How to make Walt Disney World a camping adventure that enchants the family without breaking the bank
CHILDREN ARE ALL ALIKE IN ONE WAY: They sparkle with wonder. It’s all over them. God bless ‘em, they dream about magic stories. Enchanted castles, too. And spellbound princesses? You bet. Which means you can expect them to ask—or possibly plead with—you to take the RV to Walt Disney World. (Forgive us, but it’s a tale as old as time.) And with everything that Disney offers, making that dream come true is an impulse you should trust. From the endless enchantment of the Magic Kingdom to the campfires of Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney World is a trip the entire family will enjoy. Because when those kids light up, everyone catches the glow. But while Walt Disney World may be the most magical place on earth, it’s also one of the most expensive. All that fairy dust ain’t cheap, and Mickey and Minnie go through a lot of cheddar! That’s why we’ve compiled the best insider tips and tricks to RV Disney. As a camper, you’ll save time and money—while still keeping things magical. After all, you want to vibe more hakuna matata, and not be one of those poor unfortunate souls paying full price. Here’s the best way to hop in your RV and meet the Mouse!
Camp at Fort Wilderness
No Worries for RV Guests Driving from the west side of Orlando on Country Road 535, turn on Vista Boulevard and pull onto Fort Wilderness Trail, and be transported into a 750-acre woodland fantasy with 784 campsites and 409 cabins. Tucked away in the pine and cypress forests, you’ll encounter spacious campsites, charming hiking paths, and fun for the whole family. With two video arcades, movies, a dinner theater, swimming pools, a beach, and special campfire programs, there is something for everyone.
Find Your Perfect Camping Spot
Taking a few notes from Len Testa and Bob Schillinger, authors of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, we recommend loops 100, 200, 700, and 400 (in
that order) to be close to guest services, restaurants, and the beach. For campers who want a more scenic site, Testa recommends loops 1800, 1900, 1700, and 1600, but stay off the first 40 or so yards of each loop to avoid noisy traffic. (Also, double-check construction when booking to avoid the soundtrack of not-so-magical things like hammers, nail guns, and tractors.)
Plan Your Resort Transpo
Seven hundred fifty acres is a lot of land. While Disney does provide transportation to and from the parks, it can be a waiting game. Most campers find the easiest and most reliable way to get around the resort itself is to rent an onsite golf cart. Use your personal vehicle to drive to the parks before they’re open—early access to the parks is a perk that you have as a resort patron—for the best parking and most time saved. The last thing you want to do with your small, tired children is wait for a boat to wait for a bus to, possibly, wait for another bus before you return to your RV.
Turn Your Savvy into Gold
Valuable tips to save cash—and sanity
Split Time with Fort Wilderness
The resort itself is chock full of adventures for the whole family. Alternate days between going to the parks and staying at the campsite, exploring nature, hanging by the beach, or catching the fabulous Chip ‘n’ Dale Campfire Sing-A-Long show.
Be Intentional About Meals
Pack affordable snacks and meals in your RV, and be intentional about eating at the parks. Reserve one special meal per day in the parks or at the resort with the My
Disney Experience app. Otherwise, make the RV snack headquarters. Bagels and fruit scrambled eggs, and homemade granola bars go a long way for fueling your family without draining your bank account.
Cash-In on the Freebies
Traveling with small children? Head to guest services when you enter the park, and they’ll hand out official Disney World buttons. From there, head to the
Town Square Firehouse in Magic Kingdom to pick up your “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” cards. Cast members usually have stickers on hand, and transportation workers carry trading cards. At the end of the day, your souvenirs are taken care of and are way more fun to collect.
Experience the Wonder
Ways to get that magic carpet ride
Make Use of the Monorail
Planning to park hop, but don’t want to get back in the car until the end of the day? Start at the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios where you parked your car, then hop on the Monorail to EPCOT for international lunch or dinner reservations. Structuring your day around food and transpo may seem like less fun, but it will save valuable time and money.
Extend Your Time at EPCOT
Book breakfast at EPCOT before the park opens or reserve your dinner table for park closing time. Scheduling your meals will allow you the full opening hours to explore the wonder EPCOT provides, including free concerts, a soaring trip around the world, an international showcase, and of course, The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Get Ready to Glow
Say what now? Order some glow paints ahead of your trip and pack it in your day bag. Apply paint before you spend the evening at Pandora – The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s a super affordable way to create a unique and lasting memory for your kids. (Props to Global Munchkins for the heads up on this insider tip.)
Ask for a Child Swap
This is not a Rumpelstiltskin-type ploy. If one or more of your children are not tall enough for a certain ride, and you’ve already been in line for an hour, ask for a “Rider Switch” or “Child Swap.” This will allow both you and your partner to enjoy the ride one at a time, without waiting in line again
Wait for Less in the Lightning Lane
The bad news? The FastPass is a thing of the past. The great news? Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Selection enables you to select available windows all day long for the rides and attractions you want to see. It costs $15 per guest (per day). It’s easy to access on the My Disney Experience app. And it makes your wish—to spend less time in lines—come true.