As a first-time camper from New York City, I had no idea what to expect on my trip.
I recently booked a two-night stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for the beginning of November. I paid $92 per night ($207 total after taxes) to rent my campsite and over $300 on camping gear.
As someone who was born and raised in New York City, I never thought I’d go camping. I had a very general idea of what it was like from movies and television shows, but that’s about the extent of my experience.
I was pretty anxious about my trip because I’d never camped, but I was calmed by the fact that I’ve stayed at Disney’s resorts many times and have always been well taken care of.
Even though I prepared, a few parts of my camping trip surprised me.
For just $92 a night, the campsite was more spacious than I expected.
I had never been to any kind of campsite prior to Disney’s, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Fortunately, the space we rented had more than enough room to fit our small, four-person tent. It was also equipped with a grill, picnic table, hose, and outlets to provide electricity.
We had plenty of room to spread out all of our stuff.
I knew pitching the tent would be difficult as a first-timer, but I didn’t know it would take so long.
Even with my party of three, it still took us about two hours to pitch a tent that was advertised as being “easy setup.”
After reading the instructions and watching video tutorials countless times, our tent still did not look similar to the references.
Luckily, we received some help and guidance from a fellow camper with years of experience. With her instructions, we were able to quickly finish correctly building the tent.
Although I knew there would be bugs at the campsite, I didn’t expect to see other wildlife — especially not turkeys.
Seeing squirrels and lizards didn’t surprise me because I usually see them at my nearby apartment complex. But I had never seen turkeys in person before and was a bit frightened by them when they decided to spend time near our campsite.
Fortunately, they left us alone.
I didn’t think I’d end up with quite so many mosquito bites.
I was glad I’d brought my mosquito-repellent bracelets because there were more bugs flying around than I’d expected.
We only kept the tent door open for a couple of seconds when entering and exiting, but mosquitoes were still able to make their way in and onto my skin and the sides of the tent.
Even with the bracelet, I received a couple of bites.
I was amazed by how many families decorated their golf carts and campsites.
The groups who were camping near us seemed really dedicated to decorating their golf carts and campsites.
We saw tons of decorations around the campgrounds and I had fun seeing the creative Disney-inspired setups. Out of all of the decorative golf carts I saw, the one designed to look like Mater from “Cars” was my favorite.
I was nervous about operating a golf cart but found driving it to be easier than a car.
I’ve only driven a car about 15 times in my life (excluding my road test) as it usually makes me very anxious. But when we rented a golf cart for the day, I built up the courage to give it a go and take it for a spin around the campground.
My friends told me that I was a better driver than they expected, which I was happy to hear.
I managed to transport my party around the property safely so I deemed that to be a success.
Fellow campers were creative when it came to getting around the campground.
Since cars can only be parked in the lot or at one’s campsite, they’re not great for exploring the property. Because of this, campers got creative.
Although many families drove golf carts, others biked and or rode hoverboard-like vehicles to make their way around the different loops or head over to the settlement area, various pools, and other spots.
I wasn’t expecting to see so many dogs around the campground.
Although I knew the resort and campground was dog-friendly prior to visiting, I wasn’t sure how many families would actually bring their pets with them on vacation.
I’ve only ever stayed at a couple of other Disney resorts that are pet-friendly including the Yacht Club Resort and Art of Animation Resort. I didn’t remember seeing many dogs when I stayed at either.
I was surprised to see tons of dogs around the campground and its Waggin’ Trails Dog Park.
Thanks to the resort’s Wi-Fi and my mobile hotspot, I had no problems working by the quieter pool.
Even though I was camping, I still had to get some work done. I went on the trip unsure if the campground would have Wi-Fi, so I made sure my mobile hotspot was working properly.
Fortunately, the campground had Wi-Fi but it definitely worked better for me in the settlement area than it did in the campsites and by the pool.
Since my friends wanted to go in the quiet pool and I didn’t want to be alone while working, I connected my laptop to my iPhone’s hotspot and set up at a nearby table.
Considering how inexpensive this resort is, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the main pool area was.
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting the pool area to be too nice considering the low price we were paying to stay at Fort Wilderness. But I was absolutely blown away by the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool and arcade area.
Much to my surprise, the pool had a slide and chairs nearly as comfortable as those found at Disney’s deluxe resorts.
There were even cast members playing music and hosting a trivia game — it was fun to overhear even though I didn’t participate.
The comfort station actually seemed super clean and well-maintained.
My party was lucky our campsite was located only a couple of steps away from a comfort station containing restrooms, showers, and a changing area.
I was also glad the comfort station was clean and well-maintained as we didn’t end up having a lot of wiggle room in our tent due to how big our air mattress was once inflated.
I frequently saw custodial cast members checking and cleaning the comfort station. The showers were also nicer than I expected and I thought the tiles on the walls were beautiful.
The food was delicious, even from the quick-service location.
I’ve dined at many quick-service dining locations at Walt Disney World resorts over the past 20 years, but this was my first time dining at P&J’s Southern Takeout located in the settlement area of the resort.
Some quick-service locations can be a little underwhelming and only offer burgers and fries, so I was pleasantly surprised that P&J’s had a menu full of Southern comfort food.
I got the barbecued pulled-pork sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes with gravy and an order of macaroni and cheese.
I don’t usually like pulled pork, but P&J’s version was really delicious, especially when smothered in the barbeque sauce. I thought the mashed potatoes and gravy were really good, too.
The macaroni and cheese was a bit lukewarm and not as tasty as the one from Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, which is my favorite on the property.
I wasn’t expecting our tent to stay so dry after a torrential rainstorm.
When it started downpouring on our second day, I was worried that our tent would be destroyed and the bedding we had inside would get drenched.
Fortunately, only a tiny amount of water made its way into the corners of the tent and our bed, sheets, blanket, and pillows remained dry.
I was grateful the rain fly did its job to repel the water and keep our stuff largely dry.