If you have read some of my previous blogs, you know how much Carol and I enjoy staying at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground in our motor home. It's our favourite Disney resort. As you were reading, did you ever think, "That sounds like fun! I'd sure like to give it a try, but I don't own a camper."
Don't give up on the idea! If you really like the prospect of camping at Walt Disney World, why not rent a camper and try it out before you pay out the money to buy your own RV? There are quite a few companies who rent campers . . . and they make it very easy for you. They deliver the unit to Fort Wilderness and set it up; once you arrive all you have to do is move in!
If you do an internet search using "Walt Disney World camper rental" you will find a number of rental options, including all different shapes and sizes of trailers. There's a solution for every family!
Carol's 84 year-old parents, John and Sybil, have listened to our tales of Fort Wilderness for several years and just last month they were able to experience first hand what we had been describing. We decided almost a year ago to take them along on a trip with us and set them up in a rented trailer at a camp site near ours. Once the decision was made, Carol got to work analyzing all the options. She did an online search, narrowed the list of rental companies down to a short-list of about a half-dozen companies who had pet-friendly units and started looking at dates and specific trailers.
She was able to find a very roomy 5th Wheel Trailer quite quickly through a small, family owned-business and before you could say "It was all started by a mouse" she had the two camp sites reserved and the trailer booked for a two-week stay. Carol used our reliable travel agency, Mouse Fan Travel, to book the camp site and worked closely with Rod, the owner of the camper rental company, to ensure that we ended up in side-by-side sites at the campground. We had given Disney agents our permission to share our information with Rod so he was able to text us the campsite numbers Disney had assigned before we arrived. They were exactly where we had hoped to be so we gave him the go-ahead to set up before we pulled in.
We arrived on Valentine's Day and there was John and Sybil's little Shangri-La, fully equipped and ready for occupancy. It had been delivered to the campground that morning, set up on the site and all the utilities were connected. The patio mat was in place in front, four lawn chairs had been arranged on the mat, the electric golf cart (included in our rental package) was fully charged and ready to go! How easy was that?
Here's a YouTube video showing a typical trailer being set up!
Naturally we added a few little touches of our own, a Mickey Mouse lamp post and some Mickey rope lights - then it was perfect!
The trailer was wonderful; a 35-foot-long, 5th wheel model with three slide-out rooms, two in the living area and one in the upstairs bedroom. John, Sybil and our son Rob were very comfortable and had plenty of elbow room.
When they entered the RV, the kitchen, dining area and living room were on their left and the bathroom and bedroom were up a few steps to the right. The unit was fully equipped with dishes, pots, pans, utensils, toaster and coffee maker. Even the coffee filters were included - nothing was overlooked.
All the linens were supplied; the bed was made and the towels were hung when we arrived. It could not have been simpler; the only thing we had to do was pull out the hide-a-bed couch at the end of the day - that's where Rob slept.
The living room had a couch, two very comfortable recliner chairs and a large entertainment centre with television, stereo and DVD player.
The kitchen contained a large refrigerator, microwave oven, three burner gas range, double sink, toaster, coffee maker and all the pots, pans, utensils and cleaning products you need. All we had to add were some groceries!
Opposite the kitchen was the dining area, a table and four chairs, which also doubled as Sybil's computer desk!
Up a few steps from the living area, behind a solid privacy door, was the three-piece bathroom. There was a full adult-sized shower, a porcelain toilet and a sink and vanity.
Past the bathroom was the bedroom which offered a very comfortable queen sized bed, plenty of closet space and loads of drawers for storage.
Before long John, Sybil and Rob were all settled in their new home and it was time for them to discover what makes a Fort Wilderness vacation so much different than staying at any other Disney resort.
It is very difficult to explain how comfortable a Fort Wilderness vacation is . . . it's probably due to the distinct absence of any "hustle and bustle". No one there is in a hurry, everyone is laid back.
People stroll at Fort Wilderness; they ride bicycles; they take nature walks and they walk their dogs. Total strangers will say hello as they walk past, often they will stop and chat. It's like stepping back 50 years in time to those good old days when we smiled at our neighbours and they smiled back.
The campground is filled with wildlife; there are thousands of squirrels but there's so much more than that to see. The folks in the camp site next to us were from Maine and they spent a great deal of time sitting out in lawn chairs behind their RV. Every day they spotted deer and wild turkeys as they waited to see that hard-to-spot pileated woodpecker we often heard rapping in a nearby tree. As I sat reading under the awning of our RV I often heard, and occasionally saw, the cardinals which were nesting in the palmetto bush just a few feet away.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like being away out in the wild, not by a long shot. There are plenty of activities for all ages at the campground . . . but it's also very easy to just "mellow out" there.
What a treat to wake up in the morning hearing the boat whistles in the background! The boat ride to the Magic Kingdom is a wonderfully scenic way to start your day. And every night you can hear both Wishes and Illuminations - you can even see them through the trees from some camp sites! The Fort Wilderness beach is a terrific spot to watch the Wishes fireworks show as the starbursts reflect off the waters of Bay Lake. The sound track is piped in, so you don't miss a thing! Then at 9:45 every night the Electric Water Pageant sails by.
Even our dogs love Fort Wilderness Resort; they looked forward to their golf cart rides to the off-leash dog park!
There are so many things we love about Fort Wilderness; I've barely scratched the surface.
Was our rental experience perfect? The 5th wheel trailer was very nice but we did have a little plumbing issue. A call to the company brought an immediate resolution. Rod was there in no time; the issue was fixed and all was working again in just a few hours. He was very easy to work with and very responsive whenever we called or texted him, before our arrival and after. We were really impressed with the service and definitely recommend the company to others.
You might be wondering how John and Sybil enjoyed their stay. We quickly settled into a routine; after breakfast at our individual campers we all hopped in the car and headed to one of the theme parks for a few hours. Lunch was sometimes a quick counter-service meal as we left the park to head home for the afternoon; other times we had sandwiches at the campground. Everyone relaxed for the afternoon. Some of us went to the pool, some to the off-leash dog park, some napped or sat in the sun reading. Ahhh! Nice! Most evenings we returned to one of the parks for dinner and a few more attractions. We had plenty of fun with no "hustle and bustle."
On the trip home John said, "That was worth every penny we spent. We had a wonderful time!"
Would they do it again? Oh yeah - in a heartbeat.
So if you think you would like to give Disney camping a try, why don't you get busy with that search, rent a camper, book a camp site and make it happen!
The previous post in this blog was Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler - March 2014.
The next post in this blog is The Imagineers - Doing It Right!.