Happy Campers at Trail’s End

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Today I want to discuss a restaurant I’ve heard about for years from my fellow Disney enthusiasts, but I only just recently tried for the first time.  Since I camped one night on my most recent trip I figured it was the perfect opportunity to stop into Trail’s End at the Fort Wilderness Camp Ground.  Never heard of Trail’s End?  Yeah, most people haven’t and that is half of its appeal.  The restaurant offers a moderately priced buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  You most likely can sit down without making an advanced dining reservations (ADR) since so few people even know this little gem exists.

The easiest way to get to this restaurant is to take the boat from the Magic Kingdom, making it a great break from the park.  Trail’s End is located right next to the location for the Hoop Dee Doo Revue at the Pioneer Hall area of Fort Wilderness.  It just happens the boat dock where guests can catch a ferry to the Magic Kingdom is just a hop skip and a jump from the restaurant.  If you drive yourself there is no parking in the immediate area of Trail’s End and guests must park at the large parking lot at the entrance to the camp ground.  You must leave your car and take the internal bus to the restaurant.  So if you drive yourself allow time for travel between the parking lot and Pioneer Hall.

As I said, a buffet is spread out for guests throughout the day.  In the morning the standard breakfast fare was offered including Mickey waffles, fresh fruit, eggs, and lots of other goodies. The cost of the breakfast smorgasbord is $13.99 for adults and $8.99 for kids.  At lunch time the menu includes salads, fried chicken, and chili. Lunch will set you back $16.99 for adults and $9.99 for children.  And at dinner they add onto the lunch menu with peel and eat shrimp, ribs, and a carving station for a cost of $20.99 for adults and $11.99 for the younger set.

We were originally going to head here for dinner the night Tent Fest’s night of camping, but the guys from wdwtoday surprised us with a barbecue at the camp site so we skipped it.  However, we made the point of heading there for breakfast after a night in the tent in 38 degree weather.   My friends and I took the bus from our campsite loop over Pioneer Hall and were seated immediately.  I thought the food at breakfast was pretty good.  It is by no means a gourmet experience, but it hit the spot.  Service was good and we were in and out fairly quickly.  The only thing I thought was odd was guests must go outside to a separate entrance to use the rest rooms (it doesn’t seem like fun in the rain).  All these things being said, I would certainly go back again and maybe I’ll try lunch or dinner next time.

If you have big eaters in your family this would be a great value.  Teenage boys could go to town with this buffet for a reasonable price.  I also suggest heading there mid-morning for brunch and loading up so you can skip lunch and just have dinner elsewhere during your touring.  Trail’s End is a great option to keep in the back of your mind for last minute meals and a good deal.  Have readers headed to this restaurant before?  What do you think of it?

To keep with the Fort Wilderness theme I’ll discuss my stay there next week…

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

18 thoughts on “Happy Campers at Trail’s End

  • April 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I love Trails End because of it’s low(er) price point, good food and no frills reservations. The chili is my favorite dish and a great strategy is to make a 11:30-noon ADR (or just show up at between that time) and when seated, the breakfast buffet will still be out and when you go up next, lunch should be out, so you get two buffets for the price of breakfast!

    • April 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks, Matt! When I go for lunch or dinner I’ll be sure to try the chili! Listening to you talk about how great it is on wdwtoday was part of my motivation for trying it. Thanks for the tip about making it a two for one meal.

  • April 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Went there for the first time this past December 2009 for the lunch buffet. MAYBE half full, the staff was great (I think our host/server said he was football great Warren Sapp’s former HS teammate), and the food was good. I especially liked the chili and cornbread. Definitely worth the $16.99. Wish I would have known about the ferry, although we usually don’t go to Magic Kingdom until evening, I think we went between AK and Epcot.

    By the by – I’m a bigger guy (6’4, 215), so the all-you-can eat factor was great.

    • April 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks, E! I’m glad you had a good experience. Next time you’ll enjoy it even more with the added bonus of a boat ride. Thanks for reading!

  • April 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    We tried Trails End for the first time in December 2009 with some friends from Reunion. I totally agree that it’s a hidden gem! I also think it’s a great option for pickier eaters that enjoy simple food.

    The pulled pork BBQ was outstanding, and we both left quite full. It’s not gourmet, but it’s just plain good! It’s a great option for a respite from the crowds at Magic Kingdom.

    • April 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

      Glad you liked it Elisabeth! Maybe we’ll have to go at reunion again. It’s the sort of place that could handle our group that seems to be growing by the day!

  • April 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    My husband and I love Trails End! As annual passholders we get a chance to eat there frequently. Their breakfast is my favorite meal. My husband gets tired of me talking about how amazing their french toast is! 🙂 There’s never a wait there; and I think this is by far the best value for your money as far as Disney dining goes, especially if you have a Tables in Wonderland membership.

    • April 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm

      That’s great that you guys can make use of it so often! I agree that you get a lot of bang for the buck, especially with Tables in Wonderland. Thanks for reading!

  • April 14, 2010 at 1:20 am

    We LOVE Trails End!!
    Every January, my Mother, Sister, older Brother, and myself drive to Florida from Illinois, to visit our younger Brother. We try to stay 2 nights in a Cabin at Fort Wilderness, the rest of the time at my brothers home.
    While at Fort Wilderness, we go to Trails End on our rented Golf Car every morning for Breakfast. It is a wonderful way to start the day!!

  • April 14, 2010 at 8:22 am

    We tried Trails End in ’04 and loved it. Maybe we’ll have to get back there when we go in Dec. Does anyone know if the ferry from MK to FW accommodates an ECV? We didn’t have one last time, but do now. Thanks!

    • April 14, 2010 at 8:40 am

      The boats I’ve seen going back and forth to FW always look to be larger than the little ones that go back and forth to Poly and GF. I don’t know for sure but they look like they could handle an ECV. I think the best thing to do would be to call FW and find out for sure. Let us know what you find out. Thanks for reading!

  • April 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Can anyone suggest how long we should expect it to take from the MK gate to FW for lunch at Trails End? How often are the boats running at that time of day? Thanks!

    • April 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

      I’d give yourself an hour just to be safe. Odds are it will take more like 30-45 minutes by boat but you never know.

      • April 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm

        Thanks, Matt. It’s one of those things that I’d like to do, but it’s always difficult to talk the family into taking an hour out of a busyish morning for a trip out there. Esp. since they like CP’s lunch buffet.

  • April 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    by Matt Hochberg on April 13th, 2010 at 12:11 pm CDT I love Trails End because of it’s low(er) price point, good food and no frills reservations. The chili is my favorite dish and a great strategy is to make a 11:30-noon ADR (or just show up at between that time) and when seated, the breakfast buffet will still be out and when you go up next, lunch should be out, so you get two buffets for the price of breakfast!

    So, if we go at 11:20, breakfast will still be out? What time do they change to lunch?

    • April 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

      Yes, 11:20 should be fine. Breakfast is usually left out till about noon, but if you are seated before 11:30, you only have to pay for breakfast prices even though you get lunch food as well. 🙂

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