One of the hidden “magical opportunities” at Walt Disney World is to enjoy a boat ride on either Bay Lake or the Seven Seas Lagoon. There is no cost required, just make your way to one of the resorts surrounding either bodies of water or at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Take a few moments and select the type of boat to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
There are wonderful opportunities for bird watching, seeing otters enjoying their day, and my favorite watching the skies above. With the Orlando weather changing constantly it usually proves to be a beautiful and relaxing time.
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Nestled peacefully on the south eastern banks of Bay Lake is the rustic Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness Campground. Originally opened on November 19, 1971, this relaxing paradise has endured for over forty years providing wonderful memories for families from generation to generation. My family was introduced to this incredible resort back in 1998, and have been blessed to have spent time and build fantastic memories of trips with our parents, children, friends and now grandchildren!!
The campground is laid out in a large “somewhat” circular design with paved “loops” that have campsites and cabins (see the attached Fort Wilderness Campground map from Walt Disney World) at various locations. The loops contain clean and spacious Comfort Stations with women’s and men’s bathrooms and showers, a laundry area and an ice vending machine. Campsites are available in three ranges from primitive to premium increasing in size and amenities based upon your needs. There are over eight hundred campsites and four hundred cabins. Some of the most incredible times spent have been touring the loops and viewing the decorations that campers, from both tent camping, to large motor homes, have set up to celebrate their time at Fort Wilderness. The most incredible displays are around Halloween and Christmas time!
There are three areas of development at the campground, the Outpost, the Meadows, and the Settlement. The Outpost includes check-in and registration, the horse riding barn, and the Walt Disney World bus stop for complimentary bus service for both inside the FWC resort and buses heading to the four Walt Disney World theme parks and other Disney resorts including Downtown Disney. The Meadows area can be found in the middle of the resort and includes the main themed pool with an excellent slide and a fun kiddie splash area, tennis courts, sand volleyball pit, playground, shuffleboard, bike and canoe rentals, and the Chip and Dale sing along and outdoor movie area. We have spent many days with all of our children and grandchildren enjoying all the activities in this area! The Meadows also includes a Trading Post which provides opportunities for purchasing foods, drinks, and various retail items with many things not found elsewhere (and yes of course with Disney branding).
We have always been drawn to the long trails, the winding canals,ALL the fun outdoor activities, and ease with which everyone could get to all the different Walt Disney World fun! There are so many opportunities to see wildlife, and experience special times together in ways you will never experience anywhere else. Some of my wife and my best conversations have been sitting in rocking chairs at the Trading Post and at Trail’s End watching our family play.
At the upper part of the Fort Wilderness Campground resort, located along Bay Lake, is the Settlement area. This area includes Pioneer Hall with the Hoop-De-Doo Musical dinner show and the Trails End buffet restaurant, horse carriage rides, a themed character backyard Bar-B-Que, a great playground, another Trading Post, and the Marina. Complimentary boat transportation is provided to and from Magic Kingdom and the other two Bay Lake resorts, the Fort Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary Resort. Also found at the Settlement is what used to be the petting farm/ranch and is now a pony riding area with the main horse barn for the large Belgians and other breeds that pull the wagons at the Walt Disney World theme parks.
There is so much to see and do while you are at the resort, it is easy to forget that there are theme parks nearby. Utilize the boats, and trails to connect to the other resorts and leave your vehicle behind. If you have not been to the other Walt Disney World resorts, take the time to explore and experience the special foods and shopping. Each one is so uniquely themed.
If you are unfamiliar with the Fort Wilderness Campground Resort, take the time to check it out online. There is much information available to help determine costs and activities and of course, book your first visit! Online reservations can be made at www.disneyworld.disney.go.com or by calling 407-939-5277 to speak with a Walt Disney World reservations specialist.
An excellent resource to help with EVERYTHING is the wonderful people at www.FortFiends.net (we ourselves are FortFiends). If you are new to camping or have no equipment currently, check out how easy it is to use their website and forums to find rental equipment and helpful FWC recommendations.
We hope that soon you may come to discover this hidden Magic on the shores of Bay Lake. Have you any special memories of Fort Wilderness Campground Resort? Please share a magical time or favorite place or activity.