So what the heck happened? Not being long term planners, this year we have been finding it very difficult getting a reservations in southern FL even with several weeks of lead time. A lot different than last year when it seemed fairly easy to find decent places to stay. All of the state parks that we checked were booked solid.
We were planning to go to the Tampa RV Supershow beginning on the 14th so what do we do between the 4th and the 14th? I guess in a moment of weakness or perhaps desperation, I decided to check out availability at Fort Wilderness. What?? A premium campsite was available from the 4th to the 10th. Before I knew it (after consulting with Rob of course), Mickey had lured me into making a reservation! As soon as the reservation was made, I ordered our Magic Bands so there would be time for them to get shipped to our mail forwarder and then delivered to us.
We really wanted to stay at Fort Wilderness until the 11th which was a Sunday but at the time there was nothing available for Saturday night, the 10th. Darn, perhaps the WalMart RV Resort (aka parking lot) would have to be added to our itinerary. But as luck would have it, I happened to check their website a week before our arrival and it showed a premium site available for the 10th so I quickly called to modify our reservation, adding the extra night. That worked out well.
So once again with our mouse ears and magic bands in hand, on the morning of the 4th, after saying goodbye to our new friends, we left Riverbend heading to Orlando, about a 134 mile, 2 1/2 hour drive.
After hitching up the van, we turned onto State Road 80E, then took a left on FL-29 followed by another left onto FL-27, heading north. After approximately 98 miles, we merged onto I-4, taking exit 62 to World Drive, then taking a right onto Vista Boulevard. A final left onto Fort Wilderness Trail and we were there, arriving around 1:15 p.m.
By the way, on our approach to Fort Wildnerness Mrs. Rand McNally once again wanted to lead us down some ill begotten path for whatever reason, and once again Mrs. Google (the Maps app on our SmartPhone) chose the more intelligent and proper route. The RVND has some redeeming qualities, but its routing algorithms are very poorly contrived – time after time after time it has tried to lead us astray despite our best configuration efforts. If you are thinking of buying one of these, don’t, get a Garmin DEZL or RV model instead. The only reason we have kept ours is because it is built into the dash and part of an otherwise excellent infotainment center by Xite and because we can display its image on the 32″ front TV making the routing info very easy to read.
On other visits to Fort Wilderness, we’ve arrived on a Sunday so we figured there would be a long line waiting to check-in but fortunately they had quite a few of the check-in stations open. We were second in line.
Our favorite site has been 631 so when I went through the on-line check-in process several days prior to our arrival, I requested the 600 loop. Unfortunately 631 wasn’t available – the only site in the 600 loop was 619, a site that backed up against the street, not creekside. Oh well, that would probably be okay. WRONG! After we stopped to unhitch the toad, we pulled into the 600 loop, Sunny Sage Way, and made our way to site #619. No way we were going to fit into that site and have room for the car. So we decided that we (Rob in the coach and me in the van) would head back to the staging lot near where we would park the coach and drive over to the registration office.
When we explained the situation to the cast member at the desk, she told us that that site was one of the longer ones at 75′. Absolutely no way was it that long! Someone must not have measured correctly (later we saw a smaller Airstream trailer on the site and it barely fit).
After doing a little research, she gave us the numbers of several other available premium sites, telling us to check them out in the car and come back to let her know which one we wanted.
So off we went! After driving around for a bit, we finally decided that site #847 would probably work best for us. After going back to the office and reserving that site, we made our way to the 800 loop, taking a left onto Jack Rabbit Way. Sometimes backing into the sites can be a little tricky especially if there are cars hanging out into the road but fortunately Rob didn’t have any problem maneuvering into the site. Check in was quick but it was after 3:00 p.m. before we finally settled in.
Nice site! Adequate privacy on either side and a large, expanse of woods behind it leading to a narrow creek and best of all, away from the road so no traffic noise. Of course, having a lot of trees is great, providing a lot of shade but not so great for satellite reception.
Once we settled in we went for a walk, heading through the woods to a bridge across the creek which ended up in Creekside Meadow, the primitive camping area. When we reached the road, we decided to take a right. Within a few minutes, a very nice cast member in a golf cart pulled up asking us “did you see the sign?”. “What sign?” we replied. “The sign that says the road was for service vehicles only” he replied. Whoops, guess not! Since there were no sidewalks they didn’t want anyone walking along the road. He offered to give us a ride back to the walking trail which we gratefully accepted. Once he dropped us off, we walked the trail back to the beach at the marina, passing by a few deer on the way, then back to the coach.
After our walk, we settled in for the night, looking forward to our stay here which we’ll tell you about in our next post.