Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Preferred
Did we get hooked on Disney camping? Absolutely.
Fort Wilderness RV Resort and Campground is located on Disney property in Buena Vista, FL. We camped on a premium meadows site in September of 2021. See that post for basic details on Fort Wilderness camping.
This trip was booked only a month out from our arrival with a cancellation we picked up. During those dates, we had the option of a preferred site for $160 a night. Prices for sites and tickets to the park have increased since our stay in 2021. We decided to do three park days during our stay this time.
The preferred site is smaller than the premium meadows site we had in 2021. The living space is on the back of the site, but this wasn’t an issue since ours backed up to the woods. We would not have liked a living space to back up to another site’s outdoor living space like the interior sites of the loop. According to the map, the only loops with preferred sites are 100, 200, and 300.
Last trip we received our site assignment day of through a text message. This trip we pulled up to the gate having checked-in online earlier in the day and still had not received our site assignment. We then had to pull forward to the main check-in where we were assigned 334. I quickly pulled up posts on Facebook with this site and knew we would like it based on the location and photos. They asked if we had dogs and there’s no hiding our pups in the back seat. An additional $5 pet fee was added per day to our bill. We did not have to pay this last trip since we did everything online and were unaware of an additional fee.
Site 334 is close to a playground, the dog park, and the marina. Loop 300 has its own comfort station, a basketball hoop, and the path to a fishing spot. We were located in the back of the loop which created more space between the sites since they were located in the curve of the loop. There was also quite a bit of vegetation that created privacy between the sites.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon after driving from General Coffee State Park in South Georgia. Our site was easy to back into because of the angle. We saw many people struggle to get into their sites, especially because of the monstrous size of their campers.
We rented a golf cart again, which for our family is a must. However, there are buses that will take you to different locations inside the campground. It seemed like people waiting for these buses waited a long time. Also, for our scavenger hunt game (more on this later) a golf cart is necessary. They can be rented through the campground for $67 a night. There are also outside companies that will rent and deliver golf carts to the campground.
Monday evening we used the bus system for the first time. We drove our golf cart to the front, by the stables and got on a bus to go to Disney Springs. It was a quick ride that only included people from the campground. The bus dropped us off in the front of Disney Springs. We ate dinner at the Boathouse (would recommend) and walked around the shops.
We paid for our genie passes at midnight and booked our first Magic Kingdom ride at 7 a.m. The first boat leaves the dock at 8 a.m. and is a quick ride over to the park. Tuesday morning we made the second boat over to Magic Kingdom. We came back to the campground for nap time and to take out the dogs.
Our dogs stayed in the camper (sleeping) while we were at the parks, out to eat, and playing the scavenger hunt game. We know they are safe in the camper because we use Marcell’s temperature monitoring system. It would send us an alert if our camper lost power. The risk of the dogs overheating is high in Florida if they do not have air conditioning. Even a Disney campground loses power, so I highly recommend a temperature monitoring system. Use code Imagine20 for $20 off the unit. More details here.
We were at Magic Kingdom for the fireworks, but this is a show you can watch from the pier in the campground. We could actually see the fireworks through the trees from our site. This year we did not keep our three-year-old up for the water pageant parade which can also be seen from the beach and heard throughout the campground.
Wednesday we drove to Hollywood Studios. If you stay on a Disney property you not only get early entry (which we used), but you get free parking. We wanted to drive to the park so that we wouldn’t have to wait for a bus to pick us up at nap time. Only negative to this is losing our really good parking spot when we leave in the afternoon.
Thursday was our rest day and our extended family went back home to Georgia. The big pool at the Meadows with the water slide is currently going through renovations (until mid April 2023) so we enjoyed an hour at the cabin pool. We were worried about the cabin pool being overcrowded because of this, but it was not. Thankfully the pool has life vests for children because we forgot our daughter’s at home.
We managed to pick up a cancellation at Hoop Dee Doo Review dinner show at the campground. This was not open when we visited in 2021 and we had heard great things. If you read my original post you noticed we did not like our food at Trails End, the campground restaurant. I was worried it was going to be the same food, but it was better. The show was fantastic. I would say that it’s worth the $69 dinner, drinks, and show to do at least once. Show times are 4pm, 6pm, and 8pm.
Thursday afternoon we signed up for the Mickey tie die activity at the Bike Barn. We were unsure if there was a sign up and when she showed up the next slot they had was 15 minutes later. So if you need to do it at a specific time, go early to put your name on a list. Plenty of people just walked up though. The tie dye costs 18$ a shirt. We are waiting about a week to open up our shirts so that the colors are more vibrant. Can’t wait to see how they turned out.
We attempted the pony ride this time at the Tri Circle Ranch. You cannot drive your golf cart to the stables, but we parked at Trails End Restaurant and walked over. At the stables you can see Cinderella’s carriage and all of the Disney horses It was $8 for one lap and our daughter was super excited until the minute it was her turn to get on the pony. We didn’t want her to freak out and scare the pony, so we took a refund instead.
Monday night we attended the campfire sing along with Chip and Dale. When we arrived many families had already set up in front of the stage or were cooking s’mores at the large campfire. We bought PJs quick service from the Settlement Trading Post for dinner and brought it with us to eat in the stands. Chip and Dale came out at the beginning of the show, but then a cast member walked them out. This was disappointing as we thought they may walk around to see the kids. We left after a couple minutes in, so maybe they did come back out—but I’m not sure why they would have been walked out at the beginning.
Any free time we had we were participating in the Facebook scavenger hunt. We played the game in 2021, but this time we had much more to hide for others. Since our last trip we had been keeping an eye out for any Disney stuff on major sale. Walgreens after Christmas was a gold mine for this. We brought about 30 items to hide in the scavenger hunt. Directions and details for this game (not organized by Disney) can be found in the Facebook group “Original Fort Wilderness Scavenger Hunts.” We even included a couple adult Disney puzzles that we had done once before and wanted to pass on to another family. Our daughter’s favorite find was a TY Mickey stuffed animal. Heather’s favorite find was a BB8 Mickey hat.
We didn’t get back from the parks in time to enjoy the food trucks this year. They came in clutch last year when arriving back at the campground from Magic Kingdom. Food trucks are at the marina on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The only other activity that we haven’t done yet and want to do, is the Fort Wilderness Wood sign. It costs 75$ and takes place in the middle of the day. This activity includes drinks.
We happened to know a couple families at the park this week. One was a family of multiple RVers who all got spots together. A set of grandparents, multiple family units with grand kids, and some friends. Another coworker was at Fort Wilderness in the rental camper for the Disney marathon that was happening at the end of the week. We would love for our friends and family to experience Fort Wilderness with us and renting a camper or cabin is the way to go if you don’t have your own.
Tips and Tricks at Fort Wilderness:
1. Buy the Genie passes. Worth it. Watch the YouTube videos for how to use it.
2. Don’t take up all of the washers in the comfort station. Just because there are five does not mean they are all for you. We actually had to go to 200 loop to do laundry because someone did this in our loop. Laundry is $3 a wash and $3 to dry. Two loads will fit in one dryer.
3. We actually managed to forget our daughter’s shoes when we put her directly in the truck from nap time. I ordered some online and rushed the shipping to the campground. This worked out great, but beware they campground has a $6 handling fee.
Heather was already trying to schedule our next Fort Wilderness trip as we drove 8 hours home on Saturday. None of us wanted to leave and we can’t wait to go back!