Our most recent trip to Walt Disney World was a return visit with my parents, which we decided to take in lieu of having a family Christmas together. Although it stunk to not see family over the holidays, I think they were excited about the prospect of escaping the ‘lake effect snow machine’ of Southwest Michigan for a week.
I’ve mentioned this several times on the blog, but they’re the ones who got me into Disney fandom, with annual spring trips beginning in the 1980s. So, if there’s anyone you want to blame for this blog, direct your ire towards them.
During the early days of those family trips, camping at Fort Wilderness was our go-to option. Given that and because we’d need a larger room or two rooms, we decided to book a cabin at Fort Wilderness. It seemed like our best option from a size, price, and atmosphere perspective…
We arrived at Walt Disney World before my parents, who had approximately 15 layovers en route, and went directly to the cabin (love the new online check-in process). This was our first time staying in the cabins since they’ve been redone, and I was mostly a fan of the changes.
The loss of the Murphy bed was a bummer (unless you don’t have to sleep on the pull-out couch!), but almost every other change was a positive, and it’s a huge net positive, I think. I’ll update our Fort Wilderness review soon (we have much more to refresh based on our experiences this trip), but for now, here are a few photos of the cabin…
We chose Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge. This is one of those places we really enjoy, in large part for its ambiance. The menu seems to change quite a bit, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
Relatively recent changes include the removal of the chicken lollipops, chips & dip, and standalone truffle fries. However, the addition of the nachos is a plus.
The gourmet burger now includes truffle fries, and this was a fine option, I guess. The burger itself was tasty, albeit small, but the fries left a lot to be desired. (Let’s just say this won’t be dethroning the burger and truffle fries at Crew’s Cup Lounge anytime soon.)
We returned to Fort Wilderness and my parents had just arrived, so we sat and chatted with them for a bit. No longer living in the Midwest, we don’t see them nearly as much, so it was nice to catch up.
The next day we started out by doing brunch at Trail’s End. I haven’t reviewed this yet, and am not sure I will. It’s only offered on weekends, and is basically just a mix of the breakfast and dinner buffets.
On the other hand, I could copy and paste liberally from my other reviews and have some new content with only a few minutes’ worth of effort! 😉
I was a big fan of this brunch. The cost was only $23, which actually might be cheaper than breakfast (a few readers reported a price increase for breakfast starting in 2017, but I’m not sure if this was just a seasonal change).
I could see Disney raising prices for breakfast and dinner but forgetting to do so for the brunch since it flies under the radar.
In any case, it’s (at most) $3 more than breakfast and $5+ cheaper than dinner. Given that it has all breakfast items on it and some of my favorite dinner items, I consider this a significant victory.
Additionally, servers throughout the restaurant were encouraging guests to linger, as they’d be switching over to the full dinner spread around 11 a.m. (YMMV on this, brunch is ‘officially’ supposed to run until like 2 p.m.)
After this, we stopped into Settlement Trading Post. Fort Wilderness’ merchandise game has been strong for the last couple of years, which is great to see.
It has perhaps the most resort-specific merchandise of anywhere at Walt Disney World.
My parents didn’t have tickets for everyday of the trip, so we decided to do Disney Springs the first day. They haven’t been since it was converted from Downtown Disney, so I was curious to hear how they felt about it.
This would be the fourth iteration (with Walt Disney World Village and Disney Village Marketplace being the other two) of this area they’d experience.
Back when I was young, my mom was a fairly enthusiastic planner for these annual trips, regularly reading guidebook and keeping apprised of changes.
The levels of obsession the internet has bred have put planners like her to shame, but my point is that she was pretty ‘into’ Walt Disney World in the 1990s.
I share this as context, because I’ll share their (mostly just her, really) take on things throughout the report.
I think it’s interesting to view Walt Disney World from a different perspective, and she’s now removed from the Disney scene as compared to us, and probably as compared to most people reading this.
I think she generally liked the changes (then again, she loves to shop). She bought nearly the entire selection of Orange Bird merchandise at Marketplace Co-Op, and really liked several of the 28 & Main designs.
This was definitely a much better, and more relaxed, shopping experience for them than World of Disney, which was overwhelming.
My dad was less enthusiastic about Disney Springs, and I’m guessing its size a big part of that (also, he hates shopping). His interest was piqued by the Boathouse and he really liked Jock Lindsay’s.
He’s normally pretty…let’s go with ‘stoic’…but his face lit up and he became pretty talkative when we went inside Jock Lindsay’s. He was a pilot, and all of the decor inside was fascinating to him. It was also (presumably) authentic, because he kept telling us about different things, what they’d do, etc.
Without question, Marketplace Co-Op, the Boathouse, and Jock Lindsay’s were the highlights of Disney Springs for both of them, despite us not dining at either of the restaurants. (This was a mistake–we should’ve done both.)
The day we were at Disney Springs, it was the official opening of Paddlefish; we briefly debated going before deciding not to subject my parents to Disney bloggers in the wild. I don’t think they would’ve been quite prepared for that.
After wandering Disney Springs for a bit, we decided to take a boat ride on the internal transportation. We didn’t really need to get anywhere, but it was a fairly hot day.
There also isn’t a ton of shade in Disney Springs, so this was basically a reprieve from the heat. Sarah and I had actually never done this, and I was pleased to see that it was pretty efficient–and relaxing.
After dinner, they were already exhausted, so they opted to head back to Fort Wilderness to go to bed. It was only around 6 p.m. at that point, so Sarah and I stayed out, wandering Disney Springs more before heading to Old Key West. We’ll pick up there on Page 2–and also cover our evening visit to Magic Kingdom.