Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
A campground would seem to be at odds with the provide-every-luxury mentality of most Disney World accommodations, but Fort Wilderness, which opened in 1971, still represents one of Walt Disney’s aims – to foster an appreciation of nature and the outdoors.
Located on Bay Lake in the Magic Kingdom resort area, it has more than 750 shaded campsites and over 400 cabins to provide various levels of “roughing it.” While wildlife is fairly sparse in this area, amenities and even entertainment are plentiful. The center of Fort Wilderness is Pioneer Hall, home to several restaurants and the hugely popular dinner show, Hoop-De-Do Musical Revue. There is convenient boat transportation to Magic Kingdom and motorcoach conveyance to all theme parks.
ACCOMMODATIONS & COMMUNITY AREAS
The campsites at Fort Wilderness are small but reasonably secluded, with electric and water “hookups” at all locations. All the cabins offer house-like comfort in confined quarters.
There are 15 air-conditioned “comfort stations” all around the campground, with facilities such as laundries, showers, telephones, and even ice machines, open 24 hours a day. Two “trading posts” offer groceries and rent out recreational equipment.
There is plenty to keep visitors happily occupied at Fort Wilderness Resort.
The Tri-Circle D Ranch has two heated pools, guided horseback tours, and pony rides. Other recreational facilities include tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, bike and boat rentals, fishing, an exercise trail, nightly wagon rides, horseshoes and shuffleboard, carriage rides, a petting zoo, and video arcades. You can also opt for skiing, parasailing, and wakeboarding. Equipment is usually available for rental. Reservations are required for the guided tours on horseback or for fishing.
In addition, Fort Wilderness offers a Campfire program with singalongs and outdoor movies. Available to all Disney guests – and not just Fort Wilderness residents – the program features an hour of singalongs complete with toasted marshmallows and the American delicacy “smores” – melted marshmallow and chocolate on graham crackers. Hosted in part by the Disney chipmunks Chip ’n’ Dale, the singalong leads into the screening of a Disney animated feature.
An additional attraction is the nighttime Electrical Water Pageant, which goes by Fort Wilderness Resort at 9:45pm. There is a nice all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Pioneer Hall.
SPORTS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Besides Fort Wilderness, all Disney resorts have sports and fitness facilities, though available only for residents. In 1997, Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex was opened, primarily as a training camp and athletic haven for exhibition games, Olympic training, and other recreational activities. While the DWWS experience is largely passive, the same cannot be said for what is Disney’s most “hands-on” experience to date: The Richard Petty Driving Experience, where visitors can train and become NASCAR-style race car drivers, actually driving real race cars at speeds in excess of 100 mph (161 km/h) around a race track. Unlike most Disney experiences, you are in full control of the vehicle. These cars boast over 600 horsepower engines so the thrill is most decidedly real. As might be expected, safety instruction takes top billing for this sport.