A journey of
a thousand miles
begins with a single step
What to Expect
Flip Flop Dreams owners Cassandra and Ramon did a wonderful job of outlining everything you need to know about renting their OG - original glamper. The listing lays out specifications, amenities, costs, etc about renting out their unit. And all is exactly as it seems!
Mind you, we had stayed out at Fort Wilderness before, but I did anything far from "roughing it" with the luxury of a fully equipped cabin and a bunch of pixie dust. Cassandra and I stayed in touch leading up to our date of arrival and she reassured me as I geared up for my first camping experience. I overpacked as usual, because on arrival, we had everything we needed provided by this dynamic duo!
We requested an early check-in and arrived at Fort Wilderness around 1pm to find that Disney had a spot ready. Flip Flop Dreams were on their way, and as we waited, we parked in the main lot and went exploring by foot. Not quite literally though - you can walk, though it is a bit of a walk. Disney also provides free bus service between the main areas and a few other loop bus stops. You can also rent a golf cart - and it is highly recommended to do so in advance, as it can book up before you arrive!
At check in, Disney will provide you with a loop (neighborhood) and a lot number. They'll provide you with guided directions on how to access, as well as additional information on how to contact Guest Services for any other needs. Once we had that spot number, we messaged Flip Flop Dreams and they would check in with that information to access the grounds. After they arrived and set up, they advised us they were done and it was ready for us, so we proceeded to head back and check out our home away from home.
There is nothing more we can say about presentation on arrival!
We drove our car to our Preferred Lot (where the space is large enough for a vehicle or two) and found the OG set up ready to greet us!
They had the awning out and lit, the dust rug out with camping chairs set, table cloth on the table and candles lit - and if that wasn't welcoming enough, music playing. Presentation was perfect! What a way to be welcomed to a little piece of their heaven and a way to start your experience with them.
The camper itself is gorgeous! The color scheme and every bit of the details taken to heart and immaculately taken care of - the love in this just shines! The camper has a queen bed right off the entry way with two privacy screens. The kitchen and living area welcomes you to the main part of the cabin, where you can find a loveseat sleeper, booth dining table and kitchen with all the appliances you could need. Stove top, microwave, fridge/freezer, and sink - all fully stocked so you can cook rather than spend while clamping! The back of the cabin boosts a bathroom with shower stall and toilet, tastefully kept simple so the space doesn't feel cramped. And the hit of this all - the BUNK BEDS - four in total and secret hideaways that made my kids heart content!
Outside the camper, you'll find an outdoor kitchen with mini-fridge, sink, and griddle. So you have plenty of reason to keep you outdoors with the music playing and the drinks flowing. This is exactly what we did as we utilized the space we had at our lot - they come with picnic table, charcoal grill, and plenty of room to relax. We brought all the traditional camping foods and stayed put as we enjoyed what the two of these had to offer together!
Things to Do
Times are weird right now, so the below is all subject to change. But here is some of what to expect at Disney, plus what's been there in the past ... and we're anxiously awaiting to return!
Currently available (as of January 2021) - Hours can vary so check upon arrival
Temporarily unavailable (as of January 2021)
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
Campfire Lighting at the Meadow Chip-n-Dale Sing-a-Long
Places to Eat
If you want to do more than cook, then Disney has some options in store for you!
Temporarily unavailable (as of 1/23/21)
Ready to book?
So, you're ready to go! Let's get you set up!
We here at Adventure Somewhere will handle booking the site for you. Start by filling out the Fort Wilderness site request form by letting us know who is going, when you want to go, and some of your preferences. Don't know them all? That's ok! We can handle the details and can find the right spot for you.
We'll look for and hold the spot for you! With advance notice we can hold the spot at no charge, but the hold will expire in an specified amount of time. We will communicate that to you as we work through securing the location. That gives you time to work with Flip Flop Dreams to get the RV rented!
But I can do it myself...
But you save so much more time with a travel advisor! We can help find the right spot for you based off our travel experience. And because of our agency's unique relationship with Disney, we can pass on any perks they give to us, on to you!
Plus, we can help to fill your trip to Orlando with so much more to do!
Want to do more than Orlando? Let us know and we can see what’s available out there for you!
When booking a vacation on your own, you're not getting that level of service. AND it comes at no additional cost to you and with all the extra benefits!
We spent our weekend stay here in a cabin, since the idea of sleeping outdoors still did not settle with me (even with all the pixie dust). The cabins are all in pods with other cabins, so if you’re camping in tent or RV, you’ll have your own roundabout too. But neighborhood are lintermixed, so you can have a prime spot regardless of your lodging option!
The cabins sleep 6 and host even more! You walk into a living/dining space with full kitchen and basic hotel amenities provided (including coffee to start your day). The living area has a sleeper sofa, TV, dining table for 6 and plenty of storage space.
The cabin also has a bedroom with separate entrance with a Queen bed and bunk beds. You have even more storage here, including a closet and chest of drawers (and we know how imperative this is with kids)! The room has its own TV and Disney even provides a safe for your valuables in your home away from home. Full-size bathroom with shower/tub and toiletries are provided.
The cabin has an outdoor area which is perfect for gatherings! You have your own grill and a porch the extends the length of the cabin with picnic table. This is where inspiration for hosting a party here first generated for us - more on that soon though!
Already the great outdoors type? Bring your tent, trailer or RV and rent a plot.
There’s a whole new world (to me) of camping lifestyle that exists! But the comforts of home while you’re away are fantastic.
The various categories of campsites each provide what you need. All offer grills, tables, electrical and water, and for the motor homes even disposal and extra space to begin a few cars.
Campsites range from space for just a tent all the way up to a Premium site nearest the prime location - the Meadow (more on that later).
Once you’re parked, you’re home so get comfortable. Recommend to have a golf cart or bicycle for transportation, unless you don’t mind walking (like us)!
Forgot something? You have a shop onsite to pick up what you need - the selection isn’t large, buts convenient. Want to shop with cheaper prices? You still have access to your car, on-site with you and can easily access a local store. Don’t want to leave at all? Use a grocery delivery service to have it brought right to you!
And if you’re here doing the holidays, check out all the beautifully creative displays! These campers show up and it’s so impressive (and a great way to get in the spirit)! Below is even a shot of one of our personal friends and their family’s amazing dedication to this!
This is your vacation after all, so make the most of your time right on site!
So you’re here now. What is there to do?
Actually, what isn’t there! We stayed two nights and spent our first at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party which In hindsight took away from a weekend of what could’ve been R&R! We’d recommend for a short weekend to enjoy the camping experience only - any days over, add in the parks!
What’s in store at Fort Wilderbess?
Meadow Swimmin’ Pool & nearby playground
▪ Bring towels as they are not provided
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides from Crockett’s Tavern
▪ $55 for 25-minute (2 adults, 3 children or 4 adults)
▪ Reservations (407) 939-7529
▪ Boston Whaler (seats up to 6 guests); $45/per half hour
▪ Reservations not required, first-come, first serve
▪ Dockside and guided excursions available at marina
8:30A – 2:30P Horse Back Riding
▪ From age 9, $55/person
9A – 5P Canoe Rentals & Kayak Rentals
▪ From age 11, $13/person
10A – 3P Pony Rides at Tri-Circle-D Ranch
▪ From age 2 ($8 per child)
▪ Explore the ranch and see the horses used in the parks
6P & 8:30P Wagon Rides from Pioneer Hall
▪ $12 (10+), $8 (3-9), FREE (2 & under)
SUNSET Campfire Lighting at the Meadow Chip-n-Dale Sing-a-Long & Movie
11A-5P Meadow Snack Bar
3P – 10P Crockett’s Tavern open – beer, wine & bar food
430P – 10P Trail’s End open for Dinner (Reservations available)
5P–10P The Chuck Wagon open (by the campfire)
▪ Reservations recommended
▪ Starting at $38+/ child & $64+/adult (Category seating)
So what about this birthday party idea out here?
Our nature loving 7 year old wanted a birthday party of adventure. We wanted something different. We all also had discussed staying out here at some point. So after some careful thought and detailed party planning, we decided why not host a party here?!
It’s not such a far fetched idea as we’ve heard from friends about parties they’ve hosted or attended here as well! So we knew we were right on track for a great time!
We decided to a Wilderness Explorer themed party, of the UP kind, and have our explorer and friends enjoy the wilderness. We initially were planning to host the party at the cabin, as there was room enough for a small gathering. But our particular cabin was situated in a weird spot for outdoor running around. Had we stayed at the cabin, it would’ve been perfect for a good little cookout and scavenger hunt.
But for active elementary school kids, we decided to move to the Meadow and host it there! The Meadow has the main resort pool & splash pad, playground, tennis courts, bike rentals, and a covered gazebo with grills. There’s other picnic tables scattered around too in case the first-come, first-serve facility is completely occupied.
We fired up the grill, let the kids play, and after some time did some specially created Wilderness Explorer activity books. A lunch of burgers and hot dogs perfectly complemented the laid back day we had. We had a cupcake serenade for bringing in his 8th year, and still after all that - headed to the pool!
We had a later start time to the party, 3p, purposely to coincide with the Campfire Sing-Along. And it perfectly went with an empty pool for swimming when our kids all swarmed it for an evening dip! Those friends that lasted all the way through made their way with us to the campfire. We had also gifted all his friends with s’more kir party favors, so everyone was ready for roasting on the fire!
Logistically for our guests, it took some maneuvering but cost them nothing more than their time. Disney allows two cars per cabin, but will charge for those staying overnight. Otherwise if you’re a visiting day guest, just state your purposes and they guide you. Our friends had to park at the front and then take a bus to the location, and same in return. So packing light is ideal since a little trekking is necessary. But for the magic, it’s all worth it!
So you’ve decided to scrap the toy gifts and gift an experience ... but now, where do you start?
There’s really not a right or wrong to what to get, but you have to make sure that the gift is genuine and coming from YOU! Make sure that the gift of choice is something you’re willing to carve out the time to do, and that its the perfect gift for the child receiving.
Consider these points when making a gift choice -
1. Make it reasonable. Shopping for a toddler is very different than for an older kid, so make sure the experience is appropriate for the child of choice. There are places some kids can't enjoy because they don’t meet the age or height requirements, or it’s just no longer a right fit. Make sure whatever you’re planning on doing, it something the receiver would enjoy doing too!
2. Cost doesn’t matter! And by this, we don’t mean you have to splurge to make it special. The gift could easily be FREE! Bottom line, there isn’t a minimum or maximum to spend to make it the best gift ever! It’s the experience, not the price – DO NOT break the bank trying to get the right gift. Make it right for them and you!
There’s also an unspoken pact that you’re also picking up the child’s gift only. So if your child still needs parent accompaniment, don’t worry about picking up the parent or other siblings’ cost (unless you feel called to). There’s an understanding that sometimes we just need to be there but it’s not for us, it’s for them.
3. Make it memorable. Most of all, make sure that it’s something that will last forever. There should be no burden in the gift, only happy memories! And memories that fit the children at play.
Here are some of our favorite ideas that have either been given or received that we can recommend as a great starting point when shopping! I’ve outlined activities by price categories and at prices (current as of May 2019). The cost is for a single pass for the gift receiver (or a promo deal when noted), so remember the cost of your own and your child’s ticket too. And that all these can change - visit each particular companies website for current pricing.
Never underestimate the benefits you’re already paying for! Most annual passes have some kind of complimentary pass program, where a few will be handed out for use throughout the year. Use those perks to gift a priceless experience, especially for a child that doesn’t get to experience it!
And these are just a handful of what there is out there! Orlando has a lot more to offer that is popping up and can make an amazing experience gift (for adults too). We've only been able to get so far, but plan to keep searching for more one-of-a-kind dates!
Any big ideas we missed? Let us know so we can add to our list of gifts to give someone that wonderful experience!
We did something most annual passholders wouldn’t admit to doing.
We spent a whole day at Magic Kingdom.
As much traveling as we have done to all the other Disney parks, our eldest informed us we had never had done a FULL day at our park. And truthfully, it wasn't something we had necessarily planned to do because it's just so accessible.
As passholders, we're spoiled in getting to go whenever we want to. We make plans off of FastPass availability, do the allotted rides & maybe a few more with low wait times and leave. It's usually a pack-your-own-lunch, splurge-on-a-sweet-treat, we'll-be-home-in-a-few-hours kind of day. It's become easy to come & go to the parks and not fully immerse ourselves in the tourist experience.
But this particular end-of-summer Saturday. we brought their cousin & made our way over to Magic Kingdom for a fun-filled day of playing tourists in our home! And to see if we could do the majority of the park in a day.
The result may surprise most of you, as it did us, because we DID!
So I bet you’re asking, how’d we fair? And it would be selfish of us not to share how we made a magical day out of a HOT August day. Here’s our tried and true tricks that still to this day don’t fail us!
1. Download the Disney World app. Once you have tickets, you can upload them in the system and assign them to a park for FastPass selection at least 30 days before. And if you're lucky enough to be staying on property, you get an additional month and can plan 60 days ahead! The magic trick here and key time is 7am. The system uploads the new date at that time, so have your app open and thumbs ready to go to get the best availability.
We selected a few of the more popular attractions to do right at lunch time, so we could capitalize on the slower morning hours and because the popular rides we were aiming for weren’t available. But you could and should choose an earlier FastPass start time to get more done with minimal waits. Your goal is to get them as early as possible so you can add on more passes during your stay. You should also aim to book Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight or Space Mountain in that order, as they're the most popular attractions.
The app will also come in handy during your stay. Starting a few days before you can check back in for changes and cancellations. Yes, they’ll always happen because plans change once people get here. The morning of is particularly important, because as people get their coveted FastPasses, they may be releasing YOUR coveted FastPass.
Also, you may have to break up your party to get the FastPasses you desire, but you can try for overlapping hours. And if not, you can always try the kindness of cast members. If all members of your party have a FastPass but at varying times, they can usually shift to match one rider’s time so you all can be together. Disney is about making magic happen, isn’t it, and cast members are usually empowered to do so!
2. Come early. They say the early bird gets the worm, right? In this case it's true ... but be prepared for a whole flock of early birds too.
If you skip breakfast & come hungry, there's plenty of quick service options in the park to satisfy your stomach before you get started. Our little gem is heading to Starbucks right when you get in and using the Starbucks app to get extra perks! We use the app rather than cash/card, and for those that don't know, IT IS ACCEPTED PAYMENT IN DISNEY STARBUCKS! You can't redeem reward stars for food/drink or capitalize on promotional offers in the park (those rules don't apply to Disney Springs though) - but you can use the app to pay and GET STARS for what you would purchase in real life anyways! And for those that are spending savvy (like me), use Raise to purchase discounted Starbucks gift cards so you're saving even more! We grab and go, while delighting in our goodness and making everyone else gawk in jealousy.
The parks opened at 8am the day we arrived and we got in a little past 830am. The parks are quiet first thing in the morning, so use the Disney World app to look at wait times and hit any attractions that seem unusually low. Try to ride any of the above that you didn't get a FastPass for early on, especially with wait times that look made up - more on that next!
3. Ride anything with little to no wait. That's pretty obvious, but really, it’s a must.
Once we arrived, the boys decided to head to Tomorrowland and conquer Space Mountain (1) because it only had a 15 minute wait! Fifteen, 1 - 5, I said that right. We didn't have a FastPass for the ride and this was the lowest wait it'd be all day, so the boys got in line. Which left me and Elle to find a ride in the area that she could get on and that they wouldn't care to miss. Astro Orbiters (2) it is!
Once we all finished on our respective rides we met to get on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (3) and hopped on after a 10 minute wait. The boys are finally at the age where they can ride non-thrill rides unaccompanied, so they had a blast experiencing this game together.
The rest of the morning we hit up rides according to wait times and tried to get through a slew of attractions without losing any precious time:
(4) Mad Tea Party - 5 minutes
(5)Dumbo the Flying Elephant - 10 minutes + play time under the big top
(6)The Barnstormer - 10 minutes
(7)Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid - 10 minutes
(8)Mickey's PhilharMagic - 10 minutes
We got to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (9) where Elle was itching to go, and it had a 30 minute wait. We decided to swallow our pride and line up, since we had been running hard and it gave us a chance to plan the rest of the day. Plus this attraction also has another play area, which was enough distraction to make the time go by fairly fast.
4. Recharge at lunch and Order Ahead. While in line, everyone agreed they were hungry, so we decided on Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland for pizza and started to make lunch plans.
You can access quick service restaurant menus right on the app, and even better, you can Order Ahead on there - at no extra charge & once again saving you time. We accessed the app and picked out all our meals for lunch while we waited to board Pooh's honey pot. Once our order was complete, we paid, sent, and got back to our day.
The restaurant doesn't charge or prep your order until you hit the "I'm Here" button to advise them you're ready to eat! Once you get to the respective restaurant, go back into your app, advise them that "I'm Here" and wait for an alert that "Your Order is Ready" to head to the Order Ahead line to pick up your meal! It's that easy! This gave us time to find the perfect spot to eat, unwind, and also sit down rather than spend more time in line.
For us, we were able to grab prime seats for lunch - the windows that overlook the "its a small world" ride. Disney has action signs available to hold up to the unsuspecting guests as they sail by to do as you command (in our case, the YMCA and Chicken Dance were the most fun). The boys had a blast holding up markers that told them to do a random dance and applauded their audience for showing off!
Finished with lunch, it was time to start hitting up our first three FastPass attractions - so a little after 12p we headed towards Pirates of the Caribbean (10), followed by Splash Mountain (11), where I became unfortunate victim to get drenched on the way down.
5. Do something different. Since we used our first two FastPasses back to back, we had a little gap of time available before our last of the original three, Haunted Mansion. So we headed to do some shows we never slow down to see - Enchanted Tiki Room (12) and Country Bear Jamboree (13). Followed by something we hadn't before really ever done - Tom Sawyer Island (14). There we got to hide in caves, play on bridges and explore different passageways.
We also managed to find a quiet spot on the water that faced the parade route, so we got a view under shade and unobstructed (in its own right), for a unique way to see the Festival of Fantasy parade (15). It was definitely a hidden gem & welcome surprise! They have chairs and tables set up for picnicking and it would be the perfect spot to open a Mickey bar ice cream, to treat the kids after exploring!
6. Plan ahead. We head to our last Fast Pass after arriving on mainland, Haunted Mansion (16), which we used at the end of its allotted hour (you get an additional 15 minutes on the back end and 5 minutes on the front to access each FP). So while in line, I grabbed tickets for another FastPass. FastPass works in that after you're done with your original three for the day, you can grab more, one at time to use. We purposely put our 3 back-to-back so we could then fill in as we rode. So we got on the following rides and as FastPasses showed up for the ones available, I managed to grab.
7. Minimize spending with snacks. We try to keep our spending to a minimum when we're at the park, and today was no exception. We knew we were going to stop for lunch/dinner and made sure to order single meals big enough to share. We’ll also opt to order an entree and app to split if nothing else on the menu, and then a kids meal and a side for the kids to split as most come with more than enough food to get through the meal!
But since we were also going to spend all day here, we came well stocked with snacks. We love the option that Disney gives, in allowing us to bring snacks with no limitations, so we make sure to have an insulated backpack ready to go. With this we also make sure to bring reusable drinkware to refill with water; the insulated kind too!
If we do have to purchase, we try to make a stop in the stores for a quick bag of treats. A huge perk of being a passholder are the discounts they give in park and stores. That's no exception to food - so if you can find something to eat at a retail location, rather than a food stop - grab it here for less spent! Same goes for drink as some stores carry bottled beverages for convenience, but cheaper than at a quick service restaurant since you can apply your coveted discount to it!
8. Grab the perfect spot for fireworks. Since we had snacked all day, we opted for a very late, very light dinner. We once again used Order Ahead to stop at Casey's for hot dogs and created our dinner menu as we walked over. We found a table outside as patrons cleared their plates, and then waited for the alert that our meal was ready. Since we ate at the end of the dinner rush (around 9p, like we said VERY late), we were seated in the perfect spot for the Happily Ever After (26) fireworks display. We didn't have to worry about people standing in front of us or using our shoulders (and my case, tip toes) to get the kids to see. Everyone around us remained seated and we could peacefully enjoy the show in a contained area, content with our full bellies and rested feet. Perfect!
9. Make a game of it. We love that Disney introduces different ways to see the park, including the Sorcerer's Apprentice game which we always make a point to collect additional cards at the firehouse on Main Street before continuing our game. The game is time consuming though, as you have to hunt for portals and fight villains to unlock the next clue. It definitely is a distraction for the kids on a slow day, but since this was anything but, we skipped playing on this visit.
We did start using Play Disney on the Disney app and were collecting tokens for visiting attractions. Play Disney doesn't require any additional effort though. You just have your phone ready to go as you line up and then you've collected for just visiting. We got through most of the park, so after fireworks, we made it a point to get at least one more.
10. Finish strong. We had managed to squeeze in one last FastPass and really the second to last ride we could nab for the day - Peter Pan's Flight (27). We decided to call it after we had hit this Play Disney point and really our point of exhaustion. The park closed at midnight and we were content with our 10pm end time.
And though we missed doing one of the most popular attractions, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we had a better than good run. We had four little feet run strong all day, smiling ear to ear and we hit up 27 attractions! We couldn't be happier with how we ALL faired on our day as tourists.
Planning your own day? Here’s the order to nab FastPasses to make your day worth while.
It was a perfectly magical day! The type that you don't typically bank on but end up becoming one of your favorite memories. We're glad we had a little coaxing from a well-behaved kid and allowed ourselves all to be kids again for the day!
What does it mean to be an Orlando resident? Orlando - the name is synonymous with Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and so on. If you ever have that opportunity to visit to visit these places that put us on the map, we urge you to come! We get to call these places our playgrounds. If not because we have passes to visit year round but for a weekend getaway or a much needed staycation. We do realize how lucky we are that visiting these places are even an option while raising our children.
But beyond the parks that made us renowned, there is a whole other world of wonder here. Yes, they are in fact the reason we're even on the map, thanks to Walt himself. Before Disney came marching in, most of Central Florida was swamp lands and citrus groves, so we owe him a lot of credit to building our estate. But as a local knows, there's so much more than just theme park thrills here at home. The variety of local gems that make Orlando this wonderful melting pot of diversity, interests and activities is plentiful and can delight anyone.
Downtown is the heart of this city, and is so much more than the business district. It is the true central hub and makes getting to any of its four corners easily accessible. It's also one of our favorite spots, because we love the feel of true Orlando that it shines and the facelift it is continuously receiving to update with our expanding population.
And there's even more ...
And ALL this is a just a preview of this vast area and how much more there is to do.
... & we KNOW we missed so much more there that makes this place absolutely amazing. It truly lives up to its notorious hashtag of #orlandodoesntsuck, because really, it doesn't. Spend some time with a local outside the theme parks and really see how wonderful it is to call this place home!