There’s a resort on Disney World property that places guests in the heart of a whimsical wilderness. This resort, surrounded by a pine and cypress forest brimming with wildlife, is a little quieter and slower paced than many of the usual Disney resort locations, providing guests with a unique setting amidst the rustic woods and offering them a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the Disney Parks. Cozy and comfortable, there are hundreds of Wilderness Cabins for rent offering housekeeping service, a fully equipped kitchen, and about 500 square feet of air-conditioned space for those of us (raising my hand!) who aren’t exactly eager to “rough it” overnight in a tent. There are so many reasons to stay in one of these woodland hideaways that offer all the comforts of home as well as those magical Disney touches that we’ve all come to know and love. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons why we love the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness!
(Note: While this article aims at the cabins specifically, many of these points can just as easily be applied to tent and RV camping at the campsites in Fort Wilderness).
As one of the resorts sitting just off the shores of Bay Lake, you are a very short boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. As close as this proximity is, it serves as a shock to many guests just how removed they feel from the Parks. Each cabin is shaded by a canopy of impossibly tall pine trees and is tucked away inside thick, untouched forests. Because of this, they tend to give off that “middle of nowhere” vibe, which may prove enticing to guests coming off of a long day at a crowded theme park.
9. Cabin Comforts
When you are on vacation, it’s nice not having to be reminded just how many people are vacationing at that resort with you. Because you are staying inside a stand-alone cabin, you are not sharing a wall with other resort guests like you would inside most other Disney hotels. This ensures that noise levels of other guests (and your own guests!) just won’t be an issue while staying here. No reverberating sounds of people running up and down the halls (or above you for that matter), no doors opening and slamming shut at all hours throughout the night. You’ve got peace and quiet, practically guaranteed.
These log cabin-like dwellings feature a small living room area, a full kitchen, a full bathroom, and a bedroom. Each cabin can accommodate up to 6-guests, which makes it nice for large families. A private outdoor deck sits just outside the cabin where you’ll find a picnic table. Charcoal grills are positioned just below the deck at each cabin as well.
This is THE place to go to find some truly unique recreational activities. For a fee, guests can enjoy wagon rides, pony rides, carriage rides, guided fishing trips, archery, boats, bikes and even Segway tours! Exploring Bay Lake has never been more fun—you can rent a motorized boat, canoe or kayak here and navigate these wondrous waters. You can fish for free at the canals or pay for a fishing excursion with a professional guide. The Tri Circle D Ranch where they house the horses available for rides also provide you the opportunity to observe a blacksmith affix horseshoes to Cinderella’s Ponies and the horses used on Main Street inside Magic Kingdom. The pools here—open 24 hours—are a refreshing way to spend a warm afternoon, offering fun, engaging poolside activities for the whole family to participate in. If you want a more tranquil setting to soak up the sun, there is a quiet pool near the cabins and you also have the option of lounging on the white-sand beach by Bay Lake (though swimming in the lake is strictly prohibited). You won’t ever run out of things to do here, even if you aren’t heading into the Disney Parks!
Like all the other Disney Resorts, Fort Wilderness offers complimentary transportation. Buses circulate the entire expanse of the resort property, shuttling guests to other places within the resort as well as to other locations around Walt Disney World. Guests also have the opportunity of taking a boat ferry which departs from the marina to the Magic Kingdom, as well as to the Contemporary Resort and Wilderness Lodge. Unique to this resort, electric golf carts and bikes may be rented out during your stay as an alternative means of getting around within the campground.
6. The Trails
This is, by far, one of my favorite places to take a jog or walk on Disney property. These trails are scenic, shaded and bursting forth with glorious nature. The sun slices through the pine and cypress groves, illuminating lush meadows, natural wildlife and an overall wonderfully themed resort. This trail connects all facets of Fort Wilderness, from the campsites to the RV grounds to the cabins. It even snakes its way to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, another great resort with many things to discover. Bikes may be rented for a day of exploration or you may simply stretch your legs and adventure forth with your sneakered feet.
5. Grocery Delivery
A fully equipped kitchen is not really going to do you much good if it isn’t well stocked. Lucky for guests, a full menu of grocery goods is available for those staying at the cabins and can be ordered with a simple phone call to valet. You are, of course, at Disney and paying for the convenience of having the groceries delivered to your door, so do expect this to be priced at a higher price point than if you were to be doing the shopping yourself at a local grocery store. Additional items are also available at the Meadows Trading Post.
Nobody does the holidays like Disney and no Disney resort celebrates the holidays quite like Fort Wilderness. If you’ve visited around the time of a major holiday—Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas, etc.—then you’ve seen just how involved and excited people get here, decorating their RV, campsite or cabin to the nines in festive décor. There’s an involvement level that far surpasses all the other Disney resorts, unifying vacationers as a community of people who love to not only show their Disney side, but also reveal their appreciation for the holiday they are celebrating. There are decorating competitions and even parades that resort guests AND Disney do together. Guests march, drive decorated carts, and ride decorated bikes in these parades. Also, during the winter holiday season, they offer special horse drawn “sleigh rides.”
The woodlands surrounding this resort are absolutely teeming with wildlife. I’ve seen Bambi and his friends (i.e. deer) pretty much every visit, not to mention numerous species of birds and an occasional possum or two. Rabbits, turtles, raccoons and even skunks roam these parts, so keep your eyes peeled and your cameras charged!
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There is a reason why the dining locations here draw people out from all over the Disney property. All you can eat, home-style comfort food is available at Trail’s End Restaurant. There are also two dinner show venues on site, providing guests with a magical, memorable feast and entertainment. The Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue is the most popular and longest running dinner show offered at Walt Disney World. Guests here will dine on all-you-can-eat southern fare at Pioneer Hall, all the while enjoying zany comedy routines, great musical performances and country dancing numbers. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is offered seasonally as it is held outdoors and is a great way for families to engage with Disney characters outside of the Parks while they dine on finger-lickin’ BBQ favorites and enjoy live country-western musical performances. Reservations for all dining locations on site are HIGHLY recommended well in advance of your stay.
1. Campfire Roast, Sing Along and Movie
Held near the Meadow Trading Post every night at the Fort Wilderness Resort, there is a campfire sing-a-long featuring Chip and Dale, a marshmallow roast and an outdoor movie. The admission price? Free. Yes—a FREE character meet-and-greet activity! Well known Disney tunes and campfire songs are led by a Disney cast member, giving guests the opportunity to croon along while they roast their marshmallows at one of two campfire rings. You can bring your own marshmallows or simply purchase them there (as well as an entire s’more making kit) at the Chuck Wagon Snack Bar. During this time, Chip and Dale work their way through the audience, posing for pictures and signing autographs. This event lasts approximately 40 minutes and is followed by an outdoor Disney movie. Benches are provided for guests or there is an ample seating area for guests to bring their own blankets and chairs. This event is a great way for families to get an authentic Disney experience in a low-key, relaxed setting!
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