I think it’s just about time for a Bay Lake resorts update.
We’ll begin at Fort Wilderness with a review of the relatively new weekend brunch at Trail’s End before meandering around the property a bit. I was going to add a look inside a Cabin, but it looks like that will have to wait for a second post. In separate updates I’ll cover what’s happening construction-wise at Wilderness Lodge along with reviews of Artist Point and Territory Lounge and then over to The Contemporary for a review of Chef Mickey’s brunch there.
I was feeling a little artsy on this particular morning so I apologize if things get intermittently weird.
We otherwise find ourselves at Pioneer Hall, which is where you’ll find the majority of the resort’s dining and recreation, including Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
Just about any review of anything at Fort Wilderness begins with a brief discussion of the hassle of getting to Pioneer Hall, which is perhaps overblown a bit.
The easiest way to get here for most people is via boat from Magic Kingdom.
If you exit Magic Kingdom via the main exit straight back from the train station, you’ll “literally” run right into where you need to be. If you’re arriving from the bus loop, you’d walk towards Magic Kingdom’s main entrance and instead of taking a right to bag check, instead take a left. You can also take a boat over from the back of the Contemporary Resort or a boat or bus from Wilderness Lodge.
If you’re driving, you’ll park on the opposite side of where you want to be.
But it’s easy to hop on one of the internal buses and ride the ten to fifteen minutes it takes to get over to Pioneer Hall. The bus drivers hear, “Does this bus go to Pioneer Hall/Hoop Dee Doo/Trail’s End/O’hana’s/Animal Kingdom/Universal/Coney Island” all day and are happy to get you to the right place. Each bus is marked with its destination or its route and there are three internal buses, all of which will take you to Pioneer Hall/Hoop Dee Doo/Trail’s End/etc. The Purple bus is the most direct, but Orange and Yellow just take a couple more minutes.
The walk from the bus stop is about two minutes and it might be three from the boat. AND YES I KNOW CROCKETT’S HAS TWO t’s.
P & J’s Southern Takeout is the name of the quick service/takeout located next door. If you’re in more of a hurry or want to spend less money and are staying at the resort then it’s a good option.
Note that they are open for breakfast through 11:30am and then close until dinner, which is served from 4:30pm to 9pm. The full menu is available here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/cabins-at-fort-wilderness-resort/p-and-js-southern-takeout/menus/dinner/.
Trail’s End added a brunch buffet on weekends three weeks ago now.
The brunch includes some of the best breakfast standbys with some more lunch-y options. Supposedly, the following items were supposed to be offered from 7:30am – 11am:
- Smoke Salmon
- Sliced Cheddar Cheese
- Sliced Salami
- Slice Ham
- Yogurt (Strawberry)
They would then be replaced by the following at 11am:
- Caesar Salad
- Cole Slaw
- Potato Salad
- Mix Green Salad (with 3 dressings)
But we found that most or all of the items on the menu were available at 10am and continued to be offered well after.
One key thing to note is the omelet and egg menu:
- Diced Ham
- Pull Pork
- Cheddar Cheese
- Diced Onion
- Diced Peppers
- Roasted Mushrooms
- Over easy
- Over hard
- Over medium
- Sunny side up
There is not a station for this at the buffet and our server said nothing about it after seating us so we had to bring it up ourselves to put in our order. I think freshly made eggs will go a long way to increasing the value here.
Of all the embarrassing things I do in the name of #bloggability, taking buffet food pictures at the buffet is near the top. But I tried:
The Smoked Beef Hash, which is the fourth dish over from the left, is a little clearer here.
The front row from left to right is Pesto Pasta with Vegetables, Macaroni and Cheese, Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Breakfast Pizza and then Vegetables, Fried Chicken, and Gravy are behind.
Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Ham
The cost is $23/adult and $13/child ages 3-9, which is $5/adult and $$3/child more than the regular breakfast buffet.
Not that you have much of a choice on weekends, but the extra money is probably worth the opportunity to eat as much 9am fried chicken as you want, in addition to the very good omelets.
Chili and Cheese. The brisket is usually very good here.
The ham was better quality than Chef Mickey’s, but the bacon was 90% fat, which you’ll have to be into in order to enjoy it I think.
Like every other restaurant on property, Trail’s End uses lower quality ingredients than you would have run into six months ago, but just about everything was somewhere between “pretty good” and “good.” There is certainly enough food and variety to fill you up and being a buffet, chances are you only have a dollop of this or that that you don’t care for.
One exception is the peel-and-eat shrimp, which are such abysmal, gunky quality that they aren’t even the right color underneath what is 90% shell. You can’t buy shrimp this terrible in stores. At least for human consumption.
And it’s a property-wide thing. You might think, “Well what do you expect for a measly $23 Josh.” But this is from Chef Mickey’s, which would run you $38/adult.
But other than that, you can certainly get your fill here without trying too hard – the Mickey Waffles are divine as always and the smoked beef hash was a standout dish, in addition to the excellent omelet, cornbread, fried chicken, pasta, and more.
The buffet includes non-alcoholic beverages, including “Moonshine,” which is the same Passion Fruit/Orange/Guava juice that is available at the majority of Disney’s breakfast buffets. I am a big chocolate milk proponent myself.
Otherwise, Trail’s End is a very casual, fun, rustic restaurant. The above is lousy archive footage of the buffet area, which there are two identical sides of, in addition to desserts in the middle and the Mickey waffles and some other hot goodies out-of-frame-to-the-right.
One potential downside of the brunch is that the table service lunch is not currently offered on weekends. Here is that menu:
The full version is available here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/cabins-at-fort-wilderness-resort/trails-end-restaurant/menus/lunch/.
With few exceptions and perhaps none at Walt Disney World, quality is sacrificed for the sake of variety at buffets. You could probably make a case that most of what Boma offers is better than Tony’s Town Square, but food-wise, Grand Floridian Cafe is better than 1900 Park Fare, Kona Cafe is better than ‘Ohana, The Wave is better than Chef Mickey’s, etc. And that is potentially true at Trail’s End as well.
For the Chicken and Waffles I said, “The chicken was freshly fried in a light buttermilk batter with subtly sweet waffles underneath. The warm, house-made syrup is spooned on top. Note the nice presentation too – again, something you might not expect from a $16 entree at Fort Wilderness. All in all, this is perhaps the best entree I’ve run into for the money.”
The Flatbread here is unique.
I have a full lunch review along with some thoughts on the dinner buffet back in this post from around this time last year.
Otherwise, there are a number of recreational activities that might help spice up your visit to Fort Wilderness.
Pony rides are $8 at nearby Tri-Circle-D Ranch for riders that fit the bill: “Must be at least 2 years of age, under 80 pounds, no taller than 48 inches and able to hang on by themselves. A parent or guardian must lead the pony at all times.”
But there is no charge to have a look around.
What is this? Kilimanjaro Safaris?
I think I ate more at brunch.
From the Activities Guide given to resort guests:
Then there’s more information on Disney’s site: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/campsites-at-fort-wilderness-resort/recreation/. Older guests looking to ride around can opt for the $46/45-minute horseback ride that leaves from the same place next to Pioneer Hall. The Chip-and-Dale-hosted Campfire and Singalong, currently beginning at 8pm with a movie following at 8:40pm, are also popular. You’ll want to take a Yellow or Orange internal bus to the Meadow Recreation Area to get there.
Open from 3pm to 10pm, Crockett’s Tavern, which has a takeaway window as well, is a fun spot for a cocktail and potentially a snack.
I’m actually not really sure why Uncle John’s Taters aren’t in my mouth right now.
In addition to resort-specific and other merchandise, you’ll find food and other helpful items at Settlement Trading Post.
This is about a minute away from Trail’s End.
I have never been to Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue.
With tax and tip, it’s currently $62/adults and $37/kids.
A few more pictures around:
While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate taking the time to visit Fort Wilderness on a first or potentially second Walt Disney World vacation, you might consider spending an afternoon over here if you’ve “done everything” in the theme parks. “Eat where you are” is sound advice for those on their first trip. Is the Angus Chuck Cheeseburger with Candied Bacon, Hickory-smoked Sharp Cheddar, and Smokehouse Relish for the same money as the Taco Burger at Pecos Bill going to be miles better? Probably. But if you are standing at Pirates of the Caribbean, you can be at Pecos in two minutes and be sitting at a table with your food ten minutes later. To get to Trail’s End, which is relatively “convenient” from Magic Kingdom, you’d have to walk the 15 minutes to the boat dock. Then wait 10 minutes for the boat to arrive and depart. Then 15 minutes over to Trail’s End. Eight minutes to be seated. 75 minutes for lunch. 15 minutes walking back to the dock and waiting for the boat. 15 minutes to Magic Kingdom. And 15 more minutes to get back to Fantasyland. That’s almost three hours invested in a hamburger. But it’s not necessarily time wasted on a return trip and the visit to Fort Wilderness, away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park, will likely be very relaxing.
We’ll take a peek inside a cabin next.