Camping at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground can be an exciting and sometimes overwhelming experience, especially for a first-time camper. Just recently, my family decided to take the leap and tent camp for the very first time. We planned months in advance to prepare for this trip and learned a lot along the way.
Here are the top 10 items that we found to be the most important to consider when experiencing the great outdoors, Disney style.
Bring your bikes
This is not a must but having your bikes definitely makes it easier to get around the resort. Fort Wilderness is a big resort and offers internal bus service but hopping on your bike is one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to get around. Large sidewalks, flat terrain, and lots of bike racks make it easy to explore the resort.
Pack twinkle lights
In addition to giving your campsite a bit of character, twinkle lights make it easier find your campsite when returning in the dark after a long day at the parks. There is no need to worry about packing long extension cords either, we were able to find some relatively inexpensive twinkle lights that were solar powered.
Consider renting a golf cart for a day or two
Renting a golf cart can be a lot of fun! This is especially true if you are traveling during the holidays around Halloween or Christmas. During the holidays, campers go all out decorating their sites with lights, inflatables, and even custom-built decorations. Spending a day exploring the resort and viewing the campsite decorations can be an enjoyable experience. To reserve a golf cart, you can make a reservation by calling Disney at (407) 824-2742 or stopping by the concierge desk to see if one is available. The rental fee is currently $59 a day but we found it to be an enjoyable splurge for a day or two.
Don’t forget flashlights
Camping loops have just a few lights scattered about and it’s surprising just how dark it can get at night. Walking to the comfort station late at night can be a bit creepy for the inexperienced camper. If you’re not used to it, it’s not that hard to get spooked by a noise or movement in the bushes. I’ll admit, the first night walking to the comfort station, I was startled by a fuzzy little rabbit just minding his own business. Having a flashlight with me made it easier to see where I was going and also provided me the peace of mind to go by myself even on the darkest of nights.
Bring mosquito repellent
You may think bringing along mosquito repellent is an obvious item to pack when visiting Florida, but since I rarely have problems with mosquitos bothering me while at Disney, it was an item I almost forgot to pack. Turns out, even though the temperatures weren’t overly warm while we were there, there were still a lot of mosquitos on our loop.
Pack a fan
Packing a fan may not be an item that instantly comes to mind as a necessity when camping but a fan provides two benefits. First, it circulates the air in the tent, which is helpful on those warm nights. Second, and what we found to be the most important, a fan drowns out the noise from other campers and chirping frogs that may want to keep you up at night.
Be prepared for weather changes
As everyone knows, Florida weather can change in an instant. During our first camping experience, we had warm days, cold days, rainy days, and windy days. It felt like we went through nearly all the seasons in just one week but we learned that you have to be prepared. Unlike staying in a resort room, you can’t really escape the weather when your tent camping, so it’s a good idea to pack an extra pair of jeans or warm fuzzy pajama pants, bring an extra tarp to drape over the tent in case of rain, and use camping rope and the proper stakes to secure tents and canopies.
Purchase sand tent stakes
Before our trip, we researched Fort Wilderness tent sites and learned that they include a concrete pad and sand tent pad. Since the stakes that usually come with tents are just a simple metal stake, we quickly realized that those stakes would probably not work as well as we’d like in sand. Instead, we wanted stakes specifically made to be used in sandy ground. After a little bit of research, we found some several economical options online. These stakes worked great and even in medium wind gusts held securely.
Know the rules
Before your trip, review and take note of the Disney camping rules for approved and banned items. For me, the ideal camping experience isn’t complete without a relaxing campfire to roast marshmallows. However, did you know that Disney does not have fire pits at the campsites and if you bring your own, only certain designs of fire pits are allowed? Luckily, we discovered this before our trip and were able to purchase an approved fire pit.
Buy and pack smart
It’s hard not to load up on gadgets and ever little odd and end item that you think you might need to pack for your first camping trip. Instead, try to pack light and only purchase what you definitely think you’ll need. This is especially a good plan if you’re exploring tent camping for the first time and aren’t sure if you’d want to take this adventure again. With this in mind, we borrowed some items and watched for discounts on other items. While camping, if you discover there is something you wished you’d packed then it’s just a short car ride away to a local store or short walk to the camp store. The one item that we discovered while camping that we should have packed, a full-size broom to sweep the sand out of the tent each day.
Overall, we enjoyed our camping experience! In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we’ve already booked our next camping adventure to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. We found the camping experience to be very relaxing and we loved being surrounded by the outdoors especially all the wildlife. Where else but Disney can you visit Mickey and see deer, wild turkeys, armadillos, and rabbits all in the same day? Maybe it’s time to start planning your first Disney camping trip.