Posted in Disney Budget, Disney with kids, Glamping, Kid Reviews, Travel Plans, WDW Resorts

2017 Trip Report: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground with Meacham’s RV (Part One)

We are so excited to share our 2017 Walt Disney World trip report with you! This part of the trip report will include our first 4 days of travel including our stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort sponsored by Meacham’s RV.  Make sure to check out Part Two of our trip report to catch our reviews of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and a host of new restaurant reviews!

Day One

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-12-14-21-pm
Courtesy of Meacham’s RV

 

We kept this whole trip a surprise from our kids. It was really fun to do it this way, but rather difficult to hide all my packing and planning the weeks before! We gave the kids a little hint and told them a box would be arriving for them to open after school. Walt Disney World allows you to link all of your reservations to your Magic Bands and you can customize the color of your band. They send these to you about a month before your trip. I hid the box until our surprise reveal.

As soon as the kids came home from school we sat them down and told them to close their eyes. They were SO excited! They opened the box and saw the bands. Our 9 year old son  asked “we’re going to Disney World?”

“Yep!” I let it hang for a second. “Right…..NOW!” I yelled…likely more excited than my kids at that moment!

Their eyes got big and they began to squeal and run around the house (so did mom & dad)! We told them to get their backpacks and fill them with what they wanted in their beds at night and then we drove to the airport! It was SO fun to surprise them that way!

Because of the kids’ school schedule, we decided to take a late night flight. This has pros and cons. The flight was a bit cheaper, the airport wasn’t crowded either place, the kids slept through the whole flight, it was quiet and we arrived without issue. The downside is that mom and dad have trouble sleeping on the plane and are rather tired most of the following day. If you schedule your trip to have downtime on the first day then this is a good option especially when traveling with younger children who do better on flights when they’re asleep.

vector-star-wars-character-chewbacca-vske1v-clipart

Kid Review: Our 9 year old says that he does not like “having” to sleep on the plane. He would much rather fly during the day so he can look outside, people watch, and enjoy the thrill of flying above the clouds! 

 

Day Two

Fort Wilderness Resort

Because we flew red-eye, it was already “the next day” when we arrived in Orlando (which is 2 hours ahead of us). It was around 5:30 in the morning in Orlando. Again, pros and cons. The airport was NOT busy, we got right onto the Magical Express bus, and it took us directly to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The bus ride from the airport to the resort was less than 30 minutes. The bus has soft, comfy chairs, and a Disney insider video plays while you’re traveling.

The cons of arriving this early is that you cannot check in to most Disney resorts before 4pm!  (Fort Wilderness allows you to check in to the campsites at 1pm).  We arrived before 7 am and nothing was open at that time. The buses begin running around 7 am and then you can easily get around the resort. We hopped the internal bus system to the restaurant for some breakfast.

There are 2 options for breakfast at Fort Wilderness. P & J’s Southern Takeout and Trail’s End Restaurant. P & J’s is just the carryout side of Trail’s End. Same food (see menu), same place, you just take it back to your campsite, eat at the picnic tables outside, or along the beach!

20170127_083624
Trail’s End Restaurant

 

 

After breakfast the kids played at the park, we visited the stables where Cinderella’s horses live, toured the resort and took a boat ride over to the Wilderness Lodge. On warm mornings, you can swim or take a nap on the hammocks by the beach while you wait for check in (make sure to have swim suits and a change of clothes handy in your carry on).

As the Passporter guidebook says: “much more than tents and hookups, Fort Wilderness is a resort in every sense of the word…enveloped by pine, cypress, and oak, this 700 acre campground is a relaxing haven after the noise and excitement of a long day at the parks.”

When you use Meacham’s RV to rent a camper, you must coordinate with them on check in. The Meacham family really does go above and beyond to make sure everything runs smoothly (check out our original post for more info)!  They had the camper, outside mat, camping chairs, and golf cart set up and ready for us in 45 minutes.

Camping at Fort Wilderness is such a fun adventure and Meacham’s RV takes care of everything for you! Check out all the amazing details they include in your camper rental. (Click HERE to view a complete list of everything included in your camper).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Meacham’s RV Kid Review:

downloadOur 5 year old loved the bunkbeds, the “magic TV that turned into a mirror and went all the way around,”  the couches in the bunkbed section, and the fact that baby gates were included under the mattresses so she could sleep up high and not fall out of bed each night!

 

vector-star-wars-character-chewbacca-vske1v-clipart

Our 9 year old loved everything about the camper, especially the couches that turned into beds… but his favorite part of the whole trip was the golf cart!

 

 

20170127_094734
Meacham’s RV Camper 39

We had camper rental 39 and it was brand new at the time of publishing. As you can see, the camper is quite beautiful and fully stocked with everything we could possibly need during our trip! As our son said, the best part of the whole trip was adding the golf cart to our camping experience! We zipped around in that and toured the entire grounds of the resort. Our favorite thing was to drive up to the Bay Lake beach at night to watch the fireworks which you can see from the Magic Kingdom. Make sure to select Fort Wilderness® Adventure Option on Meacham’s RV website to add a golf cart to your package. Absolutely worth it and adds SO much fun to your trip! You can drive your golf cart right up close to Disney’s boat or bus transportation when you’re ready to head to the parks. This cuts down on lots of extra walking and I’m happy to report I did NOT get blisters this trip!

 

We pre-ordered groceries to have during our trip from Orlando Grocery Express. We selected our delivery date and time and the groceries were waiting for us at bell services before we checked in.  Everything came in perfect condition and we used the golf cart to go and retrieve them from bell services at the front of the resort. Settlement Trading Post and Meadow Trading Post are the gift shops onsite and they do have lots and lots of groceries. They are expensive, however. If you’re only staying for a few short days, getting your groceries there will be fine. But we recommend Orlando Grocery Express or going to a local supermarket for your groceries if staying for a whole week.

The outside kitchen included in our camper was awesome! We used it each morning and cooking outside kept the camper from smelling like bacon. What a delight to have breakfast out in the open air at Fort Wilderness in relative privacy! Each site is nestled in trees and bushes of all kinds, making you feel like you are on your own private resort. For that reason alone, we recommend trying out Disney’s Fort Wilderness resort. You won’t get this kind of privacy and extra space at any other resort on Disney property.

We ate lunch and dinner at our amazing camper. After dinner we drove our golf cart over to the Meadow Trading Post area where the nightly campfire and Chip N Dale Sing-a-long takes place! It is super fun! The Chuck Wagon is open every night and serves hot dogs, snacks and S’mores kits. The S’mores kits were actually a pretty good deal.  It was $9.99 for a bag of marshmallows, a package of graham crackers, 2 Hershey bars and 2 roasting sticks. We had plenty left over.

Chip and Dale come out to greet everyone individually and take pictures during the sing along. Afterwards, a Disney movie is shown on the big screen under the stars. Be sure and bring your mosquito repellant!! 

 

We slept really well in our camper! Meacham’s supplies fantastic bedding, pillows, and towels. The king size bed was very comfortable and Meacham’s let me know that they always swap out the original “camper mattress” for a more comfortable option in each camper.

The bathroom in the camper is a nice size compared to most campers and has its own shower. Because the comfort station was directly across from our camper, we did most of our showering there. The bathrooms at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are immaculate, comfortable and almost spa-like with designer tile.

Day Three

 

We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the camper. A crockpot is even included in the camper so we had fun planning ahead for our meals at the camper.

The kids were anxious to get into the pools at The Fort. But it was COLD! A cold front had come in over the weekend and it was chillier than we anticipated. But that didn’t stop our polar bears! The lifeguards told us that as long as the wind chill is 50 degrees, they open the pool. And exactly 50 degrees it was! The hot tub was quite comfortable but the kids really wanted to go down the water slide….so in they went. And they had a blast! We almost had the place to ourselves. The pool water is kept pretty warm so everyone had fun.

 

Saturday evening we drove our golf cart over to the boat dock and headed to the Magic Kingdom! The boat generally makes 1 stop before heading to the Magic Kingdom and it takes maybe 15 minutes to get there once the boat starts moving. It is a fun ride across Bay Lake and we enjoyed the boat transportation immensely!

Day Four

Our last meal at the camper was a yummy breakfast outside using the outdoor kitchen attached right to the side of the camper.  The outdoor kitchen included a fridge, griddle, a pull out gas burner, grilling utensils, and an outdoor sink. It really was SO cool! 20170129_064555

 

Check out time at Fort Wilderness is 11am so Meacham’s RV comes to collect their camper around 10am. We cleaned up and had everything ready to go for Andrew to come and shut things down. The Meacham’s are great people! We enjoyed meeting them and they are fantastic to work with. You will not be disappointed when you choose to rent your camper from Meacham’s RV! Check out their site and say Hi on their social media sites.

There are bus stops at the end of every “camping loop” and it is not a far walk to reach them no matter where your campsite is.  We took our luggage to the bus stop and headed back to the front to deposit our bags with bell services. The next leg of our journey was Animal Kingdom Lodge and it was no hassle at all for Bell Services to transfer our luggage over to our next resort.

Check out our little YouTube video for a short look inside camper 39.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our trip report….

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Disney Budget, Travel Plans, WDW Dining

2017 Disney Dining Plan ~New Info!

I have to say that I was surprised to buy my first snack at Walt Disney World in January and find that I had 47 more snacks to go!

Last time we were in Disney World, we had 24 snack credits total for our family of 4 for the week. I thought there must be some mistake!

img_2319
Green Tea Cake

But I was happily surprised to find that we did, indeed, have 47 more snacks to go! Instead of clustering our Quick Service meals together like before (1 entree, 1 beverage, 1 dessert)…those desserts were magically transformed into snack credits to use at any time! Hooray!

I remember on our last trip we were always grabbing a cupcake or a packaged chocolate chip cookie so we wouldn’t waste that included dessert (and had cupcakes overflowing in our mini fridge by the end of the week! Way. Too. Many!). Now that this amazing change has taken place, we have snack credits galore! To use on breakfast snacks, desserts, or snacks any time of day!

Thanks Disney! Good call!

2017-02-15-13-56-032017-02-15-13-54-19

Posted in Disney Budget, Travel Plans

5 Budgeting Tips for a Disney Vacation

img_0953Disney is magical…but not without money. It’s no secret that the price to stay and play at Disney is quite expensive. We are currently immersed in budgeting our next Disney trip. Here are a few tips to help you budget for yours!

  1. Begin planning for your trip at least 1 year in advance, but preferably 18 months. Disney Dining begins accepting reservations 180 days (6 months!) in advance. There have been many families disappointed to find out that they couldn’t get their dream dinner at Cinderella’s castle (or other amazing Disney restaurants) because reservations fill up the very day that they begin taking them! If you haven’t started planning your budget in time, you won’t know if you have enough to spend on the Disney Dining Plan or your Disney restaurant of choice.
  2. Start a Disney savings account or spreadsheet. We do a monthly budget in our house and put aside money for our vacation each month. If you need more help with this or need to get rid of some debt before you can travel, take a look at Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.
  3. Buy Disney gift cards in advance to use as souvenir money in the parks. You can get these online and at most grocery stores.  If family members ask what you’d like for Christmas or birthdays this year, consider asking for a Disney gift card.  It’s easy to blow your budget out of the water when you are experiencing the Magic of the parks. And Disney has an extremely clever way of separating you from your money…Magic Bands! It doesn’t even feel like you’re spending money when you’re using them! However, if not prepared in advance for souvenir spending, you will be shocked when the bill comes. See our post about preventing your children from wanting (and whining about!) everything they see at Disney World.
  4. Invest in a Passporter Walt Disney World Guidebook and our Money Saving eBook. We think the planning is a huge part of the fun! There is nothing like the anticipation of an upcoming Disney trip and these books help you plan and budget every single minute of your trip so you have minimal surprises when it comes to money.
  5. Get on mailing lists from Mousesavers.com and Undercovertourist.com to be alerted of savings as they are available. We have saved a lot using these sites.

 

P.S….our secret tips to save thousands of dollars on every Disney trip you will only find in our WDW Travel with Kids eBook available now! You will not be disappointed!