"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

F Is For....Fort Wilderness

This year's Disney trip was originally planned as a week of camping at Fort Wilderness. I started having second thoughts about spending a week, 7 nights and 8 days, in tents as my wife's first camping experience. I had visions of hurricane season rearing her head, flooded tents, collapsed tents, bug-filled tents and hot nights with no A/C. When the free dining offer came along, I decided it was a sign. We'd be able to stay in a moderate resort with the free dining for a few hundred less than we planned to spend on our camping trip paying for the dining plan. So this isn't the year I get to introduce our son to the joys of a Fort Wilderness Disney vacation. I'm glad we are staying where we are (Caribbean Beach resort) and will worry much less about having the most perfect trip possible, but I've not lost the desire to go back to The Fort.

 As a kid, Fort Wilderness was "our" place at Disney. We stayed at the Polynesian once, and it was spectacular, but mostly a trip to Disney meant staying at Fort Wilderness. We camped in tents, in a pop-up trailer, in one of the old Disney rental trailers, in a borrowed Winnebago motor home and in the newer Wilderness Cabins that replaced the old trailers. I loved them all but they were all secondary to just being at Fort Wilderness. It's a destination in itself, a park within a park almost. It's got the pools that all the resorts have, and a beach front on Bay Lake like the monorail resorts from which you can enjoy the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and the Electrical Water Pageant. It also features many things no other Disney resort offers. There is a petting zoo and the stables where some of the horses that work in the Magic Kingdom live. There are trails for walking and canals for fishing and canoeing. You can take a carriage ride through the campgrounds over 700 acres. Fort Wilderness hosts the Hoop De Doo Revue, the longest running dinner show at Walt Disney World. There is a campfire and movie almost every night outside in the middle of the campground. We loved just walking around after dark looking for armadillos in the bushes. Fort Wilderness is way more than just a place to sleep.

So, we didn't make it there for this trip, but my non-camping wife is determined that we will go soon. She's great like that. Maybe next spring, maybe next fall, but we will get there. I can't wait to show her and my son around. And hunt some armadillos.

I'm finding it hard to explain all that I love about this place, so instead here are some pictures, old and newer, that will show you maybe why I am in love with Disney's campground. If you want a great place to start checking out all the details about the Fort, try All Ears Fort Wilderness page.

This truck used to come around in the morning with all sorts of goodies and camping supplies on it.

This is one of the original campers that Disney rented out before the Wilderness Cabins

That's me on the left and my buddy Matt on the right. We got to sit in the breakfast truck. We were cool like that

Canoes for rent circa 1976
I believe this is what would become the site of River Country.

I love this. My friend Matt and I used to play checkers right here, in this store, on that barrel. To play my son 33 years later? That is magic.
The ranch and petting zoo
A Disney pony, and Hidden Mickey

The Hoop Dee Doo Revue!!!!

John at the Hoop Dee Doo on his 11th birthday. Playing the washboard, of course :-)

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