By Kelly A. Stefani
Times Staff Writer
Drive into Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground right about now and one thing pops out. It's like walking into the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Music, flashing lights, inflatables, animated figures, model trains and fake snow are everywhere.
If you haven't been, here are a few things to know before you go:
Repeat holiday campers have started an unofficial decorating competition. When making reservations, first-time visitors are advised to bring decorations, but chances are they have no idea how elaborate the displays have become. We've seen workers bring extension ladders so guests could hang lights high in the trees. Anybody know how campers get giant red and green mouse ear shaped lights atop 60-foot trees?
The prize is for your site to be a featured stop on the campground tour. Starting a few feet away from the resort's giant Christmas tree and Tri-Circle-D Ranch, old-fashioned horse-drawn wagons take visitors on a 45-minute caroling ride of the campground. Rides depart at 7 and 9:30 p.m. daily, weather-permitting. A tip: Before you go, ask what time the Magic Kingdom fireworks go off. Most drivers park on the beach and wait for the fireworks. Rides are $8 (ages 10 and older), $5 ages 3-9. Wagon rides are on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult.
If you have something a bit more intimate in mind, this year for the first time the campground is offering horse-drawn "sleigh rides." Through Dec. 30, a fire-engine red sleigh on wheels with garland and holiday lights will take you on a leisurely 25-minute ride through secluded parts of the 700-acre backwoods resort. Four adults or two adults and three small children can ride on each sleigh. Rides are $60 per party and depart from the Blacksmith's Shop.
Kelly A. Stefani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8194.