Did You Know You Can Camp at Disney World? My Family Tried It — Here’s What To Expect

by  Megan DuBois | May 2, 2024
Courtesy of Megan Dubois

Of Walt Disney World’s 34 resorts, Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds might be the most unique. This sprawling 750-acre woodland property — populated by deer, ducks, armadillos, and rabbits — allows families to camp next door to Magic Kingdom, yet feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. 

My family and I recently spent three nights at Fort Wilderness. Here’s what to expect. 

Accommodations at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds offers two types of accommodations: campsites and cabins. The campsites allow up to 10 people per site to either pitch a tent or park an RV in a predetermined slot. My family and I chose to rent a cabin, which was equipped with a kitchen and everything we needed for a comfortable stay.

The charming log cabin — surrounded by pine and cypress trees — had a nostalgic feel that reminded me of camping as a kid. It had an attached wooden porch with a picnic table and a charcoal grill, which were great for mealtime and hanging out. 

Inside, the main living area included a dining room, with a long table that seats eight, and a kitchen with a dishwasher, two-burner stove, and a microwave/convection oven. We were able to make all of our own meals, which saved us a ton of money. The living room had a pull-out couch for extra guests and a big-screen TV. 

Down a small hallway, there was a full bathroom with a tub shower. It was small but worked for our family. The main bedroom had a queen-size bed and a bunk bed. There was also a small TV on a set of drawers so that we could watch movies at night. 

The décor incorporated tasteful Disney touches — prints of “Bambi” and an old train that used to run through the resort — that fit the woodsy, frontier theme.

Because our visit fell over Halloween, guests decorated their cabins and campsites for the season (one cabin built a pumpkin patch and another set up a re-creation of the movie “Tangled”). This contributed to a fun, neighborhood feel that you won’t find at a typical resort.

Campsites start around $72 per night, making this one of the most budget-friendly stays at Walt Disney World. Cabins, on the other hand, go from $489 per night, before taxes. However, cabins can sleep up to 6 adults and come with two parking spots. Plus, a standard room at Disney's Wilderness Lodge will average you at least $526 per night and doesn’t have a kitchen or grill. 

Starting July 1, 2024, the cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness will become part of Disney's timeshare program, Disney Vacation Club (DVC). More than 350 new, modern cabins will open in phases to eventually replace the originals (where I stayed). Anyone can book the new DVC cabins, whether they are timeshare members or not. 

Transportation at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

Fort Wilderness has its own shuttle bus system, which connects the cabins and camps to the front desk, shops, pool, restaurants, and the boat launch to Magic Kingdom. 

The other way to get around is by golf cart. We went with this option and felt it was worth the additional cost. Guests can rent golf carts on-site (from $65 per day), but the resort sells out early. I recommend reserving as soon as you book your stay. The resort also allows guests to bring their own golf carts. 

Parking can be difficult at busy dining times and during the fireworks, so plan ahead. Since there are dozens of carts parked alongside one another, there’s a fun (and practical) tradition of decorating your golf cart with items like string lights and garland so you can spot yours among the bunch. For Halloween, I saw carts with skeletons and even blow-up decorations strapped to the roof.

Fort Wilderness is also a lovely place to get around on foot. There are scenic walking paths throughout the resort, which can be a nice alternative at high-traffic times of day. 

Eating & Drinking at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds

If you’re not in the mood to make your own meals, there are four dining options on the resort, from take-out to full-service restaurants. 

The Meadow Snack Bar

The Meadow Snack Bar, located near the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool, offers quick, grab-and-go items (think Mickey-shaped pretzels, salads, and wraps). They also sell s’mores kits, which you’ll want for the nightly campfire roasts at the Campfire Theater. 

Crockett’s Tavern

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

Crockett’s Tavern is a new lounge space right off the boat launch — a great stop before or after the Magic Kingdom fireworks. It serves light bites, like charcuterie boards, sliders, and desserts. To drink, try the signature moonshine flight, which features three moonshine cocktails of your choosing. 

Trail’s End

Trail’s End is a great spot for a quick meal any time of the day. The restaurant offers Disney’s mobile order service, so you can order ahead to eat in or back at your pad. For breakfast, the restaurant offers egg sandwiches and Disney’s famous Mickey-shaped waffles; lunch and dinner feature crowd-pleasers like BBQ ribs, fried chicken, and pizza. 

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review 

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

If you’re for a little entertainment while you eat, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review is a two-hour show at Pioneer Hall. The meal starts with salad and cornbread, followed by all-you-can-eat fried chicken and ribs with baked beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. Save room for the strawberry shortcake at dessert. Adults can indulge in unlimited draft beer and sangria.

Reservations for Hoop-Dee-Doo are highly recommended and can be made up to 60 days in advance. 

Entertainment & Activities at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

Though the theme parks are just a short bus or boat ride away, there's plenty to do in Fort Wilderness

The resort has two pools: The main family pool, Meadow Swimmin’ Pool, has a slide, a splash pad, and a snack bar; and the quieter Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool has just a pool and hot tub. 

There are basketball courts, jogging trails, volleyball courts, playgrounds, and arcades on site. For an added fee, your family can take an archery lesson or a fishing trip on Bay Lake; rent bikes, canoes, and kayaks; or take a Segway ride around the resort trails. 

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

Love birds might like the horse-drawn carriage ride around the property, while kids can take pony rides at Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Even if you aren’t taking a pony ride, you can visit the ranch to see the horses before they head to Magic Kingdom to draw carriages and trolleys down Main Street, U.S.A.

Every Wednesday through Sunday night, guests can head to the Campfire Theater to dance, sing, and roast marshmallows at Chip ’N’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long. The theater also hosts nightly movies under the stars (check with the front desk to see what’s playing). On nights when there’s a sing-a-long, the movie screens after the performance. Get there early to nab seats if you plan to stay for both. 

The resort beach also hosts nightly entertainment. It’s a great place to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks show without the crowds. (Fort Wilderness even pumps the soundtrack in.) Another show to keep on your radar is the Electrical Water Pageant, a short water parade of lighted floats and music. 

Courtesy of Megan Dubois

The Vibe at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds

The thing my family and I loved most about Fort Wilderness was the culture, which is unlike any other Disney property. Whether you’re staying in a cabin or a campsite, everyone is friendly and there’s a real communal feel. 

There are Facebook groups you can join ahead of time, where departing guests hand off unopened food and drinks, strollers, Disney-approved fire pits — you name it — for incoming guests to take. In the evenings, people gave out candy and trinkets for Halloween. But apparently, this tradition of gift-giving happens year-round with scavenger hunts, trivia matches, and other gatherings. 

The Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World has something to offer year-round, but for the best weather and deals, I recommend visiting between October and mid-May. October through December, however, is a great time to partake in the festive holiday spirit at the Fort Wilderness campgrounds.

From January through May, Disney often runs discounts on accommodations. There are also multiple events at the theme parks, such as the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (January-February) and the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival (March-May). 

The Bottom Line

I’ve been going to Walt Disney World for nearly 30 years, and, amazingly, I can still find new experiences. For me and my family, camping at Disney was a great one — I will definitely be back. 

The overall vibe of the resort was unique and laidback but still with a dash of Disney magic. With so much to do right at Fort Wilderness, I was happy to skip the parks. 

Booking a campsite is one of the most economical ways to stay at Walt Disney World, but for those who are unsure, the cabins are the perfect entry point.

I recommend Fort Wilderness for families who want a different type of Disney vacation, with a touch of nature and all of the amenities of home.

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