get around. And we absolutely loved our walks!
I should say, our trip was in March and the weather was perfect. If we ever found ourselves there in July, I would definitely consider the golf cart no matter where I stayed.
Now, it’s definitely true that these older loops are tighter than the newer ones. This is really only an issue when arriving and leaving as it can get congested.
On our arrival day, we had planned to get there a little early but ended up arriving right at check-in time. This set us up for a bit of traffic and stress.
The last thing anyone needs when backing up a trailer is to feel stressed! Just remember that everyone has to do it and we all have to wait sometime.
It’s better to back up safely than get yourself in trouble. The day after we arrived, someone was trying to back in to the spot across from us and completely ran over a light post. Oops!
What the sites lack in width they make up for in length. Our trailer is 30 feet long and we fit completely on the pavement.
Since we only had the truck and no golf cart, we opted to leave more space behind the trailer for our setup and access to the beautiful woodsy area behind our lot.
You do have to be sure all vehicles are inside the yellow lines in the pavement or they will block traffic.
We could not have been happier with our site and would absolutely stay in a preferred site again.
That being said, I think we may need to stay in each of the other categories, right? I mean, just to be sure.
Have you stayed at the Campsites at Fort Wilderness? Let me know your favorite spot or ask a question in the comments.