Sunday, December 1st – time to move again! Our destination, the place “where dreams come true” – Disney World. Yes, another return visit – we just can’t resist the call (or should I say squeak) from Mickey and Minnie! It’s not that we’re big on visiting the theme parks (we’re not), we just like the lively atmosphere at this campground, the free and unfettered access to all Disney transportation and just wandering around the resorts (also free), especially this time of year.
Back in early October when we were planning our trip I had a tough time making reservations, Fort Wilderness was booked solid, guess like us everyone wants to be here during the holiday season to see all the decorations. I thought that a little odd as historically the weeks between Thanksgiving and Xmas aren’t usually all that busy. In any case, I finally found a window of opportunity and was able to reserve a premium site (due to our size we are best suited to a premium site) from December 1st checking out on December 6th. We were a little disappointed though since we had wanted to stay a couple days longer. But the good news is that the day before we left St. A, I just happened to re-check availability and was able to extend our reservation to the 10th.
Knowing it was only a 2 hour drive (127 miles) from St. Augustine and check in at WDW wasn’t until 1 p.m., we took our time in the morning getting ready for our departure from Stagecoach RV Park. Check out time was 11 a.m. and we were on our way around 10:40 a.m. Of course, being the Sunday of a holiday weekend, a lot of other people were leaving the campground as well, so the diesels started roaring early in the morning. I bet the place must have been a little deserted on Monday.
Hopping onto I-95, it was pretty much a straight run until we exited, taking I-4W towards Orlando. Traffic was heavy, typical of what you would expect at the conclusion of a holiday weekend but no slow areas. Luckily the weather cooperated this time, no torrential downpours, it was overcast but at least it was warmer than it had been.
After that, we were directed to a particular check in row (I think they had at least 6 rows open) at the Reception Outpost. Lots of motor homes, 5th wheelers, and trailers checking in, probably at least 4 or 5 units ahead of us. Since we have been here and done that before, you’d think we’d know that checking in on a Sunday right at 1:00 p.m. is not the smart thing to do, but for whatever reason, we had erased that very important bit of knowledge from our heads and did it anyway. Oh well, we’re not on any timetable! Besides, we figure the earlier we checked in the higher the likelihood that one of our preferred sites would be available.
The last two times we have been here we had scouted out some sites that we liked and those that we didn’t based on the location, privacy, width/length and how easy or difficult backing in would be (all the sites here are back-ins). Our choices are limited since we have pets so our site has to be on one of the pet friendly loops (but our friendly check-in cast member Kimberly hinted it’s not necessarily mandatory to be on a pet loop with cats). BTW, there usually is an additional charge of $5/day if you have pets but since we have indoor cats Kimberly waived the charge.
Finally we reached the head of the line, I think by this time it was about 2-ish. Kimberley, who was very cute and personable, was the cast member checking us in. Initially she was in a little bit of a dither – she had forgotten to give back a charge card to the person ahead of us so she had to make arrangements to have it brought to their site by another cast member. After reviewing all our info, Kimberly happily announced the #1 site on our list was available! Did we want that site? Heck yes! Just as a note, site #631 was the same site we were given (randomly) our first time at Fort Wilderness in 2011.
In prior years when we have checked into a Disney Resort, we were given plastic cards (like credit cards) which function as your room key, room charges, purchases and as an entrance pass into the theme parks. But this year Disney is testing Magic Bands as a replacement for those cards. Prior to our arrival here we were able to order two and have them shipped to us (no charge). For theme park visits, you can also now make “FastPass +” reservations ahead of time (even from your Smartphone) without actually being in the park, link them to your Magic Band and use it to gain access to a crowded ride. Pretty cool! Definitely an improvement over the old system!
Finally we finished up at check in and were able to proceed to Site #631 on Sunny Sage Way stopping to unhitch the toad at one of the pull outs along the entrance road. The loop roads can be narrow and curvy in spots, so backing into a site can be difficult due to the cars parked on the roadway and other “obstacles” (see below). But luckily Rob didn’t have any problem with this site.
I had to chuckle at some of the Christmas decorations. One site had so many huge inflatables – a snowman, Mickey Mouse, and who knows what else since they were kind of stacked on top of each other plus a variety of lights and other Christmas paraphernalia, you couldn’t even see the unit that was parked there. Their tow vehicle was parked halfway out on the street making it difficult to get by and definitely a problem for neighbors trying to back in. I have to say in this particular case it “brought down the neighborhood” (sorry no photo).
Disney has rules about holiday decorations – they are only supposed to be within the boundaries of your site, 5 feet away from sidewalks, 30 feet away from main roadways, must be in good taste, etc. As is often the case, rules can be ignored but at least the management has a written policy to fall back on.
We noticed that the next day, at the aforementioned site, there was some type of notice taped to their car, the following day they were gone so we’re not sure if they were told to leave or if they left on their own or what. I had wanted to take a picture but it was too late. The photo above right was one I took that night when we were walking around – this site was more tastefully done!
Once we were settled in, we took a walk down to the marina and hopped on the boat over to a quick ride over to Wilderness Lodge to see the Christmas decorations in the lobby. Nice day for a boat ride!
After walking around there for a bit, we headed back to the hacienda for a quiet evening.
Stay tuned, as you might guess more mouse tales are in the works!