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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
One of the best things about Trail’s End was the unique dishes that
fuse comfort food with buffet standbys, like the cornbread salad. It was a composed salad with lots of green vegetables, a kick of something spicy, and ranch dressing. It was topped with crumbles of Trail’s End’s famous sweet corn bread.
Pasta with cannellini bean sauce was delicious and had a great wine flavor throughout.
As far as carbs go, the redskin mashed potatoes were also stellar.
If you’d rather dress potatoes yourself, the baked potato bar is right up your alley. Pick a salted baked potato, top it with barbecued pulled pork, butter, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chives — or any combination of those!
There were two types of meats being carved fresh, a sausage and beef. The latter was a little too rare for my taste, but I’m told if you make a request, they’ll be happy to cook it to your liking.
Dessert was the most overwhelming part of the meal. I can always make room for dessert, but at Trail’s End, my skills were put to the test!
On the night we visited, there was a very rich chocolate cake, banana pudding, red velvet cake, various cookies, and warm, iron skillet peach cobbler. If that wasn’t enough, you can make any of those a la mode with the soft-serve ice cream machine!
We were celebrating a birthday during our visit, and our waitress got the entire restaurant involved and brought out a delicious serving of strawberry shortcake, which I’m assuming was from the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, situated next door.
After the meal, we walked around the restaurant and the attached Crockett’s Tavern, marveling at the animal heads mounted to the wall. If you’re adventurous, you might even discover a full sized bear!
If you time your reservation right, you may have the opportunity to view Wishes from the boat dock at Ft. Wilderness. They even pipe in the soundtrack! It was a new and unique way to see the fireworks.
Trail’s End is great for families or those visiting in large groups. It’s a single table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, a glass of sweet tea, and a piece of fried chicken, Trail’s End won’t let you down.
Have you ventured to Trail’s End? What’s your favorite dinner buffet at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!