My family recently discovered Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and it’s now our favorite place to stay when visiting Walt Disney World. In fact, I’m a little hesitant to write this because I’d like to keep it a secret! What makes Fort Wilderness so amazing is that it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Disney parks, while being just a short boat ride from Magic Kingdom and an easy bus ride away from the others. A resort day is a must when you’re staying at Fort Wilderness, so that you can really enjoy everything that it has to offer. Here are our tips for planning your resort day. Warning – you will probably need more than one day to fit them all in!
1. First things first – Rent a golf cart! (Or bring your bikes!)
Fort Wilderness is a pretty big resort, and while there is an internal bus system to help you get around, many people swear by renting golf carts! Golf carts allow you to easily make your way from your campsite or cabin to the pool, restaurants, beach, etc. on your own time, without having to wait for a bus. An alternative is to bring bikes with you for riding around. Either way, cruising around the campground on beautiful day is a fun activity all on it’s own, and it will help you maximize all the other fun things you do on your resort day.
2. Chow down with breakfast at Trail’s End
Breakfast buffets abound at Disney World, but Trail’s End stands out for it’s laid back atmosphere, great food, and low price tag (compared to other buffets at least!). A nice relaxing breakfast at Trail’s End is a great way to start your resort day.
3. Hit up the beach (or playground)
After breakfast, head over to the beach for a bit. One of the biggest beaches at Disney World, you can choose from playing a rowdy game of beach volleyball, soaking up some rays on a lounge chair, or even hanging out in the shade (a rare thing to find on a beach!). You can watch as fellow guests hurray down the dock to catch the boat to Magic Kingdom as you breathe a sigh of relief knowing you have a whole day away from the chaos of the theme parks! If you, or the kids, aren’t up for getting a little sandy, spend some time at the playground instead. With two sizeable play structures and some awesome swings, it’s a great place for little ones to expend some energy. And there are nice picnic tables in the shade where the grown ups can relax while watching.
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4. Pool time
No camping trip (in Florida at least) is complete without swimming, and Fort Wilderness has you covered. The Meadow Swimmin’ Pool is the resort’s main pool and, while it’s not as fancy as some of the other Disney resort pools, it has everything you need for a great pool day. There’s a large main pool with a 67-ft water slide, a hot tub, a smaller kids pool and a kids splash area. The Meadow Snack Bar offers meals, snacks, and desserts, so you don’t have to leave for lunch. And with a playground, volleyball courts, and tennis courts nearby, it’s not hard to pass a whole day hanging out in this area. If you’re looking for a quieter pool scene, check out the Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool located in the cabins areas.
5. Rent a canoe or go fishing
If you want to engage with the water in a more nature focused way, make your way to the Bike Barn where you can rent canoes and kayaks by the hour. You can also pick up some fishing gear and bait, along with a map that will help you find the best fishing spots on the property.
6. Ride a horse (or a pony)
One of the coolest things about Fort Wilderness is that it is home to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, which houses the horses that work in the Disney parks. You can just walk by for a quick visit, but for the real experience, sign up for a horse back riding excursion around the property. If you’ve got little ones with you, pony rides are definitely in order! Make sure to check age and height requirements for each before getting set on your plans. If riding on the horse isn’t your thing, you might enjoy an evening carriage ride instead.
7. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review
Speaking of evening, there are a lot of night-time activity options at Fort Wilderness, and there’s no way you could fit them all in one night. So you might want more than one resort day, or to end another park day early so you can enjoy the night time festivities. One must-do experience at Fort Wilderness is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review. This live dinner show brings in visitors from all over, so make sure to make your reservations in advance (as early as 180 days before your stay). You’ll enjoy two hours of foot-stompin’, belly laughin’ entertainment while you chow down on all-you-care to enjoy bbq and fried chicken. Fun for kids, old folks, and everyone in between, it’s a great way to end your resort day!
8. Campfire and Sing Along with Chip and Dale
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key than the Hoop-de-doo Review (and free!!), check out the campfire and sing along with Chip and Dale. Several Disney Resorts have campfires these days, and none of them hold a candle to the Fort Wilderness campfire! It’s a big party each night, with a live band leading you in classic sing-along-songs, s’mores galore, and the opportunity to dance with Chip and Dale. Whether you do this on your resort day or another day, a visit to Fort Wilderness isn’t complete without it! And if your not ready to fall into bed when it’s over, stick around for the movie under the stars!
9. Fireworks and Electrical Water Pageant from the beach
Regardless of what you’ve done earlier in the evening, the perfect way to end a resort day at Fort Wilderness is back on the beach. Here you’ll get a great view of the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom, complete with the music piped in. Stick around a little later and you can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant, where giant glowing sea creatures dance across the water accompanied by classic Disney tunes. It’s the perfect dose of Disney magic to end your day!