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4daubers
12-30-2008, 06:33 PM
We arrived home last night. This was our first Christmas at the fort...but certainly not the last. It was wonderful. I want to post pictures but don't know how so will research how and post at a different time.

Our journey got off to a rough start. After meeting our camping friends at 6:30 AM on Dec. 20, we made it 4 miles out of town when a very loud boom-swish sound and the truck couldn't shift beyond 1st. We crept back to town at 10 mph and 4000 plus RPMs thinking our trip was dashed. Fortunately, we live in a small town and called the dealership service manager at home and he met us at the dealership, quickly replaced the blown hose (a major hose of some sort) and we were on our way with just about a hour delay.

Texas to Florida - Avoid IH 10 from Houston to Louisiana state line. at all cost. There has been construction for at least 4 years and I'm not seeing much progress. We were backed up in one lane in Vidor for almost 2 hours on a Saturday..with no work being done.
Louisiana has done much work on IH10 since July 2007 and is nice now.

We stayed at Milton KOA our first night. It's just east of Pensacola. I was a bit cranky about 49.00 per night to pull in at 9:00 PM and pull out at 7:30 the next morning but it seems to be the going rate. We did vote it has having the absolute best coffee ever and that alone may be worth the 49.00 site fee. The owners are very friendly.

This is our 3rd trip to Fort Wilderness and we're still not sure if we go the best route. We took IH10 to 75 and then the turnpike that goes to WDW. The first leg of the turnpike cost 7.50 and the 2nd leg cost 2.50. After coming back on 27 through all the lights...we figured we used more in fuel than the 10.00 toll fee.

Fort Wilderness Check In - We arrived at 4:00 on December 21. Check in took approximately 10 minutes. We did not get the loop we requested and were placed in 1600.

Golf Carts - Has changed since our July 2007 trip. That trip, we got the carts at the bike barn. This trip, they were at the Outpost where you check in. It was an easy pick up and take back. While golf carts aren't necessary, they are fun and I do encourage one. There were many being delivered from outside WDW vendors.

Loop 1600 - There are some beautiful sites at FW but we didn't have them. Our sites backed up to the main road. I was worried about the buses but they are really quiet buses...and I live in the country with no noise at night. We had requested 1700 or 1200 full hookup. Our site had cable. I'm not sure if full hookup comes with cable now but we had it. They have started renovations on 1600 but the sites have not been enlarged that I could tell. The underbrush was cleared out and all sand until the 24th when they placed pine needles down. We were disappointed at first with our site but it was ok and we were parked between two orange trees loaded with oranges. That was novel for us.

Fort Wilderness Decorations - I knew that there would be decorations and I had seen pictures but that still didn't prepare us for "Christmas at the Fort". Our two RVs were between two RVs whose illumination AND sound effects were amazing. The first night we felt like the neighbors on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. All was aglow.

Decorations ranged from a few lights to full out gaudy to almost a visual trigger for migraine headaches. I honestly did not know one could place THAT many blow up decorations on a site. Nor did I know that you could plug in THAT many plugs to a single outlet and not burn down a loop.

What seemed garrish the first night became beloved and cherished fort memories by the 3rd night. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. We were shocked at first and then came to appreciate how everyone shared their Christmas spirit with all. We still wonder how they pack and travel with all the decorations.

It was so festive. Everywhere you went, all wished Merry Christmas and looping in the golf cart was magical with the sounds, sites and visiting new friends.

Fort Wilderness Specialness As we looped, we found that it really didn't matter what size rig..tent, pop up, fiver, bumper pull, Class C, Class A or Van...as you rode through loops, you saw families and couples making Christmas memories. The ones in the tents were as happy as those in the Class A's. I hope I wrote that correctly and you understand what I'm trying to say..it's not the size of the rig that's making the memories.

We saw deer, armadillos, rabbits, birds and turkeys. Two turkeys were crossing the road, stopped and looked both ways...seriously, no joke. I hope to post the picture. We never spotted the otter.

We live in a very friendly part of the country but we heard Merry Christmas from more people and CMs at the Fort and WDW than ever here at home. Everyone was in the Christmas spirit.

Transportation - We never waited more than 20 minutes for a boat or bus. Not sure if we picked good times or if transportation was running well but all was good. The boat ride to MK, Contemporary and WL were beautiful.

Meals - We did most meals in the RV but did eat at EPCOT's Biergarten on Christmas Eve and Wilderness Lodge on Christmas Day. Also took the sleigh ride at Wilderness Lodge. We missed eating at Crocket's this trip.

Parks - Oh yea...that's why we go...or is it? MK was crowded but managable. The castle was beautiful with the ice lights. We did EPCOT on Christmas Eve and attended the Candlelight Processional. It was absolutely wonderful and a great way to spend Christmas Eve...very moving and tender. The Osborne Lights at DHS were amazing. All the parks were decorated beautifully and I loved that Christmas music including carols were played through out the fort and the parks. All the fire works were great. A CM at FW told us that it costs $110,000.00 per night per park for fireworks.

Trip home - We spent a night at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. We wanted to see what it was like for futur trips but wouldn't recommend it as an overnight since it's at least 30 minutes off IH10 (which one of y'all warned us about). We arrived at night and left first thing in the morning. Avoided IH10 by taking a different route in Louisiana which was different. Arrived home at 10:30 last night.

We're envious of all who live within a day's travel of FW. We're officially in our post trip funk but thankful that we have jobs that allow us the opportunity to enjoy FW, families and friends to make memories with and our cyber Fort friends who have helped, guided and shared in this FW madness.

kaguilbeau
12-30-2008, 06:52 PM
Thanks for posting. Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

I remembered reading that you would try out Gulf Shores State Park. Do you think you'd make a trip back just to stay there? I recall it not being on the gulf.

Not sure what else there would be if you went a little more west (on your way home). I know eastern Louisiana has some campgrounds close to the interstate, but by then your almost home:)

Shan-man
12-30-2008, 06:54 PM
...we were parked between two orange trees loaded with oranges. That was novel for us.

I'm sure you meant "that was navel for us"! :lmao: Hate to let a perfect pun opportunity pass. Thanks so much for sharing, and I sure hope you figure out how to post pics. I was just there a couple of weeks ago and I am feeling the pangs of separation already! So you were on the road side of the 1600 loop! That means you were right near the huge walkthrough display! I met the folks who do that one, they were very nice. Actually, when the wife opened the door to tell her hubby (Mike?) to come meet Santa, I saw his computer screen: he was on the DIS boards! He knew from my posts that I had just checked-in from Summerfield where we picked up Mom... yadda yadda yadda! It was a hoot to have someone I'd never met recounting my recent history to me. Anyway, I say all this to say it was a joy meeting him and wanted to encourage him to post since he always just lurks!

Glad to hear the mechanical problems were minor and that the trip came off easily. Looking forward to the pics (if you can't figure it out, PM me!).

4daubers
12-30-2008, 07:16 PM
Thanks for posting. Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

I remembered reading that you would try out Gulf Shores State Park. Do you think you'd make a trip back just to stay there? I recall it not being on the gulf.

Not sure what else there would be if you went a little more west (on your way home). I know eastern Louisiana has some campgrounds close to the interstate, but by then your almost home:)

I don't want to make a hasty decision based on one night but I don't think we would go back just for a trip to Gulf Shores State Park because it isn't on the gulf and not an easy access to the beaches from what I could tell. For some reason, I thought it was on the gulf. Maybe there's another RV Park with beach access. Or possibly Meaher State Park near Mobile.

I think we decided that Milton KOA or a Florida Panhandle State Park works well for mid point either way.

We were very impressed with Louisiana's progress after the hurricanes. Much has changed since our last trip in July 07. We did see lots of roof damage in Baton Rouge, I assume from a more recent hurricane.

4daubers
12-30-2008, 07:28 PM
I'm sure you meant "that was navel for us"! :lmao: Hate to let a perfect pun opportunity pass. Thanks so much for sharing, and I sure hope you figure out how to post pics. I was just there a couple of weeks ago and I am feeling the pangs of separation already! So you were on the road side of the 1600 loop! That means you were right near the huge walkthrough display! I met the folks who do that one, they were very nice. Actually, when the wife opened the door to tell her hubby (Mike?) to come meet Santa, I saw his computer screen: he was on the DIS boards! He knew from my posts that I had just checked-in from Summerfield where we picked up Mom... yadda yadda yadda! It was a hoot to have someone I'd never met recounting my recent history to me. Anyway, I say all this to say it was a joy meeting him and wanted to encourage him to post since he always just lurks!

Glad to hear the mechanical problems were minor and that the trip came off easily. Looking forward to the pics (if you can't figure it out, PM me!).

Navel...that's good...really good! :rotfl:

We were one site down from the walk through. Our friends were next to them. We didn't realize it was a walk through for a couple of days and wondered why all the people were walking through their site. They did an amazing job.

We looked a bit pitiful pulling out our little decorations. Oh and the worst ever...our Mickey lamp post fell over and broke our Mickey head. :mad:

Also, two unusual things for us anyway. The first night in MK, DH and I were going to sit on a bench in Fantasyland and were stopped by a CM who asked "Are you going to sit on that bench?" We said yes and he said "OK, on that one". As we sat down, we realized there was a police officer in SWAT type attire and a dog with a flack type vest on and 2 CMs kind of overlooking the area. Apparently, someone left a softsided cooler near the bench and they brought in a bomb dog. We were stunned how quietly it was being handled in Disney fashion and I did get one picture that I'll post.

The other interesting thing was on December 27th. We rode the boat from the Wilderness Lodge. As we docked at FW, there was an officer once again in SWAT type attire and a police dog. He said he was going to check the boat. They allowed the passengers to get off and the ones going to Contemporary stay on and he checked he boat, cabinets, etc. He got off ahead of us. This dog didn't have a flack type jacket on. I don't know if he was checking for drugs or bombs.

Shan-man, I'm pming since I can't figure out the pictures and I know I've posted pictures before on the boards. Post trip brain jumbles.

Born 2 Fish
12-30-2008, 07:38 PM
:goodvibes

Thank you for yout report,,it was very happy and up lifting,. It is so nice to see thru fresh eyes all the wonderful things that so many of us enjoy.
I so much agree that a Fort Christmas is a wonderful experience, one you NEVER get at home.
We are so glad it was such a GREAT time for you.:thumbsup2

LONE-STAR
12-30-2008, 07:56 PM
Nice trip report. lets see some pics. We go the same way you drove down but we drive it straight through.

clkelley
12-31-2008, 10:54 AM
Nice report!! Glad you had a good Christmas.

FlaFortCampster
12-31-2008, 08:27 PM
Very, very good report.
I can't believe you were right by, I believe it was site 1639. Geez, I wouldn't have the patience
to setup that many decorations. What an awesome job those folks did.
You're line about burning down the loop was great! They must have had their own power plant.
You are absolutely correct about it not matter how many decorations one had, but just being a part of something so special. (Even though I am alreay planning my layout in the TentPop 2000 loop for next year):banana: :banana:
For posting your pics, try photobucket. It was so easy. I tried a couple of suggested sites and that one by far IMHO was the easiest.

TheFlame
12-31-2008, 10:40 PM
Thank you for a wonderful trip report! It made me very happy and almost made me cry! You put so much thought in your words and didn't give more info than was needed, so I could really sense how special your time was there!

Have a wonderful New Year!:)