Resort Spotlight

Rustic, Neighborly, and Rowdy – Disney’s Fort Wilderness

Have you ever returned from a vacation eager to book another?

That’s what happened to the team after spending an October weekend at the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. For anyone who loves Halloween, spending some time with a resort filled with like-minded “spirits” can’t be beat.

As you transition the decorations from jack-o-lanterns to twinkle lights, pause for just a moment to book an October 2024 vacation at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. It’s one of the most unique Disney vacations out there. We’d say it’s the perfect mix of rustic, neighborly, and rowdy.

The team has written about Fort Wilderness before, and truthfully, our last stay (during the month of August) was not a favorite. But we heard from lots of Disney fans who won’t stay anywhere else, so we knew we had to give it another try. 

This time we picked the resort’s most popular season (the holidays) to make sure we were experiencing Fort Wilderness at its best. It was a HUGE lesson! Time of Year means a lot when choosing a Disney resort.

So, what went right with our latest Fort Wilderness stay?

First off, we rented a golf cart, which is both functional and fun. Fort Wilderness is BIG – 750 acres to be exact – and while you can get to your campsite or cabin by car are bus, there are lots of places that only walkers and golf carts can go. So having a cart is convenient and time-saving. However, carts also have a fun side during the holidays. Decking out your golf cart out with lights, holiday décor, and characters is “a thing” at Fort Wilderness. A wonderful, magical, comical thing!

At night, glowing spiders and flashing lights make the resort’s rental golf carts more festive. Some guests have custom vehicles they bring from home already decorated with things like Minnie Mouse dots or Toy Story characters.

Second, Fort Wilderness is home base for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, one of the longest running dinner shows in America. For non- Fort Wilderness guests, it takes some planning to get to the Revue, but for those staying at Fort Wilderness, it’s just a walk (or golf cart ride) away.

The Hoop-Dee-Doo performances have been going on since 1974.
The revue warms the heart but its restaurant stuffs your belly with all the fried chicken, ribs, cornbread, strawberry shortcake, and drinks (including wine, beer, and sangria) you can eat.

Third, you’ll encounter a different type of traveler at Fort Wilderness. They are not better than other types of Disney guests, they are just a lot more self-sufficient and neighborly. It feels like summer camp. Which is a really different vibe and kind of nice. Striking up conversations with the family staying next to you and giving a friendly wave to passing cart drivers happens throughout the day at Fort Wilderness. In October, most campsites are decorated for Halloween and many of those sites encourage visitors. For example, several Disney guests put our bowls of candy or set up a spot to take photos. The closer it gets to Halloween the rowdier it gets as the bar crawls, parades, and other opportunities ramp up to allow guests to unleash their Halloween creativity.

This campsite may have featured every Disney Halloween inflatable ever manufactured.
Princesses and ducks! What could be more Disney?
The owner of this RV brought in dozens and dozens of mums to decorate.
This site also had hay-bail seating inviting anyone to use the spot for photos.

We could go on and on. We loved the quiet pool located by the cabins, horseback riding, relaxing next to the lake, the new Crockett’s Tavern (great food), and the resort’s delightful gift shop.

The trail horses used by guests reside in the stables near the resort entrance,
The Tri-Circle D Ranch barn is new. It is home to the park’s working horses.
Two of the working horses prepare to take guests on a hay ride.
The beach along Bay Lake is the perfect spot to enjoy the sunshine and a good book.
The Settlement Trading Post has Disney souvenirs, unique items themed to Fort Wilderness, groceries, basic necessities, and information about what’s going on at the resort.

So, is there a downside to a Fort Wilderness stay? For those without an RV, you can only stay at the resort if you rent a cabin and yes, those cabins are well past their prime. But not for long. Disney will start the process of replacing the cabins in 2024. 

Soon these traditional cabins will be updated to more modern Disney Vacation Club structures. But non-DVC members will still be able to rent them.
The cabins combined living room and dining area. The couch is also a pull out bed.
The small kitchen lacks a stove, but it has the basics for cooking pancakes. Most families use the cabin’s outdoor grill for making dinner.

These best part about the team’s Fort Wilderness stay is how it showed us that giving something a second chance is always worth the effort. This time we did our homework and took the advice of those who love the resort. Always a great idea.

So, yes, we’ll be back in Fort Wilderness next October. Next time, we’ll have more lights for our golf cart and cabin, treats to share, and hopefully one of those hard-to-get reservations to go fishing on Bay Lake. We hope to spend more time with the horses and walking or running along the paved trails. Most important we’ll keep asking questions and seeking out advice from other Disney fans.

Fort Wilderness is close to the Magic Kingdom so if attending one of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties is on your list, you’ll love the convenience of the resort’s direct boat transportation to and from the park.

If you have a tip about the Fort Wilderness Campground and Resort, please let us know. The neighborly atmosphere we experienced with the other Fort Wilderness guests really upped our vacation experience and made us realize that when Disney fans share, everyone has more fun!

Click Here to read our last Resort Spotlight on Fort Wilderness.

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