How does FW compare to National Park campgrounds?

RamblingMad

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 29, 2019
The last car camping trip I did was to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed at the campsite on the North Rim. It was wonderful save for the equivalent of a HOA notice we received for a few item left out the first day.

How does Fort Wilderness compare?

I've only ever done National and State Park tent camping as an adult. My dad did the whole RV thing with us in the 80s, but as a kid, I wasn't exposed to the planning or the details. I'm not looking to buy a RV. But I wouldn't be opposed to renting one or doing tent camping at Fort Wilderness. Right now, I only have backpacking tents: one MSR and one MLD.

How is FW different? What planning do I have to do specific to Disney?
 

team bradfield

happy campers
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Fort Wilderness is a Walt Disney World Resort, you have to make reservations, which you can do online or by phone. They also have cabins if you don't have an RV/Tent
 
  • bama_ed

    It's kind of fun to do the impossible-Walt Disney
    Joined
    Sep 23, 2004
    I heard about RV rentals. How does that work? I'm not looking to buy.
    You book a site and contact a rental vendor to place the camper on it (you coordinate the availability of both). Generally the vendors are pro's and can put campers just about on anything but the Preferred/Full sites at the Fort (sizes are generally the same only difference is location within the Fort) are smaller and if you want a 40+ foot trailer it would be best to get a Premium site (can handle the biggest trailers). You tell the vendor when you plan to arrive and they will try to have it set up and ready for you. You tell the vendor when you plan to leave on the last day so they can come in and haul it out. Trailer pricing is generally time sensitive - a full seven night weekly rental is cheaper (on a per night basis) than a 3-4 night rental (on a per night basis).

    I backpacked down from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon a few years ago. We were in one of the hotels there the night prior but I checked out the tent camping (primitive) and rv camping spots on the South Rim inside the park. The Fort Wilderness sites all have power/water/cable tv and all but the Tent sites have a sewer hookup (needed for a trailer rental). I've tent camped and camped in my popup at the Fort in all site levels. The Comfort Stations (showers and toilets and sinks) at FW are the best I have encountered anywhere. So the Fort is very upscale compared to what you've done.

    The Fort rents tents you can stand up in and folding cots to get up off the ground but the tents are about $40 a night (they set them up and take them down for you) and the cots are about $5 a night (tents can accomodate about 3 cots max). That cost can add up but for some it's worth it.

    I have a number of backpacking tents and they work at the Fort. Keep in mind though that after the end of April to the end of September, the Fort can be pretty warm/humid at night if you are not used to Florida weather (you didn't say what your home state was). We did the GC in mid-April which still had 30s at night and 50s in the day (and the North Rim is higher elevation meaning lower temps than the South Rim). Down at the river it was warmer. We went down the South Kaibab Trail and camped near Phantom Ranch at the Bright Angel Campground, then hiked up to Indian Gardens via the Bright Angel Trail and spent the night before we climbed out the next morning and ate every skillet breakfast in sight!

    Bottom line, you can use what you have at Fort Wilderness but get a Tent site because you don't need any more. Or rent a trailer and a bigger site and pay more. But be aware of the time of year you want to go because hot humid weather can make a trip miserable if using a tent.

    Bama Ed
     
    Last edited:

    cruising spud

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 12, 2007
    Just like the National Park campgrounds, Disney sites fill up quickly. Make your reservations as soon as possible.
     

    North of Mouse

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2011
    The last car camping trip I did was to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed at the campsite on the North Rim. It was wonderful save for the equivalent of a HOA notice we received for a few item left out the first day.

    How does Fort Wilderness compare?

    I've only ever done National and State Park tent camping as an adult. My dad did the whole RV thing with us in the 80s, but as a kid, I wasn't exposed to the planning or the details. I'm not looking to buy a RV. But I wouldn't be opposed to renting one or doing tent camping at Fort Wilderness. Right now, I only have backpacking tents: one MSR and one MLD.

    How is FW different? What planning do I have to do specific to Disney?
    Actually, they don't compare at all - two different ways of camping. Fort Wilderness is a resort campground (full hookups) - with the nightly rates to match!! :) We love it there and have camped there since they opened, but having said that, it's location, location, location that draws us - can't get any more convenient for Disney - with all the perks that go with it!! It's a beautiful place. Reservations need to be made very early in advance, but for Holidays especially.

    As for the National Park Campgrounds, have stayed in many of them over the years. Our favorite yearly one is in the Smoky Mtns. - no hookups - but can't beat the beauty and serenity of nature!! The rates are extremely low - last year was $24 (I think, and $12 with pass). As you said, there are rules in place for safety with animals regarding food, etc). Reservations (during summer) are accepted 6 mos. in advance, and are becoming harder to get. Off season - when open - are first come.

    We enjoy both ways of camping, but are extreme opposite experiences for us. Renting an RV at FW has become a very enjoyable alternative for those not wishing to own their own RV's. Hope you will find an enjoyable way to experience the Fort!! :goodvibes
     

    RamblingMad

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2019
    We enjoy both ways of camping, but are extreme opposite experiences for us. Renting an RV at FW has become a very enjoyable alternative for those not wishing to own their own RV's. Hope you will find an enjoyable way to experience the Fort!! :goodvibes
    Is there a list or reputable vendors? I haven't slept in a RV since I was a kid. And while I'm not against tent camping, fighting off the humidity might be more trouble than it's worth. The condensation issues alone can make for very wet sleeping conditions. I'm used to tent camping in the southwest. I'll sleep in a hammock in the southeast. But I'm pretty sure I cannot do a hammock setup at FW.
     
  • bama_ed

    It's kind of fun to do the impossible-Walt Disney
    Joined
    Sep 23, 2004
    Is there a list or reputable vendors? I haven't slept in a RV since I was a kid. And while I'm not against tent camping, fighting off the humidity might be more trouble than it's worth. The condensation issues alone can make for very wet sleeping conditions. I'm used to tent camping in the southwest. I'll sleep in a hammock in the southeast. But I'm pretty sure I cannot do a hammock setup at FW.
    Hammocks are not prohibited. DD took her ENO and set it up 2nd last time we camped in 100 loop.



    What time of year do you want to go? Disney is the most lax of campgrounds, state and national parks regarding tree attachment I have ever camped at. I string a clothesline for towels every trip.

    Lots of threads about renting trailers, the official vendor list, and DIS recommendations by using the SEARCH function directed at the Camping Forum.

    Bama Ed
     

    North of Mouse

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2011
    Is there a list or reputable vendors? I haven't slept in a RV since I was a kid. And while I'm not against tent camping, fighting off the humidity might be more trouble than it's worth. The condensation issues alone can make for very wet sleeping conditions. I'm used to tent camping in the southwest. I'll sleep in a hammock in the southeast. But I'm pretty sure I cannot do a hammock setup at FW.
    Yes, there are several vendors that set up rental RV's at the Fort. We have never rented, as we have our own mh, but there are many on here that will vouch for different companies that they have had very good service with.
    As Bama Ed said, just search this forum.

    The heat and humidity can be very bad lots of months out of the year, so sleeping without AC would be plenty miserable. You would definitely enjoy the comforts of an RV with AC.
     

    2goofycampers

    Sounds like something a camping trip could cure!
    Moderator
    Joined
    Feb 10, 2008
    Is there a list or reputable vendors?
    From the WDW site...

    RV Rentals
    Surround yourself in the beauty of nature while still enjoying the comforts of home—courtesy of an RV rental!

    Before and after a day of play at one of our magical destinations, you and your family can rest and relax inside your very own RV! Featuring some of the same amenities as our Resort hotels, RVs provide a perfect middle ground for those who simply can’t decide between a campsite or cabin.

    Best of all, you can even have an RV delivered right to Walt Disney World Resort—meaning you can get your “outdoor” adventure started the second you arrive, without dealing with any additional hassles!

    For more information on RV rentals, be sure to contact the following official vendors:

    Luxurious RV Rentals LLC – (800) 561-8538

    Meacham’s RV Rental – (941) 224-4939
     

    WallE71

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 9, 2014
    Is there a list or reputable vendors? I haven't slept in a RV since I was a kid. And while I'm not against tent camping, fighting off the humidity might be more trouble than it's worth. The condensation issues alone can make for very wet sleeping conditions. I'm used to tent camping in the southwest. I'll sleep in a hammock in the southeast. But I'm pretty sure I cannot do a hammock setup at FW.
    We are staying at the Fort in Cabins this May, but last time we rented an RV from Cruise America and set up ourselves. It is very easy. The bathhouses at the Fort are nicer than any I have ever stayed at and we do National Parks every year as well.
     
  • ilovedisneymm

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 6, 2014
    It all depends on what you are after.

    Comparing Disney FW to a national park are two different beasts!

    Comparing Disney FW to the Disney Parks are two different beasts too!

    Disney is fun, exciting, thrilling, magical.........but its also full of a LOT of people ALL the TIME anymore. And costs a fortune. Disney has always been expensive, but now its plain ridiculous.

    You need a heavily outlined itinerary MONTHS in advanced if you are doing Disney....you don't with a national park!

    In a nutshell, national parks are more affordable, less stressful, let me repeat that.....less stressful.

    We are just back from another National Park and we all agreed......it was better than our last Disney trip. Why? No stress. No pushy people. Easy paced. Relaxing.

    One thing that really has me appreciating NP over Disney are the people surrounding you.

    No one is in a hurry in a National Park! Everyone is too busy appreciating their surroundings.

    It just seems to me that the overall morale of Disney anymore is everyone is out for themselves.

    Manners seem to be tossed out the boat window on the way into the parks.......that is now trickling into the Fort.

    Everyone is there spending major money with months and months of planning, and everyone is out to make sure THEIR family is getting all they can out of it. Even at the cost of others. And they can't help themselves. I am guilty of having to show my ugly side just to get out and around or push off others that infringing upon us.

    You don't get this at Disney....peace.

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    North of Mouse

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2011
    @ilovedisneymm , we have stayed at lots of National Parks (but mostly in the Eastern US), but have never stayed at one with dirt roads and so isolated looking. Where is this one located where you stayed? Out west? It definitely looks quiet!! Or, is it a National Forest?
     

    RamblingMad

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2019
    @North of Mouse I'm sorry I did not clarify. We stayed at the KOA in Horse Cave just outside the park and spent the daytime inside the park touring the caves. Come evening time, we need our electricity!
    I don't. I'm used to backpacking with a headlamp. It's the escape part that's fun.

    I'm doing some car camping in Sedona next month with friends. We'll cook out and have a good time hiking around during the day. Very relaxing.

    I just haven't been to a RV park since I was kid. Most of the places that I go to have fire restrictions, so it would be nice to have a camp fire with some smores.
     

    North of Mouse

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2011
    @North of Mouse I'm sorry I did not clarify. We stayed at the KOA in Horse Cave just outside the park and spent the daytime inside the park touring the caves. Come evening time, we need our electricity!
    I understand :)

    Yes, the National Parks don't have hookups (at least none we've been to). Our favorites are Smoky Mtns. and Acadia. It is cool in the mtns. so don't need AC at night. We do run our generator in the mh for a few things during the day. Otherwise, we are good to go for a week or more. We cook outside, and always enjoy sitting by a campfire (no restrictions on fires in Smokys @RamblingMad)
     

    ilovedisneymm

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 6, 2014
    @RamblingMad I hear ya. But I’m traveling with three children (one two yrs) we need these full hook up options. Honestly, if it was just me and hubby, I would still want them! Fires were allowed there, all campgrounds we have been to so far allow this.

    If you are a one light king of guy, I have a park for you....

    So just back from Mammoth National Park and one of the tour we did was the historical tour. 2 miles through a cave! Now mind you we did this with all three in tow. They have lights all through the cave (very dim) for obvious reasons. At one point, they turn off all the lights and it’s sudden darkness. Then they turn one one single lantern as they used when first discovering the caves. It was chilling! As we were exiting the tour, a small group was heading in and all with lanterns. You can do the two plus mile walk with only a lantern. Now ThAT is something we will go back for when kids are more age appropriate.

    We are headed west here this summer Badlands & Yellowstone first up. There is a remote campground in the badlands we will be staying at. I don’t think it possible to get more remote than that. Our Vet recently went out there and stayed in that same location we will, he had a bison at his door and scratched himself on his camper. I am beyond excited to experience something similar. We drove through the Badlands and that campground years ago. The day we did the Badlands we didn’t see another soul on that day drive. Except the bison!!!

    @North of the Mouse do you have recommended campground for the Smokey’s? We have always done a cabin high up on a ridge. Next time, we will be bringing the camper.

    I don't. I'm used to backpacking with a headlamp. It's the escape part that's fun.

    I'm doing some car camping in Sedona next month with friends. We'll cook out and have a good time hiking around during the day. Very relaxing.

    I just haven't been to a RV park since I was kid. Most of the places that I go to have fire restrictions, so it would be nice to have a camp fire with some smores.
    I understand :)

    Yes, the National Parks don't have hookups (at least none we've been to). Our favorites are Smoky Mtns. and Acadia. It is cool in the mtns. so don't need AC at night. We do run our generator in the mh for a few things during the day. Otherwise, we are good to go for a week or more. We cook outside, and always enjoy sitting by a campfire (no restrictions on fires in Smokys @RamblingMad)
     

    North of Mouse

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2011
    @ilovedisneymm, yes, our favorite and actually where we always stay is Elkmont (about 6 miles in from Gatlinburg, TN. There's a beautiful river running through it for tubing or just relaxing in.
    No electricity though! :-) Our kids always loved it.
    There are lots of campgrounds in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge with hookups, but to me seem pretty crowded together. We just enjoy getting away from the commercialization and camp in the quietness of nature - with owls and sometimes bears - we hike a lot too. But, we do 'rough it gently'!! :D
     

    lynzi2004

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 3, 2016
    @ilovedisneymm, yes, our favorite and actually where we always stay is Elkmont (about 6 miles in from Gatlinburg, TN. There's a beautiful river running through it for tubing or just relaxing in.
    No electricity though! :-) Our kids always loved it.
    There are lots of campgrounds in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge with hookups, but to me seem pretty crowded together. We just enjoy getting away from the commercialization and camp in the quietness of nature - with owls and sometimes bears - we hike a lot too. But, we do 'rough it gently'!! :D
    I second the love for Elkmont campground! Primitive...but hands down the best with kids! Ours are 7, 6 and 1 and they absolutely love it. We tent camp and our favorite sites are B6-B10 or A14. (We go frequently! Lol) With a rv the generator Sites along the river in C and D loops are really nice as it’s a gentle slope to the river.

    We just did the Yellowstone trip this summer and stayed in Canyon campground. Your kids will absolutely love Yellowstone. Bison, elk, bears, boiling, stinky mud, boiling “snow”, beautiful pools of water...it has it all! My favorites were the Grand Prasmatic pool and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in the morning sun!
     

    ilovedisneymm

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 6, 2014
    @lynzi2004 generator sites? They have specific sites just for those with generators? Are you allowed to keep generator on over night? or just between 7am - 10 pm. I just assumed, never checked into, that you would not be allowed to run them after quiet hours.


    I second the love for Elkmont campground! Primitive...but hands down the best with kids! Ours are 7, 6 and 1 and they absolutely love it. We tent camp and our favorite sites are B6-B10 or A14. (We go frequently! Lol) With a rv the generator Sites along the river in C and D loops are really nice as it’s a gentle slope to the river.

    We just did the Yellowstone trip this summer and stayed in Canyon campground. Your kids will absolutely love Yellowstone. Bison, elk, bears, boiling, stinky mud, boiling “snow”, beautiful pools of water...it has it all! My favorites were the Grand Prasmatic pool and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in the morning sun!
     

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