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This resort is the HIDDEN GEM of Disney World

This resort is the HIDDEN GEM of Disney World

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Each resort at Disney World has its own set of qualities that make it special. We truly believe one outshines the rest, and it’s not one you may have considered before!

Disney Resorts

Credit: Monica

Disney Resorts are lumped into three categories: deluxe, moderate, and value. All three offer their own price points, theming, and amenities. Depending on what you hope to accomplish during your trip and what your needs are, it is worth doing the research to decide which resort is best for you.

There are over 30 resorts to choose from, and many people make it their bucket list to stay in each one. I (Monica) have that same bucket list, and so far I have stayed at all the Disney Resorts with the exception of Art of Animation, Yacht Club, and Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo. I recently had the opportunity to stay at Fort Wilderness, and I was really excited to mark it off my list!

Fort Wilderness

Credit: Monica

Feel close to the magic by camping near the magic! Guests will take in the American frontier with all different types of wildlife including deer, rabbits, ducks and armadillos that will roam the resort. Can you believe that this resort takes up 750 acres? You can relax in the great outdoors with only being minutes from Magic Kingdom!

The resort opened on November 19, 1971. People travel from all over just to camp at the Fort Wilderness Campground without ever stepping foot in a park! The campground has a following all of its own. People love to participate in the holidays, and they go all out when decorating their campsite and golf cart.

Campers are a very niche community, and many people who visit Disney World may never consider camping. This is exactly why I gave it the lowest score on my ranking of moderate resorts. However, for those who do love to camp and experience the great outdoors, Fort Wilderness is the nicest place you will find! Let’s take a look at why it is such a hidden gem of Disney World.

Unique Accommodations: Cabins

Credit: Monica

You won’t find studios or suites at Fort Wilderness. Instead, there are only two “room” types: the cabins and the campsites. There are over 400 cabins located in the 2200-2800 loops, and there are almost 800 campsites in the 100-2100 loops.

You can read Heather’s review of the cabins in this post. As far as my (Monica) family, we really enjoyed our stay in the cabins as well. As a family of 6, finding a space big enough for us while still considering our budget can be a bit difficult. The cabin offered plenty of space inside and outside. I only wish it had a washer and dryer!

Each cabin is equipped with a sink, dishwasher, full refrigerator, stove, microwave/convection oven (yes, I cooked a pizza in there and it turned out fine), and a charcoal grill. The full size bathroom had plenty of cabinet storage for all of our toiletries. I am one of those vacationers that loves to completely unpack and set up “home” for the week, and the cabin allowed us to do just that!

Credit: Monica

A very important last piece of information to note is that Disney is planning to turn the cabins into DVC accommodations. They will install over 350 completely new cabins to replace the existing cabins. This is projected to take place in 2024. At this time, it seems as if all cabins will be considered DVC cabins.

Many are upset about this change, and rightfully so. While the cabins are substantially more expensive than the campsites, they have a homey and rustic feeling that fit in well with the resort. With this change, Fort Wilderness will only become more expensive. I am happy I was able to experience these cabins before the switch over.

Unique Accommodations: Campsites

Photo Credit: Heather

As far as the campsites, I have not stayed in one at Fort Wilderness but have stayed at plenty of KOAs on other family adventures. From what I saw, the campsites are comparable to really nice KOAs. If you aren’t familiar with KOA, it’s the world’s largest network of campgrounds. The company has a set of regulations that each KOA must follow and all Guests must adhere to.

According to the KOA website, a KOA resort has an array of onsite amenities like gyms, dining, and more for a “resort-style” camping experience. That is what I would compare the Disney campground too, but still nicer than anything a KOA would have. The comfort stations were always clean, the pool was always well maintained, and Cast Members were helpful and friendly.

Credit: Monica

There are several types of campsites you can book: premium, full hook-up, and tent/pop-up. Prices range from $100-$200/night depending on the season you are traveling and type of campsite you need. If you are an RV family, I imagine it is so nice to bring your home on wheels to Disney!

One thing I really, really, really love about Fort Wilderness is personal vehicles are parked right outside your cabin/campsite. This makes it incredibly easy to drive to Disney or rent a vehicle once here. Also, we utilized Minnie Vans a lot and we were always dropped off right at the front door.

Great Entertainment

Credit: KtP Writer

There are so many unique entertainment options at Fort Wilderness. The most popular option is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Pioneer Hall. The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue plays host to some of the best comfort food around. As the gang brings on the tunes, the servers bring on the food. Plus, it’s all-you-care-to-enjoy with fountain drinks. For those over 21, red and white sangria, draft beer, and wine are also included!

This dinner theatre is like none other and truly lives up to the Walt Disney Company level of entertainment. You must see this show! For a full review, read Donna’s post HERE.

Credit: Monica

There is also a free campfire sing-along with Chip ‘n’ Dale! On select evenings of the week, you and your family can roast marshmallows and sing some fun campfire songs before the movie takes place. Chip ‘n’ Dale and a fun host come out and play some old-fashioned family tunes.

It’s also the only campfire/movie area on property with dedicated benches! My family took this opportunity to hand out some “pixie dust” bags (with stamps, bubble wands, stickers, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets) while families were waiting for the show to start. I’ll share more about this great activity soon!

Credit: Monica

The Electrical Water Pageant is Disney World’s oldest nighttime show. A green sea monster leads the water procession while a variety of water animals follow to a medley of songs. You can see and hear this show from all around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake area – including the beaches of Fort Wilderness!

While the music and floats have changed a bit over time, its nostalgia is still the same. This is one attraction that has been around since the opening of Disney World, and many Guests remember all the times they have spent watching the show with loved ones. Read more about it HERE.

So many recreational activities

Credit: Monica

Recreational activities are unlimited at Fort Wilderness. On top of the entertainment options like the campfire sing-along and Hoop-Dee-Doo, you can ride ponies and horses, take a wagon or sleigh ride, fish, canoe, kayak, and ride bicycles. Don’t worry about the canoe, kayak, or bikes if you don’t have any! You can rent them at the campground.

The Tri-Circle-D Ranch is home to the horses and ponies that live at Disney World. Maggie had a great experience horseback riding, which you can read about in this post. Also, be sure to check out the Dragon Calliope. The horse-drawn musical instrument that Walt Disney purchased for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s is on display in the stables.

Credit: Monica

There is a Segway tour of the campgrounds called the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure. I’ll be writing up my full experience soon, but for now just know that this cool tour gets you on a Segway to take a very unique and behind-the-scenes tour of the campground.

I learned a lot about Fort Wilderness and even saw some cool spots like the railroad remains and the original loop of the campground! The Cast Members also shared a lot of information which gave me a deeper appreciation for this legacy resort.

Be sure to check around the resort, too, as there are a ton of smaller activities like gem mining and a giant checkers set by the swimming pool!

Credit: Monica

Another activity that sets Fort Wilderness apart is the archery experience. Guests 7 years old and older can participate in learning how to use a compound bow and then test their skills. In addition, a big feature pool with a slide and splash pad is in the middle of the resort, plus there are other quiet pools. Of course, the resort also offers activities other resorts offer as well: movies, jogging trails, a playground, arcade, and more.

As far as amenities go, Fort Wilderness is a home away from home for campers. There are several comfort stations which offer an air conditioned place to shower and do laundry. They were always clean and empty when I visited to do laundry.


Credit: Monica

During the holidays, you will find campers really go all out! During Halloween, many will have candy set up at their campsites for campers to come and take. Plus, there is even a golf cart parade where campers can decorate their golf carts and show them off.

Really, any time of year you will find decorations and people set up with goodies. I saw people set up ice cone machines and grill up hot dogs, and then them to other campers. It seems like the type of place where you could ask your camper neighbor for something, and they would be happy to give it to you.

Credit: Monica

It is a wonderful community to be part of, and it’s exactly why so many come back year after year. In addition to the unique recreation and accommodations, this community is also part what makes Fort Wilderness the hidden gem of Disney World.

Do you love Fort Wilderness? What is your favorite thing about it? If you have never stayed here, would you ever consider a trip? Let us know in the comments below and share this post with a friend who would love to learn more about Fort Wilderness.

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