This was a much anticipated move from The Villages to Fort Wilderness campground at Walt Disney World. Our boys were flying down from WI to join us for a fun filled time in Orlando. A late Christmas present for everyone and hopefully hitting the parks in a bit of a lull, if Disney has a lull. I will say it may have been a lull for American visitors, but overseas visitors were out in force!
We left Recreation Plantation on Thursday, January 3rd for the hour and a half drive to Fort Wilderness. The drive was relatively quiet until we pulled up to a stop light and had two ladies in a convertible pull up next to us waving and trying to get our attention. My mind immediately went to thoughts of an issue with the RV. However, they were excited to see us and said they saw our website on the back of the rig and wanted to say that they followed our travels and can't wait for more stories of our travels. Huh, well it is a small world! That was neat!
We arrived early afternoon at Fort Wilderness and immediately remembered the slick check in process. We rented a travel trailer back in 2006 in Atlanta and pulled it to Ft Wilderness. This time, I was much more prepared in that I found the Fort Fiends forum site and downloaded their app so that I could see pictures of all the sites, the lengths of each and how easy or difficult it was to back into. I cannot recommend the app enough for anyone going to Disney in their RV. I was armed with a list of sites that I considered the best for our length and privacy we wanted. Magically enough, one of the sites I identified was ready and available for all 11 days we were there. We were parked in the 1200 loop, which in my opinion, is a very good loop for larger rigs, wanting a bit of privacy. We had booked a premium site, which is a paved full hook-up site with cable. We were also within a quick walk to the comfort station that has wonderful bathrooms and great laundry facilities. We quickly set up, had some lunch and took some down time to rest before we needed to go pick the boys up at the airport, just after midnight.
Since we only have the big dually truck, we rented a car from the onsite Disney car rental site to pick the boys up at the airport and for the following day outside the park. The boys had a late departure from Milwaukee but they made up time on their flight and landed a couple minutes ahead of time in Orlando, around 12:15 am. It was soo great to see them again! We made it back to the campground around 1am and everyone slept in the next morning. Friday we took time to take the boys shopping and relax. They were very happy to get their Zaxby's fix and just chill. We also rented a golf cart from an off-site company, which was $20 cheaper a day than renting from Disney. Golf carts really are the way to get around the campground if you don't have bikes because there is only parking for your vehicle at your site. You could also take the bus through the campground, but those require you to wait a bit and there are three different routes so you may need to switch buses, depending on where you want to go.
Friday night I had reservations for us at the Hoop De Do Reveue at the campground. At first the boys thought it sounded a bit corny but by showtime, they were singing along and having a good ol' time. Dinner consisted of salads, breads, BBQ chicken, ribs and sides followed up by a yummy strawberry shortcake. The show was very entertaining and they even got the audience involved throughout.
Saturday was another day outside the park. We decided to book an airboat ride and I think it is fair to say everyone had a great time, even if we only saw a couple alligators. Our captain made up for it by doing some fancy maneuvers, which really made the boys smile.
Sunday was the guys day to really get their testosterone pumping. So while I did laundry and relaxed at the pool, they spent the day at the Mecum Auto Auction. They got their fill of everything from exotics to vintage vehicles and everything in between.
Monday thru Thursday were Disney Park days. We started off Monday at Animal Kingdom. This was probably our least favorite park and we hit the highlights, with Expedition Everest being the family favorite. We were able to ride one of the rides in the new Avatar section but overall, we were underwhelmed with the new area. We ended the day with dinner at The Rainforest Cafe and a soak in the hot tub back at the campground.
Tuesday was the Magic Kingdom. Unlike the other parks where you take the buses from the campground, Magic Kingdom is a short boat ride from the campground marina. Again another wonderful sunny, warm day at the parks! One of our continued favorites is the Hall of Presidents presentation. It is just amazing to watch the animatronics that goes into each president and the movements and mannerisms that match each president. Space Mountain was a family favorite and so glad we had a Fast Pass for it.
Nicholas was wanting to relax in the hot tub after a long day of walking Tuesday so Rick, Brady and I took the bus down to Disney Springs for dinner at a Cuban restaurant. One of Brady's missions on the trip was to expand his palate with food from different countries and Cuba did not disappoint. We then walked around marveling at how much it has changed from when it was called Downtown Disney. We were successful in finding the Lego store and the Lego Loch Ness Monster in the bay and had to commemorate it with a picture of Brady and Nessie.
Universal Studios was next up on our marathon of parks. Wednesday was another beautiful, almost hot day. With over 18,000 steps on Tuesday, I was a bit achy and my hip was pretty fiery. I lasted until mid-afternoon when I had to throw in the towel and limp back to the campground while the guys finished out their bucket list of Tower of Terror and Rock n Roll Roller Coaster. Unfortunately, because of my early departure, we had to cancel our Fantasia dinner and night show reservation, but by that time, everyone was ready for a break.
Our final day in the parks was reserved for Epcot. I think this was everyone's favorite. We were able to check out all the different countries and foods. We also enjoyed Soarin, Test Track and the Space flight to Mars, which seriously almost had me using the "courtesy bag". It was quite the experience!! Although we did not stay in any of the parks for the night fireworks shows, we were able to see the fireworks from Magic Kingdom from the campground.
The week with the boys went by too fast and Friday morning we took them to the airport to catch their early morning flight back to WI. I think they had a great time and were happy to get away from the cold WI winter. We will see them next in July when we are back in WI. We will close out the chapter with the boys with my favorite picture from our time with them and a picture from our 2012 Disney trip. My how they've grown!!!
Rick and I spent the rest of the few days we had left at Disney relaxing. One day at the pool and hot tub and another at the site. We even took in the Chip and Dale Sing Along one evening. Rick's favorite Disney characters are Chip and Dale and he was tickled to meet them!
Our final day we took the campground boat over to the Contemporary resort and rode the tram around the properties and spent some time playing pool and having lunch at their marina area.
Our final evening we went back down to Disney Springs and had a delicious dinner at Frontera Cocina. Again, thank goodness for having reservations through the Disney app because on a Sunday night, it was crowded! This is not your typical mexican restaurant and the menu options are a bit more creative from James Beard award winning chef Rick Bayless. Rick had some really good enchiladas and I had the chicken flautas with garlicky red beans. Coupled with some amazing margaritas, it was the perfect way to cap off our stay at Disney.
Now that our big Christmas Disney splurge is over, it is time to buckle down again on the spending. We probably will not be back to Disney for quite some time, because even at off-season rates of $107 a night, it is still very pricey and our new lifestyle just cannot support that kind of spending. Although, I will say, if we were to do it all over again, I would absolutely stay at Fort Wilderness rather than an outside park. It is soo worth it when you figure in the transportation everywhere and not trying to have to maneuver the big truck around everywhere and pay the crazy $25 per park parking fee and fight with traffic. Plus the extra Disney magic throughout your stay can't be beat! :-)
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