Recently, Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness reopened with a new family-style menu. After filling up on breakfast staples, we were ready to tackle dinner. Come along with us and see how it was!
Not super familiar with Disney World’s resident campground? You’re not alone. If you want to check out Trail’s End you’ll need to venture to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. It’s worth noting that this spot requires some travel time, so if you’re not staying at Fort Wilderness, leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get over to the resort. If you ARE staying at Fort Wilderness, still factor in a bit of time. Why you ask?
Because there’s NO parking for cars around the resort aside from the parking spots at each cabin or campsite. You park near the front and hop on one of the internal buses to get to your destination (in this case, Pioneer Hall in the Settlement section of the resort). This takes a bit of time and can be a bit confusing if you’re new to it all!
Inside Trail’s End, (when you finally make it!) there’s plenty of pioneer theming (It IS called “Pioneer Hall,” after all. It’s not just a clever name!). The pioneer supplies, exposed wood, and memorabilia will instantly transport you to the frontier!
The vibe is kind of Cracker Barrel meets Davey Crockett meets Disney. It’s “rustic” but cozy.
A decor favorite here at DFB is the bison head! It’s a little bit creepy (definitely feels like it’s looking at you) but it really does elevate the theming!
Trail’s End has a classic table setting and offers chairs and tables for seating accommodations.
After we sat down, we scanned the QR code and took a look at the menu!
The first thing you’ll notice about the new menu is that the restaurant, like many other buffets at Disney World, has become family-style. Instead of going down the buffet line, like the location was known for, a selection of food in large sharable portions comes to you! A lot of our past favorites are back on this new menu, but our beloved Fried Chicken is gone! This fried chicken was well-loved by MANY so to see a different chicken option on the menu hit hard for some fans.
This new family-style dinner is $29.99 per adult and $17.99 per child. Not everything is included in that flat fee, mocktails and alcoholic drinks, as well as add-ons, cost extra.
UPDATE: The dinner add-ons have increased in price since we first posted this review. The peel-n-eat shrimp boil is now $1 more expensive at $9.99, and the cornbread-crusted salmon is $2 more expensive at $9.99.
There is a selection of mocktails, beer, wine…
…cocktails (many featuring…what else…moonshine!)…
..and Allergy-Friendly options!
To start off our meal, we grabbed a cocktail: the Gullywhumper (bonus points if you know the Davy Crockett reference!) with Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ Moonshine and Peach Schnapps with Pineapple and Cranberry Juices for $14. This was a great moonshine cocktail! In the past, this particular moonshine has been a bit too overpowering for us, but the schnapps and juice balanced out the flavor really well with some much-needed sweetness. It had a great summer vibe — very refreshing, and very pretty! The mason jar was also a fun little touch.
Next up was the Oven-fresh Bread Basket with Goat Cheese Chive Biscuits, Hushpuppies, and Skillet Cornbread. These were served with Pimento Spread and Honey Butter.
The Goat Cheese Chive Biscuits were REALLY good! They had an herby flavor and a bit of tang from the goat cheese but not so “goat cheesy” that it would turn off guests that aren’t a fan. These go great with the honey butter, but you don’t need the butter to enjoy these biscuits!
We also loved the Hushpuppies! The pimento cheese had a nice flavor that complimented the hushpuppies well, but the hushpuppies were so crisp and fluffy that they were perfect on their own too! (It should come as no surprise that if you basically deep-fry balls of cornbread we like them. 😂)
The Cornbread was pretty much your run-of-the-mill cornbread, but it was still very good! Again, this went well with the honey butter, but Pimento Cheese works great here too.
Next up was the Chopped Salad with Mixed Greens, Grape Tomatoes, Red Onion, Cucumbers, White Cheddar, and Cornbread Croutons with warm Bacon Vinaigrette. This was a great salad! It was very fresh and the white cheddar and cornbread croutons took an otherwise plain salad to the next level!
The bacon vinaigrette also added a nice salty/smokey flavor that was delicious! If you can’t tell from this photo below, we were given what appears to be enough dressing for 16 salads. 😂
Now, for the main event: the Smokehouse Skillet with Pecan-smoked Brisket, Rotisserie Chicken, Andouille Sausage, Fingerling Potatoes, Green Beans, Buttered Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Barbecue and Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce (basically a whole buffet in one big bowl!).
The Rotisserie Chicken was well-seasoned and flavorful, but it had no moisture whatsoever! Rotisserie chicken is often quite juicy, so this was a bummer to get such a dry piece. This made us miss that fried chicken even more. #bringthefriedchickenback
The Andouille Sausage was a bit on the spicy side but we liked it a lot! It might be too spicy for some, so beware! The green beans were nice and crisp with a strong garlic flavor. Green beans in a skillet like this can often be seen as just something green tossed in there to add a veggie, but these were quite good!
The Pecan-smoked Brisket was actually very tender! It had a nice smokey flavor, but also a little bit too fatty for our liking. Brisket can be quite fatty so that’s almost to be expected, but the meat portion had a nice flavor. Still, it was a good piece of brisket!
The Fingerling Potatoes were also well done! Fork-tender on the inside and crisp on the outside, they were a well-seasoned and well-cooked side of potatoes! It’s easy to undercook mass-produced potatoes like these (like we’ve seen at other all-you-can-eat meals) but these were just right.
The Buttered Corn on the Cob was very buttery and the roasting brought out a great smokey sweetness!
As is becoming tradition at buffets-turned-family-style-meals (ha!), there were a few optional add-ons (basically food you probably used to be able to find on the buffet here or something similar but now…you gotta pay extra). As an add-on, we got the Half-slab Memphis-rubbed Pork Spare Ribs for $9.99! These were pretty good ribs, not these-are-the-best-ribs-in-the-world good, but still pretty good.
The dry rub on the ribs was your standard barbecue seasoning and it came with both vinegar and mustard-based barbecue sauces to jazz them up to your liking! We’re not sure if this add-on is totally necessary since you get so much food with this meal already, but these are great if you’re craving some ribs!
To end our dinner at Trail’s End, we got the Covered Wagon Sundae. This was 2000% the part of the meal we’d been waiting for all day! We loved the 10-gallon sundae over at Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge when it was available a few years back so we were pumped to possibly see it back in action somewhat here! Served in a clear plastic cowboy hat (NOT a covered wagon, as one might expect!), this is a “Wagon Load” of Ice Cream, Toppings, Brownies, Cookies, and Chocolate-covered Bacon! If your party is just one or two people you’ll get a smaller cowboy hat, while bigger parties get the big portion.
This makes sense since why would you bring a 10-gallon style bucket hat of ice cream out for just one person? But just note that if you want that full “pioneer-style” kitchen sink sundae experience, come ready to eat with a crowd.
The brownie on ours was a little dry, but it’s possible we just got a staler piece. However, the banana added a nice, fresh aspect to this sundae and the bacon was a salty-sweet treat that really brought the whole thing together! It was a WHOLE uncut banana tossed on top though, so be ready to chop it up with your spoon. This sundae has a Neapolitan ice cream base that was delicious. The shortcake at the bottom of the sundae tasted the same as the strawberry shortcake at P&J’s Southern Takeout and was really good! The presentation was really fun on this one — super cute!
Overall, we enjoyed the meal! It wasn’t the most knock-your-socks-off dinner we’ve ever had, but it was pretty good! Service here was excellent as always and we had a great time.
Nosh or Not
Stop by Trail’s End if…
- You’re staying nearby! Fort Wilderness is not really on anyone’s way, unless you’re already staying here!
- You’re looking to get your money’s worth! $30 for all-you-can-eat, rib-stickin’ dinner ain’t bad.
- You’re craving some barbecue outside of the parks.
Take a different trail if…
- You’re not close to Trail’s End! The food is decent and the price is good, but if an evening of navigating the wild world of Fort Wilderness doesn’t sound like fun, maybe mosey on by this one.
- You’re looking for a more unique menu. The breads were fun but the main course was pretty basic, really.
- You don’t like family-style. Obviously, this style of meal is having its heyday right now. But if you want to pick your specific meal or just don’t want to fight with Aunt Susan and your grandma for the last piece of brisket (you can always ask for more!) then this might to be the experience for you.
This was a good family-style dinner… but is it worth it? Well, that depends! If you’re looking for some good barbecue or just a homely classic dinner, this is a great place to stop by! The only real issue is transportation. Depending on where you are, it could take quite a bit of time to get to and from Trail’s End! As we stress time and time again, time is money in Disney World and you’re gonna spend a bit of time if you want to try out Trail’s End. Fort Wilderness is accessible by bus, boat from Magic Kingdom, or driving, but it can still be a little bit on the far side depending on your location.
Food-wise, the options here are pretty standard. The salad was ever so slightly elevated and the breads were all really enjoyable (we love a few good toppings for our bread). The main course was just OK though. The meats weren’t destination-worthy, and sides were decent, but not knock-our-socks-off great. BUT, it’s another in an ever-growing list of “family-style” meals at Disney World. Compared to others like Cape May Cafe at Beach Club or even Garden Grill in EPCOT, this spot is a bargain. That said, you’re not getting characters, like Garden Grill, or a much easier to access hotel, like Beach Club Resort for Cape May.
The portions here are no joke and can make add-ons like the ribs unnecessary. The food was pretty good, but nothing particularly mindblowing; you can definitely find better barbecue at spots like Regal Eagle in EPCOT or, better yet, Polite Pig in Disney Springs. But, for the price, this is a good deal and pretty tasty. This is one of those places where the food is good enough to justify going, but you have to decide whether or not things like travel time and price are worth it to you. That said, $30 a person is a decent deal, especially for all-you-can-eat dinner at Disney World, so if the idea of a value for dinner is appealing, the trek might be worth it. But seriously, #bringthefriedchickenback.
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What do you think of the new family-style Trail’s End Dinner?