I am a believer in being a tourist in your own town (and state) —so few people take advantage of what's in their own back yards.
WDW Accommodations: Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, Orlando has hundreds of resorts to choose from, making the selection process somewhat challenging. When weighing the options, you should make a decision as to whether or not you want to stay on Disney property or not. There are pros and cons to staying on and off Disney World property.
If you stay on property, you can take advantage of Disney transportation which is free and you can also take advantage of extra magic hours, when you can get into a Disney park one hour earlier or stay one hour later than other visitors. If you stay off property, you’ll have to pay a daily parking fee (which is currently about $15), and you’ll have to deal with the busy parking lots and you may not have other amenities that the Disney resorts offer. Considering how much time you think you’ll be spending in your room may help make the decision easier. The biggest difference between staying on or off property is the cost – off property can be significantly less expensive.
Should you stay on Disney property or off?
That being said, if you can afford to splurge a little and stay on property, I highly recommend it. For me and my family, the extra expense was well worth it on our recent trip to Disney World. We chose a moderate resort, the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and we chose to stay in a cabin there. If you like to rough-it you can spend a lot less in the camping area and pitch a tent or hook up you RV.
Fort Wilderness Resort is set in over 750 acres or cypress and pine, canal-crossed land. It is quite a surprise to find such an expanse of wooded area in the middle of all the theme parks!
There are hundreds of rustic woodland cabins for rent, all set in many different “communities” around the resort area. The cabin rental has housekeeping services just as a hotel room would. Each cabin has a full kitchen, a living room, a full bathroom and a bedroom. It sleeps six comfortably with a bunk bed and a double bed in the roomy bedroom and a Murphy bed in the living room, in addition to the couch. Right outside the front door is a large patio with a nice picnic table and a grill. A big plus is that each cabin has its own driveway, so you can park your car right in front of your cabin. And there’s enough room to park your golf cart alongside your car as well, should you choose to rent a cart during your stay.
TIP: If you plan to rent a golf cart and you’ll be bringing along strollers, bring a bungee cord or string to secure them to the roof of the cart – or if you forget, you can buy one at the Trading Post. We didn’t think of it and realized on the last evening there that we could have bought one – a little too late, but we managed fine just holding them on the cart with us.
Golf Cart Rental
A cart rental is not necessary as there are bus stops throughout the resort and beautiful walking trails to get everywhere you need to go. That said, renting a golf cart for our 4 day stay was the best thing we could have done. Although very beautiful, the area is large and if it’s hot out, the long walk from your cabin to the recreation area can be a long, hot one depending on your cabin location – and the cart is just plain fun to drive around and explore! My husband and I constantly fought over who got to drive the cart!
TIP: When you press the “front desk” button from your cabin phone, it actually goes to a call center, not the front desk – found this out after going into the office to complain that someone had given me bad information about the bus schedule and almost made us late to a breakfast reservation at the Magic Kingdom. If you call the front desk, make sure you ask for someone at the actual front desk.
There is a main bus depot near the entrance to the resort where you can hop on a Disney bus to the different Disney parks, or you can take a boat. At the opposite end of the resort, there’s a boat dock with two different boat lines. One will take you on a nice relaxing 7-8 minute ride to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. The other takes you to a couple of the other resorts that are located on the water as well – the Contemporary and the Wilderness Lodge.
What is there to do at Fort Wilderness?
Well, I highly recommend scheduling time to stay at the resort and enjoy the plethora of free (and some not so free, but reasonable) activities there are to choose from. There are two pools; the larger main one has a great play zone for the little ones. There are tennis courts, basketball courts, and campfire sing-a-longs. For a small fee, you can go on a horse-drawn carriage ride, wagon rides, pony rides and even guided fishing trips. There are also Segway tours, archery, boat rentals, bike rentals and more. There are also two Trading Posts where you can purchase anything from Disney memorabilia to groceries and camping gear.
This was our first trip to Walt Disney World with our daughters, 3 and 5 (my oldest turned 5 while there!) and we were thrilled that we chose to stay at the Fort Wilderness cabins; it was a wonderful experience that we’ll always remember and look forward to doing again.
© 2010 Lily Rose
Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on September 09, 2016:
Crystal - so glad to hear it, and thanks for taking the time to comment here! Yeah, when we stayed at the Cabins at Fort Wilderness we left saying we could just spend a few days at the campsite and not even go to the Disney Parks - we loved it that much! Can't wait to go back to the cabins.
Crystal on September 08, 2016:
We just got back from Disney and we stayed in a cabin. we LOVED it! We will definitely be coming back here! Only downfall we had was we didn't schedule enough time at the campground, next time! I need to know what kind of mattress they have! I slept great! I need one! I cannot wait to start planning our next trip here!
Mackenzie Sage Wright on August 10, 2013:
Fort Wilderness is amazingly beautiful-- I used to love really rustic tent camping at state parks & the wild, but I'm getting old now, and a little spoiled by Ft. Wilderness. We actually save a bundle by tent camping at Ft. Wilderness.
We just pitch the pop-up tents (2 of them), set ourselves up inside nice & cozy with air mattresses and we are so good for the go. Just tarp the tents when you go out for the day and pack in rubbermaid boxes and drawers instead of bags (which double as 'night stands' when you set them up in the tent).
About $50 per night-- to stay at a Disney moderate resort and get all the on property perks. That's cheaper than even the seedy Orlando motels around Disney. You can't beat that!
Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on June 13, 2011:
Thanks! I can't wait to return!
JFCIII70 from Denton on April 21, 2011:
Great review and pics. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and absolutely loved it.
TheDisneyVacation on August 28, 2010:
Fort Wilderness is a wonderful wild fun for the whole family,we love the campfire.