Travel

Camping at Disney World

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A couple of weeks ago, we took our 2nd trip to Disney with the girls. Last time the girls were 4 & 5 and it was such a special trip! It came at a time when our family REALLY needed to get away and just enjoy each other, stress free, and it was pure magic for our girls. You could see it in their little faces when they stood next to Snow White that they were in complete awe that they were MEETING SNOW WHITE(!!!!). We meet all the characters, rode rides until they parks closed or the girls crashed out in the stroller, ate all the yummy food. We went all out and it was worth it.

This time however, we wanted to keep things as modest as possible. We’re hoping to go to Hawaii next year, so this wasn’t to be a huge, blow-out vacation. Our goal was to go to Disney, have a blast, but not go over-board. Along the way, I figured out a few tricks you might find useful.

Our family loves to camp, and we’d heard wonderful things about Fort Wilderness — evening campfires, s’mores & singing with Chip & Dale, a full pool with slide, movies outdoors — plus a $55/a night price tag (at least when we went). . . It was an easy decision.

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Things we did not consider when deciding to camp at Disney in September in a tent is the heat and the likelihood of rain. Oops. We were just aiming for as low of crowds as possible! I think next time we’ll look at late January or February.

We got lucky with the rain and dealt with very little of it. However, before we even left TN we decided we were going in with a sense of humor, flexible attitudes, and ponchos. It rains in Florida and you just have to deal. Plus, most showers pop up and blow right back out, so it wasn’t likely to ruin a whole day.

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The heat on the other hand was very much present. While settling into the tent, I began to realize what a problem this could be at night if we weren’t able to get air moving for everyone as I knew it wasn’t going to cool off too much.

Luckily, we had brought a basic box fan, but I was worried it would only reach 1 or 2 of us, not all 4 of us, wishing there were a way to hang it from the ceiling, and suddenly an idea formed. In out tent there is a loop to hang an electric lantern or something, so using zip ties & rope, I was able to make us a ceiling fan! With the zip ties, I made loops at each corner to feed the rope through, made an X with the rope and clipped the part that crossed into the ceiling hook. Believe me, that fan saved the day . . . er, night. . . and even succeeding in making us a little cold, which was a nice change.

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For breakfast, we’d eat either bacon or sausage links & eggs, but found that the sausage links were the big winner for keeping things easy, quick, & with minimal clean up.

Since we eat Paleo — or as nearly as we can on the go — food took some planning. Nate & I knew from experience 2 years ago when we tried buy gluten free food at the park that options are limited, expensive, and honestly, left us feeling like crap most of the time. The menus have gotten better since then, and I did create a cheat sheet for each Park of which restaurants offered gluten free options just in case we found ourselves in a pinch, but fortunately, we did not have to use it.

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I knew we’d need sustaining foods that were convenient, quick, and portable. Admittedly, this meant that not everything was true Paleo, but we did ok. Nate stuck to a stricter Paleo diet than the girls and I did, so he didn’t eat everything we packed. We also wound up snacking all day rather than really sitting down and having a true “meal.” That way we could eat in line if there was a long wait, or grab some shade and take a break wherever needed.

Every morning, I would repack the cooler and backpack with that days food:

  • 2 Boar’s Head dry sausage (cut up & divided into 4 baggies for convenience)

  • 2 bags of carrot sticks

  • raisins

  • almonds

  • chips/crackers

  • hummus single snack packs (not paleo, but filling and kept well)

  • gogo squeez applesauce

  • Lara bars

  • fruit leather

  • 2 1/2 gallon water jugs

I wish we had just packed more of the dry sausage for a quick, light dinner. We had planned on making sandwiches, but decided at the last minute not to. Gluten free bread isn’t the sturdiest & we weren’t confident they’d hold up. :) Instead, we just took the deli meat. I wished we had realized that stopping for dinner wasn’t going to be our main priority (a perk of going with older kids!), planned for the quick meal, and then made hot sandwiches back at the campsite.

TIPS FOR THE PARKS:

  • Bring a small cooler and water jugs. Though they do have size limitations, Disney does let you bring these into the parks, as well as backpacks. (Universal, however, does not let you bring in a cooler any bigger than a lunchbox.) Even if you plan to eat at the park, you can easily bring in snacks and no sense paying 3.50 for a water bottle every time someone is thirsty! Plus, you can refill water jugs at any water fountain or restaurant beverage station.

  • RENT THE STROLLER!!! This was huge. We had planned on bringing our wagon before realizing the night before that they’re not allowed. Instead we rented a double stroller at the Parks to carry all our stuff. Disney has such great stroller parking, etc. that it kept our load light, and we had everything we needed.

  • If going during a rainy season, bring ponchos or rain jackets, and maybe even consider sandals/shoes that won’t ruin your day if they get wet. I put my Chaco’s to work on our trip! I think I packed them even on days I didn’t wear them. Plus, changing shoes halfway through the day felt good on my insanely sore feet!

GENERAL TIPS:

  • Paper plates and plastic silverware. We don’t usually do this when we camp as we don’t like the waste, but no one wants to do the dishes when the park is about to open.

  • Sausage links over bacon for breakfast. Faster & less clean up.

  • Stick with quick, easy meals with little or no prep. We had planned hamburgers, hobos, and chicken thighs a few nights, but didn’t make any of them. The only hot dinners we did were bratwursts or chicken sausages a couple of nights and toasting the bread and heating up the sandwich meat in a skillet we had planned to eat in the park, at the campsite instead. Unless you have many down days planned, it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend your time cooking.

  • Pack a couple of long extension cords and a power strip. Even if you’re in a tent, the site has electricity. Run the extension cord into the tent to power fans, phone charges, etc.

Have any additional Disney camping tips for me? Questions? Let me know!!

xoxo Lori