I’ve gotten several questions about Fort Wilderness camping during marathon weekend and whether this was a good idea. I can answer with a resounding YES that for us, Fort Wilderness camping during marathon weekend was a perfect choice.
Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend- Transportation
First of all, Fort Wilderness is an onsite property at the Walt Disney World Resort. This means that there is direct transportation to all of the Disney Parks including a boat shuttle to Magic Kingdom and busses to Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. As far as Fort Wilderness camping during Marathon Weekend, runDisney offers race transportation to the expo and all races directly from the campground. If planning on driving yourself, we drove our Camper Van to all of the races during Marathon Weekend, and it was very convenient to have our vehicle right at our site instead of parked in a lot far away. Parking at the races was simple as well, which helped make the weekend even better.As the campground is large and spread out, Fort Wilderness camping during Marathon Weekend could cause you to walk more than you want to to get to one of the pools or dining facilities. Bringing (or Renting) a bike is an option. You could also rent a golf cart from Disney or an outside vendor to use during your stay. Fort Wilderness also offers an easy to navigate internal bus system which stops frequently throughout the campground. During Marathon Weekend, we actually enjoyed walking everywhere we went to keep our legs loose. The grounds are beautiful and the trails are quiet and relaxing.
Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend – Free Activities
Staying onsite at Fort Wilderness offers tons of other benefits which you can read about HERE, including the ability to purchase a dining plan, free parking at the theme parks and access to Extra Magic Hours for additional time in the parks. Fort Wilderness also offers several fun family activities that are free to take part in. While we didn’t attend during Marathon Weekend, one of our favorite Disney memories from when our kids were little was attending the Chip and Dale Campfire where they posed for pictures and got autographs while munching on S’mores. A nightly Disney Movie is shown right after the campfire. You can also watch the Electrical Water Pageant from the shores of Bay Lake which we could hear the music playing from our campsite each night during our trip.
You have two pool options when camping at Fort Wilderness- the larger Meadows Swimmin’ Pool with a giant corkscrew slide or the quieter Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool. Both have whirlpool hot tubs which is an awesome treat when you want to soak after a long run. There are daily pool activities offered as well. During our visit I saw sidewalk chalk passed out and several games of Disney Bingo being led by enthusiastic cast members.
There are also several playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts and volleyball courts. You simply can’t be bored here. You can also ride horses, fish or rent canoes if you are wanting more outside time. Fort Wilderness camping during Marathon Weekend is a perfect choice as there is so much to do away from the business of the parks that allows you to still relax and conserve your energy.
Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend – Quiet Sites
Even though camp sites are fairly close to each other, there are plenty of trees to allow for some privacy. Each site has a large picnic table and concrete pad surrounded by a sand curb which made everything stay neat and tidy even when it was raining. Deer meandered throughout the grounds and there were tropical birds everywhere. And while the campground was at capacity during our stay, it was exceptionally quiet every single night. In fact it was more peaceful and quiet than many of the hotels I’ve stayed at while visiting Disney World. This made Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend a perfect and relaxing choice for us as rest and the ability to relax was a big priority.
Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend – Perfectly Maintained Grounds and Amenities
The campsites at Fort Wilderness are perfectly maintained. It was amazing to watch staff come by throughout our time there and clean sites after people checked out by hosing down the concrete pad and making sure there was nothing amiss. Sites are pristinely clean. And this attention to maintenance continues into other guest areas. Of vital importance if Fort Wilderness camping during Marathon Weekend are the conditions of the bathrooms and laundry facilities. Unlike most campgrounds, the bathrooms at the Ft. Wilderness comfort stations are as nice as the ones at my gym and were perfectly clean throughout our stay. Similarly, the laundry rooms located in each comfort station were also perfectly maintained. Not only that, comfort stations are located so plentifully throughout the campground, I practically had the place to myself whenever I was there.
Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend – Saving Money
A major benefit of Fort Wilderness Camping During Marathon Weekend is the cost of staying here compared to any other Disney property. While not cheap by most campground standards, there is no less expensive way to stay onsite at Disney. And since up to 10 people can camp at each site, you could REALLY have an inexpensive option for Marathon Weekend if cost is a concern. As each site has electric hookups, we were comfortable in the variable weather we had throughout the weekend with a small fan and small heater we packed in our van. While the weather is generally mild in January during Marathon Weekend, Florida weather can be crazy so it was nice to know we were going to be comfortable no matter what Mother Nature threw at us.
We also saved money by cooking meals at our campsite on both the small camp stove we brought with us and the charcoal grill at each site. We headed to a nearby Publix grocery to stock up on supplies, but the Meadows Trading Post does offer a nice selection of necessities along with a large selection of souvenirs. Although, as you would expect, you will pay a premium for this convenience (for example $3.99 for a dozen eggs, $4.99 for a bagged salad and $3.69 for a half gallon of milk). Even if you were stuck buying food at the camp store, you will still save money compared to the dining options throughout Disney World. We had a cooler with us, which we replenished with ice available for $2 each bag at the comfort stations. Another inexpensive food option is the Take Out Window at P&J’s Southern Takeout located next to the Trail’s End Restaurant where for less than $24 we had two meals for each of us of delicious Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Mac and Cheese and Cornbread.
For us, Fort Wilderness Camping during marathon weekend was the perfect choice and if we will definitely stay here again the next time we run in a runDisney event. The perfect mix of relaxation, cost savings and calm atmosphere, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay during the Dopey Challenge.
Want to know how the races went? Click HERE to read our Dopey Challenge Recap.