Walt Disney World is a sprawling resort, with so many things to see and do that it can often be overwhelming to families planning a vacation. Yet, one thing that I always recommend is for families to plan a day away from the theme parks. Go exploring!
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Main Street, USA, you’ll find a taste of Disney’s wilderness. Choose to spend a day enjoying the offerings at Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground, both just a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom.
Start Your Day the Frontier Way
Begin your day enjoying a hearty breakfast at the Wilderness Lodge’s Whispering Canyon Cafe. This rustic restaurant, located just off the hotel lobby, serves up a family-style skillet to hungry travelers. Or, choose an entree off the main menu. While the food is delicious, the antics of the waitstaff keep vacationers coming back for more. Before you know it, you’ll be whooping it up right alongside your server!
After breakfast, take some time to marvel at the enormous columns in the lobby. Then, head on over to the Mercantile to find the perfect lodge furnishings. If you like the rustic look, this is a must-stop-shop for you. You can certainly outfit your entire cabin, Disney-style. On your way out, don’t forget to take a picture with my favorite totem-pole. These guys are a blast!
By Land or By Sea
Next, head outside. You’re going to want to go out the exit at the rear of the resort. Just follow the signs to the pool! As you wander past the swimming hole, you’re going to bear to your right to find Wilderness Lodge’s Fire Rock Geyser. Watch out, because she’s gonna blow! This unique landscaping feature shoots water high into the air every hour. See if you can time it just right to watch!
When you are ultimately ready to move on, you have a decision to make. You can reach Fort Wilderness by foot, via the Nature Trail, or by boat. Whichever you choose, you’ll find tons to do, so don’t dally. Let’s move along!
A Day at Camp
There’s something for everyone at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. Choose your own adventure, as you’ll find horseback riding, fishing, boating, archery, and more. There are some age requirements, so these activities are perfect with elementary-aged kids and up. Personally, I would rent a canoe or a kayak for a leisurely paddle around the bend and end the afternoon with a trail ride at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. Younger buccaneers may enjoy a pony ride, which is the perfect speed for ages two and up.
At this point in your day, it is probably time to fill up those bellies, again. You have several options at Fort Wilderness. Personally, the best dinner show on property can be found at Pioneer Hall. The Hoop Dee Doo Revue will get your toes tapping and hands clapping, all while filling you with the most delectable vittles around. You’ll be served fried chicken and all the fixings, with sangria, beer, or sweet tea to wash it down. What’s for dessert? Why, strawberry shortcake, of course! Our server, Genardo, topped off our experience with silly antics that will be hard to forget. (Son, remember your manners, please!)
If grab and go is more your style, you can find the same delectable dishes at the nearby Trails End restaurant, available for eat in or carry out. Give Hoop Dee Doo a try at least once, though. You’ll have a rootin’ tootin’ good time.
After dinner, hop on the camp bus and head over to the Meadow Recreationn Area. Here, you’ll find the most adorable campfire duo around. While many Deluxe Resorts offer an evening campfire, none can compare to Chip and Dale’s Sing A Long. We purchased a s’mores kit from the nearby snack stand and roasted our marshmallows over two gigantic campfires, lit by cast members. As evening falls, the show begins. Get ready to sing at the top of your lungs and laugh along with these crazy chipmunks and their punny jokes. This campfire is not to be missed!
Tips Before You Go:
- Make your reservations early! Whispering Canyon Cafe, Hoop Dee Doo Revue, archery, fishing excursions, and trail rides require reservations. As always, 180 days before your trip is the best time to call.
- Hoop Dee Doo seats are separated into categories. Try to get Category 1 or 2, if you can, but there’s no bad seat in the house. Category 3, however, is up in the balcony. You’ll get a good view, but you’ll be high above the action.
- If you visit at Halloween or Christmas, take a wagon ride or stroll through the campground. Many residents will have their sites decorated for the holidays. Seeing the decorations is a real treat!