On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are reporting on our fabulous trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After hanging out at the Florida RV SuperShow, we couldn’t leave the Sunshine State without paying Mickey and his friends a little visit.
So we rented an RV from Lazydays in Tampa, reserved a site at Fort Wilderness Campground, and brought our boys to the most magical place on earth.
Listen to hear all about our planning and preparations, our first experience with an RV rental, and our favorite park rides and dining treats.
To hear the complete scoop on our trip, you can also listen to Campground of the Week Episode #67, which has our in-depth review of Fort Wilderness Campground.
Podcast Segment One: Planning and Preparation
First, a disclaimer: This is not an insiders’ guide to everything Disney. There are entire books, blogs, and podcasts devoted to exploring every nook and cranny of the this place. To be honest, we think it’s a bit overkill.
So we are breaking it down, and keeping it simple. Want to go to Disney and have a great time? We have you covered!
- People talk about how much planning you have to do before a trip to Disney. We agree, up to a point. Campsite reservations, dining reservations, and FastPass+ reservations should all be booked as early as possible if you want to nab your favorites!
- Balance a schedule with flexibility. Having a flexible game plan is crucial to enjoying Walt Disney World without getting burned out. We had our park mornings scheduled with reserved FastPasses, but after lunch we had a general, less strict game plan and could adjust to crowds and our kids.
- Don’t get carried away with dining reservations. We did two dining experiences (Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Chef Mickey) on days that we were not visiting the parks. That freed up our park time to focus on the activities and attractions that we wanted to see. In the Magic Kingdom, we kept it casual and ate at Pinnochio Village Haus. In Epcott, we had a fun lunch in Germany.
- Take advantage of the FastPass +, and book your reservations 60 days in advance. We didn’t book a FastPass for the most popular ride we wanted to experience, opting to head right to that option when we arrived in the park (Space Mountain, Soarin’, etc.). Then we booked three FastPasses back to back between 9:30-12:00 pm. Once they were used up, we were free to add one Fastpass at a time for the rest of the day. This strategy worked perfectly for us.
- Download the My Disney Experience App. Disney has done a great job with this app, and it really does make managing all your plans and reservations a complete breeze. We wish we had an app like this to manage our daily life.
Podcast Segment Two: Our Lazydays RV Rental Experience
One of the most exciting parts about this trip was having our first experience with renting an RV. Lazydays is the largest RV dealership in the world, and they have a location in Tampa right near where we were staying at the Florida RV SuperShow. They also happen to have a great fleet of Class A and Class C motorhomes that are available for rent.
The Lazydays website is very user friendly, and you can easily browse through the rental options that they have. Price and floor plans are clearly displayed, and we love that they offer a large range of price points with a budget option of $150/day up to luxury options at $500/day. There is unlimited miles, unlimited generator use, and a 3-day minimum for all rentals.
We used a Class C bunk house model (much like this one here), which costs between $200-$275/day, depending on the specific model. Added to our premium campsite fees, that placed the total cost of our accommodations as comparable to staying in a hotel suite or condo, which would be necessary for our family of five.
Listen to hear more of our discussion about budget and cost, plus what we thought about our first Class C experience.
Bottom line? This was an amazing way to stay at Fort Wilderness, and renting an RV was a better experience than we even imagined it would be. We will be writing more on how we packed and planned for an RV rental vacation in the future. Stay tuned!
Podcast Segment Three: The Parks
On this trip, we spent a day in Magic Kingdom, a day in Epcott, a day at Universal Studios, and a day at Fort Wilderness. We decided that we wanted to completely cover Universal Studios and Harry Potter world, so stay tuned for that episode in the future.
- Take the boat from Fort Wilderness. This is an amazing way to start and end each day at the Magic Kingdom.
- Get there early. The difference between crowds at 9 am and 11 am is unbelievable. Suck it up, Buttercup, and set the alarm. It’s worth it.
- Go immediately to the most popular ride you wish to enjoy. At 9 am, the wait for Space Mountain was 5 minutes. By 10 am it was 30.
- Take advantage of ride swap if you have a youngin’. Disney has this system figured out, and a ride swap is basically a Fastpass you can use for the same ride at a later time. This was awesome for our family.
- Enjoy the sentimental rides. Going on It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean is like getting in a time machine if you visited when you were a kid.
- Take time out for the parade at 3 pm daily. Our boys are not totally into hugging and mugging with the characters, but they really enjoy watching them from a safe distance. The parade was a great way to see all the main characters in one place.
- Allow extra travel time to get from Fort Wilderness to Epcot. You have to take the busses from the Outpost, and it is definitely a longer journey than the boat ride to Magic Kingdom.
- Soarin’ was more amazing than anyone had led us to believe.
- FastPass+ your rides for the morning and then head over to the World Showcase for lunch and the afternoon. We did another round of rides when we circled back between 4-6 pm, and this worked really well for us.
- I made notes in the My Disney Experience app about timed performances at the different countries. This way I knew when the Chinese Acrobats or Voices of Liberty were scheduled to appear. This helped us time our tour of the World Showcase and the boys LOVED the live performances.
Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom:
We opted out of these parks on this trip, because we only had time for 3 park days, and we decided to bring the boys to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. It was a touch choice, and we will definitely be visiting Hollywood Studios during our next visit. Still not sure if Animal Kingdom will make the cut…
We talk about the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ over on Campground of the Week, and we also enjoyed:
- Chef Mickey–a great option when staying at Fort Wilderness since you can take the boat over to the Contemporary.
- Biergarten Restaurant, Germany–the food here isn’t spectacular, but the beer flights and the entertainment are fantastic.
Overall, we really were blown away by how much we enjoyed this trip to Walt Disney World. We are convinced that staying at Fort Wilderness in an RV turned this special experience into a truly spectacular one. Days spent at the Meadows Pool and evenings spent at the Campfire Sing a Long with Chip and Dale helped us balance frenetic fun with relaxation.
And yes, Jeremy already did make reservations for next year. He’s totally out of control.
A very special thank you to Lazydays RV for helping us enjoy our very first RV rental experience. We can’t wait to do it again!
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