Sometimes a dining experience at Walt Disney World is more about the journey and the experience than the food. For years, the Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness was a hidden gem known only by the campers and Magic Kingdom visitors that ventured beyond the theme park to eat. Reasonable food was offered at very reasonable prices. Unfortunately, the prices have risen and the food has become increasingly homogenized.

Still, it is a fun trip to get to Fort Wilderness from the Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge or the Contemporary. You can drive to the campground, but you will have to take a Fort Wilderness bus to get from the parking lot to the restaurant. By far, taking one of the boat launches is the most enjoyable way to get to the eatery. The boat will take about 20 minutes from the Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary to get to the Fort Wilderness Marina.

I’ve circled Pioneer Hall, where Trail’s End, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Crocket’s Tavern are located. 

I’m Bringing Nerdy Back
Fort Wilderness opened on November 19, 1971, almost two months after the grand opening of Walt Disney World. Trail’s End Buffeteria opened in 1974. Some time in the late 1980s the Buffeteria name was dropped.

About the Restaurant

Located in Pioneer Hall, Trail’s End is next to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. This can cause a bit of congestion when people are lined up for the show since the checkin line for Hoop-Dee can stretch in front of the Trail’s End. You might want to inquire about show times if you are making an ADR in the evening. If there is a wait for your table, spend a few minutes relaxing on the rocking chairs on the porch.

The restaurant is rather plain, but not without its charms. As you enter, you will see a photograph of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. For the most part, the decorations follow suit with items that you would expect that a settler would use: wagon wheels, pots, lanterns, etc.

Breakfast

A traditional Disney buffet is served for breakfast. Adults can expect to pay $17.00 to $19.00, based on the season, while kids will pay $10.00 – $12.00. The fare is pretty standard and includes: Mickey Waffles, eggs, breakfast pizzas, bacon, sausage, fruit oatmeal and hot cinnamon spiced apples (a treat).

The breakfast is enjoyable but not worth the trip due to the crowds and travel time. There are similar buffets that are located closer to the theme parks. It is a great place for breakfast if you are staying at Fort Wilderness, though.

Lunch

Lunch at Trail’s End has changed over the past year. Instead of being a buffet, they are offering a normal menu. Surprisingly, there are some great choices for lunch, including: fried chicken and waffles, Angus chuck bacon cheeseburger (very good) and a fresh berry salad with chicken. The price is pretty standard; expect to pay $12.00 to $15.00 for an entree.

The kid’s menu is as uninspired as most restaurants at Disney. Macaroni and Cheese, a cheeseburger and chicken strips are the primary offerings.

Dinner

This is where the Trail’s End shines.You will pay around $25.00 for an adult and $14.00 per child.

There are the standard buffet options, but there are two standouts: the macaroni and cheese and the chili.

The chili is hearty with the right mixture of beef and beans. Once I discovered it, I had to pace myself. Much to my chagrin, I am a macaroni and cheese aficionado. I spent my time between the chili and the mac and cheese. I found the mac and cheese to be very heavy, which is good and it had just the right amount of cheesy tang. It was the most food that my finicky eight year-old ate all week.

Trail’s End is a great choice for a late lunch or for the buffet if you want to add something different to your vacation. It is a lot of fun getting to Fort Wilderness and exploring the environs. Time it right and you could take part in the campfire program (7pm or 8pm, depending on the season) which is free to all Walt Disney World guests. You can roast marshmallows, take part in a sing-a-long, get some great character time and watch a Disney film under the stars.