Read on for my Disney’s Fort Wilderness review:
Staying at Fort Wilderness was never my highest priority, but I thought it might be a cool experience and I like trying new things, so I decided to give it a go recently and check it off the bucket list. Well, I ended up loving Fort Wilderness more than I thought I would. Some of the best moments of my vacation were enjoying this resort area – I went for a run in the morning and got to see lots of the grounds. Even though I thought it might be a one and done, after staying there and working on this Fort Wilderness review I think I’ll probably be back someday.
That being said, it’s definitely a different sort of experience. Don’t expect the same type of stay that you’d get in a a hotel. Everything is really nice and Disney quality, of course, but it feels more laid back. I actually felt Fort Wilderness was less touristy – or at least not the typical sort of Disney tourist I’m used to. If you want to be on Disney property and be able to visit the theme parks but still feel like you’re a bit away from it all this is a great option.
Read on for my full Fort Wilderness review!
Location and Transportation
As one of the original Disney World resort areas, Fort Wilderness is closest to Magic Kingdom. It’s not a monorail resort or within walking distance, but it is just a boat ride away. You can take a boat to/from the Magic Kingdom and a bus everywhere else.
I actually found it less stressful trying to get to the parks here than anywhere else. There were never many people waiting for the buses, they came pretty quickly, and we always got right on. My guess is that this may be due to so many people staying here just driving themselves, or spending more time on the campgrounds and not at the parks.
Size of Fort Wilderness
However, Fort Wilderness is really big, and you probably want to have a good idea of the layout before you go. There are a few different places where you’ll find the main common areas. The north end is called the “Settlement,” and that’s where you’ll find the boat to Magic Kingdom. “The Meadow” is the middle area of the campground, and “the Outpost” is at the southern end. The Outpost is where you’ll find bus transportation to the other parks and Disney Springs.
It’s a pretty far distance from one end to the other, so Disney runs some internal buses to get you around. There are a few different loops that the buses take, so depending on where you’re staying and where you’re headed you might be looking for the purple, yellow, or orange loop. There’s also an option to rent a golf cart, which I highly recommend. It made getting around everywhere so easy and you don’t have to walk a ton or wait for an internal bus. I think we paid about $50/day for the golf cart rental. A lot of people who stay at Fort Wilderness also have their own vehicles and drive to the parks.
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You can probably tell by the name, but Fort Wilderness (or “Fort Willy,” as one cast member called it) has that “American Frontier” sort of themeing to it. Think of Frontierland in Magic Kingdom but as a resort. Despite the word Wilderness in the name though, it’s really not roughing it too badly when it’s Disney. There are plenty of amenities, pools, dining options, etc. Everything just has that rustic feel to it, with lots of wood buildings, trails, trees, and even some swampy areas.
Another neat thing about Fort Wilderness – I got the impression that the people who stay there are somewhat regulars, and they really kind of set up their areas and make it like home away from home. A lot of Fort Wilderness is campgrounds so you can bring your RV or even a tent. But guests who stayed in the cabins also brought pop up tents to put out on the deck for the sun (or rain) had coolers of drinks, and that sort of thing. We happened to visit on 4th of July weekend and it was amazing how many people went all out with decorations at their campsites, on the cabins, and on their golf carts. I know Halloween and Christmas are great times to be there as well.
There are a few different food options at Fort Wilderness, though most of them weren’t open while we were there since they hadn’t fully reopened by that point (which just means I’ll have to go back sometime soon to check them out!). Once everything is reopened you should have:
- Hoop-de-Doo Musical Revue
- Trail’s End Restaurant
- The Chuck Wagon
- Crockett’s Tavern
- Meadow Snack Bar
- P&J’s Southern Takeout
We did attempt to visit Crockett’s Tavern one evening but they were only doing the to-go window for drinks and weren’t doing food so we decided to skip it. I’ve been wanting to experience Hoop-de-Doo for awhile so that will be a priority once it reopens. And I’ve heard good things about Trail’s End! However this may have been the first trip where i stayed at a resort and didn’t experience any of the food options. The only thing available at that time was basic take-out options and there are so many good places to eat at Disney it didn’t seem worth it.
The Cabins at Fort Wilderness
Even though they are technically cabins, don’t think you’ll be roughing it here. They’re fully furnished with all of the standard amenities of a hotel room. Yes, you have running water, electricity, a TV, and even a full kitchen. The cabins sleep up to 6 people and are a decent size. You’ve got a living area that’s next to the kitchen and a pull out sofa. There’s one bathroom and then a bedroom that has a queen size bed plus a set of bunk beds. A nice touch is an outdoor deck area. The cabins are fairly spread out so even though you can see the others near you, it still feels like you have a lot of your own space.
Like I said earlier it’s definitely a different vibe – the first morning we stayed there I woke up to an odd noise. I went outside to finally figure out it was frogs croaking! But I’ll take that over screaming kids (or adults) through a thin hotel room wall any day 😉
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Though I didn’t try out the pool myself this time, I did go for a run and take a look at them. The main pool is the Meadow Swimmin’ pool, which is large and has a very cool looking water slide. There’s also a splash area for kids and a hot tub. The other pool is the Wilderness pool, which is a nice pool without any of the extra stuff. It also opens earlier in the morning, and I saw someone doing some laps around 8am and had the pool to themselves, which would be kinda cool!
Things to do at Fort Wilderness
Fort Wilderness has a number of unique activities to do that you won’t find at other resorts due to its size and the layout. For example, they have the Tri-Circle-D Ranch there so you can go horseback riding, take a pony ride, or do a carriage ride. There are lots of water sports and activities here such as fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and boat rentals. You’ll find volleyball, basketball, jogging trails, and playgrounds. There’s also some of the more common things at other resorts like the arcade and movie under the stars.
One popular event at Fort Wilderness is Chip and Dale’s Campfire Sing-along. Though Chip and Dale are not currently there hopefully they will be back soon, but until they return you can still check it out and make s’mores. Another unique experience is a segway tour, where you can ride a segway around the grounds with a cast member who will give you some fun facts and behind the scenes info.
Would I stay again?
Before I stayed here I didn’t think I’d want to return, but I would really like to stay in a cabin again. There was something nice about staying a little bit away from it all and being around more of nature. It would have to be the right kind of trip though – I don’t think staying here would be right for every Disney vacation. The full kitchen is really nice if I wanted to do a trip with less time out and about, and I like having the deck area and being outside. I really enjoyed being there at the time, and writing this Fort Wilderness review made me realize all of the things there I didn’t get the chance to experience yet! Although I know it gets expensive that time of year I’d love to visit for Halloween or Christmas and just enjoy the resort area and all of the incredible decorations that guests put up!
What do you think of my Fort Wilderness review? Have you stayed there – what do you think of it?