500 days prior to our Christmas 2017 arrival date at Fort Wilderness, we made reservations. I’m not 100% sure the booking window for all other Disney resorts, but Fort Wilderness is 500 days. Apparently, if you don’t book Fort Wilderness pretty darn close to that 500 days…….well, sorry about your luck.
And bad luck is what we started out with planning Christmas 2018. We didn’t know our holiday tradition would become Fort Wilderness and at some point I found an area campground off property that had good ratings on the All Stays app (information here). However, I was not aware Roy KEPT CHECKING and CHECKING and CHECKING the Disney reservation system to see if any campsites at the Fort had opened up.
Well, guess what??????? One did, and it was just the best Christmas miracle EVER! Seriously, it was. He secured the 7 nights we needed and were able to check in bright and early on Christmas Eve morning! I just love my husband. His perseverance and optimism scored a major win for Christmas.
We left Lexington a few days before our arrival date at the Fort. We take at least 2 days to drive the Tiffin down to Orlando and we decided to have a Holiday celebration in Nashville on the way. My sister and her family just relocated to Nashville from Atlanta, so they welcomed everyone into their beautiful new home. We had a lovely few days there. While in Nashville, we stayed two nights at the Grand Ole RV Resort. It was nice, however, if you choose to make a reservation at this campground watch the weather. It is in an area prone to flooding. It was wet and cold when we arrived, but we had electricity to keep everyone warm and that was all we needed! Some of the spots are tight, but when you call the staff asks plenty of questions to make sure that larger rigs have plenty of space.
Here are a couple pictures of an outing in Nashville, we highly recommend Top Golf for a family afternoon of entertainment. We played for three hours! And I think we could have stayed for longer!
After two days in Nashville, lots of great food and wonderful fellowship……we were itching to get back on the road and head South. Sunday December 23 proved to be a much better travel day through Atlanta than our previous year’s attempt…………to travel south on a Friday afternoon. Lesson learned and not repeated.
TIP: Travelling South on I-75 through Atlanta is pretty much unavoidable for us to get to Orlando. Roy has looked and attempted to map out alternatives and it just doesn’t make sense to drive any other way. For 2017, like I mentioned above, we ended up arriving in Atlanta on a Thursday during an early rush hour and leaving on the last Friday before Christmas around lunchtime. Apparently, anyone and everyone who was driving south on 75 that weekend was on the road when we were. It would have been miserable in any vehicle…..but in a 40 foot RV, I can only imagine that my poor husband was ready to just bail and hop on an airplane. For 2018 we planned our travel days much differently. We have never driven around the bypass in Atlanta in the Tiffin. The miles around the bypass are much higher and in all honesty, scoping out maps doesn’t make the traffic look any more optimal. I’m sure different people have different opinions, but we just stay on 75 southbound through town. We only have 2 axles, I’m not sure if the larger tag-axle vehicles can do this. There are signs as you approach the Atlanta metro area of various vehicle restrictions for thru traffic.
Monday morning (Christmas Eve) arrival proved pretty smooth. We had a campsite assignment by 10am and our first Fast Passes were scheduled for shortly after lunchtime – traditionalists with day 1 being Magic Kingdom. We were all happy in our personal paradise!
We barely made our Fort Wilderness reservation a week prior to our departure, so we didn’t secure a golf cart reservation. However, once settled in, we did reserve one for our third or fourth afternoon through the remainder of our trip. This year, we were in a premium campsite Loop 1400 (which is the most pricey selection). This was the only option available when Roy made that last minute reservation. For anyone who doesn’t want a golf cart during your stay, request this loop!!!!!!! We were within a short walk to the dog park (Lizzie’s favorite Disney park), Meadows pool, outdoor movie amphitheater (evening movies & S’mores), campsite loop bus stop (with service to the main bus stop for transportation to all parks & boat dock with transportation to Magic Kingdom) and the Meadows trading post (camp store, canoe & bike rentals). This was a GREAT loop! Especially since we didn’t have a golf cart rental for the first two days.
Last year, my post didn’t have enough pictures of other campsites throughout the Fort. We were in such awe of how much decorating so many people did, I really only took a couple of pictures. However, this year, I have many!!
We are big UK fans and although we didn’t attend the Orange Bowl while in town, Tripp just could not help himself from this picture (for anyone who is not a UK fan…..we played & beat Penn State on New Year’s Day).
Can you believe these decorations? My pictures are just a few!
Of course, each evening after dark we drove around the campground to check out the comings and goings and new decorations. It truly is the most magical place and the most fabulous campground!
And…..a good golf cart ride is Lizzie’s favorite thing at any campground.
Our days were filled with park hopping, Magical treats at the parks and we were able to catch up with two different families that we don’t see as often as we would like!
First, our friends who live in Kentucky were down to catch the Orange Bowl, so we all joined up and grilled at the campsite one afternoon. Then, we did a loop around the monorail checking out each of the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Foridian’s holiday decor. We also enjoyed the amazing weather and an adult tropical beverage at Trader Sam’s (at the Polynesian).
Second, we were able to meet up with the Turners!!!! I am so jealous of this sweet family and their adventures. It was wonderful to catch up in person with Kristen, Jesse and Jocy. Again, we enjoyed the amazing Central Florida weather one afternoon and then Jocy and Tripp headed over to the pool for a bit. The Meadows pool was really crowded that day! It had been very chill until then, I’m not sure what happened. Maybe everyone else planned to enjoy their last few days of 80 degrees before heading back North to cold weather.
To keep this post from being FOREVER long…..I will leave you with these images from our park hopping. I will remind everyone….Christmas is one of (if not the) busiest times to visit Disney World. There are a LOT of people there. Our game plan is to get up early and hit the parks, complete our Fast Passes and then make our way back to the campground for lunch. Having the RV and Lizzie at this time of year makes that plan even more successful, we can not leave her alone in the RV for hours upon hours. We do tend to over exert ourselves when we come to Disney and stay in a hotel (and Lizzie is boarded) and the relaxation of hanging out midday at “home” while enjoying the sun and amenities is so nice.
Tripp has become really fond of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and various scavenger hunts in EPCOT. Those activities do not cost extra money; however, they keep you busy and often you notice different things you possibly would not have otherwise. For Sorcerers, Tripp finished the first level while during our Holiday adventures. He was allowed to sign a special book that you only can once each milestone in the Sorcerer game is completed.
And don’t you doubt for one second that exactly 500 days before the Holiday season of 2019, I had my reservation for December 2019! We have officially made camping at Disney the most happiest Christmas tradition ever.