Weather – Like death and taxes, weather in Florida during the summer is guaranteed. It’s going to be hot—pushing 100 at times—and it’s going to rain…daily. Now, you could have days where it does rain an entire day, but those are rare. A typical summer rain storm could last as little as ten minutes, or as long as an hour, but once it passes, the sun comes out again and things dry relatively quickly. Rain storms can actually be nice as they can drive the temperature down a bit after they pass. So what does this mean to Fort Wilderness campers? A few things, actually.
Be sure to bring plenty of water to keep with you. The beauty of the Fort is the outdoor activities. Stay hydrated. Even in the evening, it could still be 90+ degrees and sunny as you sit at Chip and Dale’s Campfire sing-a-long. Then, of course, you add the heat from the fire pits. Keep water handy.
Have a plan for the rain. Campsites can flood. If you are in a tent, prep for this possibility. If you are in a RV, look after your outdoor living space. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be in waist deep flood waters or anything of that nature, but I’ve seen sites that get about an inch or more of standing water during a storm. Also, if you have a meal planned for Trail’s End, check the radar before you go. Remember, the bathroom for Trail’s End is only accessible by exiting Pioneer Hall completely and walking for a bit outside. If it looks like rain is a possibility, bring an umbrella, just to be safe.
Lastly, if you are able, bring a little fan or a cooling unit. For RVers, nothing is better than sitting outside of your camper, watching other happy guests walk or ride by. A oscillating fan can be a big help in keeping your comfortable. Tent campers, don’t forget you have regular power outlets at your site. Fans or portable cooling units can be a big help either outside or inside your tent as well. My in-laws tent camped with us one July at the Fort. They took a portable, window AC unit, cut a hole in the side of their tent just big enough for the unit to squeeze in tightly, and brought a recycle bin for it to sit on. The tent was ice cold the entire time!
Crowds – Unlike the rest of Walt Disney World, summer can be a fairly light time to camp. I use the word “light” in relative terms, of course, as there really is no down time at the Fort anymore. However, Florida camping slows to a crawl in the summer, and Fort Wilderness is no exception. By comparison, the top Florida State Parks from the months of November through May are extremely difficult, if not impossible to book without close to an eleven month advanced reservation. However, during the months of June through October, most, if not all, of the same campgrounds can be reserved with little to no advanced booking. The reason for this is Florida attracts a lot of Northern, seasonal campers, who can once again camp close to home in their warmer, summer months. A lot of those campers—mostly retirees—who enjoy the Fort won’t venture down during the hotter months. The tradeoff is, of course, is that more families with children who are now out of school come and take their place. Still, most times the Fort can be booked without too far of an advanced notice, however, the loops and pools may be buzzing with more activity due to a younger crowd.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. Memorial Day weekend is a busy time, but the busiest time of the summer is the week of the 4th of July. We have routinely camped during this time, however, we don’t arrive until the Sunday after, which is typically when everyone is leaving. If you want to camp during this time, my recommendation is to book as early as you possibly can to ensure it. Also, arrive as early as you can to check-in, but, even then, expect a fairly significant wait to do so.
Lastly, my biggest recommendation is, if you are able, look to stay sometime in August. This has been the slowest time of the year in the past, and can be the only time of year you can find a discount on the campsites.
Activities – Much of the activities that applied in the Spring still apply in the Summer. There may be more things for kids to do at the Meadow Pool area as there will be more children than any other time of year. The 4th of July will offer an array of different activities, however. There is a golf cart parade in the morning, which will consist of guests and some Disney characters. If you are not participating in it—which anyone with a golf cart can do—you can watch from the curb alongside Fort Wilderness Trail. Like Halloween and Christmas, campers do a fantastic job of decorating their carts, and the parade really is a great activity for all ages (and it’s free!). Throughout the day at the Meadow Pool area there will be special activities, such as rubber duck painting (also free), and other child related things. Later that evening, before Wishes and the Electric Water Pageant, there will be games and activities set up on Clementine Beach. Then, for the 3rd and the 4th, you will get to see the special, Independence Day fireworks show, meaning if you are there for at least 3 days you will get to see 2 different fireworks shows. Warning: The beach will be PACKED. Packed like you’ve never seen it before. If you want a good spot, get there early, however, be prepared to deal with heavy crowds. Also, in light of recent, tragic events, things may change as far as where on the beach you can actually be.