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

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

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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!

 

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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!

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Disney with kids, Travel Plans

Preventing Blisters at Disney World: For Grown-Ups & Kids!

Prevent Blisters at Walt Disney WorldNothing can thwart the magic of a Walt Disney World trip like sore blisters and aching feet! During our last trip, I thought I was well prepared for all the walking; brought my favorite crocs, tennis shoes, and flip flops…thought I was good to go! Boy was I wrong! By mid-week, I had two huge blisters that really hurt. I missed out on half of a days planned activities because of it and I was bummed! I’ve been researching how to prevent this from happening again so that I’m better prepared next trip!

(January 2017 Trip Update: NO BLISTERS! I took moleskin and put them on my trouble spots ahead of time and I only used 2 pair of shoes the whole time: My favorite tennis shoes and my supportive crocs. It was a great week!)

There is a great post over on the Dis Boards from a triathlete. I want to summarize that post in case it ever gets moved or deleted. This is my plan for next time:

  1. Make sure the shoes you wear have been broken in for several months. Don’t buy a brand new pair of shoes for hours and hours of walking. I’ve purchased brand-new Crocs for a trip before and I definitely regretted it because they hadn’t been broken in.
  2. Wear good, supportive shoes a little bit bigger than your normal shoe size. Your feet will swell after miles of walking at WDW! A little more space will keep your feet from rubbing the wrong way.
  3. Don’t wear cotton socks because they absorb moisture and stay wet! Buy sport socks made with synthetic materials.
  4. Put Body Glide ointment on your feet to prevent chafing.

 

Here are a few other tips to prevent blisters that could also be helpful. 

  1. Moleskin and Blister Block are two products that come highly recommended as a pre-emptive strike against blisters…especially when you know there are areas of your feet more prone to blister.
  2. Take a good, comfy, pair of shoes that you’ve worn in well for each day. Yes, you read that correctly…wear a different pair of shoes every day so that your feet don’t rub in the same spot over and over all week. Some people wear tennis shoes in the morning, crocs (or similar) in the afternoon and flip-flops in the evening. My kids do well with tennis shoes in the morning and crocs in the evening.
  3. Disney to the rescue! Disney will help take care of your aching feet if you visit the First Aid station generally located close to the entrance of each park next to the Baby Care Centers.  There are nurses available during park hours to help bandage you up but if you don’t want that extra treatment they will give you bandages and a few other first aid supplies for free!

 

How about you? Do you get blisters at WDW? What has worked for you? We’d love to hear your tips!

Posted in Disney with kids, Kid Reviews

Favorite Walt Disney World Things to Do for Preschoolers

20151105_010708If you’ve got preschoolers in the house, these are must-do events when traveling to Walt Disney World recommended by our resident 5 year old!

  1. Splash Mountain-“I love that it’s so fast and that there is a big splash at the end.”
  2. Buzz Light Year-“I like the superheroes and stuff.”
  3. “A cool thing to see is the water slide at the Yacht Club right before you go eat the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream”.
  4. “I LOVE the dinner at Cinderella’s castle.”
  5. “I loved Beauty and the Beast Story time. I got to dress up in the play and Belle held my hand!”
  6. “The giant chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches at the Magic Kingdom are the best!”
  7. Fireworks in the Magic Kingdom: “Tinkerbell flying overhead starting the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle is awesome!”

A tip from Mom:

Preschoolers want nearly everything they see at Disney World! A great idea that totally worked immediately for our preschoolers was to  tell them we would take a picture of each souvenir they loved so we could look at them at the end of the week and decide which souvenir was their favorite. They had fun taking the pictures and then looking through them at the end of the week! We gave them a budget and allowed them to pick one or two of their favorites to take home within their budget!

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Post by Lady Love (age 5)
Posted in Disney with kids, Magic Kingdom, Travel Plans

Disney with Littles: Top Five Things You Can’t Leave Home Without!

Guest Post By Alexa W.classroomclipart.com

Traveling to Disney with a lot of littles can be both doable and fun! Just don’t leave home without these top 5 things!

(Right now we have kids ages 18mo, 3, 5, 7, 10,  & 11. We were at Disney World most recently in August.)

  1. Sippy cups leashes like these HERE:

I bought these exact ones at Walmart and they were close to $5 each. Right now my family doesn’t have a little one attached to a certain sippy cup, but we used them to tether lovies (which they are attached to) to the stroller. Can you imagine being in the park with a tired little one and you can’t find their special thing?? It would be a nightmare. My 18 month old is attached to a stuffed bear and my 3 year-old has a blanket. I attached both of these lovies with SippiGrips to the stroller. The leash is long enough for little ones to sit in the stroller and hold on to the special something all while still staying attached! Thank you, SippiGrips, for the peace of mind!

  1. Ok, maybe this is obvious, but BRING YOUR STROLLER.

Even older ones need to rest their legs sometimes. My family likes to go all day – show up when the park opens and stay until it closes. One way we are able do this is by having portable resting stations! J With six kids, we take two strollers, one double and one single. You can also rent them from places like kingdomstrollers.com. I have an ancient Graco DuoGlider that I just use for trips. I’ve thought about upgrading, but mine has 4 mesh cup holders built into the umbrellas, which is a feature that really comes in handy.

  1. Now, talking about cup holders, THIS is something I must have in the future:

img_4554I have never taken one to DisneyWorld before, but I saw one while at the park and had to snap a picture! You can bet I will never go to the park again without one! Pure Genius! Any family with littles knows that there will always be STUFF, so don’t waste the bottom storage of the stroller with cups and spray fans!  Easy access to water bottles and fans comes from using a shoe holder zip tied to the stroller. Maybe I will decide to upgrade my stroller after all.

  1. Of course you’ll want to bring Ponchos, Umbrellas, and Spray Fans.

You can buy these things in the park, but it will cost more money and use up some of your time.  You don’t want the weather to slow you down from having fun – hot or wet. Spray fans are easy to refill and it’s amazing what a little cool down can do for a cranky little one. My 18mo old loved to play with one and even spray it himself – easy entertainment, guys.  Two in One: Entertainment and cool down.

  1. Label Everything: Bring Masking Tape, a Sharpie and Liquid Band-aid.

Before we left this last time, I took time to label all the water bottles, spray bottles, lovies, and even the baby’s shoes. I just tried to think through anything that might fall out of the stroller or get dropped and I labeled it. Then of course, I brought the supplies along, because, as you might guess, I realized there were some things that I missed.  But what about the liquid Band-Aid? How about labeling your children? If there was any place to lose a child, it should be at a Disney park. They have better detectives than the Scotland Yard I think. So well trained and calm… how do I know? Maybe that’s a guest post for another time. 😉 However, should it happen that one of your littles wanders off, I have no doubt that they will be found. Finding their grown ups is what might be hard! It has been suggested that writing the adult’s phone number on their arm and covering with liquid Band-Aid is a wonderful option. It is sweat-proof, water-proof and ensures a quick reunion.

No matter what you decide to take with you, I know your family will have a magical time in the Happiest Place on Earth! Happy Traveling!

About the Author: Alexa is a Dance Instructor and Homeschooling mom of 6! Thanks for your great advice, Alexa!

Posted in Disney with kids, Magic Kingdom, Travel Plans

Kingdom Strollers vs. Disney Stroller Rental ….Kingdom Strollers for the Win!

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Let’s talk about strollers at Walt Disney World. Our kids needed a stroller at Disney up until they were five years old! It is just such a huge place and little legs can’t keep up sometimes. Plus, when we go to Disney World, we almost always plan on staying as late as possible and “closing down the parks!” This means at least one child is going to fall asleep during the fireworks. And when your child falls asleep in their stroller on the way to the buses, you’ll do just about anything to keep them sleeping.

At one point, I was willing to pay an extra thousand dollars to stay at a monorail resort (Polynesian, Grand Floridian & Contemporary) to be able to push my sleeping child onto the monorail at day’s end and push them right into their rooms without collapsing the stroller! I’m no longer in that crazy, over-stressed-mom stage of my life…but I remember it well!

It is such a great thing when the little ones settle down for their naps after lunch at a Disney Park and you can push them right onto the monorail and onto another adventure at Magic Kingdom or Epcot. The problem here is that if you’ve rented a park stroller, you cannot take it from park to park.

As I said previously, our five-year-old has needed a stroller at Disney in the past. He was too big to still have a stroller at home that we could bring along and we were using our other jogging stroller for our infant, so we had a problem. We didn’t want to buy a new stroller just for one week at Disney and the park rentals are expensive and uncomfortable.

Enter the solution: Companies like Kingdom Strollers to the rescue!

Kingdom Strollers delivers the stroller (and cribs/bedding, if needed) right to you at your resort or hotel. Kingdom Strollers is also a preferred Disney provider so they can even deliver right to the Disney parks if you need a last minute rental or realize your child won’t sleep well in a Disney rented stroller. You use the stroller just like if you had brought your own. No waking up exhausted children at the end of your day to carry them to the bus or the tram. The strollers are clean, comfortable, recline-able jogging strollers and they even offer doubles and strollers for children with special needs.

city-mini_01The City Mini Single™ is the lightest and most compact of all the singles making it the perfect park companion. 

      Features include:

  • Easy one-handed folding
  • Large clam shell canopy
  • Storage under seat and on seat back
  • Parent console included
  • Best for kids up to 44” in height
  • 50lb maximum capacity

Kingdom Strollers has some great info on their FAQ page including the answers to these common questions:

Why would I rent a stroller?

Can’t I just rent one from the parks?city-mini-double_01

(I loved their answer here so I’m reprinting it ) Yes….you can. They are $16 a day for a single and $31 for a double. They are made of hard plastic, don’t recline and you CANNOT take them out of the park. Sounds fantastic…..doesn’t it?

All strollers from Kingdom Strollers have padded seats, fully recline and you can take them ANYWHERE you want….and trust us, the last thing you want is to have to carry a sleeping child back to the car at 11:30 at night with 30,000 other people bee-lining for the same monorail you are.

Kingdom Stroller City Mini Single™ Prices  

1-3 Nights Rental $40.00 Total
4-7 Nights Rental $60.00 Total
8-10 Nights Rental $80.00 Total

Kingdom Stroller DOUBLES Prices

1-3 Nights Rental $50.00 Total
4-7 Nights Rental $70.00 Total
8-10 Nights Rental $90.00 Total

Disney Stroller Pricing

Single Stroller 

  • Daily: $15
  • Multi-Day (Length of Stay): $13

Double Stroller 

  • Daily: $31
  • Multi-Day (Length of Stay): $27

 

As you can see….If you need the stroller for more than a day or 2, you’re not going to want to rent a hard shell stroller that you can’t take out of the park with you…Kingdom Strollers is a WAY BETTER deal all the way around.

The cost savings is enough to give Kingdom Strollers your business, but when you find out more about this family…you’ll want to support them even more!

Kingdom Strollers is owned and operated by Matt and Angela Wilhite. I interviewed Matt for this article. Let’s get to know them a bit better.

Tell us about your company history

We are a small, family owned business started with the goal of being able to spend more time with my family. After 10 years as a restaurant General Manager, I wanted to find a way to be able to enjoy the early years of my son as he grew. We started our business in the fall of 2010 with the hope of making $500 that we could use to provide a little financial breathing room. We cleaned strollers in the kitchen of our condo and I would deliver them in our Corolla.

I quit my career just four months after starting this business. We thank the Lord for his guidance everyday and for the blessing that we have in being the stewards over what he has provided. Today we have an 8,000 square foot warehouse with 45 employees. Angela and myself run the company along with our manager Julio.

How did you become a featured Disney stroller provider?

We became a Disney Featured provider when Disney decided to whittle down the number of companies they would allow to continue to be able to make use of their luggage rooms. There were about 20 companies that were renting strollers and it had gotten chaotic for Disney to deal with. We were one of three companies chosen to continue to work with Disney. It’s a great honor.

Tell us what makes you different from the other Disney stroller providers and why should families with young children choose you?

We work hard to provide great guest service and I think our reputation shows that. We really care about the experience our guests have because they are just that….our guests. We also have what I believe to be the cleanest strollers out there. They are laundered between each rental….a tremendous amount of work, but one I think really creates a difference.

Is it necessary for an advance reservation or if families get to Disney and realize they need a stroller, is it likely you will have one available?

I always recommend reserving as far in advance as possible. Even with 1,600 strollers, we will book out completely during certain months

What is your favorite Disney Planning tip for families with young children?

When you visit Disney, take it slow. There are so many small things that can get passed over trying to rush from one Fastpass to another. Enjoy being together and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s like no other.

Thanks, Matt!

Make sure to check out all of the fantastic reviews Kingdom Strollers is getting on their site!

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