Thursday, June 16, 2011

Trip Report - Part I

Back from 10 days at Disney World and where do I start?  We had such a great time.  Ten days seems like too much but not enough at the same time.  It was good to get home and sleep in our own beds, and rest our weary feet; however, I feel like we still missed things.  It just seems impossible to see and do everything in one trip, which is why you should go back…am I right? 

TRANSPORTION:  We flew into Orlando from the big airport in Houston bright and early on Thursday June 2nd, arriving noon-ish.  Transportation from the airport via Magical Express is great, easy and convenient.  No schlepping bags through the airport.  We arrived at Fort Wilderness around 2:00.  We were the last stop on the bus (which seemed to be theme during the trip!).  My group (Mom, Dad, 2 kids, & Grandma) arrived via plane and my in-laws drove.  Our cabins were not assigned in the same loop as expected, but the matter was quickly adjusted by the helpful cast member at the Concierge desk.  
Having not stayed at the cabins before, we had read about the need for a golf cart in order to get around within the resort.  Internal bus service is available, but with 2 kids (8 and 4) and 3 seniors (70, 76, and 77) we really thought a golf cart would be beneficial.  Disney rents golf carts, but we chose to go with an outside service called Tee Time Golf Carts.  They can’t go onsite to deliver the golf cart, but with a little phone coordination we managed to pick up our carts without any issues.  I would highly recommend them over the Disney golf carts, as they are about a third cheaper.  The owner, Kenny, does an outstanding job.  Our headlights weren’t working and the following day, Kenny had someone out to fix it.  He’s very easy to deal with.  
RESORT:  Fort Wilderness Campground is huge.  I remember staying there when I was young with my parents and their travel trailer.  I don’t remember the campground being so large.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  Since 1989, they have expanded a great deal in order to accommodate the cabins and more RV spaces.  There are three internal bus loops that run throughout the resort to take you to the various loops, trading posts, Meadows, Settlement area, and Outpost areas.   The Settlement and Outpost is where you can transfer to a bus or boat (Magic Kingdom only) to the parks.  

The Campground has a feeling of isolation to it.  You really don’t feel like you are in the middle of the Disney World.  You are aware of your neighbors, though.  Much of the brush is cut so you can see your neighbors RV sites or cabins.  I believe this is an effort to allow for easier maintenance of the campground and to keep rodents at bay.  Our cabin loop backed up to a gully and I kept warning the kids to watch out for snakes.  Fortunately, we didn’t see any.  We did see rabbits, squirrels, lizards, and lots of birds which the kids really enjoyed.  One night I heard a hoot owl outside our window.  

ROOM:  Our Cabin was perfect for our group of 5.  The cabins have two rooms separated by a hallway and bathroom.  The bedroom featured a double bed and bunk beds, small closet and dresser, and a flat screen TV.  The bedroom also had an outside door to the deck.  The living/kitchen area featured a full size kitchen (refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, microwave, 12 cup coffee maker, and stove).  The living area has a 6 seat built-in kitchen table, sofa, two side chairs/side table, another flat screen TV with DVD player, and a pull down Murphy bed (full-size).  In the living area, there is lots of storage in two cabinets that flank the Murphy bed.  The bathroom is quite large with a single sink, toilet and shower.  Lots of towels keep under the sink for our use.  Outside the cabin is a large deck, with a picnic bench, and a parking pad in front.  We didn’t have a car, but my in-laws did.  There is plenty of space for one car and a golf cart.  
The A/C worked great and the hot water never ran out.  Maid service daily.  The maid even washed our dishes every day; and we got towel animals a few times.  We used the deck railing to dry wet bathing suits and towels.
My Mom felt the Murphy bed was comfortable.  The double bed in the bedroom was soft, but lopsided.  My husband said he felt like he was sleeping on a hill.  I slept in the bunk bed one night and found them to be very hard.  The kids didn’t seem to mind.  
We did find a few bugs and one lizard in the cabin, but given the location, I’m not surprised to find them.  Otherwise the cabin was clean and well-kept.

RESORT AMMENITES:  Fort Wilderness could be considered a resort unto itself.  There are so many activities just within the resort that you could stay there and not venture into the park and still have a good time.  Walking paths, playgrounds, pool, pool activities, shuffleboard, tennis, volleyball, tetherball, playing in the sand on the beach, nightly campfire sing-a-long, meet and greet with Chip & Dale and movie are just a few of the free activities offered.  Fee based activities include things like archery, horseback riding, boating, fishing segway tours, canoes, bikes, etc.  
Two Trading Posts (Meadows and Settlement) serve as gift shops for the Fort.  Standard gift shop items can be found there plus a variety of camping items, some food stuff, and ice.  If you plan to use the cabins or your RV to cook meals, you should get your groceries elsewhere or use a grocery delivery service. However, for milk or snacks the trading post is adequate.  
The Meadows Trading Post area is also where the pool and bike barn (for rentals) is located.  The pool is quite large with a slide, separate children’s pool and children’s splash area, and a hot tub.  A small snack bar services the pool area but is only open for limited hours.  Daily planned activities occur in the pool area and include things like Disney trivia, giant Jenga, pool relay racing, sand art, and sidewalk chalk.  
The Meadows is also where the nightly Campfire and sing-along occur.  This is a must do at the fort.  Chip and Dale make an appearance and come around to greet everyone.  Campfires are lit for roasting smores (bring your own or buy kits); and Cowboy Bob leads the sing-a-long.  A Disney movie follows on a large outdoor screen.  Lots o’ fun.  The buggies come our after dark, so bring spray.  
The Settlement area of the Fort includes the marina, beach, Settlement trading post, Pioneer Hall (home to the Hoop-Dee-Do Review), Trail’s End Restaurant (table service restaurant), Crockett’s Bar, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom and other Magic Kingdom resorts, and the TriCircle D Barn where the horses that pull the carriages on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom are kept.  
A variety of watercraft is available for rent from the Marina to use in Bay Lake and the Seven Seas lagoon.  One day my husband, son and grandfather rented a Boston whaler while the ladies in the group went to the Grand Floridian for some shopping.  Another day, my husband and I took the kids out on the small 2 seater water boats.  It was fun to get out and view the resort from a different perspective.  

Next up:  Our Daily Trip Report and lots of pictures!!!!  Stayed tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Look forward to more on the trip. We've always said we wanted to try a FW Cabin sometime, but have yet to do so. Sounds like a great time so far!