June 2023 TR: Camping at Fort Wilderness

Hey all! I’m sorta recently back from my trip to The World and we had a great time! I’m excited to share some of our adventures and memories with you. :blush:

First, let’s start with the basics…

WHO: There were 6 of us. Me, my husband (DH), our two daughters (DD15 and DD16), and my parents, Grandmoo (DG) and Boo (DB).

WHAT: Our fourth 3 generation trip to Disney!

WHEN: June 10-16, 2023

WHERE: My family of 4 stayed in our camper at Fort Wilderness. My parents stayed at Port Orleans Riverside.

WHY: Well, to visit the Mouse, of course! I love Disney (more than the rest of my family) and really get into planning our trips. The most they will indulge me is going every 4 years (we went in 2011, 2015 and 2019) so it was time for a trip again!

HOW: We all drove down, leaving on June 9 and arriving in Disney on June 10. We live in NC so it’s around a 9 hour drive, not accounting for any stops.


Departure Day: Friday, June 9

Our goal was to be out the door by 10:00 am, and to my surprise and pleasure, we pulled out of the driveway at 9:59. Go us!!

I had been wanting to experience the Buc-ee’s craze, so we stopped at the one in Florence, SC around 12:30 to hopefully find lunch and a bathroom break. It was crazy! It felt like a prelude to Disney with the number of people and cars. Since we were pulling our camper, we couldn’t easily find a place to park so DH just let the girls and I out to go inside. The line for the ladies’ bathroom was at least 20 people deep stringing out into the store. We grabbed some easy to go food, paid, and got the heck out of there. The cashier said this was average for a weekend, so if I ever go back to a Buc-ee’s, it won’t be on a weekend! DD16 found Buc-ee running around the store and took a pic with him. I feel like this pic is somewhat misleading as there are practically no people in the background. I promise, that place was a madhouse!

We had a reservation at the Jacksonville North/St. Mary’s KOA in Kingsland, GA that night, the same place we stayed on drive down during our trip in 2019. We made it there just before 6 pm after stopping a few times for gas and bathroom breaks. My parents stayed at a hotel in the same city, but they came and had dinner with us at the campground that night. Burgers and chips, nothing fancy. I took zero pictures at this campground so nothing to show here!

The next morning, we partook of the campground’s free pancake/waffle breakfast (the waffles were really good!) and the other two families with us in the breakfast room all had their Disney shirts on, too. Looks like this is a popular place to stay on the way to Disney! We were on the road around 9 am the next morning to finish up our last 3 hours into Orlando! :smiley:


Looking forward to following along!


Can’t wait to hear more…

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I love camping at Fort Wildernesses. Looking forward to more of your trip report.


Arrival Day: Saturday, June 10

The drive from the KOA was uneventful and we passed under the Welcome to Walt Disney World sign a little after noon. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

I will say, the roads through Orlando were in much better shape than our last trip, but it was still a stressful drive with all the traffic and pulling a camper. We found our way to Fort Wilderness and our site was ready – 1321.

I had requested 867, based on what I had read on the TP site, so I was disappointed we were no where close to that. Overall, I was not a fan of this site. It backed up to the pool so was very noisy during the day, plus they play music at the pool 24/7 so the first night I woke up hearing tinny, hoe-down music at 3am. There also isn’t a lot of shade and it’s a good walk to the comfort station (when there are 3 girls trying to get ready in a camper, sometimes you need extra bathrooms!). I would have complained, but it would have embarrassed my family so I sucked it up. We didn’t spend a TON of time there so it wasn’t too awful. I really took this picture of the cute tablecloth I made, but if you zoom in you can see how close we were to the pool. Just a little river right behind our site, then some grass, then the fence around the pool!

I had requested room 1425 at POR for my parents and they got 1455. On the 2nd floor vs. the 1st, but otherwise very close to what I requested. They liked how close it was to the lobby and food court. We never visited their room so I’ve got no pictures from there.

I was trying to be a little more low-key on this trip, so we had no park reservations for our first day. We got everything set up at the campsite, fixed some sandwiches for lunch, picked up our golf cart, then we headed to the pool.

It was crazy busy with people and kids activities, but we found a couple chairs to throw our stuff on, and a place in the pool to try to cool off. We hung out there for an hour or so, then went back to our camper to get cleaned up since we had a 6:15 dinner reservation at Hoop De Doo Revue that night. My parents rode the bus to Disney Springs (the boat wasn’t running due to low water levels) then transferred to the Fort bus. We picked them up at the front in our golf cart and drove back to Pioneer Hall. Peep our cute flamingo on the golf cart! Definitely made it easy to find in the sea of golf carts in the parking areas! :flamingo:

While we were waiting for the show, out of nowhere, the sky opened up in a very brief shower and that was the last we saw of any rain until Friday. Spoiler alert – it was a HOT week. :hot_face:

Dinner at the Hoop was great, but I didn’t love our seats. We were upstairs in tier 3, and that wasn’t bad, but we were along the sides where we were sitting in a straight line. I would have preferred being at the end of the balcony area where we could sit facing each other.

This was our view when we turned our seats around.

But the food was delicious, the server was great, and the show was as corny as ever. A great way to start our trip.

Afterwards, we drove the golf cart back to our site and all hopped in the car for a Walmart run. Got a couple cheap Disney souvenirs, a few things we forgot, and then dropped my parents off back at their resort. Home and to bed so we could be rested for our first park day on Sunday. Epcot, here we come!!

Total step count = 7,576 (3.43 miles)


Following along! We are staying there next year and you have already given me some great ideas (i.e., flamingo float!). Were did you get your golf cart from?


If you don’t have room for a blow up, we just tied a ribbon on our cart. It really helped us find it as at least half of the carts are rented from FW and look the same ( we rented through FW).


Thanks for following along! :grinning: When we were there 4 years ago, I saw several well decorated golf carts, which gave me the idea for this year. We rented our golf cart from Golf Cart Rentals Orlando. They are a little cheaper than renting through FW.


Thanks. We will be staying for almost 2 weeks and have 5 in our party and a dog. I was looking for a rental outside so I can guarantee a 6 seater. You mentioned you picked it up? Did they lend you the trailer to tow it to the Fort?

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That’s too bad, since there are no elevators in Alligator Bayou buildings. I hope they can still do those stairs at the end of a long park day!

That’s why I stay only at places with elevators.

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Technically their policy is this: You have to have a vehicle that can tow. You will meet them offsite at a nearby grocery store, they will hook the trailer with golf cart to your vehicle, you will drive back to the Fort, unload, then return the empty trailer to them. The process works in reverse when it’s time to return the cart.

In actuality, we have always (I say always like we’ve done this more than twice…) been able to just pick up our golf cart from the Settlement parking lot. The previous renter has left it there with the key under the seat. We have returned in the same fashion for someone coming right after us. The fact that it’s this easy combined with the fact that it’s cheaper than renting from FW, I have had zero hesitation renting from an off site company. Now, if the time ever came where we had to do the whole off site pick up, I may rethink, but so far it’s worked out for us!


They seemed to do okay! I didn’t hear any complaints, at least!


Thanks for this…really not much info around for off site rentals that I could find and wasnt sure how it would work. We plan on having and suv there so shouldnt be a problem. Less cost is a bonus as well :wink:


Day 1: Sunday, June 11

Our first day in the parks! Wheee!! We did really good on this day. I was on BG1 at 6:50 and got BG2 for Guardians! I was really nervous since I had never used this site before, but it worked like a charm. Thank you, Joel! :blush: We left our campsite at 7:30, got on a bus, and were entering the park at 8:05 for 8:30 early entry.

DD16 was bounding as Pinocchio today and I was going for an Ariel vibe. DD15 was just trying to be cute and stay cool.

We were planning to RD Test Track so we headed that way and were held under the breezeway until they let us thru at 8:25.

We beelined to TT and were on the ride about 8:45. Our car did better than I thought it would!

Our BG was called so next we headed to Guardians and were on that ride at 9:25. We got September.

I took the advice of others in this group and had taken Dramamine the night before, ½ a less-drowsy Dramamine while in line for Test Track, and I still felt nauseous on this ride. It was really cool, but I had to close my eyes a few times b/c my stomach was not loving it.

Once was enough for me, but my girls wanted to ride again so they took my parents’ MB and rode again. It took them longer to get on the ride this time so it was about 10:15 when they rode and they got I Ran. We took some time for a bathroom and snack break, then headed to World Showcase.

First ride was Three Caballeros, then we got in line for Frozen Ever After about 11. It was a 60 minute wait so it was a little after 12 when we got off. We killed some time playing Heads Up. I think we started a trend b/c I later noticed many other families playing in line! :smile:

I was ready for lunch at this point, but DD16 pointed out Remy was only a 25 minute wait. So her and my parents headed towards that ride, while the rest of us ate lunch at Les Halles.

We tried to make it to the 2pm show of the American Adventure, but we were too late. So we enjoyed the a/c while we waited for Voices of Liberty at 2:15 (excellent!) and American Adventure/cat nap at 2:45.

We meandered through the pavilions until we watched Canada Far and Wide at 4pm. My dad is from Canada so we always make a point to see this film. After that, we found a poutine snack from Canada’s food booth and a dole whip from the Pineapple Pavilion.

Next we headed to Figment then a break for a Mickey bar/sandwich (team sandwich for me, team bar for my DD15). On our way to Nemo, we encountered Pooh trying to catch butterflies in a field. He was so cute! Also got my traditional Nemo pic of my girls. I’ve taken this each time we’ve come to Disney and it’s fun to see how they’ve grown!

After Nemo, we hit Soarin’ (B2), Living with the Land, and Spaceship Earth, and 3 of us rode Mission Space Green.

We finished up those rides a little after 7:30 and were ready for dinner so we quickly ate at Connections. Nothing fabulous, but it filled us up. My parents were ready to go by this point, so they headed back to their resort. DD15 and I had not ridden Remy earlier in the day so we hot-footed it back to France and waited 17 minutes, getting off the ride just in time to run back to Canada and meet DH and DD16 for Epcot Forever.

They thought they were doing so good finding us a little table in the Canada pavilion, but it was right behind a tree. No matter where I tried to move within that general area, the show was behind the tree. So I just sat down on a bench, turned on my fan, and enjoyed the music and fireworks through the tree.

Good night Epcot!

After the show, we hopped on a bus back to Fort Wilderness and were at our site by 10pm. My DH was exhausted and grumpy. Too much fun for one day. He announced he would never do a park open to close again. It was definitely a long day, but since it was our first park day, (most of us) had the stamina for it. Plus the next day would be a little more low-key, so we pushed through! I ended the day like this, feet up on the wall b/c my ankles were already starting to swell a little.

Tomorrow’s a new adventure at the water park! :smiley:

Total step count = 21,723 (9.24 miles)


Sounds like a great day!


Love the outfits!


Day 2: Monday, June 12

We tried something new today – a Disney water park! We purchased 1 day tickets to Typhoon Lagoon. My parents did not join us this day. My dad is very fair skinned so he didn’t think it was a good idea for him to spend a full day in the sun like that. They went to a quilt store in Orlando, Target, the grocery store, and basically took it easy for the day.

It was nice to be able to sleep in a little today since we were worn out from our open to close day at Epcot the day before. We were at the bus stop by 9am, planning to do the bus to Disney Springs > transfer to Typhoon Lagoon, but there wasn’t even a time showing for the next DS bus.

A man at the bus stop overheard us talking and recommended we should just drive. So we golf carted back to our site, hopped in the car, and arrived at TL to a 3rd row parking spot at 9:40.

We joined the crowds waiting to be released into the park and they let us go at 10:01, when the boat did it’s little horn/water action (we noticed this was consistently 1 minute after the hour all day long).

We found some chairs by the wave pool to put our stuff on. I did not like that all the seating areas around the wave pool were sand. I am not a big fan of sand. Our first ride was Miss Adventure Falls, then two rides on Crushin Gusher. From there, the girls went on a couple body slides (I love a raft ride, but not body slides!), then I joined them for Keelhaul Falls and Mayday Falls. Then all 4 of us went on Gang Plank Falls.
By then, it was just after noon and we were getting hungry. We all wanted something different, so we split up and found food and DD16 got some Dippin Dots.

Funny story, the cashier where DD16 got lunch misunderstood her name and entered it as ‘peach’. Her name is really Paige, but I guess if you hear that with a slight southern accent, it could be heard as peach. :rofl:

After lunch, we took 3 complete rides around the lazy river. It was lovely to just sit and float, but I did not like all of the debris in the river. Lots of leaves/flower petals that would get stuck to your legs and arms. I wish they could do a better job of filtering that stuff out. After our hour of laziness, DD15 and I hopped in the wave pool for a couple of waves, then decided we were done for the day and left the park around 3pm. It was really nice to have an early end to the day, too.

We drove back to the campground and took showers, then rode around on the golf cart and checked out both stores at the Fort. We bought one of those cute soap dispensers that puff out the soap in the shape of Mickey! I’ve wanted one for a long time and they were on sale in one of the stores.

My parents drove over around 6 for a make your own pizza dinner at our campsite. It was seriously hot and humid outside, so we ended up sitting inside the camper and chatting for a while. They left around 8 so we could all get to bed at a decent time. The next day would be our earliest start yet – Animal Kingdom day!

Overall, the water park was nice, and I thought very similar to our local waterpark Wet ‘n’ Wild – Emerald Pointe. But I did not feel like it was worth the $69 each we paid for the tickets, especially since I can get a ticket to Emerald Point for about half that. I thought it was hard to navigate and the signage was confusing. I was frequently trying to find a map so I could get my bearings and figure out if we were headed the right way. I also did not love the way the lazy river circled the park and you often had to go out of your way to cross that to get somewhere else. I think the water park is a one and done for us.

I definitely recommend some sort of water shoe for this park. I got some cheap ones off Amazon before our trip and I was very glad I had them when I heard people yelping over the hot concrete/sand. My girls wore their Chacos and my DH wore his Keens. I didn’t have to take my shoes off for any ride I did, but the girls did have to remove theirs for the body slides (they just rode down holding them in their hands).

Total step count = 10,280 (4.48 miles)


Peach :rofl:

Makes me think of the Jack Black/Super Mario song.


Day 3: Tuesday, June 13

It’s Animal Kingdom day – earliest alarm of the week! I think I had my alarm set for 5am on this day. That’s awful early for vacation. We drug ourselves out of bed, got ready, and were at the bus stop at 6:35 am. Today it was just me, my girls, and my parents. DH announced a while ago that he had no desire to go to AK. It was too hot and stinky for him. Alrighty then.

The (freezing cold!) bus arrived at 6:50 and we got to the park at 7:05. Hindsight was that we should have left the campsite at 6:25 so we could have caught the 6:30 bus. Live and learn!

Today’s walk through security started a new trend where I was pulled for a bag check. I could never figure out what was setting it off, but I was pulled at the next two parks as well. We were lined up at the entrance at 7:10, started moving towards the taps at 7:17 and finally made it into the park at 7:28. We seemed to pick the slowest line possible and then DD16 had trouble getting a green Mickey.

Anyway, once were inside, we beelined to FOP. We saw the “end of the line” sign at 7:33, then walked steadily through the line until we finally stopped at 7:54. We were in the first room at 8:21 and off the ride at 8:36. Side note – I was SO EXCITED to see a bathroom in the standby line! I had chugged a Coke Zero (caffeine!) on the bus and by the time we made it into the park, I really needed to pee, but my children wouldn’t let me stop for the bathroom. Thank you FOP line designers for including not just a water bottle filler, but a bathroom in your line. :smiling_face_with_tear:

I was hoping we were going to be able to do FOP and Navi before my parents arrived so we could meet them at the Safari, but that didn’t work out. They met us at Navi instead and we did that next with about a 30 minute wait.

Oh, today’s bound for DD16 was Tigger. She bought the ears off Etsy and got countless compliments on them all day long. :blush:

My touring plan kind of fell apart at this point because we were supposed to do the Safari next, but it was like a 70 minute wait, so we pivoted and like a totally inexperienced Disney-goer, stood around and said “what next?” How embarrassing! It wasn’t even 10 am and it felt like a million degrees outside, I was wearing new-ish shoes and was starting to get a blister, and we had no plan. UGH!

Ultimately, we ended up at the 10am show for FOLK. We’ve been warthogs the past 3 times we went to this show, so we were excited to be lions this time.

From there, we decided it was time to get wet so we headed to Kali River Rapids where my mom and I were the ones who got soaked. It felt pretty darn good in the heat. We waited about 45 minutes in the standby line. Tip for those of us who don’t go to the parks as frequently as others – they no longer have the storage space in the middle of the raft to keep your things dry. We all piled our stuff in the middle, then covered it with my dad’s poncho and that worked pretty well to keep things dry.

After that, we were ready for lunch so we ate at the Yak and Yeti QS. I had the honey sesame chicken and it was quite tasty. Probably my favorite QS meal of the week. While we were eating, we spotted a table of 5-6 people and every one of them had their heads down on the tables looking like they were fast asleep. They stayed that way the entire time we were eating so I hope they had good naps! It was freakin hot!! :hot_face:

Once we were rejuvenated by lunch, we headed towards the tree and saw the ITTBAB. I had honestly forgotten how intense that show is. It’s dark, loud, and buggy. My crowd was nonplussed, but I could see how smaller children could be terrified. I do enjoy the special effects in your seat, though. Very creative. A few tree pics along the way.

After the bugs, it was time for a Safari. Probably not the best time in the heat of the day, but we enjoyed seeing the animals we could. We got very close to some giraffes and saw the baby zebra that was only a couple weeks old.

From there, we headed to the 2:30 Feathered Friends in Flight show. The birds were feeling a little sassy and the trainers were really funny. I couldn’t tell if some of this was scripted, or if the birds really were going off script. Either way, it was enjoyable.

Kevin sighting!

After that, we went to the 3:30 Nemo show, then my parents decided they were ready to go. They headed back to their resort while the girls and I planned to conquer Everest and Dinosaur.

First up was EE where we waited in the standby line for only about 20 minutes. I love this ride, but it is definitely jarring!

Next we headed to Dinosaur and waited about 20 minutes for this ride as well. I could take or leave this one, but DD16 wanted to ride. DD15 was a little wigged out with this ride and held my hand the entire time. It’s nice when these bigger babies still need their mommy. :blush:

Once we were done with all the rides, we meandered back towards the entrance, stopped in a couple shops and debated if we should get dinner in the park, or scrounge for something back at the camper. We ended up just going back to the campsite, but stopped to take a few Photopass pics on the way out.

We left the park at 5:30 and were back to our campsite by 6pm. On the bus ride back, DH sent us pictures of all the food trucks available at the Settlement. Since there are a couple restaurants closed at FW right now, they have several food trucks available each day. On this day there was the FW truck (same type foods you can get at the Pioneer Hall restaurants), pizza, Mexican, hot dogs, and a crepe truck. We decided to try the food truck round up for dinner and it was pretty good. As expensive as a typical Disney QS meal, but better than scrounging up food in the camper. I had loaded fries and a s’mores crepe.

After we ate, we hit the pool for a bit. It was much less crowded than it had been the Saturday we arrived and the hot tub felt especially delightful on my tired and sore body. It was an early bedtime for all and no alarms the next day because it was our rest day! But that also meant vacation is half over so that’s definitely sad.

Total step count = 16,181 (6.94 miles)