REVIEW: Updated Smokehouse Skillet & New Mason Jar Desserts at Trail’s End Restaurant Are a Solid Improvement at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

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When Trail’s End Restaurant reopened last year without its signature buffet, we found the experience to be quite satisfactory, and were pleased with the dinner options. Now, the Fort Wilderness eatery has made a few changes to its menu, so we hiked on down to check it out!

Menu

Trail’s End Family-style Dinner is $29.99 per adult and $17.99 per child, plus tax and gratuity. The pricing is the same for the plant-based version.

Trail’s End Family-style Dinner

Skillet Cornbread

with Honey Butter (Plant-based version available upon request)

The cornbread is really nice and moist. It’s not as good as the cornbread at “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” next door (which hasn’t reopened yet), but still a very good example of cornbread. The only thing that would have made it better is if it was served warm.

Plant-based Breads

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The plant-based breads were essentially the same ones we had with breakfast but in different formats. We got a whole loaf of the cornbread, with the same good flavor, but still a little too dense.

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The shortbread-like muffins were warm this time, which made them more enjoyable. They were still very sweet but a bit too gritty in texture. The pimento spread that came with the plant-based plate is very oily, and the oil appears to be separating from the spread. The flavor is there, but the texture is strange and off-putting.

Chopped Salad 

Mixed Greens, Grape Tomatoes, Red Onions, Cucumbers, White Cheddar and Cornbread Croutons with warm Bacon Vinaigrette (Plant-based version available upon request)

This is a nice, refreshing salad option. It comes with mixed greens, cucumber, red onion, white cheddar, and cornbread croutons with a bacon apple cider vinaigrette. You can definitely taste the apple cider in the dressing, but we enjoyed it. It complements the salad quite well.

Plant-based Salad

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This is similar to the regular salad but without the cheese. The croutons were plant-based, and they had a more basic vinaigrette (without the bacon, of course). The croutons were very dense, chewy, and overly sweet, but otherwise, this was just as enjoyable.

Smokehouse Skillet 

Pecan-smoked Brisket, Smoked Chicken, Pulled Pork, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Buttered Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Barbecue and Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce (Plant-based version available upon request)

The corn is well seasoned. It looked overcooked, but it was not. Instead, it had a nice crunch and a bit of char to enhance the flavor. The potatoes had good flavor, but were inconsistently cooked. Some were perfect, and some were a bit undercooked. Overall, they were very enjoyable.

The brisket was very fatty but nice and tender. It’s a bit bland, but it’s delicious with the barbecue sauce added.

The chicken is smoky and has a good spice, but there’s no salt on the chicken as it comes. However, once you add a bit of salt and barbecue sauce, it’s good. It was tender and moist, with a nice bit of crispiness on the skin. The beloved fried chicken has also made its full return to the menu. Previously you had to request its addition.

The green beans were al dente, so depending on how you like your beans, these are either perfectly cooked or underdone. They had a nice garlic flavor and were very fresh.

The pulled pork is probably the biggest improvement, a welcome addition with a delicious smoky flavor.

Dinner Add-Ons

Peel-n-Eat Shrimp Boil — $8.99

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These are basic peel and eat shrimp with old bay. You get an excellent portion for the price. They’re a little small, so you have to do more work, but it’s worth it.

Half-slab Memphis-rubbed Pork Spare Ribs — $9.99

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These ribs are pretty mediocre. The crisp crust on the ribs is flavorful, and the meat is tender, though a little dry. They work well with the barbecue sauce, but we expected a return from the original ribs at Trail’s End.

Cornbread-crusted Salmon — $7.99

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The salmon was very good, better than we expected. It comes with a breadcrumb crust in an adorable little skillet atop a pool of lobster andouille cream sauce. A smidge overcooked, but we enjoyed it. The shrimp also worked well in the sauce.

Plant-based Smokehouse Skillet 

Beyond Italian Sausage, Gardein Chick’n, BBQ Jackfruit, Fingerling Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn on the Cob, and Chipotle BBQ Sauce

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We were pleasantly surprised by all of the plant-based choices on the platter. The Beyond sausage was a very good Italian sausage served atop a spread of marinara sauce. We enjoyed this, but the Italian sausage at Trail’s End just doesn’t seem to fit.

The Gardein chicken patty is the same meatless chicken as you’d get in the grocery store. This was good, but nothing remarkable.

The potatoes were actually better on the plant-based platter than the regular platter. These were all well-cooked, as opposed to the regular dish where some were undercooked. The corn was good, crunchier than the regular skillet, but not quite as flavorful since there isn’t regular butter. The beans were a little more cooked than the regular skillet and had a good flavor.

The jackfruit barbecue was a nice approximation of pulled pork with barbecue sauce. The texture is a bit odd, but those familiar with jackfruit will know what to expect.

Mason Jar Dessert Trio

Banana Pudding, Fort Chocolate Mousse, and Candied Apple Pie

Taking the place of the former Covered Wagon Sundae is this new trio of mason jar desserts. A fourth flavor is also available for those who order the plant-based meal — lemon-blueberry trifle.

First up was the Candied Apple Pie dessert. With the color combination and the fact that we’re at Pioneer Hall, we initially assumed this was strawberry shortcake. The sweetened apple, whipped cream, and cake crumbles are a nice combination that provides a pleasant taste. The only problem is it just can’t compete with the other two options on this plate!

In the Fort Chocolate Mousse, the toasted marshmallow and milk chocolate combination is a winner, making it like a memorable s’mores treat. It could use a graham cracker layer to top it off, but it’s still excellent nonetheless.

As for the Banana Pudding? This may be in the conversation for best dessert at a Walt Disney World table service restaurant. The creamy whipped banana pudding is perfectly balanced with the whipped cream. There’s a strong banana flavor on the front end with a sweet finish. Plus, the Nilla Wafer-esque bottom layer is a nice addition; we wish it was layered throughout. Be sure to mix this with the chocolate one to get an amazing taste sensation!

Featured Cocktails

Gullywhumper

Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ Moonshine and Peach Schnapps with Pineapple and Cranberry Juices

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This has an odd, almost floral taste to it. The different flavors of the Peach Schnapps, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice blend together and aren’t discernible individually. This was just okay, but definitely not our favorite drink on the menu.

Strawberry Lightning

Ole Smoky Strawberry Moonshine, Minute Maid® Premium Lemonade, Wild Strawberry, and Sprite®

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Strawberry Lightning is the perfect name for this drink. The strawberry is strong but fresh tasting (not artificial). It was sweet but not overly so with a nice tang. We didn’t really taste the alcohol (but we’re sure it’s there).

Davy’s Lemonade

Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ Moonshine and Minute Maid® Premium Lemonade

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This tastes exactly like the description: Minute Maid lemonade and moonshine. What you expect is what you get, and you can definitely taste the moonshine in this one.

Overall

Overall, we were pleased to find that dinner was a much better experience than breakfast. The price point is quite good for a family-style meal, and the add ons give you a bit more variety beyond what comes in the skillet. And these new changes make for an improvement to the overall experience, but we still want the buffet to return at some point.

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