What it’s like to say at The Cabins at Fort Wilderness, Disney Vacation Club’s newest resort property

The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort offer all the amenities of a Disney World hotel with a rustic-yet-contemporary vacation rental twist.
Cabins at Fort Wilderness exterior view (Photo: Josh Roberts)
One of the new Cabins at Fort Wilderness (Photo: Josh Roberts)

I was maybe eight or nine years old when I first visited Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground in the early ‘80s, and my overriding memory involves running around like Davy Crockett in a coonskin cap while my parents sipped drinks by the campfire. Most of the other details of that vacation have long since faded, but not Fort Wilderness. It’s the kind of place that leaves a lasting impression.

That childhood memory is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to revisit Fort Wilderness this month for the grand opening of The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, the newest Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. We wouldn’t be staying in a tent or camper this time around. We’d be enjoying a rustic-chic cabin with modern amenities nestled within 750 acres of cypress and pine trees. It would be glamping, Disney-style.

So, what was it like to stay at The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort? Here’s everything you should know before you book.

The thoughtfully designed interiors of the Cabins at Fort Wilderness are both woodsy and modern (Photo: Josh Roberts)

Reimagining the original Cabins at Fort Wilderness

You might already be familiar with the original Cabins at Fort Wilderness, which slept six and had an old-fashioned log cabin-style exterior. Disney Vacation Club’s new cabins will roll out in phases, slowly replacing the older models with a total of 350 cabins. For the grand opening, there are about 35 DVC cabins ready to accommodate guests, including some designed specifically to accommodate guests with mobility concerns. 

The first thing about the new cabins that caught my eye when I arrived was the design. They’re sleek and contemporary while still managing to look woodsy and authentic. An attached deck with an outdoor grill, picnic table, and chairs leads directly into the cabin’s main sitting area, which consists of a living room and full kitchen. The driveway has ample space for both a car and a golf cart to get around the resort. 

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The fully outfitted kitchen features a refrigerator, electric stove, microwave, coffee maker, dishwasher, utensils, plates and glasses, and a dining area that can seat four to six people. It flows into the living area, which has a pull-out couch that sleeps two, a 55-inch television, and a few more chairs. Wall art throughout the cabin puts a Disney spin on the activities available at the campground, including archery and horseback riding.

Directly off the living room is the bedroom, which sleeps two adults in a queen bed and two kids in full-size bunk beds that stretch all the way up to the high ceilings. Each bunk has its own reading light and thoughtful features like a charging port for phones and tablets. The bedroom also has a 55-inch television along with plenty of storage space for clothes and luggage.

The cabins come with a full bathroom with a shower; some are also equipped with a second sink and mirror outside the bathroom. 

The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are separate units that make up different communities within Fort Wilderness (Photo: Josh Roberts)

Dining at The Cabins at Fort Wilderness

With well outfitted kitchens and dining areas, it’s easy to cook and eat at the cabins. Two small convenience store-style outposts inside the campground sell kid-friendly basics like pancake mix, eggs, butter, orange juice, and bagels and cream cheese. We generally made breakfast in the cabins and ate lunch and dinner elsewhere, but you could easily do three meals a day if it suited you. 

The two main dining areas at Fort Wilderness are Crockett’s Tavern and Trail’s End, the latter of which serves staples like pizza, burgers, and grab-and-go sandwiches and salads. The Meadow Snack Bar and Chuck Wagon food truck mean you’re never far from a bite to eat.

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No stay at Fort Wilderness is complete without a dinner show at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The two-hour performance, which runs three times a day (at 4:00 p.m., 6:15 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.), is equal parts singing, dancing, comedy, and family-style dining—think fried chicken, barbecue ribs, and cornbread. When I say this show is fun for all ages, I’m not exaggerating. My two highly skeptical teenagers were all smiles by the time the famous strawberry shortcake was served for dessert.

Fort Wilderness’s location close Magic Kingdom also makes it easy to take advantage of the restaurants inside Disney’s original Florida theme park. One night we ventured to Magic Kingdom for evening reservations at Be Our Guest, the Beauty and the Beast-themed dining experience. Note that theme park tickets are required to enter the parks for any reason.

Archery is one of the many camp activities you can take part in when you stay at Fort Wilderness (Photo: Josh Roberts)

Pools and other amenities at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

There are two pools to choose from when you stay at The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Meadow Swimmin’ Pool is the more active of the two and perfect if you have energetic kids who love to swim. Its eye-catching 67-foot-long corkscrew waterslide is fun for older kids and adults; an adjacent water play area is just right for little ones. 

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My family spent most of our pool time at the quieter Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool, a full-size leisure pool with an adjacent whirlpool. This is right next door to the first collection of new cabins, which made it convenient for a quick dip any time of day or evening.

Because Fort Wilderness is a campground, you can also expect other camp-like activities. My family tried our hand at archery lessons and horseback riding through the campground’s wooded trails. Other options include fishing in the lagoon, canoe and kayak rentals, campfire singalongs, and movies under the stars. 

Proximity to Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground opened about a month after Magic Kingdom in 1971, and its location is very convenient for a visit to the Most Magical Place on Earth. In fact, getting there is actually part of the fun, because you get to arrive at Magic Kingdom by boat.

Fort Wilderness backs up to Bay Lake, just across from Magic Kingdom, and you can take a complimentary water taxi or ferry directly to and from the resort to the park. Boats run every 15 to 30 minutes. Buses are also available if you prefer to stay on dry land; the bus also connects to Disney’s other parks. 

Getting around Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

The most important thing to know about Fort Wilderness is that it’s a big place—really big. It would take you about 30 to 40 minutes to walk from one end of the campground to the other (each way). We rented a golf cart, which made getting around a breeze.

There was plenty of golf cart parking everywhere we went. Bike rentals are also available for getting around, but given the Florida heat and unpredictable weather, the golf carts seemed the more reliable option.

What to know about Disney Vacation Club

The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are the 17th resort property under the umbrella of Disney Vacation Club (DVC), a flexible timeshare program that allows members purchase points to use at Disney properties and on Disney vacations around the world. If you’re not a DVC member, you can still book a stay at the cabins through the Disney World website. To learn more about Disney Vacation Club, be sure to read FamilyVacationist’s comprehensive guide to Disney Vacation Club.

A convenient alternative to traditional Disney World hotels

Just a quick boat ride from Magic Kingdom, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort offer all the amenities of a Disney World resort hotel with a rustic vacation rental twist. There’s so much to do at Fort Wilderness that you could stay here for several days and never venture to the parks without getting bored, but the central location makes a trip to the parks easy and convenient. 

For me, staying at the new cabins was a great way to reconnect with some happy childhood moments while creating new memories with my own family. It was exactly what I needed.

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Josh Roberts
Josh Roberts is the Editorial Director and Co-Founder of FamilyVacationist. He is the former Senior Executive Editor at Tripadvisor, SmarterTravel, Airfarewatchdog, and FamilyVacationCritic. He has been recognized with multiple awards for excellence in travel journalism from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). His work has also appeared in Insider, Yahoo, USA Today, Tripadvisor, and many other publications.