Guest Review: Trail’s End Dinner Buffet at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Howdy! Today we’re rustling up some dinner grub at the Trail’s End Restaurant courtesy of guest author Daniel Staten. Don’t forget this restaurant for breakfast and lunch too. Let’s dig in…

The atmosphere at Walt Disney World changes often. With the seasons come new decorations and with the decades come new attractions.

There are a few places at Walt Disney World, however, that evoke a sense of nostalgia while providing a fun environment and novelty. Trail’s End Buffet at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground is one of those places.

Traveling to Fort Wilderness, and Atmosphere

Nestled far away from the hustle of the Magic Kingdom, Trail’s End feels uniquely Disney. It’s very low-maintenance and rustic.

Trails End Sign

Should you decide to dine at Trail’s End, prepare by factoring in additional travel time to the restaurant. If you arrive by bus or car, plan on an extra 30 minutes from the time you pass through the front gates of the resort.

Trail's End Outside

Trail’s End Outside

Due to the expanse of Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort, a separate inter-resort bus system shuttles guests to and from the main entrance to where Trail’s End is situated.

If you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom during the day and plan to eat at Trail’s End, you have the option of taking a boat. As a veteran Walt Disney World vacationer, I was taken by surprise and was even late to my reservation at Trail’s End due to the unanticipated transportation.

Seating at Trail's End

Seating at Trail’s End

Once you arrive, the tall trees and relaxed atmosphere reminded me of a family reunion, where the details aren’t fussy and the food is plentiful.

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End


For dinner, Trail’s End offers a buffet with several unique and fun options. The selection of meat, sides, and desserts is sure to please families and large groups. In addition, Southerners take note: this is one of the only places at Walt Disney World were you can order traditional sweet tea. At the end of my vacation, I had been tea-free for a week and was certainly experiencing cravings!

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

The buffet area is smaller than newer restaurants like Boma, however we never found it cramped, and this was on a Friday night where we waited about 20 minutes after our Advance Dining Reservation time.

Several items on the buffet proved to be particularly popular, including the fried chicken and BBQ ribs.

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

BBQ Ribs

BBQ Ribs

One of the best things about Trail’s End was the unique dishes that

[Read more…]

Review: Storytellers Cafe at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

I was recently back in Disneyland for a visit, and I couldn’t resist booking lunch at one of my favorite locations, Storytellers Cafe.

storytellers cafe

We visited anticipating a delicious and relaxing experience, as we often have at Storytellers. The fact that I had a mad craving for that Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder and had been dreaming about it was just a happy coincidence. ;-)

Won’t you join us?


You’ll find Storytellers at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, which certainly lives up to its name. It is simply a gorgeous place to spend some time.

With design that typifies the American Craftsman style, you are surrounded by larger than life, simple warm accents that make grand use of natural materials, like wood and stone. You find the same style carried through Storytellers Cafe.

Fireplace and Atmosphere

Fireplace and Atmosphere

Two major design elements tend to dominate the decor of Storytellers Cafe: you’ll find murals and large paintings covering the walls. Paintings depict…storytelling, of course — featuring classic stories with California as their setting.

One of the Many Large Paintings in Storytellers Cafe

One of the Many Large Paintings in Storytellers Cafe

But you also find ample use of silhouettes in many places throughout the dining space. And check out the beautiful post and beam construction on the ceiling while you’re looking up. (Disney World fans will get a definite Wilderness Lodge vibe from this place!)

Lighting and Ceiling Detail

Lighting and Ceiling Detail

Stained glass with warm swirls of color are a hallmark of Arts and Crafts design, and the stained glass softly filters the indirect light, which provides the perfect backdrop to these working man silhouettes.

And be sure to notice the detail on the hanging lights as well! They’re really something special.

Storytelling Lighting

Storytelling Lighting

Lanterns hung from copper stands distribute light throughout the dining room, and give the sense of bringing the outdoors inside.



And as is often the case — don’t forget to look down! Even the carpeting conveys the theme and story of this spot with letters and more silhouettes.



Throughout Storytellers Cafe, the art of storytelling shares the stage with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch BBQ

Let’s give a welcoming “Howdy” to guest author Victoria Kabakian. Today, she is sharing a review of Big Thunder Ranch BBQ in Disneyland. Now, let’s get to the grub!

There’s only one place that can marry an unequivocal love for Disneyland with the perfect bucket of stick-to-your-ribs, you’ll-need-to-floss-afterwards barbecue, and that’s none other than Big Thunder Ranch BBQ.

During a recent visit to the park, we had to take an unplanned detour through Fantasyland to get here, due to the current refurbishment at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Even with the added obstacle, it was worth the frantic pace required to make it in time for our advance dining reservation.

Entrance to Big Thunder Ranch


Perhaps it’s because nearby Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed at the time, but our visit to Big Thunder Ranch BBQ was a quiet escape from the typical crowds at Disneyland.

The moment we saw the wooden archway welcoming us to Big Thunder Mountain Ranch, “Home of the Happiest Horses on Earth,” we felt like we had entered another world.

Rows of Picnic Tables

We had a somewhat late afternoon reservation at 1:30PM, and the space wasn’t overly crowded at that time. When we checked in for our ADR, we were asked if we minded sharing a table with others or if we preferred our own table. Since they had the space to accommodate us, we opted for our own table and were then handed a buzzer to alert us when the table was ready.

Picnic Tables Surrounding the Stage

Wooden picnic tables covered with red-white-and-blue plastic tablecloths and shaded with canopies are lined up in concentric semi-circles around the focal point of an elevated stage featuring live entertainment.

Live Entertainment

With short sets and frequent breaks in between songs, a piano player, acoustic guitarist, and singer take the stage with down-home ranch-style entertainment. This is just a sliver of the fun that is to be had during a meal at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ.

Fun Sign Near the Restrooms

Even a trip to the bathroom feels like an adventure in time and space (especially when you get lost following simple directions) with playful signs for “100% Splinter Free” bath tissue, and Cowboys and Cowgirls entrances for his and hers facilities.

“Cowgirls” Sign for the Ladies Restroom

Once we finished our *ahem* business and headed to our own private picnic table (no sharing required, thank you very much), the laid back country vibe of the space continued with a stack of bright Mickey Mouse-red dishes and a bucket of utensils, napkins, and wet-wipes for inevitably sticky fingers.

Help Yourselves!


The menu at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ differs only slightly [Read more…]

Review: Chef Mickey’s Dinner at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It has been too long since I’ve taken a trip to Chef Mickey’s in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort!

We’ve shared with you our review of their breakfast buffet. But today, we’re heading there to see what’s new for dinner!

When many people think about a Disney character dining experience”, they immediately think of Chef Mickey’s. This one has it all — the Fab Five, a sprawling buffet of family-friendly foods, regular raucous celebrations, and monorails whizzing by.

But in the past, the food has had a reputation for being a little lackluster. Time to see how things are looking these days… . We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!


One of the coolest things about Chef Mickey’s is its location. You’ll find this well-known character meal at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Chef Mickey's Sign

This place is a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, which makes it a great place to stop and eat before heading into the park, or after a long day of rides and attractions.

Once you enter the hotel’s main floor lobby, take the elevator to the fourth floor. Chef Mickey’s is located on the south end of the concourse, right below where the Disney World monorail enters the building. (You can also arrive at the Contemporary via said monorail, of course — in which case you’d take an escalator down to the 4th floor).

The Grand Canyon Concourse at the Contemporary

Head to the central desk to let the hostess know that your party has arrived. You can’t miss it — Mickey is smiling down with his fork and spoon, ready to greet you!

Central Desk Check-In

If your table isn’t quite ready, you can wait until your party is paged in this comfortable seating area. This spot features a view of Bay Lake and the resort’s pool patio — and offers plenty of room for running off excess energy.

Waiting Area

Before you’re seated, your party will [Read more…]

Review: Boatwright’s Dining Hall at Port Orleans Riverside

Um. Boatwright’s is awesome.

During a recent trip, we were SO glad finally to have a chance to dine at this seems-like-it’s-been-there-forever-but-we’ve-never-eaten-there restaurant at Port Orleans Resort, Riverside, in Walt Disney World. The warm, relaxed feel of the space, coupled with some menu items I definitely wanted to try, made this a spot that we couldn’t wait any longer to check out.


Seriously, we loved it. This is the type of old school restaurant that’s right up our alley, so forgive me if I ramble on.

Since we were staying at Port Orleans French Quarter Resort next door, we decided to walk to Boatwright’s for our dining reservation. First up, we thoroughly enjoyed the easy, 10-minute stroll from the French Quarter portion of the resort to Riverside, where the restaurant is located.

Boatwright's Sign

And while this was our first official visit to Boatwright’s, Port Orleans has long been a favorite of ours. There is such a lovely “Disney Imagineering” feel to these resorts; there’s a lot of attention to detail, and there are so many activities that guests can enjoy. Plus, everything is contained in one compact space for ease of use.

You’re also really close to Downtown Disney while you’re here, so that’s definitely another big plus.

As you walk in, your eyes are immediately drawn upward to the huge, partially-built riverboat suspended above the check-in area. The boat (more about it in just a sec!) crowns the larger and more open of the two dining rooms.

The lofty space lets in plenty of natural light during the early evening of the dinner hour and truly appears to be the workroom of a shipbuilder.

Boatwright's Check In

The smaller dining room has a cozy fireplace and a more intimate feel, with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Boatwright’s Dining Hall at Port Orleans Riverside

Melissa Sue is back with more great Disney World restaurant coverage! This time she’s taking us along to Boatwright’s for a meal at the Port Orleans Riverside resort.

My husband and I headed out to Boatwright’s in early December to fortify ourselves before a long, long night at Magic Kingdom. With closing set for 2 a.m., and our ADR set for 7 p.m., we were planning to fuel up and head out, but as you’ll see, the charm of Boatwright’s and Port Orleans sucked us right in!


You’ll find the entrance to Boatwright’s behind the main Sassagoula Steamboat Company building — just walk across the old-style porch, and it’ll be there on your left.

You can also access the restaurant from within the main Riverside building — at the entrance, just head straight back to the left, passing River Roost Lounge and walking straight on through.

Boatwright's Exterior Entrance

We arrived a little early for our ADR, so we walked over to Old Man Island (where the resort’s main pool is located) and looped over to Magnolia Terrace, where guest room buildings are built to look like “mansions.” Riverside is well-lit and more compact than I expected, but still peaceful and romantic. It was a lovely walk, and I can’t wait to go back in the daytime so I can explore the area more fully.

Eventually, we headed back toward Boatwright’s to check in for dinner, and though I’d seen pictures, I was unprepared for how huge and museum-like Boatwright’s really is. As you walk in, you’re looking right up at the replica skeletal wooden hull of a flat-bottomed “New Orleans Lugger” fishing boat, suspended above the check-in area and dining room.

The check-in desk located below the Lugger.

The walls are lined with [Read more…]