One of the major highlights on our trip has begun! This evening, we picked up our annual passes (discount for Florida residents!) and we spent a couple of hours in Magic Kingdom after I got off work. Just another Thursday night, right? We are loving being full time in the RV…such freedom!
Avin was so excited and it was like Tripp’s first time, since he didn’t remember much from his and Avin’s previous 4 visits to WDW!! This makes the 5th time Carla and I have been to WDW together, and my 6th time since 1995. It’s so nice to have annual passes, as we don’t have to feel like we have to cram everything in while we are here.
Fort Wilderness at a Glance
We check in to Disney’s Fort Wilderness on Monday for 16 nights. We drove around the campground today to see what it was going to be like. I really hate to say it, but we are going to miss staying in a Disney World resort hotel this time around. Carla and I both kept thinking to ourselves that we expected more for the price we are paying. The campground is very clean and has lots of pine trees and shrubs between most of the sites, and nice concrete patios, but the whole park is VERY drab compared to every other Disney resort inside Disney World (and also when compared to other high end RV resorts in tropical locations). We miss the vibrant colors, tropical / colorful landscaping, neat swimming pools, music playing, and overall liveliness the other Disney resorts have (for the same cost of $133/night!). It’s very similar to a very clean state park campground (it reminds me of Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas with all the pine trees). All of the buildings are painted brown, as you would find in a state park. Many of the grass areas were burned out as if they don’t have an irrigation system in the park. But, it’s all by design and this was the theme they were going for when they built this campground. It’s obvious they want it to feel like a traditional state park campground…just much cleaner and much larger than most.
Now, let me put this in context, as I know many people might think we are not appreciating this campground as we should. If you aren’t already spending a lot of time in your RV, then yes, this is a very nice and clean, destination worthy RV park to stay at and you’ll have easy access to all of the Disney World parks and associated perks. But, when you’ve stayed at tons of RV parks all over the USA and are living in your RV, it’s really not that much nicer than some of the nicer RV resorts we’ve stayed at. The difference is that it’s at Disney World!
In the past, it was always fun to stay in a Disney hotel because you were staying somewhere other than your own home. You were really getting away from everything. If you’re living in your RV, however, you’re not really getting away from your “home” and experiencing new surroundings the whole time (no mousekeepers to set up the kids’ stuffed animals in fun ways, or to make your bed, no fun messages on your voicemail from the Disney characters, etc.), like we were used to doing when we would stay in Disney hotels. It’s more like relocating your everyday home from a nice campground to a little nicer campground (the KOA we are currently staying at in Kissimmee is extremely clean, has nice palm trees, very friendly staff, and is within 10 minutes of lots of entertainment and only 15-20 minutes from the Disney parks, and is cheaper by up to $55/night). They are, indeed, competing with Disney for your wallet!
We actually called Disney today to see if we could change our reservation so that we could stay in a Disney hotel for the first 6 nights before our friends arrive, but the only available room was at the Yacht Club and was super expensive. And we would lose all of our food in the RV since the RV would be parked in the hotel parking lot for a week with no power. Just not worth it.
However, there are several perks to staying at Fort Wilderness! You get to avoid driving to and from the park every day (twice per day if you take a break during the day), you avoid the $20/day parking fee unless you are a season pass holder, you get to take advantage of the extra magic hours, you get to come back to your own bed each night, and you can cook meals without having to pay for the pricey park meals ALL the time. You also get to stroll down to the boat ramp and take a ferry boat over to Magic Kingdom or the transportation station. So it’s definitely more convenient! I just feel it should be substantially cheaper than staying in one of their resort hotels since you’re giving up a lot of the “Disney magic” by staying here over a resort hotel, and it’s not cheaper ($2100 to park our RV in their park for 16 nights!).
BUT, we will have tons of fun here and we can check one more Disney resort off the list! It will also be fun at the campground when our friends arrive in their RV, and hopefully we are within walking distance to their campsite (campground is 1.5 miles long!). The kids are going to have so much fun riding rides with their friends!