Woodbury: Trip to Fort Wilderness Park
Editor's Note: The following is a column by Chuck Woodbury, editor of RVTravel.com, describing his experience at Disney World's Fort Wilderness RV Park.
Have you ever stayed at an RV park that was one mile from end to end? That would be one king-sized park, right? Well, there is such a place, and I bet it's the largest RV park in the world. It's called Fort Wilderness and is located in Orlando, Florida — part of Disney World.
I explored it earlier this week and I am here to report that it is a monster RV park (I mean that in a good way) — 740 acres — the size of 560 football fields. Shuttle buses run through the park all day and night to transport campers from place to place. The only car parking, with a few exceptions, is at individual campsites. A lot of campers bring electric golf carts to get around. Others rent them ($49 a day).
The park has 799 campsites and 408 two-bedroom log cabins. It's situated in a forest of pine and small, plant-like palm trees (I believe they are called Palmettos). Now that's a weird combination to anyone from the West, where pine trees and palm trees don't usually go together.
The cabins, stores, restaurants and other structures all look like log cabins. Fort Wilderness reminded me of the federal campgrounds where I camped as a kid — the ones built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) back in the 1930s. Disney is good at creating fake things that look like the real thing — Main Street Disneyland or Disney World are examples — each with a traditional main street from years ago, where old folks will be reminded of their past and where kids can see what shopping was like before malls and Wal-Mart. Ditto Fort Wilderness: It really looks like the real thing from yesteryear. It's a beautiful setting and, as all things Disney, it's clean as a whistle.
Fort Wilderness is a family place more than for snowbirds and retirees who want to park, socialize and play Pickleball. At Fort Wilderness, there are four miles of hiking trails and four miles of canals (rent a kayak or canoe). There are bicycle and boat rentals (on a Disney-made lake) and an archery range. You can fish for bass (catch and release). Kids can ride ponies; adults can ride horses. All the horses that "work" at Disney World spend their evenings at the corral at Fort Wilderness: walk by their corrals and meet them.
There are two rustic gift shops (the Chip and Dale dolls are cute as can be), and a huge restaurant with bar. At an Old West-style theater, enjoy a vaudeville-like dinner show, the "Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review."
Campsites are designated (and priced) as Premium, Preferred, Full-Hookup and Partial/Tent Pop-up. Premium sites have extra spacious concrete pads and 50-amp service; the others have 30 and 20 amp. All but the tent/pop-up sites have sewer hookups. There is no Wi-Fi at campsites, but modems that hook up to cable TV connections are available for free (first come, first served) to enable Ethernet connections.
Fort Wilderness is not cheap by RV park standards — I poked around its website and found rates for a family of four from about $50 to $125 a night, the least expensive for tent and pop-up campers.
For RVers who plan to visit Disney World, Epcot or other Disney attractions, a stay at Fort Wilderness would be a great experience, budget permitting. Kids will be insanely happy!