Trail’s End is one of those restaurants you don’t hear a ton about, probably due to its remote location at Fort Wilderness. What you do hear is almost unanimous praise. I was a little concerned about all of the hype before I visited the Trail’s End for the first time (well, probably not the first time…my family used to camp at Fort Wilderness every year until Shades of Green opened, but I don’t remember any of those early-1990s meals), as I’ve found that hype tends to snowball in the Disney community, and some of the most popular things tend to be disappointments (Exhibit A).
Fortunately, that was not the case with Trail’s End in the slightest. Not only did it live up to every bit of that hype, but it also proved to be a fun location that is equal parts quaintness and quirkiness in terms of ambiance…
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s start with Disney’s description of the decor, which “keep[s] things suitably cozy and rustic as you and your kin tuck into a heaping spread of hearty countrified fare and new-fangled favorites.” Normally, I’d think this was the standard, embellished marketing copy to really sell a theme. In the case of Trail’s End, this folksy talk is completely on the money. Trail’s End feels like a restaurant you might stumble upon in the backwoods of Alabama, in a city with only a gas station, a single restaurant, and a barbershop.
Normally, Disney environments are designed to convey a certain theme and atmosphere, but Trail’s End feels more organic than that, as if they allowed Rocky and Ruby Sue to set up shop at Fort Wilderness. There are some random photos and decorations you just wouldn’t expect to see in a Disney restaurant, and it really gives Trail’s End an aura of authenticity. This isn’t to say that other theming at Walt Disney World doesn’t feel authentic–it does–or that Trail’s End is amateurish–it isn’t–but there’s a certain unpolished feeling to Trail’s End that gives it both added charm and character.
I mean all of this as high praise; the ambiance of Trail’s End is great. Although some of the details are a bit puzzling, it’s all in good fun, and the look of the restaurant is well done. This is really all in keeping with Fort Wilderness as a whole, which is one of the last vestiges of the ‘Vacation Kingdom of the World’ days of Walt Disney World, back when the resort presented itself as much more than theme parks. Fort Wilderness is sort of an anomaly in terms of present-day Walt Disney World, almost as if the powers that be are unaware of its existence, and the management of the Fort has gone rogue and really done whatever they want.
I know that’s not the case, but it does seem like Fort Wilderness has been largely undisturbed as so much of the rest of Walt Disney World has changed, with the Fort remaining a bastion of tranquility and reminder of the simpler, early days of the Vacation Kingdom. I’m still trying to convince Sarah to grab one of our tents and spend a weekend at Fort Wilderness, never leaving the campground. Suffice to say, I love the atmosphere at Fort Wilderness, and by extension, Trail’s End.
I dined at the breakfast buffet at Fort Wilderness with a couple friends after a morning of sunrise photography. We had parked at the front of the Fort and walked all the way to the dock at the back, which I think was a little over a mile…and continued chasing the light for a couple hours for what ended up being a bit of a bust of a sunrise. All that walking around for nothing stirred up my appetite.
In terms of food, Trail’s End absolutely delivered. It’s American comfort food with a country skew, and pretty much everything felt like a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. Given the price, there are a surprising number of options, from create your own yogurt parfait to breakfast pizza, biscuits and gravy, and eggs benedict. For drinks, there’s a delicious “moonshine” juice that I highly recommend. As an added bonus, it won’t make you go blind! I had pictures of this juice, among other things, but my memory card from this morning got corrupted and I was unable to recover some of the photos…but this juice looks like juice. Helpful, right?
The buffet has the standard cold options like fruit, cereal, toast, and bagels, but this isn’t amateur hour, so we’ll skip ahead to the things that matter: the meats and cooked foods.
The absolute star of the show is the eggs benedict. There are two varieties of this, traditional style with Canadian bacon, and a countryfied version with pulled pork (pictured on the right). I don’t know what it was, but there is something about the pulled pork version that was just amazing–the epitome of breakfast comfort food. Normally, I try to only sample a particular item once so I can “test” everything on the buffet, but I may have had a few of these…
Also pictured on this plate, biscuits and gravy (a staple of any country buffet), cheese grits, bread pudding, and Mickey waffle. The bread pudding was absolutely delicious, and the perfect breakfast dessert. Or, in my case, something to have throughout the meal. (Pro tip: when you’re on vacation, dessert is far game any time of day or for an entire meal if you so desire.)
I’m not a huge fan of the Mickey waffles anywhere, but they are a crowd pleaser, so it’s good to see a few varieties of them on the buffet.
This plate shows the veggie frittata, other eggs benedict, breakfast pizza, salmon, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and hash browns. All of this was delicious, with the frittata being unexpectedly good.
I’m a sucker for breakfast pizza (it’s pizza…at breakfast…what’s not to love?), so perhaps I enjoyed this more than I should have, but I thought it was really good.
In terms of the main food offerings, that’s it. The buffet is somewhat limited as compared to other breakfast buffets at Walt Disney World, but I feel like everything on this buffet packs a good punch. Plus, breakfast here will run you less than $20, versus around double that for Chef Mickey’s. Granted, there are no characters here, but the food is better, and maybe you could try to trick your kids to do a meet & greet with that mounted buffalo head? (Just tell them it’s Buff, one of the coolest Disney characters anywhere!)
Overall, Trail’s End is well worth the trip out to Fort Wilderness. I think Fort Wilderness itself is well worth the trip out to Fort Wilderness, so consider a meal here icing on the cake. From the delightfully kitschy decor to the price point to the food itself, Trail’s End is an absolute winner. We’ve found breakfast to be the weakest meal at Walt Disney World, but Trail’s End presents a really great option for it. Even if you arbitrarily take price and theme out of the equation, I’d say Trail’s End would be in the running for best breakfast at Walt Disney World. Once you factor in the value it offers and the fun setting, it’s a no-brainer.
Have you eaten at Trail’s End? Did you enjoy the meal? What was your favorite piece of decor? Want to eat here? Share your thoughts on anything related to Trail’s End or Fort Wilderness in the comments!