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A Magic Kingdom of Camping Sites

October 26, 1986|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

Camping can help you cut costs on a visit to Florida. Not only does that state have more privately owned campsites than any other, it also has more than 40 state parks with camping facilities. If you want to visit Walt Disney World you can even camp right on the grounds.

One of the best budget breaks for visitors to Disney World are the camping facilities at Fort Wilderness. As guests of the resort you get free transportation from the campground to Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom. The transportation services include buses, boats and monorails.

Disney's Fort Wilderness is a wooded area next to a lake with a sandy beach. It has 827 camping sites which cost $28 to $32 per night. On-site rental trailers are also available. Campers taking a break from visiting Epcot Center or the Magic Kingdom can use facilities ranging from water skiing to sailboat rentals, bicycles, jogging trails and canoes. You'll also find supply shops, food services and entertainment.

A Small Break on Cost

Campers also get a small break on the cost of entrance passes valid for both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom. Pass rates for resort guests are three days for $60, four days for $69 and five days for $78.

In Fort Wilderness bicycle rentals cost $2.10 an hour or $5.25 a day, canoes cost $3.15 an hour or $7.35 a day. A guided trail ride is $10.

The one hitch with camping there is that you need to make reservations well in advance. During peak holiday periods the campground can be booked up months in advance. You can hope for a last-minute cancellation but don't count on it. For details contact Walt Disney World, Central Reservations, P.O. 10100, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. 2830-0100, phone (305) 824-8000.

Florida has about 130,000 private campsites available to the traveler. One way to get free information about many of them is to contact the Florida Campground Assn. for a copy of the Florida Camping Directory, a booklet that lists more than 200 campgrounds with a total of about 50,000 campsites.

Facilities Listed

The listing includes general maps plus an indication of campground facilities and telephone numbers but it does not give rates. It does indicate if tent campers are welcome and if on-site trailers are available for rent.

For a copy write to the Florida Campground Assn., Department D5, P.O. Box 13355, Tallahassee, Fla. 32317-3355.

Of the 100 state parks in Florida, more than 40 have camping areas. Park activities can range from hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, snorkeling or scuba diving to cycling.

One of the advantages of camping in state parks is that only 50 percent of the campsites can be reserved in advance. The rest of the sites are available on a first come, first served basis. Fees range from $6 for inland sites, $10 for coastal sites and $12 for the three parks in the Florida Keys.

A free list of Florida state parks is available from the Bureau of Education and Information, Marjory Doneman Douglas Building, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee, Fla. 32303, phone (904) 488-7326. It includes telephone numbers for making reservations. Reservations are not taken more than 60 days in advance. The maximum stay in a Florida state park is 14 days.

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