October is a great time to visit Disney. The weather is usually good and the parks are less crowded. Here are some answers and tips for your long list of questions.
You can get tickets from Disney. However, you can also get them from other places for a little less. AAA is an OK place. But, many use Undercover Tourist. If you link to them from Mouse Savers you can get an even better deal.
There are three types of sites. Full and Preferred are the same but the preferred are just closer to some of the key places like the beach and boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom. Premium sites have a wider driveway and have a paved area instead of a sand area. You can get a great sense of the loops from the info provided at Fort Fiends. If you are bringing a dog, you might consider selecting one of the loops close to the dog park, maybe the 300 or 500 loops.
The hoop de do review is a wonderful show. We really enjoyed it. You might consider spending a day just relaxing at the campground and then doing that show in the evening. The fort is so nice, you may not want to go the parks every day. Bring your bikes. There is a nice trail to the Wilderness Lodge. You might see deer and other animals along the trail.
As for the parks, it really depends on your interests. I really like them all. Magic Kingdom for a family friendly classic. Epcot for science, culture, and learning along with some great rides like soaring and test track. Hollywood studios for the awesome show at the end of the day - Fantasmic. And the Safari at Animal Kingdom is wonderful. Park hoppers can be handy if you want to split your time. But allow time to travel between parks.
One more great place for Fort Wilderness information is Dis Boards.
My review of Fort Wilderness is at Travels, Trails, & Sails.
Hope you have a great time.
We stayed at the Minuteman campground last summer. It is very nice and I would stay there again. Lots of trees make for nicely shaded sites.
There are really only two downsides. Some sites may be a bit tight backing in due to the large trees and rocks that are part of the landscape. And it is a very long trip into the city. We drove to a nearby metro stop and took the train in. It was about an hour trip each way.
One site that works pretty well is http://www.rvparkreviews.com It has a map as well as the ability to select by town/city. People provide reviews of the sites. Look past the numbers and read the text of the reviews - people judge what a good campground is by many different criteria.
Where you are planning to stay, mosquitos don't seem to be much of a problem during the day.The ocean breeze really helps. Once the sun starts going down, you might want some good bug spray. I remember attempting a walk at dusk one night that turned out to be no fun due to the bugs.
I have stayed at the Fort several times. It is a great campground. Full hookup and preferred sites are essentially the same. The difference is location. We have stayed in preferred sites in the 100 & 200 loops which provides easy walking access to the beach, store, Hoop De Doo Review, and boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom. We like the sand area for playing games and having a pace for the hammock.
Full hookup sites may be a bit further away but might be closer to the pool or nightly movie. We ride bikes for transportation but many choose to use a golf cart. If you bring your bikes, there is a nice trail that goes to the Wilderness Lodge.
In riding around the campground, the Premium sites have a much wider paved area and no sand area. They appear wide enough to park two vehicles on pavement vs one on the full hook up sites. If you have a very large rig, it would be easier to back into a premium site.
Not all of the loops are equal. The 100 & 200 are older. Sites may be a bit closer together. You probably wouldn't want to stay in one with much more than a 28 foot trailer. Some of the other loops look like they provide nice shade and distance between campers. There are others I would prefer not to stay in as they are a bit tight. One in particular, I don't remember the number, has a loop within a loop that had almost no privacy.
If you make a reservation, you might consider placing it by phone instead of on their web site. The phone reps seem better able to take request notes, look for discounts like AAA, etc.
A great place I have found to ask Fort related questions is the DIS Board forum on Camping at Disney World. http://www.disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=24
Hope that helps.
You have come to the right place. I have learned a lot from the forums here; both the travel trailer forum and the locations one (RV Parks, etc).
I have tried to write up what I learned on my blog. I have one on Outfitting a Camper at http://traveltrailsail.com/?p=114 and another post on How to Take Your Dream RV Trip at http://traveltrailsail.com/?p=117
One of the best things we did was to camp a few nights close to home to try things out. We also kept the number of the service department for our RV dealer in case we had questions. I had video-taped their walkthrough of the unit. Watching their instructions was really helpful.
One thing to consider. You mention one is in your town and one is 50 miles away. During the warranty period, we had to visit the shop a few times. I was glad that I only had to drive 5 miles to the dealer I purchased from instead of driving 60 miles to another dealer we were considering. All other things being equal, this might make a difference in your decision.
We have a Jayco 26BH for our family of four and a dog. We have had it for 3 years and have camped in a variety of places across 17 states. Love it. I went to the RV show last year and after looking at dozens of other campers there wasn't a layout that would work better for us.
I like the single over double bunk for the kids. We haven't needed it but the couch makes into an additional bed very easily.
The queen bed up front is great. I prefer the half wall with curtain to a fixed wall as it feels like more room this way. You can sit on the bed to watch a movie on the main TV if you like.
It is nice to have a separate couch and dinette. It gives a bit more flexibility for when some want to watch a movie or read a book but others want to use the table. It would be nice if the couch had room for four, but it is comfortable for three.
Storage seems plentiful. There are cabinets in the main area which hold all of our dry food. Storage above and under the queen bed. Storage under the dinette seats. and Storage under the double bed. We have been on the road for as long as eight weeks without having trouble storing everything. I have noticed that the very light weight trailers save weight by eliminating cabinets. You might consider if that is a good trade off.
We wanted to avoid slides. This is pretty spacious. After we started bringing the dog along we could use a bit more space but it works out. There have been some state and national parks where a slide would have been inconvenient or impossible to use. The length is on the long side for some national park campgrounds. Overall, we have been able to stay almost anywhere we would like.
This same layout is made by others. We have been satisfied with Jayco. The 2 year warranty is definitely a plus.
I have the Husky Centerline. It works great. We experience minimal sway when being passed, usually feel a small tug with busses and very large semis. This is with a Ram 2500 towing a Jayco 26BH.
The system uses a heavy bar on each side that presses against a resistance plate. On the other end it is held in place by an L shaped bracket. There are no chains and it is easy to connect, as long as you are parked straight. We remove the bars if we need to make a tight turn when backing - for example backing into a camp site or our driveway. This can be kind of inconvenient in a campground if others are waiting to pass you while you try to get into your site. Usually, I look for a parking lot or unhitching area to do that before I go to the camp site.
I haven't used the Equalizer or Reese. Are they any better or easier to user?
Great question. Here is what I have learned. Don't use regular gas stations if you can avoid it. For the first two years, we just stopped wherever and found ourselves getting frustrated waiting for cars who didn't understand that we couldn't move easily, having to turn too tight for the hitch, backing the trailer in awkward places, etc.
Now, we have the Flying J app on the phone. We try to do everything in one stop; fuel, lunch, and change drivers. We have fewer stops and spend less time at those stops. Not sure if Flying J is the best and I am open to other opinions. But, it sure is set up well for a truck + camper and has made our travels go more smoothly.
Most places we go have fuel stops placed frequently enough. If we are traveling long distances in rural areas, like Montana, I bring an extra 5 gallons just in case.
Thanks NullSmurf for adding the full article link.
Thanks sdianel for your thoughts. I also like discounts when I can get them.
I guess the thought that struck me in reading the article is that often people have a type of campground they prefer. Some of our friends won't stay in commercial campgrounds and only like state parks. Others prefer to only stay in RV resorts with paved sites and all of the amenities. Those are just the types of experiences they seek out. As for me, I am more flexible, choosing the type of campground that feels right for the type of trip we are taking. I loved staying at Westmoreland State Park in VA and Huntington Beach State Park in SC. But, I also liked the Rafter J Bar ranch near Mount Rushmore and Fort Wilderness at Disney World. A variety of camping options is a good thing.
In Virginia, we have some of the nicest State Parks available anywhere. Yet, there are some who would like to reduce those options. Hopefully he VA Tech study is a good conversation starter.
Saw this in the news today http://bit.ly/ZCOzAP A VA Tech study shows that people select campgrounds more for the experience they deliver than on the price they charge.
This is a really interesting article. It says what most campers already know, we camp for the experience it provides. My family camps in all kinds of campgrounds from parks to resorts. We select a campground based on what we want to do and where we want to be. Sometimes that is a state or national park with great access to nature. Other times we want to be close to an attraction like a monument or an amusement park. More campgrounds in an area indicates it is popular and a range of campground types is really helpful. In the end, it is all about having a great camping experience.
Just wondering what others thought.
Love camping at the Fort. I am sure you will enjoy it, too.
If this is your first long distance trip, here are a few things to consider. On a good day, we can drive 500 miles. We have two drivers that trade off about every 3 hours. You can go farther - we have done as many as 800 miles in a day - but that is a really long day.
There are a few places we like to stop on the way to the Fort. We have had good luck with the KOAs in Fayetteville NC and Savannah GA. From Virginia, we usually stop in Savannah on the way down and Fayetteville on the way back. Looking North of Virginia, I haven't found as many good overnight stops. Looks like there are KOAs near NYC and Mystic CT that might work well. Not a huge fan of KOA, but they do tend to make good overnight stops on a long trip like this.
Our last trip was in April. Diesel was running about 4.19 per gallon for most of the trip, somewhat less in Virginia. It may be down somewhat from that but for planning, you may want to aim on the high side. We get 12 mpg towing with our Ram 2500 & Jayco 26BH combo. So, we have a range of about 350 miles between fuel stops. The rest areas are also consistently good stopping points along 95.
As for the Fort, it is a very large campground. It is helpful to bring bikes to get around. There are nice, paved bike paths to get to all of the major areas. You can also ride over to the Wilderness Lodge. We haven't rented a golf cart yet - though I am sure that would be fun.
Be sure to plan a few days just to hang out in the campground. There is a ton to do; pool, hoop-de-do review, watch the fireworks from the beach, movies at night, ride bikes, etc.
Have a great trip.