Start Before You Book – Like all Disney vacations now-a-days, there are a lot of pre-trip options available to you. Unlike a stay at one of the Resort Hotels, however, there are decisions you need to make prior to even picking up the phone or firing up the website. Being that it is a campground, you will need to figure out your sleeping arrangements. For most, this part is easy. For those who really want to experience the Fort but don’t consider themselves campers, however, this is more of a difficult decision. In this situation there are basically three options to choose from: staying in a cabin, renting a RV from an outside company, or buying a tent. Once you have decided where you will lay your head at night you can proceed to the next, pre-booking step.
If you’ve decided on a cabin, congrats. You’re ready to pick up the phone and nail down your trip. Everyone else, you still have one last decision to make. Where will you stay? What loop? If you are a tent or popup camper, the Fort is your oyster, so to speak. You can stay anywhere, in any category of loops. For everyone else, your options are the full hookup sites, the Preferred sites, or the Premium sites. Your decision will, and should, be based on two things: location and cost. With every increase in loop category your cost per night will go up, but so will the choiceness of your location. If you choose to stay in a tent/popup or full hookup site be sure to also plan on requiring some form of transportation to get you around the Fort as well.
Book Your Excursions in Advance – As the Fort grows in popularity, it becomes increasingly more difficult to simply show up and do everything that you want to do. Most people don’t realize that a lot of the Fort activities are available to be reserved in advance. Things like reserving a golf cart, an archery lesson, a horse drawn carriage ride, a trail ride on horseback, a Hoop-Dee-Doo dinner show, and a meal at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ can and should be done as early as possible.
Pack for All Kinds of Weather – The Fort has a very unique atmosphere when it comes to weather conditions. Nature is a large part of the Fort’s appeal, but that can be a double edged sword. When it rains sites can flood and bringing extra footwear, or even just more socks than you normally would, is a great idea. Regardless of season, be sure to bring warm clothes. Of course, if it’s the middle of July you don’t need to bring a parka and heavy sweatpants, but I’d throw some type of jacket in your camper or tent just to be safe. This past July we were at the Fort on an extremely hot day which, like Florida days tend to do, turned into a torrentially rainy evening. After the rain cleared the temperature dropped to the lower 70’s, which made for an unusually cool boat ride to the Magic Kingdom. Likewise, if you’re tent camping, I’d be sure to bring at least one heavy blanket in the summer time.
Bring Cash – Unfortunately pony rides and the ice machines at the Comfort Stations haven’t caught up to the Magic Band technology yet.
Bring Snacks, Drinks, etc. – This probably goes for most Disney vacations, but staying at the Fort provides you with the unique opportunity to cook your own meals and save a few bucks here and there. Grills are provided at every site, so if you don’t feel like cleaning your own before you store it away again, bring charcoal and leave the grill cleaning to Disney. Even if you still choose to eat out every meal, bring some drinks and keep them in your fridge/cooler. Bring marshmallows for the campfire. Also, with the exception of the cabins, don’t forget to bring soap, shampoo, etc. Unfortunately, those cute little bottles provided in the resorts won’t be handed over to you at check-in, though if you ever do stay at a resort be sure to bring what you don’t use home. They are perfect for camping toiletry supplies. In short, don’t resort to buying the same exact stuff you can bring from home from the Chuck Wagon or one of the General Stores.
Bring a Cable Wire – Whether you are staying in a tent or a luxurious Class A motorhome, take advantage of an amenity not regularly offered by campgrounds. Cable television. And not just any cable television. Resort TV! The same channel lineup you would find in any resort. The Disney must dos, the resort information channel, the DVC channel, you have it all. If you’re tent camping and are able, bring a small TV from home. There will be power outlets beside the cable jack.
Hopefully, some of these tips were helpful to both seasoned and first time Fort visitors. The most important thing to remember about the Fort is that it is a campground so think of it as such. It will require a bit more careful planning than staying in a hotel, but the payoff will be worth it.