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Head into the wilderness for a stay in Disney World's cabins

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Published: August 5, 2011 at 8:48 AM

Last week, we stayed for two nights at the Cabins at the Fort Wilderness Resort, giving us the chance to experience once of the classic overnight destinations inside the Walt Disney World Resort.

Welcome to Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness is known to many as Disney World's campground, but Fort Wilderness also offers dozens of fully-equipped cabins. (They're officially a "Moderate Resort Hotel" in Disney lingo, listing from $275-405 a night.)

Now when I say "cabins," don't start thinking about rough-hewn log rooms with packed dirt floors - the type of structure where you'd find a young Abe Lincoln out front, splitting logs for the night's fire. These are modern cabins, much like those you'd find up in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada or the Smokies.

I hesitate to say this because of the connotation some people have with the phrase, but, essentially, they're mobile homes.

The Cabins at Fort Wilderness

Spectacularly well-decorated mobile homes, I must say.

bedroom

living room

kitchen

Wood paneling throughout makes the place feel like a wilderness cabin, and quilts and artwork on the walls brighten the room. You'll find a well-equipped full kitchen, but be sure to bring your own coffee filters (and food, of course.)

The need to stock the kitchen makes this a tough destination to rely on the free Disney's Magical Express service from and to the Orlando Airport. And if you're not going to use the kitchen or the grill out front of the cabin, what's the point of paying for them? Fort Wilderness is a more popular destination for people who drive to the Walt Disney World Resort.

A Fort Wilderness cabin can sleep a large family, too. You've got two bunk beds and a double bed in the bedroom, a double, Murphy bed in the living room, plus a couch that could sleep another child.

Unfortunately, the double bed in the bedroom gave me my worst night's sleep in years - the matress felt like a giant vat of lumpy rice pudding. I switched to the Murphy bed the next night and found it much more comfortable.

Don't neglect to check the entertainment schedule during a stay at Fort Wilderness. The kids enjoyed the free singalong and campfire, as well as games at the pool. Be sure to pick up fixins for s'mores at the grocery before you arrive, as well as something to use as sticks at the campfire.

Sing along

staying cool at the pool

We didn't splurge for tickets to the resort's popular Hoop-De-Doo-Revue on this trip, but if your budget allows, do. Just remember to do it when you book your stay - tickets go fast.

Instead, we ate at the adjacent Trail's End Restaurant - a hearty buffet that's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Service was friendly and everyone enjoyed the food, but a few days later I'm struggling to think of anything remarkable to say about it.

A final tip: Spend the extra money and book a golf cart to use during your stay. The only places to park your car are at the front desk and next to your cabin. Nothing else around the resort, including the restaurants, boat launch to the Magic Kingdom or the pools is within reasonable walking distance so without a cart, you'll be waiting for buses to get around throughout your stay.

Readers' Opinions

From Anon Mouse on August 5, 2011 at 9:31 AM
For $275-405 a night, I would think they would offer two bedrooms for all those beds. A large family isn't comfortable sleeping together like that. It has that mobile home look. It would have been better to be an actual villa style bungalow. This is another example of milking the customer in the way Disney knows how to do it.
From Robert Niles on August 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM
To be honest, does anyone pay rack rate for Disney World hotels, though? We didn't. (More like $170 a night.)
From 24.73.197.194 on August 5, 2011 at 11:31 AM
This is a nice review, for sure. However, your description is far more compelling than the photos -- which tell an entirely different story. This is not a criticism of your skills as a photographer. Far from it. Rather, they say to me, the viewer: "This place is dated!" Is this really such a good value? It looks to me like it hasn’t been remodeled since it opened in the 1970s. I can think of much nicer properties to spend $275 to $405 a night.

- Brian

From James Rao on August 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM
Incidentally, how was the pool area itself?
From 75.9.47.160 on August 5, 2011 at 5:12 PM
I stayed a couple of nights at the Fort Wilderness Cabins last year and we enjoyed staying there. Yes, you're right Robert it would have been nice to rent a golf cart to get around since we didn't have a car. And for Anon Mouse's comment: "It has that mobile home look" First of all, mobile homes are nice and a villa bungalow wouldn't suit suit the rustic atmosphere of the Fort Wilderness campgrounds.
From m johnson on August 5, 2011 at 11:50 PM
I stayed there a few years ago and I thought it was nice if you were there for a camping experince. But if you are trying to hit the parks it's time consuming taking the internal bus lines. The golf carts are fun but at $60 dollars a day thats more then my car rental. If you do have a golf cart you can go looping and checking out the other campground sites. Guest with motorhomes go all out with decorations during Halloween and Christmas are fun to see. It would be nice if Disney would reopen River Country for the guest staying there.
From Scott Supeck on August 6, 2011 at 11:15 AM
That would be a HUGE plus! River Country was E-ticket all the way back in it's day. It wouldn't take too much of a re-thinking to bring back what was a great diversion on a hot summer day. With the other 2 water parks, wilderness guests would truly feel like they had River Country to themselves.
From Robert Niles on August 7, 2011 at 3:26 PM
If the Fort Wilderness cabins really had '70s decor, the kitchen appliances would be avocado green, the wood paneling would be vertical and multicolored, the TV would have a huge picture tube and four channels, and the flooring would be shag carpeting. #livedthoughthat
From Anon Mouse on August 8, 2011 at 10:55 AM
@"75.9.47.160"

Mobile home is the same term that the author used. Why do you say a villa bungalow wouldn't work? A cabin isn't technically a mobile home. It is a home with its own foundation. A bungalow is by defintion an one story home. Thus, I described it accurately.

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