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Disney Dining Review of Trail’s End Breakfast Buffet

Disney Dining Review of Trail’s End Breakfast Buffet

Finding a place to eat breakfast at Disney World certainly is easy enough.  Likewise, there are several eateries that offer a buffet for those wishing to sample a variety of morning meal staples.  However, that breakfast bonanza for a family of four or more generally costs as much as a down payment for a new car.  Yet, there is a hidden jewel among Disney breakfast buffets tucked away among the pines and RVs of Fort Wilderness—Trail’s End restaurant.  Here you will find not only your obligatory bacon, eggs, sausage, and potatoes but other, more unique delights such as barbeque pulled pork eggs benedict (which is far tastier than it may sound), vegetable frittata, and warm pecan cinnamon buns with ooey-gooey icing.  Best of all, it won’t break the bank.

 

Generally speaking, neither my wife nor I eat much breakfast.  We’re breakfast minimalists, surviving on such fare as coffee, yolk-less scrambled eggs, coffee, toaster pastries, and more coffee (Note:  my wife says to inform you she eats the yolk-less eggs, I the toaster pastries).  However, when we’re on vacation, we want to feel as if we’re on vacation, free from the drudgery of a just-wait-til-lunch approach morning mentality.  This feeling was especially apparent on our last visit which, if you’ve been following along on my other reviews, was our wedding trip.  The day after the ceremony, a few of us wanted a place offering warm comfort food for breakfast, a spot that was convenient (we were staying in the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge), a restaurant where we could walk up and be seated with a party of five, and a place that wouldn’t deplete our bank account.  We deemed Trail’s End at Fort Wilderness as the perfect location.

We arrived around 9:30 and were immediately seated.  We’ve eaten breakfast here before and have never seen it crowded.  This particular morning was no different as there were several tables available.  Our server warmly greeted us and offered to bring our choice of juice and coffee.  From there, we were directed to the buffet-style offerings located at several food stations scattered in the main kitchen area.  One food bar consisted of the staples:  sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, biscuits, and cheesy grits.  The sausage was juicy, plump, and didn’t have much fennel or pepper, textually making it a delight to eat if perhaps lacking a bit of spice.  The bacon was average, but that’s not a bad thing at Disney where at some restaurants the bacon is as thin and tasteless as wallpaper.  The biscuits, gravy, and potatoes were perfectly fine but not memorable, the eggs quite fluffy and moist, while the cheesy grits lacked bite.  They seemed to lack cheese, actually.  Still, with a bit of doctoring (more butter and extra cheese), they were tasty enough.

 

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A second buffet offered a departure from typical fare as it contained a breakfast pizza with eggs, peppers, sausage, and onions; breakfast potatoes with the smoky pulled pork; the vegetable frittata; and the aforementioned eggs benedict.   With eggs benedict, the trick is to wait for the kitchen to bring out a fresh tray and hope they didn’t overcook the eggs to start.  The nearly empty bin sparked hope that a new batch was en route, though I helped myself to one of those remaining anyway.  The vegetable frittata looked inviting with all sorts of peppers, onions, and mushrooms swimming in a light, airy egg batter, so I scooped some of that, as well.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I helped myself to a little bit of everything!  It’s vacation, remember?

Living in an area that hosts the state barbeque competition, I’m rarely impressed with pulled pork in most restaurants; however, Trail’s End does a solid job—the pork is slightly sweet with the mild pungency of smoke adding heft, especially in the case of the eggs benedict which is a tough dish to pull off on a buffet as the yolk tends to get overcooked to the point of being hard-boiled.  Still, as I forked into the egg, I was surprised to find the yolk largely runny.  The tangy/sweet, smoky pork served as the perfect vehicle for the buttery texture of the egg yolk—they were a heavenly match.  I could have eaten that alone and been happy with my meal.  I do wish the kitchen would toast the English muffins, however, as they sorely lacked the crunchy texture needed to support the eggs and pork.  If Trail’s End toasted their muffins, I would rate the pulled pork eggs benedict as one of my top 10 eats in all of Disney World.  Still, they were darn good and worth the extra calories.  Oh, and as I made my second trip to the food stations, I saw a CM put out a hot pan full of freshly cooked eggs benedict. . .I might have gotten another one.

Beyond that dish, the breakfast potatoes with pulled pork and the breakfast pizza caught my eye.  The potatoes, despite being overdone, had the bite of pepper and the smokiness of the pork so were a treat, while the pizza was stacked with a variety of toppings and offered you a one-stop option to all things breakfast.  I don’t know that the sum of all its parts elevated the dish; you get a mix of flavors from ingredients that rightfully each deserved its own stage, though the crust did add a welcome bit of crunch.  Finally, the vegetable frittata was a bit of a disappointment as it lacked seasoning.  Sure, you can add your own salt and pepper, but it’s not the same as using them during cooking, and the vegetables themselves needed proper spices—think a hint of paprika with a deft touch of garlic and white pepper—something to bring out their muted flavors.

On my second trip, I noticed two separate food bars with fresh fruit on one and cereal on the other, neither of which offered anything extraordinary unless bananas, watermelon, and fruit circles cereal are your kryptonite.  Additionally, there was a third area serving an odd collection:  yogurt (blueberry or plain), a fresh berry mixture, a moonshine juice (don’t worry, no alcohol is involved although that might have improved its taste), and the strangest dish on the menu—a chilled quinoa citrus salad.  I like quinoa; I like citrus; I don’t know that I enjoy them together.  It tasted just as you’d imagine, a rather grainy, tangy, sweet concoction that may be really good for you, but it’s tough to get beyond the funky taste and texture.  Still, I applaud the kitchen for taking risks.  There was also a large, double-sided island buffet containing breads that included bagels, pastries, muffins, and those yummy-looking pecan buns resting above the others in a cast-iron skillet.  Just the notion of offering homemade pecan buns with caramel sauce drizzled over them in a type of pan I often use at home made this dish immediately appealing.  The buns were very sticky, very gooey, and no doubt will severely impact a person’s caloric intake—be warned.  Finally, this island also offered smoked salmon and cream cheese to go along with a bagel or to be eaten on its own.

Although I had sampled nearly every item in the restaurant, along the way I managed to save a bit of room for the Mickey waffles provided at the last station.  That’s right.  I said Mickey waffles, those iconic, puffy, crunchy pastries loved by legions.  On the one hand, I applaud them for having Mickey waffles; conversely, I must say that these were a disappointment since they were made en masse and then tossed under the heated lights of the bar where they quickly lost that delicate crunch and aroma.  You have the choice of regular or chocolate (chocolate, duh), and you can then add syrup.  That’s it.  Yes, you can get butter elsewhere on another station, and the same goes for berries or bananas or whatever floats your boat, but it’s just not the same as a fresh, made-to-order waffle with the toppings added right then and there.  Still, I grabbed a couple and soldiered on.  Also on that station was a hot berry cobbler (too sweet) and French toast sticks (bland), so the Mickey waffles were easily the best option and a fitting (though slightly disappointing) end to a successful meal.

While you won’t find five-star food here, there are a handful of triumphs on the menu.  These standouts, coupled with the current pricing of $15.99 for adults and $9.99 for kids, make the breakfast buffet at Trail’s End one of the best meal values in the World and why I rate it four stars out of five.  For now, it remains one of the hidden gems of morning dining.

F.A.S.T. Review

Food:  The fare here won’t be mistaken for a Michelin star-rated restaurant; then again, it is just breakfast.  Predominantly, the food is under seasoned, though that’s a personal preference.  Still, a few of their dishes sparkle such as the pulled pork eggs benedict, breakfast potatoes, and the warm pecan buns.  Expect the usual breakfast fare to be hot, fresh for a buffet-style meal, and plentiful.

Atmosphere:  In a word, rustic.  The restaurant is housed in a log cabin-style building, so you would expect to find wood inside and you do.  There is nothing particularly appealing about the interior; nonetheless, it is clean, homey, and inviting.  It’s very much a family restaurant with numerous larger tables to accommodate your clan.  We found it to be relatively quiet and conducive to table talk.  However, don’t be surprised to spark a conversation with a neighboring table as the down-home feeling makes everyone your friend, as if you’re sharing one of Disney’s better kept dining secrets.  Further, due to its rather remote location, many of the patrons are staying at Fort Wilderness, and I can tell you from experience that they are some of the friendliest people you will encounter on vacation.

Service:   As this is a buffet, you expect to have limited contact with your server, but that was far from the case.  Our CM constantly checked on us, refilled our drinks, and engaged in bright conversation.  He brought just the right amount of alertness, promptness, and cheer to our dining experience.  Those CMs behind the food stations ensured the dishes were replenished in a timely manner.  While you don’t go to Trail’s End to experience great service, certainly the service you get should be excellent and ours was.

Tips:  Don’t drink the coffee.  Seriously, bring your own.  In all fairness, the others dining with me thought the coffee was passable—I found it watery and tasteless.  As Trail’s End is a bit on the edge of the Disney World universe, it can be a difficult path to travel.  If you have a car, the drive is fairly simple except you have to park in a lot in the “back 40” then either walk or take an in-resort bus to the restaurant.  You can catch a bus at a park that will drop you off near the restaurant, and there is the boat option if you are at the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort, or the Wilderness Lodge.

However, if you are staying at the Wilderness Lodge, I suggest you walk along the paved trail that stretches between the two resorts.  It’s a 15-minute walk and will help you burn off all those extra calories you added with that second helping of pulled pork eggs benedict.

About Patrick Butler

I’m retired Air Force, having served over 21 years on active duty. Because of my fairly extensive military travels, preparing, eating, and writing about food became a few of my favorite pastimes after running, biking, golfing, and hanging out around Disney whenever possible. My wife is a certified Disney-holic and foodie also, thus she helps feed our combined urges to create adventurous meals and to head south to Florida on a regular basis. In fact, we love Disney so much that we were married at our second home, the Wilderness Lodge, and dined at Artist Point for our reception. We are quietly planning what to do with our money once we win the lottery; I’m quite certain living at Disney for months at a time will be included.