13 Feb

Our First RV Rental: Visiting Disney World and Fort Wilderness with a Lazydays RV Rental

After booking a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for this past January, we faced a dilemma: should we take at least two days on both ends of the family vacation to tow our RV south from New Jersey, or just stay in a hotel like so many other travelers?

Unfortunately, neither of these options worked for us. We didn’t have the time to make the drive, and hotels are stressful, uncomfortable, and expensive for our family of five.

So we figured out a third option: fly down to Florida, rent an RV from Lazydays in Tampa, and stay in the rental at Fort Wilderness. This checked off all the boxes: we would get down to Florida quickly, enjoy the comforts of an RV, and get to stay at one of the best campgrounds in the country.

Done.

But we still had some major concerns about the whole RV rental process. We know that many of our listeners and readers are very curious about RV rental vacations, so we wanted to share the details of our experience. To hear us chat more about our stay at Fort Wilderness in our Lazydays RV rental, you can listen to RVFTA podcast episode #128: Greetings from Walt Disney World, the Most Magical Place on Earth!

Cost: What are the Economics of an RV Rental?

Our first concern was cost. By combining a fly and drive vacation with an RV rental, would we be spending a ridiculous amount of money? The answer to that question is going to be different for every single family because the combined cost of airline tickets, Fort Wilderness campsites, and RV rentals can vary so much depending on when you travel, where you are traveling from, and how many people are in your party.

For us, the cost ended up being comparable. We didn’t save a ton of money by staying in an RV, but we didn’t spend more than we would have on two hotel rooms for our family of five.

Here is a basic breakdown of our costs:

  • Fort Wilderness Premium Campsite: $90/day
  • Class C Bunkhouse RV Rental from Lazydays: $275/day

So ultimately our cost was $365/day for very comfortable accommodations at our Disney resort of choice. That’s a financial win in our book.

We are lucky to have a budget airline that flies out of an airport near our home, so we were able to buy all of our airline tickets for $650.95. This means that it did not cost us more to fly than drive, when we factor in gas, tolls, and overnight stays.

Now, you can lower these costs if you are on a tighter budget. Fort Wilderness offers sites for as low as $74/day if you are traveling at non-peak times. Lazydays in Tampa also has RV rental options for as low as $150/day. Realistically you could find a combination that will keep you under $250/day. That’s a pretty competitive price point for a Disney resort.

Logistics: How do you pack and prepare for an RV Rental vacation?

If you are used to having the RV in the driveway, and traveling with all the luxuries of home, it can be intimidating to pack for your first RV rental experience. We tried to keep it as simple as possible, and this really paid off.

Lazydays offers the option of adding additional packages like a Kitchen Kit ($150), a Linen & Towel Kit ($150), an Outdoor Kit ($50), and a bike rack ($25). We added on the Kitchen Kit and the Linen & Towel Kit, which meant that we could pack as if we were taking a traditional hotel vacation, but would still enjoy the benefits of an RV kitchen.

In fact, we only packed one carry on item and backpack per family member, which meant we saved money by not checking any baggage. We had everything we needed, and knew we could easily do laundry at the comfort station if necessary. (But we were happy when we didn’t have to!!!)

Fort Wilderness also offers rentals on all the gear you could possibly want to use during your vacation. Bikes, fishing poles, canoes, and golf cart rentals are all reasonably priced, so you won’t miss having your favorite toys!

Benefits: Why choose an RV rental over a hotel room?

Although we were excited to try something new, we honestly didn’t know if we would end up enjoying the RV rental experience. After all, it wouldn’t be our  family camper…and that familiarity is one of the best parts about RV travel.

Well, we loved it more than we ever expected to. First of all, the RV was a beautiful unit with comfortable sleeping options for everyone.

Then there was the luxury of having a kitchen, where we made coffee in the morning, had breakfast before heading into the park, and prepared PB&J sandwiches before heading to the pool. After traveling in an RV for so many years, we hate not having a kitchen available to us when we stay in a hotel. With kids, this becomes an even more important feature.

The third benefit was outdoor space. Our campsite backed up to woods, and the boys spent tons of time back there running, playing, and stick collecting. Show me a hotel room that comes with an amenity like that.

The final benefit for us is probably the most important one. Simply put, we are campground people. We enjoy the atmosphere at campgrounds: meeting new people, spending time outdoors, hanging out at the campfire. Disney World is amazing, but it is busy and frenetic. Starting and ending each day on the peaceful grounds of Fort Wilderness is the only way we will ever do Disney. Seriously.

Other Details: The Lazydays Experience

We were in Tampa for the Florida RV SuperShow, so it made sense for us to rent from Lazydays, just a few minutes away from the fairgrounds. Lazydays is the largest RV dealership in the world, so even though their rental program is relatively new, they know a lot about RVs. We were extremely impressed by their whole operation–customer experience is definitely at the heart of the Lazydays culture. Plus, all of the rentals come with unlimited mileage and unlimited generator use, a recipe for a great RV road trip.

One of our favorite things about the Lazydays RV Rental service is the wide variety of really great motorized rigs available for rent. There are smaller Class C options starting at $150/day. Then you have a luxurious Class A toy hauler at $500/day. Of course, there are also plenty of price points in between. We really like the fact that you can pick and choose your rental based on personal budget constraints.

Another thing that stood out about the Lazydays experience was the availability of online information. Every available rig is itemized on their website, with a floor plan diagram and pictures of the interior and exterior. To be honest, they also have a great print brochure, and we would probably request one in the mail for a handy reference…

We rented the Lazydays RV specifically because we wanted to have the Disney experience and the Fort Wilderness experience without towing our own rig. But Florida is an amazing winter RV destination, and there are so many other fantastic destinations and campgrounds around the state. After our trip, we would highly recommend flying down and renting from Lazydays.

Sometimes you want to travel a farther distance than you can reasonably tow your own rig. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still enjoy the RV experience. After our first RV rental adventure, we are more convinced than ever that traveling in an RV is the best option for our family. In fact, Lazydays also rents RVs out of their Tuscon, Denver, and Northern Colorado locations…sooooo, we may just find ourselves out west sooner rather than later.

We might have to fly there, and we might be in a rental RV, but as always…

We will see you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy

08 Feb

RVFTA #128: Greetings from Walt Disney World, the Most Magical Place on Earth

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!

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Magic Kingdom:
  • 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.
Epcot:
  • 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…

Dining Options:

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.

Closing Segment

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!

And thanks to our sponsors for supporting weekly content for all our RV and Disney fools…

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