You read that correctly.
Florida heat in August. In a tent. Boom.
So because we are in the middle of this whole build a farm from scratch thing we decided that Disney needed to be done in the most frugal way possible this year for our family of 8. How do you do that you ask? You camp. In a tent. In 90 degree temperatures.
But wait for it…IT WAS AWESOME!
And I’m not just saying that-we already booked our trip for next year it was so awesome!
So hold your horses, I’m getting to the details. I know you are dying to find out what kind of pixie dust was sprinkled in my drink to think this was so awesome. So here are my 5 reasons why, followed by the 5 items I learned that I need for next year:
1. The price…duh.
Does this need more of an explanation? Let me put it this way: Disney is expensive no matter how you swing it. I’m not saying it isn’t worth every stinking penny I’ve poured into that place, but when you pay the bill some of the magic leaves. When you have a family of 8, the oxygen just about runs out of your lungs when you see the cost. So, in comes Fort Wilderness Campground. Are there cheaper places to camp around Disney, yes. Do I know anything at all about those places, no. I’ve stayed at Fort Wilderness before in the cabins and it was wonderful, but they don’t even sleep all 8 of us. Only a handful of resorts have something available for a group that large but tent sites can sleep up to 10. That’s what I like to call a Christmas Miracle.
2. We already owned a portable AC unit.
Yes, this is why it all worked out. It rained every afternoon and the temperatures were honestly not that bad. Please remember that our Gulf Coast Texas is not very different from Central Florida so I know how to handle the heat. Plus, I’ve been in the heat almost everyday working on the farm so I’m pretty acclimated to extremes. For real though, I needed a sleeping bag every night because I was so cold. This AC tent life is where it’s at for sure.
3. We explored all of the resorts
A monorail ride to the Polynesian for dole whips on the lanai and some delicious food at Captain Cooke’s before taking a dip in the pool. Then a hula lesson and leis in the lobby before playing island music on the instruments that Maui taught the kids how to play.
A short boat ride to Wilderness Lodge for breakfast and a couple hours in the pool. Then explore the hidden mickeys and the gift shop.
Excursion to Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat at Sanaa- yum! That bread service, for real?! And then out to the decks to see the zebras, giraffes, and various other animals on the savannah being fed. Stopped by the educational desk and learned a lot about elephants and africa before popping into the gift shop and playing a fierce game of tic-tac-toe.
Live music and beignets at Port Orleans-French Quarter after a hot bowl of shrimp and grits which you watch them prepare just for you. They were showing Descendants 3 so this even meant a moment for me and the hubs to sit together while they watched! Then to the front desk to grab a scavenger hunt page and explore the grounds (one of my favorite resorts!) before, you guessed it, hitting up that gift shop.
An afternoon trek to Disney Springs for pretzels, icees, and the lego store. Another day we went to Disney Springs to explore another section and ended up at the new Coca-Cola Store which was a blast! Had the “Float Flight” which was 8 ice cream floats for $11. So much fun!
This doesn’t even include all of the thrills at Fort Wilderness itself: the pool, the fireworks on the beach, the electric water pageant at the dock, campfires and smores with Chip and Dale at the Sing-Along, TWO GIFTSHOPS (these children are obsessed), warm sticky buns and coffee at the settlement, seeing all of the horses at the barn…
4. Only 1 special day at the park
Yep. WIth all the other exciting things to do there really is no reason to go into the parks. Unless you are spoiled rotten and your parents break down and get tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party-which just so happens to start while you are there and also just so happens to be your parents favorite party that Disney offers.
ALthough we had no intentions of going into the parks this visit, we did break down and get tickets and it was totally worth it! The party was incredible, the kids knowcked out so many rides and got SO MUCH candy. I do wish we would have planned to go to this party though because I missed not dressing up-however, by 1 am I was glad I was not in a costume like previous years. Well worth the money, the time, and of course the smiles and thrills the kids experienced. Also, the new firework show was killer!
5. Why not?
Exactly. Why not? Could we have stayed home and spent the money and time on the farm? Absolutely. But the experience of being with our family in such an intentional way was incredible, as it always is. If you never try it you never know. Am I saying you have to go to Disney? No, I’m not. What I am saying is that you should most definitely try something new. The amount of people that thought we were certifiably insane for camping in Florida in August was almost hilarious-but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
5 ITEMS I WILL BRING NEXT TIME:
1. Handheld Vacuum instead of a broom
Sweeping that tent was a joke, give me the power of the Hoover.
2. Half the amount of clothes instead of an outfit for everyday
I was so proud of my packing job: 2 carry on suitcases for 8 people. However, I ended up washing our clothes at the comfort station and didn’t even need half of what we brought. So next time I will bring laundry detergent with us instead of the amount of clothes. This means 2 very important things: I come home with only wet bathing suits because I had washed and folded everything else and I don’t pull my hair out packing because I don’t have as much to worry about.
3. A basket for shoes instead of throwing them everywhere in the “porch”
As I mentioned before, we had a lot of rain and it did get into the “porch” of our tent which is where we would throw our shoes off before coming in the tent. A basket could be brought into the tent and kept out of the weather. Also to help remedy this, I think we will bring a pop up awning or another tarp to tie up over our porch as well just to give a little extra shield.
4. A 3 drawer plastic cart instead of suitcases and bins
I was so very proud of that packing (I had the shirt folded around the shorts and lined up in order for which day and child it was for) but having to have the suitcase out on the ground just took up space that I would rather have for us to sit down and play a game together…or basically anything other than having a suitcase on the floor. So one drawer for clothes, one for sock and underwear bags and one for toiletries and towels. THEN I could have a second cart that had all of my kitchen stuff in one drawer, a bit of a pantry in the second drawer and extension cords, batteries and other random tent stuff in the last drawer. Easy packing, easy access, easy storing. It’s a win.
5. Wipees in the S’mores bag instead of that stressful walk to the bathroom with sticky hands
This one seems not only specific but probably petty. However, making s’mores with 8 of us is stressful already, now put us at the Sing-Along with all the other campers who show up that night (campfire and sing-along happens every night). It’s a bit much. Now Chip and Dale are back there to take pictures with you and all the kids hands are sticky. You have to walk to the comfort station which isn’t that far, but it’s far enough to make you stress some more. So nip that. Put those wipees in that s’mores bag and have an awesome s’mores sesh, don’t miss a single song, and walk up to Chip and Dale confidently knowing that you will not leave marshmallow on either of their furry butts.
So there it is guys. My review. My vacation.
We loved it. No matter how crazy ya’ll think we are!