Well this is our last day at Fort Wilderness and Friday morning we will be heading south to Riverbend Motorcoach Resort near LaBelle, FL which is a – about a 135 mile 3 hour trip. Riverbend is a Class A only ownership resort and seems to get good reviews. We managed to snag a site at off season rates because the owner wanted some income from the site while he is not there. Typically the class A resorts on the west cost this time of year are very pricey and many are notably higher priced than Disney.
After 15 days here (seems a lot longer!) Fort Wilderness is practically home – I can’t speak for Linda but I could easily spend all winter here. This “campground” has got to be the most relaxing resort here and we enjoyed that peacefulness immensely. It is probably my favorite place to stay in the Discovery of any place we have stayed so far. It’s friendly and pleasant (most of the time) without the pretentiousness of some of the ownership resorts. Throw in the Disney “attitude”, the transportation system, the meticulously maintained facilities, the great bike trails and all sorts of other stuff and it is a great place to be.
I’m even considering getting my launch license so I could potentially apply for a job as captain/crew on one of the many boats that transport guests about the area. We’ve heard rumors that employment may be the key to long term stays here for cheap – we have been told of some campers on site that have literally been here for years.
Anyway a few miscellaneous items of note:
- According to Disney ticket desk at the Wilderness Lodge we DO qualify for resident status. We can use our FL registration and/or insurance documents as proof. This would allow us to purchase discount park admission – currently $99 for three days or $129 for 4 days – that’s 50-70% off the regular non-resident rate. Having said that, we only went into the parks for one day out of 15 and that was enough, so the cheaper tickets are just another great perk that would probably encourage us to slow down and enjoy the Theme Parks at a less hectic pace.
- For those of you that visit Disney on vacation, we would recommend you pop over to Fort Wilderness some evening to catch the campfire sing-along and/or evening movie. Also you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and view the Electric Water Pageant every night from the docks. I would even suggest trying the cabins in lieu of a room at one of the other resorts – we didn’t see inside, but a few folks we talked to seemed to like them just fine. For you tent campers, there are plenty of nice tent sites (paved parking for the cars and a sandy area to pitch the tents) and the “comfort stations” are plentiful, modern, very well equipped including washer/dryer’s and very clean. Transportation is easy to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and all the local resorts via boat and monorail and everywhere else via bus.
- Even if you never go into the theme parks it is well worth staying here – there is plenty to do. All Disney resorts are yours to enjoy and transportation is included at no charge. We had a great time just riding the boats and monorail around and exploring the resorts – they all have very detailed and sophisticated theming, award winning architecture and are loaded with one of a kind works of art and memorabilia. For example we took a (free) hotel tour of Wilderness Lodge the other morning and learned a great deal about the thought processes that went into the design and execution – very interesting stuff. Some of the actual cars from Walt’s original backyard train are tucked away here off the lobby of the Villa’s building.
- There’s a great paved path that runs from the stables area at Fort Wilderness over to Wilderness Lodge – about a mile of wide paved trail through pleasant woodlands. A side path takes you down along the shore of Bay Lake and exits next to the bike rental building at Wilderness Lodge. If you stay at either resort, this is a great walk or bike ride.
- On room only reservations Disney will give a limited number of discounts to AAA members which in our case amounted to 20%. Even if you don’t get the discount on the first try, keep trying – on the last part of our stay at the last minute we were able to get the reduced rate.
- I don’t know the exact date this year, but if you are planning a stay here, the rates tick up in mid-Feb and rise from there until the Fall so plan accordingly.