Now, there will be a few things to consider when deciding which is best for you and your family. First would probably be cost. Immediately, I will make this declaration: renting an RV will always be cheaper (RV’s can be pop-up campers, travel trailers, 5th wheels, Class C motorhomes, or Class A motorhomes). Renting an RV is a cost you can control. Depending on what kind of RV you choose, Fort Wilderness will have different categories of campsites, all with varying costs. If you are looking for the cheapest option available, renting a pop-up camper is the best way to go. Fort Camper Rental offers a variety of pop-ups for $69.00 plus tax per night with a three night minimum. For the sake of discussion, we will say you are looking into a 5 night stay for Christmas, one of the most expensive times of the year. Your cost for a 5 night stay would be roughly $870.00 ($345.00 for the pop-up rental, $525.00 for the campsite). Going for the same time span during September—one of the cheapest times of year to go—would be roughly $590.00 ($345.00 for the pop-up, $245.00 for the campsite). By contrast, staying in a cabin at those times would be $2500 ($500.00 per night) and $1470 ($294.00 per night), respectively.
Let’s say you are interested in something bigger. Something with a bathroom, perhaps. Florida Camper Rental offers a Dutchman Denali 5th Wheel camper that sleeps 10 at varying rates depending on length of stay. Our previously discussed 5 night stay during the aforementioned times of year would be roughly $1345.00 ($725.00 for the 5th wheel rental, $620.00 for the campsite) and $1055.00 ($725.00 for the 5th wheel rental, $330.00 for the campsite) for a full hook-up site (cheapest of the campsites that will accommodate a 5th wheel) and $1410 ($725.00 for the 5th wheel, $685.00 for the campsite) and $1130.00 ($725.00 for the 5th wheel, $405.00) for a premium site (most expensive campsite). As you can see, even going with a very large camper (the Dutchman Denali is 32 feet long) and the most expensive campsite, you are still saving anywhere between $340.00 to $1090.00 by renting a camper.
Another thing to consider is your location within Fort Wilderness. The cabins are located in loops 2100 – 2800, which are the farthest loops from the Meadow Pool area and the Waterfront area. There is the smaller Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool located near the 2500 loop, but that is even a fair walk from most of the cabin loops. If you are renting a camper, on the other hand, you will always have the option of upgrading your campsite until you get a loop in the location you prefer. For instance, if you rent a pop-up camper you are not obligated to be in the pop-up loops (2000 and 1500), both of which are also a good distance from the Meadow Pool area and the Waterfront. You have the option of choosing a premium or preferred site and being close enough to walk to most everything you will want to get to. Obviously, if you are in a cabin you still have the option of having a golf cart or bicycle as transportation, and—if you don’t mind—bus stops are located throughout the cabin loop areas, but if walking is your preference (perhaps you have children in a stroller) then the cabin locations may be an issue for you.
With location and cost out of the way, you will want to think about your living accommodations and the space you will need. Renting a pop-up camper to save money means nothing if you are vehemently opposed to showering in a public bathroom. Even the larger campers, such as the Denali, will have a smaller bathroom than what will be available in the cabin. Most camper showers are extremely tight, and hot water is at a premium. Though most of the larger campers you will rent will have a full kitchen (stove, microwave, fridge, etc.), they will be much smaller than the accommodations in the cabins. Most camper refrigerators are not full size, which can be a problem on extended stays. Ovens, likewise, do not have the capacity for larger dishes. Another perk of the cabins is that housekeeping will pay you a visit each day, just as they would had you rented a room at one of the resort hotels. Their duties of tidying up will also extend to washing your dirty dishes. Of course, this is not so with a rented camper. In short, cabins will always give you more space and provide you with less work. They are very similar to the one bedroom villas found elsewhere on Disney property (in my opinion they are much better than the one bedroom villas, but that is a different discussion for another time).
As for outdoor living, both cabins and campers will have ample space to enjoy the beauty of Fort Wilderness. Each cabin has an elevated deck, complete with charcoal grill and picnic table. Likewise, each campsite is equipped with a similar grill and picnic table. The biggest difference for me, as far as outdoor living goes, is that nearly all campers have some type of awning that can be extended to provide shade, whereas there is no awning over the cabin decks to provide any type of relief from the sun (of course, there may be natural shade provided by surrounding foliage).
So there you have it, three things that you should consider when deciding on how to stay at Fort Wilderness. Ultimately—like most things on Disney property—it will boil down to what you are willing to pay for. Regardless of what you decide, the important thing is to know that just because you don’t consider yourself a “camper” doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fantastic things Fort Wilderness has to offer.