Is a Preferred Campsite at Fort Wilderness in Disney Worth the Price?

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Thinking about a stay in one of the RV campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground? There are different types of RV sites available at the Fort. Depending on the site type and the time of year that you visit, the prices can vary greatly. Take a look at our own experiences at Fort Wilderness as we compare our stays in both a full hookup and a preferred site.

Fort Wilderness Preferred Site HERO

Camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Of the many resorts that you can choose from when vacationing on a Disney property in Florida, Fort Wilderness campground is a popular choice! Not only popular with RV owners, Fort Wilderness is also a great option for those travelers looking for a non-traditional resort stay! From RV and tent sites to fully furnished cabins, visitors to the Fort can stay in a variety of different accommodations.

We have stayed at Fort Wilderness twice over the years, both times having brought our own camper. The first visit was in 2017 and we stayed in a Full Hookup Site in the 1600 Loop. The second visit was almost 5 years later and we grabbed a Preferred Site in the 100 Loop. I will go into both sites in more detail below, but I will tell you that we definitely went back and forth for months over which site type we should choose.

One of the biggest deciding factors in ultimately choosing the Preferred Site during our second visit was the promised close proximity to the Marina and other amenities. Our golf cart has been acting up lately and has been inconsistent in performance at home. We didn’t want to haul the cart all the way down from Pennsylvania to have it break down in Disney. On the other hand, Disney golf cart rentals are pricey and we didn’t want to pay for the added expense. Disney guarantees that a Preferred Site booking will be somewhere in Loops 100, 200 or 300, which are the closest loops to the Marina.

After a lot of discussion, we went ahead and booked the Preferred Site. I was really hoping that we would end up in Loop 100. Our travel agent noted this request in our booking notes, but there was no guarantee.

Fort Wilderness Map

Accommodations at Fort Wilderness

There are several types of accommodations at Fort Wilderness. Please note that just like any other Disney resort, these options are popular and sometimes book out very far out from the actual travel dates.

Fort Wilderness campsites can be booked up to 499 days before the vacation and reservations can be made via phone (or through your travel agent).

Here are your options for ways to stay at Fort Wilderness:

  • Furnished cabin rental
  • Campsite (bring your own camper or tent, or rent an RV and have the rental company set everything up before you arrive!)

Fort Wilderness Campsite Types

If you decide to bring a tent or RV (or rent an RV) to Disney’s Fort Wilderness, you can choose from several different site types:

  • Full Hookup Site
  • Preferred Site
  • Tent or Pop-Up Site
  • Premium Site
  • Premium Site (Meadow)

Full Hookup Sites: These sites are perfect for most travel trailers and smaller 5th Wheels and Class C campers. The sites offer water, electric and sewer hookups and can accommodate rigs on a concrete pad up to 10 feet by 50 feet. You are allowed to set up one tent in addition to your RV on these full hookup sites.

Preferred Sites: The Preferred Sites are located close to the marina. They all offer full hookups (water, electric, sewer) and just like the full hookup sites, campers may set up one tent on these sites in addition to their RV. Preferred Sites can accommodate rigs on a concrete pad up to 10 feet by 45 feet.

Premium Site: The Premium Sites are the campsites to book for bigger RVs. They offer water, electric and sewer and can accommodate RVs on a concrete pad up to 18 feet by 60 feet.

Premium Site (Meadow): These sites offer the the same hookups and dimensions as the regular Premium Sites, however they are located in close proximity to the amenities in the center of the campground. These amenities include: Meadow Trading Post, Meadow Recreation Area, Bike Barn and Campfire Area.

Activities at Fort Wilderness

As you might expect, Fort Wilderness offers a long list of activities and recreational fun that visitors can enjoy! Many of these activities are typical to those found at a traditional campground. (This is part of what sets the Fort apart from other Disney resorts!)

Horses at Tri Circle D Ranch

Some of the popular activities at Fort Wilderness Campground include:

  • Swimming
  • Bike rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boat rentals (You can rent pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes in the Fort. Motorized boat rentals are available at the marina.)
  • Horseback riding, pony rides and carriage rides (possibly sleigh rides and wagon rides as well, depending on current offerings)
  • Campfires and Character Sing-alongs
  • Waggin’ Trails Dog Park
  • Arcade
  • Archery
  • Dining (Several dining options including 3 restaurants and a food truck. During our stay, we enjoyed food truck night and had several food trucks to get dinner from!)

Food Truck Night Fort Wilderness

Our Experience in a Preferred Campsite

We spent 6 nights in a Preferred site. Our campsite was located in Loop 100 and was campsite number 115. This site is a full hookup site on the end of the row and had a paved pad, plus some foliage privacy around the side and back.

The site came with a picnic table and had enough room to park our pickup truck in front of the camper.

Campsite 115 Fort Wilderness

When we requested Loop 100, we really hoped that our site would be close to the walkway to the marina. The marina is where you walk to catch the boat that takes you to Magic Kingdom. Well, location, location, location. If you are looking for PRIME FORT WILDERNESS LOCATION, it’s Loop 100.

I snapped this picture of the walkway to the marina from the road right in front of the truck that you see in the picture above:

fort wilderness walkway to marina

Our preferred site put us close to many amenities! Our campsite loop had a bathhouse (Disney calls them comfort stations) with shower, bathroom and laundry facilities. (Though come to think of it, I don’t think we used it at all.) The campground offers free WiFi and every campsite has cable hookup (don’t forget to bring your own coaxial cable). At the end of the walkway pictured above, you were just about a minute walk to the marina.

Also located near the marina:

  • Playground (one of several throughout the Fort)
  • Settlement Trading Post (one of two stores on property… half gift shop, half campground store with basic sundries and supplies)
  • Trail’s End Restaurant
  • Pioneer Hall
  • P&J’s Southern Takeout
  • Crocket’s Tavern
  • Arcade
  • Public Restrooms

Not super close to the Preferred Loops: Bike Barn, pool, campfire sing along, Meadow Trading Post

I was going to add the dog park to that list, but remembered that Loop 300 in the preferred loop is actually noted as a “pet friendly” loop and is adjacent to the Waggin’ Trails Dog Park!  This area is a great spot for guests to give their dog some time off the leash and have some fun playing.

Location was EVERYTHING for us on this trip, so we really loved the prime real estate. We spent 95% of our time in Disney at the Parks. The close proximity to the marina was excellent. It was also great to be so close to the restaurants and we took advantage of the mobile ordering from P&J’s Southern Takeout on several occasions. We were so close to the restaurant that the kids (including a teen) had a blast walking over to pick up our order. The night before we left for home, we ordered our entire dinner from PJ’s with mobile pickup! We enjoyed a feast of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, corn bread and mashed potatoes. YUM!

The other mobile orders we placed were for snacks and treats!

Mid-afternoon sweets and caffeine, anyone?

Fort Wilderness Mobile Food Order

Do You Need a Golf Cart in a Preferred Site?

One thing about mobility via Fort transportation is that the campground is not very vehicle friendly. Disney does this on purpose to try to cut down on motor vehicle traffic (to address concerns about noise, safety, etc). Golf carts are definitely a VERY popular way to get around Fort Wilderness. Most of the amenities at Fort Wilderness have ample golf cart parking, but little or no parking for motor vehicles.

We used a golf cart during our first stay at Fort Wilderness and did not have one during the second stay. Because our campsite was located so close to the marina, we felt that we didn’t need a golf cart on this vacation. I will add that we only went to the pool once and did not go to any of the other amenities located in the “Meadow” area of the campground during that trip. If we had, we might have missed the golf cart. However you still have other non-cart options to get around: bikes, walking, and of course, the internal buses that make constant loops around the entire campground.

How Does a Preferred Campsite Compare to a Full Hook-up Site?

In 2017 we stayed in Full Hook-Up site #1606. We had water, electric and sewer hookups and our site was located towards the middle of the campground. It was not far from the Meadow-area amenities like the pool. The site was nicely wooded and close to the comfort station. A golf cart was pretty much absolutely necessary to get to the marina efficiently. We could have taken the buses but we prefer not being held to their schedule.

fort wilderness campsite 1606

Our preferred site at 115 had the same hookups but again, the location set it apart.

Both sites seemed to be similar in size and both sites had concrete pads. Each site had a charcoal grill, though none of the sites at Fort Wilderness have fire rings.

In the 1600 loop, it became apparent quite quickly that to get to the marina efficiently we would need to hop on a bus or have a golf cart. This simply was not the case in the 100 loop. In the 100 loop, you are a short walk from the marina and food. These were our most-used facilities at the Fort, and therefore the 100 loop suited as VERY nicely! 

boat launch fort wilderness

Cost of a Campsite at Fort Wilderness

As you might imagine, the cost of campsites in Fort Wilderness is a wide range.

There are a few different factors that affect the campsite pricing:

  • Site types (as described above)
  • Time of year
  • Day of the week

In general, fall (September/October) and winter (January) are the “cheaper” times to stay at Fort Wilderness. Friday and Saturday night stays cost the most, while a Sunday through Thursday stay will run a bit less.

The cheapest site in Fort Wilderness is a tent/pop-up site. In 2022, the lowest per night cost for one of these sites was $74 (found on select dates in August and September). The same site maxes out at $186/night during the Christmas holiday season.

The most expensive sites in Fort Wilderness are the Premium sites. In 2022, the lowest per night cost for a premium site was $134 and the highest (during Spring Break and also parts of December) was $269.

How Much Does a Preferred Site at Fort Wilderness Cost?

Depending on the time of year and the day of the week, a preferred site currently runs between $125/night and $254/night.

We traveled to this Walt Disney World resort during early April, just a couple of weeks before Easter. As such, it was one of the pricier times to stay at the Fort. Our stay included a Saturday night, and we were there for 6 nights.

The average per night cost for our campsite 115 was $240.  (Which yes, is pretty wild when you really think about a typical hotel stay and remember that this price is for a CAMPGROUND. But, as we all know, nothing is cheap in Disney. So compared to the other resort options if you want to stay on-property, then the Fort remains a “value” choice.)

We love the non-hotel feel of the Fort. Besides the Disney branding, there are times when you forget that you are “at Disney” when you stay at Fort Wilderness! Instead of a stuffy hotel room, you can really enjoy some nature time at the Fort. We loved visiting the horses over at Tri Circle D Ranch. One morning a family of deer walked by our campsite! Other days we would frequently see a wild turkey family grazing in the field. After a long day in a packed theme park, the campground was the perfect place to unwind and recharge a bit.

How Do You Get from Fort Wilderness Campsites to the Theme Parks?

As you might imagine, there are actually multiple ways to get from your campsite to any of the Parks. Disney offers free transportation from the Fort by way of the boat or the buses. You are also always free to drive your own vehicle from your campsite to any of the Parks or resorts. Parking at Disney Springs is always free to everyone and parking at the Parks is free WITH resort stay. (Simply scan your ticket or magic band at the entrance of the parking lot and you won’t have to pay for parking.)

Here is how WE got to and from the parks from the campground: 

  • Magic Kingdom: THE EASIEST! Take the boat from the marina at Fort Wilderness directly to Magic Kingdom. This is the quickest and most direct park you can visit from the campground.
  • Epcot: We took the boat to Magic Kingdom, and then hopped on the Monorail from Magic Kingdom to the Ticketing Center. From there, we got on the Epcot monorail. This worked well, but keep in mind, you are taking a boat and 2 monorails. Leave at LEAST an hour to get from the Fort to Epcot.
  • Animal Kingdom: We drove our truck from Fort Wilderness to Animal Kingdom. The other most direct method would have been to take the bus.
  • Hollywood Studios: We drove to Hollywood Studios as well. The bus would have gotten us there, but we were rope dropping and wanted to leave the Fort ASAP, not wait for a bus and all of its stops across the campground.

The closest resort to Fort Wilderness is Wilderness Lodge. We had dinner at the Lodge one night and enjoyed the meal and the atmostphere.

Is the Preferred Site Worth the Extra Money?

If you made it this far, you can probably guess at what my answer will be. My entire family is in (VERY!) emphatic agreement that our preferred campsite in Fort Wilderness was absolutely worth the upgrade from a regular full hookup site! I do not foresee us returning to a non-preferred site on future stays at the Fort. The location was just so convenient.

The price difference between a Full Hook up Site and a Preferred Site is $10-$30/night, depending on time of year and day of the week. I was honestly shocked when I saw that price breakdown. I assumed that the Preferred Sites were a large sum more than the regular hookup sites. When I compared our vacation costs from 2022 to our stay in 2017, the factor that caused the more recent trip to cost so much more? Time of year. In 2017 we stayed at Fort Wilderness in early November. We were there after Halloween and before most of the Christmas activities began. In 2022 we were in Disney during PRIME vacation time (April/Spring/pre-Easter) and the per night campsite prices across the entire campground reflected this.

Now, keep in mind that I am writing this post with the 100 loop in mind, as that is where we stayed. However, I can tell you that the 200 loop was literally just around the corner from our loop. We could see it from the back of our campsite. The 300 loop was just beyond the 200 loop.

I am not sure how much further the walk is from the marina to the 300 loop, so that might be the loop where I consider a golf cart for a quicker trip to the marina. But my best guess is that the 300 loop is maybe a 5 minute walk from the marina, which isn’t too bad at all.

We loved how we were super close to the various activities but that the site itself was quiet and you could not hear the noise from the public spaces. One of our favorite things to do at night if we weren’t in a park was to walk to the marina and watch the fireworks over Magic Kingdom! There are speakers around the beach and dock areas that pipe the music in from the show. We caught two or three fireworks displays during our stay! 

Fireworks from Fort Wilderness

I hope this info helps you as you plan your own visit to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. If you have stayed at Fort Wilderness before, let us know what your experience was like! What site/loop did you stay in? Would you recommend it to others? Drop us a comment and tell us about it!


Fort Preferred Site PIN

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