What's on YOUR Disney Bucket List?

Posts tagged ‘WDW Campgrounds’

41: Visit Fort Wilderness at Christmas to see the decorated RVs

Though Christmas is over, I still have one more holiday item on my Disney Bucket List to share. And, hey, we’re still  in the holiday season, aren’t we :) ? The merriment’s not over yet… so, here we go!

Fort Wilderness – the Walt Disney World Campground — is not unlike the rest of the Walt Disney World Resorts in that it gets all dressed up for the holidays.

Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (6)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (29)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (21)
However, this is the ONLY place in Disney World where guests take a primary role in the decorating! And it really is like nothing else – at Disney World or anywhere else. Just take a look… and remember, these are campsites :).

Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (1)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (30)
Christmas Fort Wilderness Disney (3)
Christmas Fort Wilderness Disney (4)
Christmas Fort Wilderness Disney (5)
Christmas Fort Wilderness Disney (6)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (31)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (33)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (34)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (35)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (36)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (38)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (39)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (40)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (41)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (2)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (3)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (4)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (5)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (7)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (9)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (10)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (11)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (13)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (15)
Fort Wilderness Christmas Disney (16)
Of all the amazing Christmas displays all over Disney World, the ones at Fort Wilderness are my very favorite. Here is our humble little contribution to the celebration!

Fort Wilderness Disney Christmas tent
Happy New Year from a bunch of Happy Campers :) !

Bucket List Bonus! See the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue!

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (6)
Pioneer Hall!

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (14)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (27)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (39)
All-you-can-eat fried chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, corn bread, baked beans, corn, and salad… brought to you by the bucketful!

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (37)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (38)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (69)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (71)
(Okay, this is a little embarrassing… the fried chicken smelled so good that I took a bite before grabbing my picture. Whoops!)

Did I mention the Strawberry Shortcake?

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (81)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (83)
Or the all-you-can-drink soda, beer, and sangria (for those of age, of course)? (Read that again. Then again. Yep. It’s true.)

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (51)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (53)
Amazing musicians and hilarious actors in a “Wild West”, vaudeville-style show!

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (65)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (78)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (75)
More fun than you can shake a stick at!

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (64)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (84)
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (61)
It’s the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds! And once you go, you’ll understand why families return year after year on their Disney vacations. This dinner show (one of the longest-running in the U.S. at 40 years and counting) is a quintessential Disney experience… great entertainment, yummy food (in buckets!), and oodles of fun and laughter with family and friends. I can’t believe we waited so long to do this, and I have a feeling it’s going to become one of our traditions, too.

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (45)
You can learn more about pricing, seating options, and how to make your Advanced Dining Reservation here.

92: Watch “Wishes” from the Polynesian Resort Beach

There is nothing quite like standing on Main Street U.S.A. facing Cinderella Castle, capping off a wonderful day at the Magic Kingdom by watching Wishes, the nighttime firework spectacular!

Magic Kingdom Wishes Fireworks (4)

Magic Kingdom Wishes Fireworks (6)
Magic Kingdom Wishes Fireworks (2)
But did you know there are a few other terrific places to view this beautiful show without even entering the Park?

I put the Polynesian Resort as my spot to watch on my Disney Bucket List. It has a perfect straight-on view of Cinderella Castle, and offers the closest view to what you see in the Magic Kingdom. (My picture here shows the Castle in the daytime—the view in the evening really is great, but my camera just couldn’t catch it!).

Polynesian Resort

Best of all, you get to relax on one of these babies!

Polynesian Resort Beach Chairs (1)

The Contemporary Resort also offers a fantastic view. You can find these AWESOME seats on the overlook jutting out of the fourth floor (the floor with the shops, Contempo Café, and Chef Mickey’s ). But take it from me, you’ve got to arrive EARLY to score these seats. I’d suggest grabbing a spot on the bench about an hour before showtime.

Contemporary Resort Wishes Fireworks (9)
It’s worth it—if you can get those first two seats, it’s like having your own front seat for Wishes :).

Contemporary Resort Wishes Fireworks (20)
Contemporary Resort Wishes Fireworks (42)

The magical music of Wishes is piped into all of these locations, but the Contemporary Resort gets my award for the best sound! This is also an interesting view because you can really get a feel for where these Fireworks are firing from, and how large a production Wishes truly is!

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort has a beautiful viewing area overlooking Bay Lake, and you can enjoy the lights around the Grand Floridian at the same time.

Grand Floridian (4)
Grand Floridian (7)

Grand Floridian (8)

You can also enjoy Wishes from the beach at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds (YAY, more beach chairs!). While you can’t see Cinderella Castle from here (and thereby miss a few of the lower fireworks), the beautiful reflection of the fireworks on Bay Lake gives this view its own special touch.

Fort Wilderness Wishes Fireworks

So relax, pull up a chair, and enjoy Wishes from a new point of view!

54: Meet the Walt Disney World Horses

You may have seen them on Main Street, U.S.A., pulling an old-fashioned street car or maybe even Cinderella’s coach during an evening parade.

SWW 006
They are the Walt Disney World Horses, and I was so excited to visit them at their home… the stables of Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds!

Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch (1)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Stables(117)
From the Walt Disney World website:

“Stroll through the stables to see Cinderella’s Ponies and the majestic horses of Main Street, U.S.A.. You can watch the blacksmith make horseshoes and affix them to horses’ hooves, and discover the Dragon Calliope—the horse-drawn musical instrument that Walt Disney purchased for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s.

Animal lovers of all ages will delight in the variety of breeds that live at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons and quarter horses, plus Shetland ponies.”

Upon entering the stables you’ll see a small room to the right, dedicated to Walt Disney’s love of horses and a pictorial history of horses in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch (41)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Walt Disney (50)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Walt Disney (142)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Walt Disney (141)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Walt Disney (145)
And if you caught that mention of the Calliope in the quote above… here ya go!

Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Calliope (73)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Calliope (72)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Calliope (71)
I’m happy to introduce you to a few of my new friends :)! You’ll find their names in the caption boxes for each picture. How did I learn their names? Well, since these horses are official Cast Members, they receive the iconic Cast Member name badge!

Cast Member Name Badge for Beau

Cast Member Name Badge for Beau!

JAKE

JAKE

JOHN

JOHN

BEAU

BEAU

RALPH

RALPH

SULLY (and Jake) :)

SULLY (and Jake!)

BLAZE

BLAZE

TOM

TOM

You can learn a bit about the horses from some facts included with their Name Badges.

Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch (151)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch (39)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch John (164)
Just outside the main building, you’ll find the home for these pretty ponies who pull Cinderella’s coach in parades and Disney Weddings.

Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Cinderella Ponies (67)
Disney World Horses Tri Circle D Ranch Cinderella Ponies (105)
Like so many other things at Fort Wilderness, visiting the horses provides a very peaceful change of pace from the bustling Parks. Boat and bus service for Fort Wilderness is offered to and from the Magic Kingdom (bus service is available to and from Downtown Disney), and you do not need to be staying at the Campgrounds to visit this special place.

Tri Circle D Ranch
What other ways can you get to know these beautiful animals? (Pricing/height & age requirements for these experiences is available via the links below)

  • Ride a Horse-drawn Carriage! In addition to Fort Wilderness, you can also enjoy a picturesque ride along the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans – Riverside. (During the Holiday season, carriages at Fort Wilderness are converted to festive “Sleighs”!)Disney Horsedrawn Carriage Ride
  • See Fort Wilderness on horseback! Horseback Trail Rides at Fort Wilderness are welcoming to beginners.
  • “Pint-sized cowpokes” can enjoy Pony Rides at Fort Wilderness. (Cute saying borrowed directly from the Disney website ;) )Tri Circle D Ranch Pony Rides (106)
  • Wagon rides at Fort Wilderness are available for families as well as large groups.

Saddle up :)!

15: Camp at Fort Wilderness

“I went to the Walt Disney World woods to live deliberately…”
Adapted ;)

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly what Thoreau said… but that’s what we did :). Welcome to our Fort Wilderness camping adventure!

Fort Wilderness is Walt Disney World’s campground. Guests can reserve campsites for anything from a small pop-up tent (like we have) to full-sized RVs. For guests who prefer to fly rather than drive (and who prefer a bit more privacy), there is an additional option (falling under the “Moderate Resort” range): The Cabins at Fort Wilderness.

Check-in begins at 3:00 pm, but my husband and I arrived at 11:30 am. We figured that we would just ask if we could stroll the grounds until 3:00 pm, but we were fortunate enough to be able to check-in early—right when we arrived! Check-out is 11:00 am, and since we were just putting up our tent, there really was no room turnover needed at our site. So, it’s worth a shot here to see if you can get in early!

First thing’s first: we had to get the lay of the land. The grounds have a perfect blend of beauty and fun…

Then we were ready for some serious pool time:

At last, we (and by “we,” I mean my husband :)) got around to pitching our tent. Each basic tent site comes with a charcoal grill and picnic table, and electricity outlets. Many thanks to the Disney Cast Members for the adorable pine-cone Mickey which was waiting there to greet us!

After dinner, it was time for the nightly gathering at Fort Wilderness: The Campfire and Sing-a-long with Chip and Dale! We roasted marshmallows and ate S’mores (we brought our own makings, but you can buy them there as well) while waiting for the Big Show.

The Sing-a-long leader arrived, and led us in some of the fun camp songs you might be familiar with (like “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” and some fun Disney touches like “The Mickey Mouse Club March”). Those were great, but he really won over all of the adults when he led “The Gambler” as a sing-a-long :).

Then Chip and Dale came along to join in the fun! Chip and Dale split up to greet every single guest at the Campfire, so there is plenty of opportunity for kids (and adults :)!) to have their picture taken and/or their autographs books signed. It’s very well organized—not to mention super-cute! They wrap things up by inviting everyone to gather in a good old-fashioned dance circle…

After Chip and Dale leave, it’s time for a Movie Under the Stars, if you wish. Fort Wilderness boasts the biggest and best outdoor movie screen on Disney property, and you don’t need to be staying at Fort Wilderness to enjoy the movie or the Campfire Show. Guests from all over property can come and enjoy. As for us, we chose to end our evening by catching the Electric Water Pageant and the “Wishes” Firework Spectacular from Bay Lake Beach.

When it came time to get ready for bed, it was off to the Comfort Station. Let’s face it: everyone wants to know about shared bathrooms, but no one likes to ask :). So, I’ll share! The Comfort Stations at Fort Wilderness are so pristine I actually snapped a picture:

Showers are VERY nice and roomy—dry dressing areas just inside the shower stalls are also nice and they do the trick for privacy, but they are tiny. The thing to note is that it helps to be strategic about your shower time, if you are able. Since bathrooms are shared, they can be busy right when everyone is getting ready to go to the Parks. If you’re able to plan your shower for an uncommon time, you may not have to wait at all. I showered after the afternoon in the pool, just before dinner, and had the place to myself.

One of the most stunning things about Fort Wilderness is that you are in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world… yet you are surrounded by peace and quiet. After a great night’s sleep under the stars (it was a beautiful night, so we left the rain fly off of our tent… until about 3:00 AM when it started raining ;) ), I woke up to take a dip in the pool for an hour prior to breakfast—I had the entire thing to myself… BLISS!  Then we set off for a wonderful breakfast buffet at Trail’s End.

Trail’s End has a reputation for being the best buffet value on Disney property, and now I know why. All-you-care-to-eat featuring all of the traditional Disney breakfast favorites (Mickey Waffles!) as well as some Trail’s End signatures (“Country Eggs Benedict”) for around $17 per adult.

By the time we left Trail’s End (taking a few trips each to the buffet ;) ), we had a little more time to explore Tri-Circle-D Ranch… but not enough! This place is amazing… Tri-Circle-D Ranch is home to the Walt Disney World horses, from the Shetland ponies that carry Disney brides in Cinderella’s Carriage to the horses that carry guests down Main Street U.S.A. in trolleys. Look for a future post on these amazing animals, because I’ll be taking more time to explore Tri-Circle-D Ranch.

Alas, we had to be back at our campsite to take down our tent in time for check-out at 11:00 am. As part of Walt Disney’s original vision for “The Florida Project,” Fort Wilderness is a truly special place, full of more surprises and fun than I had imagined, offering a truly special way to experience Walt Disney World without losing one iota of Disney magic. This place definitely makes for Happy Campers :).

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