Walt Disney World has announced the reopening date and menu details of Trail’s End and Crockett’s Tavern, two newly-reimagined restaurants at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. This post shares food photos, what to expect at the former all-you-can-eat dining spot now that it’s been redone, and our commentary.
In case you missed it, Trail’s End quietly closed in April for reimagining. This was not announced in advance by Walt Disney World to the public. A statement was put out to media and Cast Members, but that was it. The restaurant stopped taking Advance Dining Reservations, and then one day, it was just closed for refurbishment with a bulletin appearing on its official DisneyWorld.com page.
The “why” of the refurbishment came a few days later, when Walt Disney World announced New DVC Cabins Coming to Fort Wilderness Campground. The proposed plans call for more than 350 new cabins to replace the existing cabins at the resort, turning the resort side of the campground into a Disney Vacation Club property. In so doing, a “collection of improvement projects” are underway at Fort Wilderness aimed at enhancing the guest experience, including proposed pool and walking trail improvements. Walt Disney World then also mentioned expanded dining experiences at Trail’s End Restaurant and Crockett’s Tavern, and “more exciting news to come.”
Work on the Disney Vacation Club cabins has not yet started, and the current cabins are still available to reserve through late 2024. This makes sense, as the current cabins were pre-fabricated off-site and installed unit-by-unit, not built on location. The same will almost certainly be true of the new cabins–it’ll be a matter of swapping out the old cabins for the new ones, which will likely occur in phases next year.
That’s more or less where the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground reimagining and enhancements project stands as of today’s announcement about the return of Trail’s End Restaurant and Crockett’s Tavern…
According to Walt Disney World, the new menus at Trail’s End Restaurant and Crockett’s Tavern complement the campground’s signature laid-back style and offer the dining flexibility that guests are looking for, no matter how they plan to enjoy their day at Walt Disney World.
Both dining locations will have a new look that fits the quaint charm of Fort Wilderness and honors its heritage at the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, with warm wooden furnishings, beamed ceilings, and rustic accents.
Trail’s End Restaurant and Crockett’s Tavern will both reopen on July 27, 2023.
Trail’s End Restaurant has been reimagined into a counter service restaurant. Whether you’re looking for family-sized entrees and sides to bring back to your cabin or campsite, or freshly prepared individual-sized entrees to feast on inside the restaurant’s casual seating area, there are plenty of options from which to choose. Here’s a look…
The refreshed marketplace concept at Trail’s End Restaurant now includes an on-stage pizza station where you can satisfy your appetite with a slice or the entire pie.
There will be two new options: smokehouse-style pizza topped with house-smoked brisket, sausage; or pepperoni and roasted vegetable pie. Classic pepperoni and cheese are also still available.
The Market-style Selections are filled with a variety of items with all the fixin’s to fit your fancy. Before heading back to your campsite, mosey on up to the Hot Grab and Go section where you can pick from the proteins.
This area features pecan-smoked whole chicken or brisket, and a rack of pork ribs. No trip to Fort Wilderness is complete without fried chicken. Sides will be available by the pound including macaroni & cheese, plant-based cowboy beans, and mashed potatoes.
You can also order classics like cheeseburgers, plant-based vegetable burgers, chicken nuggets, and french fries. For some comfort food, the Homestyle Meals feature cornbread, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes with gravy and your choice of half a slab of barbecued ribs or two pieces of fried chicken.
You can also treat yourself to hand-scooped ice cream and specialty coffees, like the Wilderness Latte with flavors of chocolate and hazelnut. To keep refreshed, there are also a variety of beverages and snacks on the go, like the new Chicken Wrap featuring the new house-made blueberry BBQ sauce or the returning favorite Pioneer Berry Salad.
Trail’s End Restaurant will also offer a lineup of new and returning sweets in the market, a house-made bakery. The pastry team dusted off old favorite recipes from years past like the Banana Pudding, Carrot Cake Cupcake, Blueberry Bread Pudding, and the legendary Strawberry Shortcake from Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, which will be available in a single serve portion. (Editor’s note: some of us already treated the Hoop-Dee-Doo portion size as single-serve.)
The plant-based Lemon-Blueberry Trifle is filled with layers of lemon curd, fresh blueberries, and whipped cream.
The pastry team has also created brand-new recipes that are sure to please (and become instant favorites) like the Fort Fruity Cookie featuring fruity cereal and white chocolate chips or the Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake.
No camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows over the campfire, and there will be two sweets inspired by those classic flavors at Trail’s End: the S’more Cupcake and the S’mores Cookie.
Next, let’s head over to Crockett’s Tavern, which has been refreshed as a lounge with expanded seating–both indoors and outside–to offer views of Bay Lake. (Some of this expanded seating has clearly come at the expense of Trail’s End Restaurant.)
Located under the same roof as Trail’s End Restaurant, this guest-favorite lounge has been enhanced with a collection of elevated lounge-style snacks to accompany the array of new and returning beverages and specialty cocktails.
The reimagined menu at Crockett’s Tavern was designed by Walt Disney World’s culinary team to pay tribute to the heritage of the resort and its inspiration from the American frontier. There will still be a ‘to-go’ window for those looking for a drink to enjoy before experiencing the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
If you love trying different flavors, then new to the menu is A Trio of Sliders.This features a pulled pork slider with BBQ sauce and coleslaw, brisket slider with Carolina BBQ and pickled onions, and a buffalo chicken slider with house-made blue cheese dressing and dill pickles served with seasoned french fries.
The new Chicken Bites offer three different sauce choices: buffalo, garlic-parmesan, or blueberry BBQ. These bites are also served with celery, house-made ranch, blue cheese, and seasoned french fries. The new blueberry BBQ sauce was developed by Chef Julie Hrywnak and the culinary team. The Charcuterie Board addition features a selection of meats and cheeses with house-made bread and butter pickles, tomato jam, cornbread crostini, and sesame lavash.
Some delicious new plant-based offerings include the Crispy Cauliflower paired with a tasty garlic aïoli.
This fan-favorite from the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue plant-based menu is also gluten/wheat friendly. Crockett’s Tavern will also serve plant-based fried green tomato sliders featuring a southern remoulade and citrus greens served with seasoned french fries.
For a sweet finish, there’s the Trailblazin’ Dessert Trio.
This delightful dish features a s’more with chocolate pudding, graham cracker crumbs, and house-made marshmallow, a strawberry shortcake with strawberries and whipped cream, and a banana pudding with vanilla wafers, whipped cream, and a banana chip.
For those looking for an adult beverage to accompany their meal, Crockett’s Tavern has multiple options to choose from with their heritage cocktail program to pay homage to the 50+ year history of Fort Wilderness.
Inspired by the Fort Wilderness Railroad that once ran throughout the resort, the All Aboard! Moonshine Cocktail Flight is a sampling of moonshine cocktails featuring the Gullywhumper, Blackberry Lightning, and Spiced Appleberry Shine.
The Bear-y Buckle combines Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, pure cane sugar, lemon juice, bitters, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and muddled blackberries for a touch of sweetness in this cocktail. Crockett’s Tavern will be serving Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, which honors the world’s first-known African American master distiller, Nearest Green.
If you’ve ever wanted to try America’s first spirit, Laird’s Applejack Brandy, then the Camper’s Coupe is for you. This drink features Laird’s Applejack Brandy, orange and lemon juices, and a hint of maple syrup. Walt Disney World visitors who prefer bright flavors will love the Meadows Cup. Settle in and enjoy this twist on a classic cocktail with Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur Cup, Hendrick’s Gin, Minute Maid Premium Lemonade, and strawberry.
The Crockett’s Tavern barkeep will be serving up a rotating selection of old fashioned cocktails to wet your whistle. The summer version will be a Clementine Old Fashioned with Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Hella Cocktail Co. Orange Bitters, and cane syrup garnished with a clementine wheel and Luxardo cherry. This drink is a nod to Clementine Beach at the resort.
Tequila fans will be pleased to try two beverages on the menu. A nod to one of the historic camping loops at Fort Wilderness, the Quail Trail Paloma serves up Teremana Blanco Tequila with Hella Cocktail Co. Smoked Chili Bitters, grapefruit soda, and a chili-lime rim. You’ll also still be able to enjoy the Moonshine Margarita with Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ Moonshine, Triple Sec Liqueur, sweet-and-sour mix, and lime juice.
I’m worried about what else will change with the conversion of the cabins into Disney Vacation Club accommodations. The DVC demo has different priorities and expectations than the average “Fort Fiend,” with the former favoring amenities and modern style and not really caring about themed design or the character of a resort.
“Modernization” and “enhancement” are buzzwords that typically smooth away the rough edges of a resort’s themed design and personality to make it more palatable for the masses. That’ll likely be true again with the reimagined Trail’s End Restaurant, which looks like a designer took the Market at Ale & Compass at Yacht Club (pictured above) and turned up the “woodsy” dial on the otherwise modern design.
I’ll withhold final judgment until seeing it in person, but the redone Trail’s End appears to have precisely the generic and soulless style–with only a thin veneer of theme–that typifies recent dining venue refreshes at Walt Disney World. Style is cyclical, and I’m ready for the crisp and clean modern look to become passé, and for ornately-themed and transportive design to make a comeback.
With that said, I realize that those mainstream visitors and not the WDW diehards are the ones sustaining all resorts, even Fort Wilderness Campground. Admittedly, what I want from Fort Wilderness probably stands in sharp contrast with the average guest doing a weeklong stay. I recognize that this resort has been in serious need of more practical dining options and amenities to serve guest needs and preferences, and the reimagined dining at Pioneer Hall could be a step in that direction.
Additionally, on the Crockett’s Tavern side, the interior design also looks like it retains at least some of the core nostalgia-evoking design of Trail’s End, even if the truly eclectic decor has been traded for wagon wheels neatly arranged on the wall, for whatever reason. The core structure also remains intact, and much of the atmosphere in Pioneer Hall comes from that.
Finally, I’ll admit that the new menus at both Crockett’s Tavern and Trail’s End Restaurant sound good. It looks like a lot of effort was put into finding the right balance between comfort food favorites and ambitious and elevated cuisine. There’s also a lot that pulls from the past, embracing the rich history of Fort Wilderness. So that’s also appreciated.
As compared to what was here before–the post-reopening family-style menu–this should be an unequivocal improvement. As compared to what was served at Trail’s End in 2019 and for the decades before that, it’s a more complicated assessment. But even then, we can concede that Fort Wilderness needed options like this. Honestly, I’m excited to try a number of the new menu items…hopefully the delicious dishes will help drown the sorrows of what was lost in the reimagining.
What do you think of the reimagined interiors and menus for Trail’s End Restaurant and Crockett’s Tavern? Are you pleased by the new-look marketplace concept or expanded lounge, or did you prefer their predecessors? Thoughts on Trail’s End as a hidden gem and source of fan nostalgia and memories? Disappointed by this change, or do you not care about Trail’s End? (It’s okay, not everyone is a fan.) Agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!