Old West Charm Meets Modern Glamping at a Central Florida Campground

June 20, 2024

George Spigener, owner of Stage Stop Campground in Winter Garden, Florida, has a unique piece of advice for his guests: watch an old western movie before you arrive. This suggestion isn’t just for fun—it’s to set the scene for an unforgettable stay in one of his authentic Conestoga wagons.

But be warned: no Hollywood film can prepare you for the real magic and comfort George and his team deliver. 

Why Wagons

“Winter Garden used to be a little country town,” George remembered. “We’re not so country anymore.”

Despite the area’s changes, Stage Stop Campground has remained a staple. For over 50 years, George and his team have provided long-term and short-term lodging—with a little taste of the Old West to boot. They’ve also continually upgraded the property to keep things fresh.

“We spent probably seven or eight years revamping the whole campground; from the pavement, the office, the pool, to new washers and dryers,” George recalled. “We gutted and rebuilt the clubhouse and revamped the electrical to keep up with some of the bigger rigs coming through.”

In addition to these upgrades, George added a stage to host local talent for guests, blending new features with his park’s traditional charm. Yet even with these enhancements, George felt there was still something lacking. 

Going Glamping 

“We’ve got a really good location,” George admitted. “We’re 90 miles coast to coast: right in between the launch pad on the east coast and swimming with the manatees on the west coast. We’re 30 minutes from Disney properties. What do we do with that, though? We’ve never really had a place for people to just come stay. We didn’t have lodging.”

A camping trip with his daughter revealed what was missing.

“My daughter and I went tent camping, and the campground where we stayed had a South African yurt,” George explained. “It was staying booked and the park was receiving a significant rate even though they were in the middle of nowhere.”

This led George to do some research, which took him to trade shows, where he explored different lodging options. That’s when George met Jason Olsen of Conestoga Wagon Company, leading to a memorable “ah-ha” moment.

“I saw the Conestoga wagon right there on the floor at the national trade show,” George shared. “I was like, ‘We’re Stage Stop. This wagon fits our theme.’ “

Although George liked the look of the Conestoga Wagon, he didn’t want to be too quick on the draw when it came to making such a big purchase.

“I don’t buy anything without three bids,” George confessed, “even from my mother. We research everything.”

Luckily, Jason had another show scheduled in George’s area the following week, giving George plenty of time to take stock of all Conestoga had to offer.

The Original Idea

“We are the originals,” said Jason Olsen, Director of Sales at Conestoga Wagon Company. “My partners came up with a unique idea for glamping. They designed and built the first wagons for their campgrounds. That’s where I came in. Now I sell them all across the country.”

Since 2015, Jason and his team have been refining the design so their wagons can withstand everything from torrential downpours to massive wind storms. And maybe more important to George’s guests, the wagons’ insulation makes it easy to control the temperature.

“What works in Idaho doesn’t work for George in Florida,” Jason said. “Our wagons are suited with different design changes to make them work wherever they are.”

But Conestoga doesn’t just make sure their covered wagons are suited for any campground. They also design and manufacture one of the most important buildings in the park.

“If you’re in the rental business, you’re in the bathroom business,” Jason explained. “We’ve figured out ways to do bathrooms and shower houses so we have solutions for campgrounds whether they have our wagons or not.”

Park owners can choose wagon models with pre-built shower house pods enclosed in the wagon, or they can purchase pre-assembled bathhouses and have them delivered to the property.

George went with what suited their theme best.

“I call it an outhouse,” George said. “I bought one of the pre-assembled bathhouses, then I bought another that’s going to be ADA compliant.”

This ADA compliance opens the door for George and his team to welcome some highly regarded guests.

A Special Edition 

To date, George has 3 Conestoga wagons and a couple of bathhouses on his property. The wagons come with refrigerators, coffee pots, microwaves, and the most comfy beds this side of the Mississippi. 

One wagon, however, is in the process of becoming ADA compliant, and the accompanying bathhouse is as well. There’s a specific reason for that.

“We want to partner with nonprofit organizations that specialize in providing fun experiences for children and adults who have special needs,” George shared. “We want a stay at our park in a covered wagon to be part of the experience. We want to make it fun for these families.”

For George, adding Conestoga Wagons to his Central Florida campground not only provides a glamping adventure but also serves multiple purposes. Local people can come and spend the weekend at the park, enjoying the concerts and other activities he has planned. Long-term residents who have family visiting don’t have to look outside the park for a place to stay. And George and his team can give back to the special needs community. 

“We’ve got a place for you,” George said. “We’ve had an excellent overall experience with Jason and the team at Conestoga Wagons, and we’re looking forward to sharing that experience with our guests.”

“That’s the entire purpose of a glamping wagon,” Jason said in agreement. “You can offer experience camping. When people travel, if they can stay in a wagon, they have a unique experience that they can’t get in other places. People in Florida can stay in a covered wagon, and they don’t have to travel to Wyoming or Idaho. It gives parks like George’s an attraction. That’s our drive to make things work.”

Explore the Possibilities 

If you’re inspired by George’s story and wondering if Conestoga Wagons could bring a similar charm to your park, visit their website or contact them for more information. Or maybe you’d like to plan your next glamping adventure. George’s team at Stage Stop Campground can certainly help with that!

At CampLife, we’re happy to support all the ways parks like Stage Stop serve their guests. So if you’re looking for reservation software that helps you provide exceptional guest experiences while efficiently managing your reservations, reach out. Let’s talk about what CampLife can do for your park.

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