Discovering a Gem at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
There is so much to do at Disney World and often we plan big. On our last trip, which was in March of 2010, we realized our budget would not allow for park tickets for all eight days of our stay. We opted for a 5 day hopper and decided to leave three days open for pure exploration and whimsy. One of these days which started as a fly by the seat of our pants kind of day, ended as one of our most memorable to date.
As guests of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge we decided one sunny morning that we would spend our day at Fort Wilderness Campground. My husband and I strolled to the campground along the trail that connects the two resorts. We spotted several deer and armadillos (which we found fascinating and later learned that the locals find them to be a nuisance!)
When we arrived at Fort Wilderness we lingered around the pony petting area admiring the petite animals as they ate their breakfast. We toured the barn where the horses that pull the trolleys on Main Street USA reside and reviewed the role of horses in the history of Disney World. We then made our way to the Tri Circle D Ranch where we decided to take a guided horseback ride. This was hands down the most fun “extra curricular” activity we have done at Disney! The ride itself was quite tame, but the guides were hilarious and so informative! We got tons of inside stories and tips! My husband and I were the only ones on the trail ride so it was very personal. We both enjoyed every minute of it! We took the first ride of the morning which was extremely peaceful and the heat of the sun had not yet made being outdoors unbearable.
After our ride we tipped our guides and headed to the Trails End Restaurant for a late breakfast. The prices were great and the food was even better! All you care to enjoy biscuits and gravy, Mickey waffles, grits, muffins, bacon, and cinnamon buns left us ready to pop!
To digest we sat on the beach and watched the world go by. We played horse shoes, had a few cocktails and snacks at Crockets Tavern, and generally lazed our afternoon away. We played checkers and jenga on the tavern porch and for a moment we were not in Disney World, but back at the turn of the century when things were simple and life was not decorated by the noise of ipods, TV’s, or cell phones.
We rented bicycles and toured the campground and as the sun began to set we made our way to the nightly campfire where we ate marshmallows with Chip and Dale and even joined in on a sing along!
Our night completed with a 9:30 showing of the Hoop Dee Doo Review at Pioneer Hall. Since we were attending the final performance of the evening we were able to get seats last minute in the tier three section of the hall. The seats were actually great, but for those of you who have not been to Pioneer Hall, there really is not a bad seat in the house. The show was outstanding and one I recommend to all of my friends. It was funny, upbeat, and the food really hit the spot!
We made our way back to the lodge having experienced a slower side of Disney, a side that was welcomed and refreshing. Now, each time we return, we try to block off a bit of time to visit Fort Wilderness and take in the world that once was.
By Jessica Hayes