Cherish the Cabin – A Stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground by Contributing Author Marge Gerwels

My husband and I are big Seinfeld fans and watch the syndicated show every night at 10:30. However, I think he was ready to bury me under “the cabin” if he had to hear that line from the show one more time. “Cherish the cabin” we did this past October when we stayed at the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. I will be honest, it was not our first choice for a resort. We are Disney Vacation Club® (DVC) members so we are used to more spacious and less rustic accommodations. Since we have such a large family, there are not many places that are able to accommodate us all, so when our DVC wait list for two days in the middle of our vacation did not come through, we were in a bind. Without any other suitable options, we reserved a cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground for two nights.

marge7Now, it’s probably important for you to understand how unbiased this review really is. I HATE camping. I’m sure it is partly due to the fact that I grew up in the city and had never camped at all until I was an adult. Of course, the few times I have gone camping were disastrous–and by disastrous I mean torrential rain, having our cooler of adult beverages stolen, my husband losing his wedding ring, forest fire–that sort of thing. I am certain that all those horror movies I watched when I was a kid where unsuspecting campers meet a most unfortunate fate doesn’t help facilitate a love for sleeping outdoors either. Since I find this sort of ‘natural” isolation unsettling and massive groupings of trees frightening, this was really the LAST place I wanted to stay (well, maybe second to last, the actual tent camping would’ve been worse).  However, since it was only two nights, I convinced myself I could get through it in order to salvage our Disney vacation.

marge3Unfortunately for us (well, mainly for me), our two nights turned into three nights when the washer in our villa at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge flooded our entire villa. We had no choice but to evacuate our room. Since there were no other villas available at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, our only option was move to the cabin one night earlier than planned and stay for an additional night.

Since we had plans for that evening, we did not check in to our cabin until late. It was rather creepy, stepping off the resort bus that first time. The grounds of Disney’s Ft Wilderness are not as illuminated as other Disney resorts and it had sort of this eerie silence. Since we had never even set foot on the grounds (Why would we? I hate camping), we had absolutely no idea where we were going. We finally found our way to the Reception Hall and were able to check in with ease.  The Reception Hall is quaintly decorated and makes you feel as though you are back in the days of the Westward Expansion. The cast members were very friendly and helpful, just as you would expect. Once we checked in, a cast member was kind enough to transport us from the Reception Hall to our cabin (which was a bit of a drive). My initial impression of our countrified accommodations was not great. I hated it. It was dark, there were too many trees, and it was quiet—really, really quiet.

marge1After walking up the few steps that lead to a good-sized deck, complete with a picnic table, we approached the door to the cabin. The interior of the cabin looks like, well…a cabin, with the wood beam ceilings, log-like walls, deep red and green fabrics, and rustic furnishings.

marge2The cabin door opens into the small but full kitchen, and is well stocked with dishes and most common appliances. There is also a kitchen table with two chairs and booth seating. The kitchen opens into the small living room. This family area contains a couch, TV, and a small game table with two chairs. There is also a full-sized Murphy bed that pulls down from the wall. The bed was surprisingly comfortable for such a contraption. The kitchen and living area are not as spacious as you would find at some of the other Disney resorts. However, they were not too small and they were functional.

marge4To the left of the front door (and to the back of the cabin) is a short hallway that leads to the bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom contains a tub/shower and was a decent sized bathroom, although one bathroom for seven people presents its own challenge!  A few short steps away from the bathroom is the one and only bedroom. The bedroom contains a double bed and a bunk bed. This was actually a perfect set up for all five of the kids. With the baby sleeping in the pack and play, the other four kids took turns sharing the full-sized bed and sleeping solo in the bunk beds. The room was rustically decorated and did contain a small closet and TV.

The folks at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge made sure all of our belonging were transported to our cabin and our luggage and food were waiting for us inside when we arrived. Although tired, the kids were extremely excited when we arrived at the cabin and that excitement exploded when they saw their room. I’d like to say that I shared in their excitement or even say that I was able to sleep that night. The eerie silence that encompassed the cabin once everyone had drifted off to sleep was chilling. With each creak, my uneasiness grew and every dancing shadow escalated my irrational fears. Finally, as the sun was just beginning to spill its rays over the horizon, I succumbed to sleep.

After three nights at Disney’s Ft Wilderness Resort and Campground, I am pleased to report that I remained unscathed and did not encounter any ax toting psychopaths. As a matter of fact, I LOVED it–not just the cabin but the entire resort. There are so many activities that are offered on site, things that one would not usually associate with a Disney vacation, like horseback riding, archery, fishing, pony rides, and wagon rides. Guest can also enjoy the evening outdoor movies and poolside fun you usually find at a Disney resort. The BEST activity, not just at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, but, in my opinion, ALL of the Disney resorts, is the Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long. The campfire is usually ignited around sunset and guests are invited to enjoy the fire and roast marshmallows. There is even a snack cart near the rear of the sing-a-long area that sells s’mores kits, as well as other refreshments, in case you did not bring your own. A gray-haired, bearded singer/guitarist is your host for the sing-a-long and engages guests of all ages in bellowing along to old-fashioned campfire songs.  Chip ‘N Dale also make an appearance during the show and dance along with everyone! It was probably one of the best times we have ever had in all of our Disney years. I cannot remember the last time I sang that loud or laughed so hard.

marge5The resort area has two heated pools and two convenience shops located on site. There is also one quick service restaurant (Crockett’s Tavern) and two table service restaurants (Trail’s End Restaurant and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ). The resort is also home to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review, an old-fashioned dinner show that includes music, comedy, and family style dinner.

marge6The only downside to the resort is transportation. Disney’s Ft Wilderness Resort and Campground is HUGE and it can be confusing to navigate to where you need to go. Many people rent golf carts just for the ease of getting from one area of the resort to another. There are three internal buses that run throughout the property. The purple route runs from the two main depots, the Outpost Depot (near entrance of the resort) and Settlement Depot (near the marina), and runs through the cabin loops. The orange route runs through the center of the resort, goes past the campsites, Meadow Trading Post, and also runs through the cabins area as well. The yellow route runs along the eastern side of the resort and services the 300 and 1400-1900 campsite loops. If you were planning on going to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the best way to travel is via boat from the marina. All other parks have busses that leave from the Outpost Depot. The boats and busses run as frequently here as they do at other Disney resorts however, it is getting to these areas via the internal bus route that can be both confusing and cumbersome.

Staying at a cabin at Disney’s Ft Wilderness Resort and Campground is a resort experience like no other. The secluded layout of the resort really offers guests a quiet retreat from the usual bustle of park and resort life. With my baby girl approaching her third birthday, we will no longer be eligible to stay in a cabin, as we will now exceed the maximum number of guests allowed.  I am so glad that we were able to “cherish the cabin” this past fall and experience Disney’s Ft Wilderness Resort and Campground at least once with the kids. It was a great adventure and we have some great memories of our stay. It just MAY have changed my mind a little about camping. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to rush out and buy my own tent and lantern. However, maybe, just maybe, since I survived three nights in the woods, I would be willing to be a little more open to the idea of a cabin vacation in the future. I know I would most definitely be open to another chance to “cherish the cabin” at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground if presented with the opportunity in the future.

Note: All photos are property of Marge Gerwels. You can follow Marge’s blog at: Tiny Bits of Magic and follow her on Twitter: @RNawaymama