by Fancy Free Diva
Howdy, y’all! Have you heard of a free character meet and greet song and movie entertainment extravaganza that’s entirely free and doesn’t even require a theme park ticket? I’m serious, and this event is right in the heart of Walt Disney World. Yes, you read that right: there’s a place in Walt Disney World where you can answer Disney trivia, meet your favorite chipmunks, roast marshmallows over a fire, eat s’mores, listen to a twangy banjo, and sing along to some of the most rollicking songs in the wilderness. Oh, and did you know that, except for the cost of the s’mores, all of this entertainment is free? I know, free things at Walt Disney World may seem few and far between, but this is one of those experiences that if you haven’t tried yet, you’ll want to add to your itinerary on your next trip.
The Chip and Dale Campfire Sing Along at Disney’s Fort Wilderness is an event I had heard of before, but we had never had a chance to try it until our most recent trip to Walt Disney World this past April. We had booked dinner for the early show of the Hoop De Doo Review, so we were already planning to be at Fort Wilderness, and it was easy to stick around for the campfire to begin.
Diva Tip: If you’re not already planning to be at Fort Wilderness, like we were, then it’s pretty easy to get there by heading to Magic Kingdom and taking the boat over to the campgrounds. From the site of the Hoop De Doo Review at the Campgrounds at Fort Wilderness, we were able to take the resort’s internal bus system the two stops needed to get to the campfire sing along location. Be sure to take the orange bus to the Meadows Trading Post to reach the location for this event.
On the night we were there in mid-April, the campfire was scheduled to be lit at approximately 8pm. I recommend getting there at 7pm or a little after. There are limited seats on wooden benches close to the stage, so if you’d like to snag one of those, you’ll have to get there early. Don’t worry if you’re a little bit late, that’s ok; there are also metal bleachers you can sit on that are set farther back from the stage. There are also some limited seats near the campfires themselves, which are located on either side of the stage, but they do not afford a very good view of the entertainment.
Diva tip: If you happen to be staying at one of the campsites at Fort Wilderness, you can bring your own camp chairs to use as seats, too.
By arriving for the campfire sing along a little early, we were able to take part in a Disney trivia challenge. Each team had to come up with a team name, and we were given answer sheets to write all of the answers on. Some of the questions we were asked were pretty easy, but others required an in-depth knowledge of all things Disney. At the end, we turned our papers in, and the answers were tallied. The winning team won a s’mores kit just in time for the lighting of the campfire.
Never fear, though. If you’re not lucky enough to be a member of the winning team, you can still purchase s’mores supplies from the Chuck Wagon. In addition to selling s’mores kits that are packaged to feed 4 (but which were more than enough for our family of 4), the Chuck Wagon also sells Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, pretzels, popcorn, and other candy and drink items.
Diva Tip: The Chuck Wagon accepts the Disney Dining Plan, and many of the snacks they offer can be purchased for one snack credit. If you don’t want to purchase your snacks there, you are welcome to bring your own snacks and/or s’mores supplies. The Chuck Wagon sells s’mores sticks separately at $0.59 each if you bring your own marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.
Our family purchased a s’mores kit (priced at $9.99 in April 2016), which included marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey’s bars, and roasting sticks. The s’mores kit was supposed to feed 4, but between my husband and I and our two small children, we still had a lot leftover after we had each enjoyed a s’more.
Once the campfire starts, the areas around both of the fires get a little crowded. I sent my husband and 5-year-old to roast the marshmallows, while I stayed in our seats with my almost 2-year old. Everyone, young and old alike, seemed to be having a great time roasting marshmallows and sharing in the experience.
Safety Tip: There were cast members stationed near each fire to make sure no one got too close to the flames.
While we were enjoying our delicious snack, the entertainment took the stage. There was a cowboy singer who alternated between playing the guitar and the banjo, and, of course, the stars of the show, Chip and Dale, joined him. Despite the event’s name, Chip and Dale do not actually sing. Instead, they make their way through the crowd, posing for photographs and signing autographs, while the cowboy singer leads the audience through familiar tunes like “Home on the Range” and “The Hokey Pokey.” There is an opportunity for guests to head toward the stage and dance during some of the songs; my 5-year-old daughter especially had fun doing “The Chicken Dance” with everyone.
Diva Tip: Chip and Dale will come to you, so you don’t even have to wait in line. They start at the front of the theatre and work their way back, so if you have little ones, it might be best to prepare them for this ahead of time so they don’t get too impatient. Also, on the night we were there, we only got to meet and greet one of the chipmunks because of how crowded the event was.
After about half an hour of songs and merriment, the entertainment began to wind down and transition from the sing along into the movie under the stars. The night we were there, the feature film was The Good Dinosaur. You can learn more about the movies under the stars at this and other Walt Disney World resorts here.
Diva Tip: Because of the location of the Campgrounds at Fort Wilderness, you might want to bring some bug spray with you if you’re planning to head to this event – the mosquitoes seemed to enjoy the sing along, too!
My family, like many of the others with young children, left in the lull between the sing along and the movie. We happened to be staying at Saratoga Springs, so we took the bus from Fort Wilderness to Disney Springs before grabbing our own resort bus back to our room. Depending upon where you’re staying, this transportation option may work for you, or you could take the boat back to Magic Kingdom and then hop on a bus back to your resort. If you drive, you’ll probably still want to hop on one of the Fort Wilderness buses to ride the two stops (about a 15 minute drive) back to the main resort parking lot.
The Campgrounds at Fort Wilderness may seem like an out of the way location to travel to, but they’re definitely worth a visit, especially for an event like this. Our family had so much fun, and the fact that it’s free made it even better. Yes, these events, the Chip and Dale Campfire Sing Along and the movie under the stars, are free whether you’re staying on Disney property or not. So if you’re looking to meet some characters, enjoy a stage show, or be immersed in an environment that evoked all of those nostalgic memories of summer camp, this event is definitely for you. For help planning your next trip to Walt Disney World, contact Patricia of All for Dreams Travel, our favorite travel agent here at Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos.
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