Disney’s Fort Wilderness fairy tale camping

The video above gives just a small glimpse of this amazing Disney RV resort

Trying to convince a man that living full-time in an RV after retiring will be exciting and fun has been a challenge. The challenge is REAL, especially when this person does not enjoy vacations, hates cruising, refuses to fly and has little interest in hobbies. So, slowly through the course of the past few years I have dragged him to RV shows and RV showrooms, and he finally consented to earnestly try and consider the idea. Together we watch youtube videos and read blogs about RV life and are now sharing our thoughts and information through Camper Crazy Buzz.

However, he is still not totally convinced. I decided to try another tactic. I would introduce him to an over the top style of camping that may seal the deal. You see, this guy who hates anything to do with fun and vacationing (with the exception of going to see the trees change colors in the fall)… he has a specific weakness for the Wonderful World of Disney.

In the mid 90’s we moved to Orlando and he enjoyed watching the fireworks from our living room window at night. He loved walking through what was known then as Downtown Disney, and even enjoyed occasionally going to the parks. Something about the place…get this….makes him happy! He has even suggested that after retiring we should just move back to Orlando.

My plan… take him to Fort Wilderness. However, my plan backfired. We had been busy for many days helping family pack up to move. We were tired and I wanted to take a break, but he refused. He said he could not do anything related to my “camper crazy” dream and suggested I take our eight year old granddaughter on a “camper crazy” adventure.

I think he imagined that at eight years old she would be really bored looking at RVs and that would burst my camper crazy bubble. Our granddaughters are the center of our world and the main reason he is even considering that maybe, just maybe he will buy an RV. He has said that it “may be fun to take the girls on road trips in an RV”.

He just did not realize what I had planned. Surprise!!! Our granddaughter had a phenomenal time. We met up with some family staying at Fort Wilderness. Although, I had only planned on staying a few hours and look around and visit the pool, we stayed the night, thanks to a flat tire. My granddaughter experienced her first night in a “two-story camper”. “What is that?” you ask. It is what my granddaughter called the fifth-wheel camper we stayed in.

Of course, like anything Disney, Fort Wilderness is beautiful and designed in a charming, fairy tale frontier style. You can almost imagine walking the grounds, as you round the bend, you will run into the Seven Dwarfs or Winnie the Pooh and his gang. Needless to say, it is not your run-of-the-mill campground.

Fully equipped campsites can accommodate anything from tents to large Class A motor-homes. Finding your spot is easy since the sites are setup in loops. There is plenty of room between each site and designed in a way that features the beauty of Florida’s great outdoors and without feeling like your privacy is jeopardized. Your basic hookups are available at most sites along with cable TV, a picnic table and a grill.

Woof Woof! Many of our family members and friends that camp like to take their dogs with them. Many of the sites at Fort Wilderness are pet friendly with the exception of those camping in a tent or a popup style camper. As expected, there will be an additional charge to bring your pet, currently posted as $5 per night, but many find it well worth the added expense. Well behaved pets can be taken on the pet walking trails as long as they are on a lead, or they can play off leash at the Waggin Trail’s dog park. What if you want to spend the day at one of the parks and don’t want to leave Fido in the camper all day? Disney has an answer for that. Day and overnight care is available at the Best Friend’s Kennel Care.

With a resort boasting 750 acres of lush wilderness, you may want to explore the resort by renting a golf cart at the reception outpost. It is a great way to get the kids back to the RV after their hard day splashing around in the pool, canoeing, or galloping along the happy trails on horseback. If you are not up to riding the trails, catch a wagon ride or take a carriage ride. Don’t fret there are plenty of fun-filled activities for adults and children. Even though the horse and pony rides, wagon ride, carriage ride all comes with an additional cost, you may find that this is the best vacation you have taken in a long time.

Evenings offer activities such as gobbling up roasted marshmallows at the “campfire sing-along”, having fun watching a Disney film at the outside theater, enjoying dinner and a show at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, or finding delight in the beautiful boat parade with all your favorite Disney characters, and then ending the day with breathtaking fireworks.

So now you are like, “I wanna go there but I don’t even own an RV” 😦 sad face, pout, tears in your eyes!!! Never fear…Disney wants you to feel like you are a happy camper too. SHHHH, do not tell my husband but there are log-cabins nestled within this wilderness with a private patio and a modern kitchen. But don’t worry, you don’t have to wash those dishes, housekeeping will do it for you. I know what you are thinking, ‘who wants to go to the grocery store on the way to a resort cabin?” No worries, pre-order your groceries long before you arrive. Make your list and then email, fax or snail mail to Disney. How great is that?

Cabins with modern kitchen and patio

As you probably realize, the cost for campsites and cabin rentals within Fort Wilderness will not be your typical campground cost. But then again, this is not your typical campground. In fact, my little great-niece said it was the best vacation she has ever been on. When her dad asked, “better than when you were kissed by the dolphin, and you shook the hand of the sea lion and fed the sharks?” With a big smile she answered with a resounding, “yes”.

All I can say is, the visit to Fort Wilderness heightened my “camper craziness” and made my granddaughter a little “camper crazy” too. Hopefully my fairy tale dream will come true and our family will be camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness very soon.

One of the ugly things you need to know about RV insurance

RV insurance is offered by many of the names we recognize, such as Progressive, Farmers, Allstate & Geico. It is also offered through partner companies associated with AARP and Good Sams. Depending on the type of RV you own, there are various options to choose from. Different circumstances require different needs regarding insurance and the cost will be based on your specific needs. Living in an RV full-time is much different than only using an RV for vacation travel a few times a year, so of course full-time RV coverage is somewhat similar to insurance you would purchase for a primary home insurance policy.

A popular option is that of full replacement insurance coverage. Most people may think that they will get the amount needed to purchase a comparable new RV if theirs has been stolen or totaled, especially if it is brand new and the damage is not the result of negligence. You may think you would not have to come out of pocket at all except for the deductible, if for instance it was totaled by weather damage within a month or two of purchase. However, that may not the case, at least with Shanna and Brent, the couple that traveled with their new Grey Wolf travel trailer this summer shortly after purchasing their 2019 RV.

If you remember from previous blogs, they suffered hail & wind damage that ripped off the awning, damaged the roof and air conditioner, and completely damaged the whole side of the camper siding. After the damage we asked if they were concerned about replacing the RV and what it would cost them, and their reply was, “we have replacement insurance, we are all set.”

They purchased the insurance through an agency associated with Good Sam, a premier company that has the largest RV club membership. They offer everything from discounts on RV accessories, roadside assistance, RV loans and more. Their website boasts providing and servicing the insurance needs of RV owners for over 50 years. They state that their goal is 100% customer satisfaction. Unfortunately at least for Shanna and Brent, they are not 100% satisfied.

Is that the fault of those selling the Good Sam insurance, the Camping World salesperson, or the buyers not reading their policy carefully? If you go to Good Sam’s website and read their reviews, it seems like they are “God’s gift to the camper”. So, I went to Consumeraffairs.com where they have a comparison of a few RV insurance companies. There is also a link provided to an expert review and it references the following Good Sam list of statements. Notice the first bullet point which states:

Full replacement: Customize your RV coverage by adding full replacement cost coverage. This way you will receive a comparable new RV if yours is stolen or too damaged to repair.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/rv-insurance/#good-sam-insurance-agency

Okay, so easy to understand why Brent and Shanna would believe they would get the equivalent amount of money from the insurance company to put towards a new RV with no issues and no extra out of pocket expenses. Like anything “insurance”, it isn’t always clear cut. For example, yesterday they picked up a new 5th wheel RV, and although they returned from vacation in July with their damaged camper, it is now almost mid-September and they still have not finalized everything with the insurance company. Their complaint is that the insurance company is almost impossible to get in contact with.

When they purchased their 2019 camper in late spring, they paid a fair price and put down a substantial down payment. Then they added extended warranty but then Camper World hit them with an ugly high dealer fee that was all rolled into the financing. When returning with the damaged RV and finding out that it was totaled, they decided it may be better if they upgraded to a 5th wheel with different siding that may hold up better in harsh weather. They anticipated getting the full value of what they purchased minus the deductible of course. But this is where it gets ugly.

When they returned from vacation with the damaged camper, the 2020 models are now for sale and the 2019 models of their RV are selling for substantially less than what they purchased the camper for. In fact, the insurance company found the same RV selling in Ohio for $6,000 less than what they purchased their RV for just a few months ago. So, at this point it looks like that is going to be the cost basis the insurance may use for the replacement price, which could leave them upside down. This is one of the ugly reasons this may potentially cost them an arm and a leg (seriously did you see the pics of Brent’s leg in the previous blog) to replace their unit

Assuming they simply replaced their 2019 Grey Wolf with another 2019 Grey Wolf, they think they would come out a little more whole. However, although they worked out a fabulous deal on the new 5th Wheel, which by the way they also purchased at Camper World and this time not paying an astronomical dealer fee, since the 2019 Grey Wolf is now highly discounted at dealers across the nation, it ends up being a disadvantage in this situation.

Although only owning the trailer for less than six months, the bottom line is that with replacement insurance, you only get back what your camper is worth at the time of the loss. The only silver lining to this story is that they did purchase GAP insurance which hopefully will help close the gap between what they are paid by the insurance company and what they owe on their original loan.

However, GAP does not cover the down payment they paid or the cost of the extended warranty, even though the insurance customer service rep did assure them that GAP would cover the down payment. Where is that is that in the fine print? Make sure you read that is Shanna’s advice.

But, will they ever hear back from the insurance company? You know that ugly little saying, “timing is everything” and it certainly applies to the world of RV insurance.