The first full day of this trip was originally supposed to be enjoyed at Legoland. However, as months went by, Legoland was looking less and less appealing compared to a new plan to spend a park-free day at Disney World. Visiting Fort Wilderness and Disney Springs for the first time eventually won out and we switched our Day Two plans several months out.
We would be meeting up with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend for the day and decided to allow Disney transportation to chauffeur us, rather than driving as we usually do, so that we wouldn’t have to repark the car multiple times and we could stay together all day. They would be driving in from a nearby town and join us when we finished breakfast.
We had an 8:45 AM reservation for the Sunday brunch buffet at Trail’s End in Fort Wilderness. The plan was to leave Pop Century on a Magic Kingdom-bound bus, proceed straight to the resort boat launch, and sail away to Fort Wilderness. From the dock, the Settlement where Trail’s End is located is just a short walk.
Our first glimpse of the Kingdom following our transportation switch from bus to boat (above) and the water bridge over the road to the Contemporary and the Magic Kingdom (below).
A dining reservation at a Disney resort is a foreign concept to us and while the fine print on reservations recommends allowing up to an hour and a half for transportation, I didn’t think time would be a concern early on a Sunday morning. We allowed an hour, but the bus to Magic Kingdom didn’t pull away from Pop Century until 8:00 and we stepped up to the front porch at Trail’s End nearly hour later following our bus and boat rides. Disney transportation estimates are no joke!
I was quite worried about the time when we reached the boat launch at Magic Kingdom and expressed my concern to a deckhand who assured me that our reservation was not in jeopardy of being cancelled due to our tardiness. Lesson learned, though, as few situations stress me out more than being late!
We were promptly seated in a half empty Trail’s End dining room by a friendly server. We aren’t accustomed to big breakfasts but we usually rope drop the parks so we took advantage of a rare opportunity to try a Disney breakfast. The boys enjoyed their first-ever Mickey waffles and we loaded our plates with bacon, eggs, sausage and gravy, cinnamon rolls, and fruit. The roasted carved turkey earned a top rating and second helping from Gavin.
I’ve read that Trail’s End offers one of the best buffets on property. We have nothing to compare it to as this was our first Disney buffet. The food wasn’t as spectacular as I was expecting from the reviews, but it was certainly good with rustic surroundings that we enjoyed and was a great way to begin our first full day of the trip.
After losing my camera lens cap in a clumsy moment over an unfortunate gap between porch boards, we walked over to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch to visit the Disney horses. Jasper loves horses but, unfortunately, isn’t old enough for the Fort Wilderness trail rides, so we visited the stables for his horse fix.
On the grounds surrounding the stable, the ponies were enjoying their breakfasts while wearing fashionable raincoats on the cool, drizzly morning. Jasper met the height limit for pony rides with just an inch to spare so I led him on the paths. Strawberry was a great pony, obviously well-conditioned to travel the paths without any directional coaching from me. We only wished he walked a bit slower as the eight dollar ride was over in only five minutes. But, Jasper loved his time on Strawberry and the five-minute pony ride would be one of his most enduring memories from the entire week.
Canoeing was next on the agenda so we walked over to the bus stop to take one of Fort Wilderness’ internal buses from the Settlement to the Meadow Depot. There, canoes can be rented and launched from the Bike Barn. We were told that the canoes weren’t officially available that morning, but we were readily offered them anyway and warned that weather conditions were “hazardous” so we were on our own if we got into trouble. Considering that the drizzles had ceased completely and the wind had barely rustled the leaves for hours, we took our chances in the “hazardous” conditions.
Canoers with any sort of experience likely won’t find the Fort Wilderness canals enticing, but they provided a relaxing morning, especially being the only two canoes on the water. We paddled along the canal all the way to the Bay Lake spillway before turning back and detoured through the narrower streams. There, we saw our first non-avian wildlife, a lovely family of deer.
Following the hour-long canoe ride, we browsed the Meadow Trading Post before catching a bus to the Outpost. There, a Disney Springs bus was just arriving as we walked up to the bus stop. Perfect timing!