There are several camping memberships that RVers can purchase to receive discounted rates at campgrounds across the United States. Thousand Trails is one option and we had the opportunity to stay for free at Thousand Trails Orlando in Clermont, Florida. To say this campground is huge may be an understatement. Joe started counting steps and we had no problems reaching our daily goal of 10,000 steps. Many RVers stay here for its close proximity to Walt Disney World and it is more affordable than RV camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. This post will cover the campground, but I will also try my best to explain how the membership works from a nonmember’s point of view.
Note: A Thousand Trails membership is not required to stay at this campground. The retail price is $46/night high season and $41/night low season. If you decide to join during your stay, the amount paid will go towards the membership fee.
Thousand Trails Orlando Clermont, Florida
Let me start by pointing out that the campground entrance is easy to miss. I almost drove past it heading north on 27 because the sign is blocked by trees. By the time I saw the sign, it was almost too late to make the turn. If you’re staying at Thousand Trails Orlando for the first time, drive slowly and have your GPS on to avoid missing the turn. There are places to make a U-turn if you miss it. We also missed the turn several times while running around town in the tow car.
The registration area has several large pull-thru parking spots to accommodate RVs and their tow cars. At check-in we received a map of the campground, activities calendar, the gate code and an invitation to learn more about Thousand Trails at the weekly seminar.
Sites are not assigned at Thousand Trails campgrounds. After check-in, we were told to find an open site and notify the front office. We stayed at the end of March which is right at the end of peak season and there were several spaces to choose from.
We ended up in a premium site C-15 with 30amp full hookups. The site was paved with grass around and some sandy areas. There was also a picnic table, but no fire ring.
It was close to the activity center, pool and dumpsters.
Activities included: walk fit class, wood carvers, line dancing, ping pong tournaments, Texas hold ‘em, bible study and Sunday worship. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to participate in any of the activities. We did have some fun with the large chess pieces outside the activity center.
We enjoyed all the wildlife at the campground. The sandhill cranes and gopher tortoises were everywhere and we even saw a baby alligator by the harbor.
The bathhouses were cleaned daily and standard for campgrounds.
The laundry was $2/wash (30 minutes) and $2/dry (60 minutes). It only accepts tokens from the machine and the token machine only accepts bills.
The pools were open everyday during our stay, although they did close it during the thunderstorms which were a daily occurrence. Our site drained well and never flooded, even during a heavy downpour.
Wifi is free inside the activity center. A pay option is available throughout the campground, but we didn’t purchase it. AT&T service was good so we ended up using our data plan.
Inside the activity center is the trading post where campers can purchase supplies from beer to snacks as well as pick up mail.
There is an adult room with puzzles, books and games for those who want a break from the under 18 crowd.
Free canoe, kayak and paddle board rentals at the harbor. A $20 deposit is required for each equipment rental and life jackets are given out after the deposit is collected.
Lastly, there is a fenced in dog park behind the trees as well as nature trail.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Thousand Trails Orlando and wish the weather was more cooperative so we could have enjoyed the activities. The campground was very peaceful and at night we could hear the fireworks from Walt Disney World. Our neighbors were all very nice and Leo even made a few friends. If you want a large site that’s close to the amenities, check out the sites on Citrus and Bass when you arrive.
$46/night peak season, $41/night off season for full hookups
Pull-thru and back-in sites
Restrooms, showers and laundry
Good AT&T cell service
Free wifi in activity center, pay for wifi in campground
Thousand Trails Membership
We went to the membership seminar on Saturday to gather information for this post and I will try my best to explain how it works without getting too much into the weeds. Thousand Trails has 86 campgrounds split into 5 zones and there are two ways to stay at a campground: as a member or as a retail guest.
The most basic Thousand Trails membership is 1 zone camping pass for $545/year. Thousand Trails Orlando is in the Southeast Zone which has 23 campgrounds. Here are some of the benefits with a 1 zone camping pass:
- Camping fees for the first 30 nights are included in the one year pass. If we take the $545/year fee and divide it by 30 nights, it comes out to $18.17/night. Each night after the first 30 nights costs $3/night.
- Make reservations up to 60 days in advance
- Stay 1 to 4 nights at each park with no restrictions
- 20% discount on Encore properties
The 14 nights in 7 nights out rule. If you stay 5 nights or more at a Thousand Trails campground, you are bound to the 14 in 7 out rule. This means, you can stay at a campground for up to 14 nights, but you need to leave the system for 7 nights before you can return to the same campground or another Thousand Trails campground.
That means if you stay 10 nights at the Thousand Trails Orlando as a member, you cannot return to Thousand Trails Orlando or any of the other 23 campgrounds in the Southeast Zone until 7 nights have passed.
To avoid this rule, you can stay 1 to 4 nights at each Thousand Trails campground and move from park to park. If there are two Thousand Trails campgrounds close together, you can spend 4 nights at one and 4 nights at another and keep going back and forth as long as there is availability.
Elite Upgrade. For a one time fee of $3,000, members can upgrade to Elite status with more benefits. I’m not going to get into that because if you are interested in Thousand Trails, my recommendation would be to try the most basic package to see how you like it before spending that much money on an upgrade.
Deals. During our seminar they were running a special – buy one zone, get one free. Depending on where you plan to travel that year, it may be a good to have more than one zone.
Thousand Trails membership makes sense if:
You plan to stay at least 30 nights each year at campgrounds within your zone(s). The first 30 nights are included in your membership and it wouldn’t make sense not to use it all. Additional nights for $3 is hard to beat.
You don’t mind driving around to find an open site. Since sites are not assigned, you’re essentially rolling the dice when you arrive. As with any campground, there are the sites everyone wants and the sites to avoid. If you’re in a 45’ motorhome with a trailer in tow, your site options are probably more limited than someone in a small Class C. This also means, a tent camper can setup in a 50amp full hookup site while you’re trying to squeeze into a smaller uneven site, unsure if you can put the slides out.
What do you think of Thousand Trails? Share your thoughts below!
Disclosure: Our stay at Thousand Trails Orlando was hosted by Thousand Trails. This review represents our own opinions.