Fort Wilderness: What's the big deal?
Fort Wilderness has a reputation. With such rave reviews, we were anxious to make our own assessment. I must admit that I have been more than a little skeptical about how "magical" a campground could be. We've heard that this place is "The Best" on more than one occasion.
Our first night at Fort Wilderness was a shocker. If you stay at a Disney resort on the Seven Seas Lagoon (ie: The lake in front of the Magic Kingdom) then you have the opportunity every evening to see the
With Fort Wilderness, Disney does so many things right. Need ice? You can buy it at the bathhouse that is just steps from your campsite. Need to do laundry? Also at the bathhouse. Forget detergent? They have that, too. That annoying thing you can't stand about the bathhouse at your favorite campground? Well, that have that right, too. There's definitely a dry place to put your towels and clothes when you take a shower. There are enough hooks. There's a shelf big enough for your shower soaps. There aren't any light bulbs that need changing. There is enough hot water. All of those things. They have it right.
Dining: Oh! The Places We Ate!
We've been to Disney before. I made dining reservations ahead of time for those trips. This time, since our kids are a little older and we weren't traveling with any extra people, we decided to try something different with dining: winging it. I did not make a single dinner reservation before our trip. Our plan? Be flexible- see where we could get in for table service. With only a couple of exceptions, we were able to get in for table service almost every time we tried...
50s Prime Time Cafe (Hollywood Studios)-
Our waitress brought plates, silverware, and napkins. She stacked them in a pile in the middle of the table and told us to "do chores." We appreciated so many things about this place, including home-style cooking.
Yak and Yeti (Animal Kingdom) -
Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom)-
Tokyo Dining (Epcot)-
All of us love Japanese food. We've eaten at Epcot's hibachi restaurant, Teppan Edo, in the past. It's one of our favorites. At the Japan pavilion, we learned that Teppan Edo was full for the evening. The hostess encouraged us to try Tokyo Dining; where she would be able to get us a table right away. A little disappointed, we took the table. She pointed upstairs where we were met by a hostess who escorted us to a table by the window. It wasn't until after we had ordered our food that I realized we would have a window seat for the evening firework show at Epcot, Illuminations. Whoah! I'm sure people make reservations months in advance to get a table like this (and just hope for a window seat.)
at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort)-
When we hear the word "buffet" we usually run. (Run in the opposite direction, mind you.) Not here, though. Delicious breakfast with some of our favorite characters, too. We've been here before but had to return.
Assorted "Magical Moments"
Checking in at Fort Wilderness:
We booked a full hookup campsite (cheapest) for our stay and requested to be next to some friends. When we arrived at Fort Wilderness with our friends they went in ahead of us to check-in. A few moments later she skipped over to our trailer while we were still waiting to check in "It's Magic! Just like they said! They upgraded us [to be closer to the other Airstreams at the TAC rally!]"
All that and a bag of Ice:
After touring Animal Kingdom all day one Tuesday the kids and I came home for dinner and some errands. We left the world. At dinner, Brian and I discussed that the Magic Kingdom would be open until 1:00am! Before heading back to the trailer, we stopped to get some ice for the cooler. One interesting thing about the campground is that you have to go through the parking gate for "The Magic Kingdom" before you can get to the campground. Well, after we got through the "Magic Kingdom" parking plaza, our car suddenly went straight instead of turning right to go to the campground. Did I mention we had a bag of ice? We stashed it under the car, caughed the next monorail, and skipped into the Magic Kingdom. We arrived at 11pm when hordes of people were heading home. Were they anxious to get home to hear election results?
I spied the Hall Presidents and wondered aloud "Think it's still open this late?" Someone shouted "Last show for Hall of Presidents!" We scurried in. What a special place to be on election night- in a room full of presidents. A proud moment, too. Even our youngest recognized many of the presidents, I think visiting presidential libraries and houses makes us feel like we have connect with them in a personal way. It was hard not to get a little teary-eyed.
I mentioned earlier that we ate at "Be Our Guest" but I failed to say how fortunate we were to be able to get in. The restaurant is in "New Fantasyland" which wasn't scheduled to be open until after our trip. There were rumors that there would be a "soft opening" the day after our departure. On election night, New Fantasyland was open for dress rehearsal! What a treat to see New Fantasyland! We ordered "LeFou's brew" from Gaston's tavern and sucked it down before getting on the new Little Mermaid ride. Then, we saw The Little Mermaid herself, in her new grotto. We took a peek at Belle's castle and the "Be Our Guest" restaurant which was just open for a preview. I asked the cast members in the castle if there was any possibility to get a reservation for dinner. She wasn't able to get me a reservation but she told me how to do it. We followed her advice. Just like that. Magic! We got in for dinner before it was even supposed to be open!
At the Polynesian:
There's no bones about it. We have a thing for Hawaii! It's been two years since our trip there and we still talk about all the time! While at Disney, we found ourselves visiting the Polynesian frequently. "Can we go there for breakfast one more time?" Strolling outside by the pool and the Seven Seas Lagoon, with the Hawaiian music, for the briefest of moments I really felt like I was in Hawaii. Thank you, Disney, for that moment!
Main Street Transportation:
There's a little old fire truck that putzes around Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. On our last day at the park we started out at the Magic Kingdom. We weren't really in a hurry to get to anything in particular. We had ridden everything we really wanted to ride. There was nothing left on anyone's "must do" list. More than anything, we were coming to the Magic Kingdom to pick up more Sorcerers of The Magic Kingdom cards. I mentioned that I might like to ride the fire truck. Then (you guessed it)... we were at the right place at the right time, asked the right person, and rode the firetruck just before it was in a parade!