Lou’s email inbox is often full to overflowing with questions from listeners. As such, he has enlisted the WDW Radio Blog writers to assist him in answering some of your questions.
“Hey Lou! My family and I will be staying at Fort Wilderness, so I have two questions what are your favorite things to do there and what is your favorite restaurant, so I can bring my stretchy pants -your fan Adrian.”
Hello, Adrian! As a veteran of the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, I’ve offered to share my viewpoint of this unique, backcountry retreat where you will always have a rip-roaring good time.
Before I go into my Fort Wilderness favorites, let me provide an overview of the property for readers who may not be familiar with the resort. With 750 acres of lush pine and cypress trees, Fort Wilderness has many of the traditional activities you might find at other RV parks/resorts/campgrounds—but with that familiar Disney touch. From its attention to the rustic detail to the entertaining dinner shows, at the Fort you will enjoy a Disney-quality experience while you peacefully camp in a rustic setting.
Rather than share the conventional Fort Wilderness Resort activities you will find listed on the Walt Disney World website, I’m going to share some lesser-known favorites. You may already be familiar with many of these—but others may be a bit of a surprise.
The resort hosts two dinner shows—the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. Both are family-friendly, have good eats, and have the liveliest entertainment east of the Mississippi. If you would like to end your day at the resort with a little relaxation by the campfire, try Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long, where you can roast marshmallows and sing-a-long with Cast Members. (The Hoop-Dee-Doo Music Review is overwhelmingly popular. Plan ahead and make reservations!)
If you are at Fort Wilderness during the holidays, there are a few additional resort favorites for you to enjoy. Fort Wilderness guests are renowned for embellishing their campsites with lights and inflatable Disney characters throughout the year, but the campsite displays come to a brilliant and joyful crescendo during the holidays. If you miss the Osborne Family Festival of Dancing Lights, a walk around Fort Wilderness should be on your holiday “to do” list.
Throughout the year you also can enjoy a wagon ride around the Fort Wilderness Resort, which festively transforms to a Florida sleigh ride during the holidays. There’s nothing like the clip clop of the horses and the jingle of the sleigh bells to put you in the holiday spirit!
One highlight that I suspect can only be seen at the Fort Wilderness is the series of amazingly creative Golf Cart Parades. Scheduled during major holidays, such as Christmas, Halloween, and Fourth of July, the parades feature guest-owned and rental golf carts (sometimes up to 150) that are festooned into Disney icons, such as the Millennium Falcon or the house from Up. You can check out some of the parades on YouTube. (If you’re not a guest of Fort Wilderness, you can get to the resort by bus or boat. Car parking at the resort is limited.)
One of the perks of being a Fort Wilderness guest is the ease of enjoying the nightly fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom. Bring a beach chair or a blanket to the Fort Wilderness beaches or the marina and watch the show while listening to the accompanying piped-in music. After the fireworks, stick around for the nightly Electrical Water Pageant Parade.
Finally, unlike other resorts at Walt Disney World, Fort Wilderness is a very close-knit community of guests and Cast Members. Some guests stay up to a month during the holiday season, while other guests regularly visit for the weekend to meet with friends they have made over the years during their visits to Fort Wilderness. You’ll see family volleyball games, groups of children swimming, fishing, and riding bicycles together. On a few occasions I have seen the Reedy Creek Fire Department at the Fort playing a game of touch football. There are evening get-togethers at campsites and lots of conversation. And there is always a “Welcome home!” or “Hi, neighbor!” from a Cast Member. Friendliness is everywhere at the Fort!
Many Fort Wilderness guests enjoy the resort so much, they rarely, if ever, step foot into the theme parks. And although the surroundings might cause you to forget you’re on Walt Disney World property—don’t worry. The iconic and comforting whistle of the boats on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon will remind you.
Have fun at Fort Wilderness and Happy Trails!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Kathy and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.
As a librarian, walker of many miles, and Warrior Princess, Kathy dreams of having coffee with Belle at the castle and co-administering a fantasy book discussion group. Her love of Walt Disney goes back to the Talent Roundup days of the original Mickey Mouse Club. Aside from the vintage memories, she visits Walt Disney World as often as possible to participate in race weekends, annual festivals, and always to take photographs. Kathy is honored to be a member of the WDW Radio Blog team and looks forward to sharing everything Disney with you!