Trail’s End is a Walt Disney World institution. They recently reopened with a new family style skillet for breakfast and dinner, rather than the buffet Trail’s End was known for. With the new Trail’s End family style options, new plant-based vegan versions of the skillets also became available. We visited on opening night for the Trail’s End vegan dinner and the next day for breakfast and will share our review here with you. I’ll put the Trail’s End breakfast review in a separate post. We also have a video covering both Trail’s End vegan dinner and breakfast reviews, which you can watch below.
Before we get into the food, I wanted to note that I have personally celebrated countless birthdays and other celebrations at Trail’s End for years and years. Once becoming vegan, these celebrations were even more magical with folks like Chef TJ making the experience so special for those who usually have to try and find the one or two items they can actually eat. When Chef TJ moved to a different location, it was a sad time at Trail’s End, but we made it through with the plant-based skillet which featured vegan mac and cheese, beans, green beans, jackfruit and sausage. (We also followed Chef TJ to Cape May for vegan fun there). Then, everything closed. With the reopening and removal of all buffets, Trail’s End has switched to a family style service for everyone, not just vegans.
Which brings us to our current status. The new Trail’s End vegan family style skillet. For the plant-based service, I will say right off the bat, it was a big disappointment.
As I note in our video review, I understand that everyone’s tastes are different and something that I might love and rave about, may not work for someone else. Similarly, things that I don’t enjoy, may be some of your favorites. So take my review with a grain of salt.
First up, let me also preface that I am not a fan of gluten-free bread products. I know that for some people, this is a must, and a life-saver to have these gluten-free options. I certainly don’t want to take away from those options for you all. That said, I really, really wish Disney would make the effort to provide some vegan options that weren’t necessarily gluten-free out of convenience. Veganism is not an allergy, it’s a whole lifestyle and life choice. There are countless ways to make vegan/plant-based baked goods that don’t involve gluten-free-only choices. Our recent visit to Citricos is a perfect example of how there can be vegan bread service that is the same bread service every guest enjoys. I make vegan corn bread at home, it’s not gluten-free, and it’s delicious. So my review will definitely be skewed by the fact that about 85% of the options for vegans here are gluten-free.
The bread service on our visit was abysmal. Again, we were there opening night, so there were probably some kinks to work out. That said, we were given the gluten-free hamburger bun as our bread. The other item in our bread basket was the gluten-free shortcake, which used to be served with the plant-based Strawberry Shortcake dessert. It came with a vegan “pimento cheese” which tasted like daiya cheese shreds that had been melted together with some sort of pimento oil. It was very separated, very grainy, and not good, especially being served with a hamburger bun and a strawberry shortcake bread.
After consulting the menu, I see that “strawberry preserves” were supposed to be served with the bread basket. That made the shortcake make more sense, but we asked several times and never got the preserves. Additionally, since I knew they had served gluten-free corn bread, and it was supposed to come with the bread basket, I asked. After a lot of confusion, the chef came out and said he would bring some corn bread. What he eventually brought out was little mini-muffin-sized versions of….the gluten-free shortcake bread!
Additionally, the issue with most of the gluten-free bread options is they heat them up in the microwave or something and then within seconds, they turn to rocks. We tried to pull apart one of the little muffins and actually couldn’t. I tried not to be too frustrated by this, because it is just the bread course.
The salad was then brought out with corn bread croutons, which was really the only corn bread I got all night, so even tho they had also become rock hard and stale, I ate them because I was missing the corn bread experience. The salad was uneventful, very basic, but fresh and delicious.
Next up came our vegan dinner platter. Served the same way as the plant-based dinner before closing, it is brought out on a silver tray with various bowls of side items and components served on brown paper. The choices given to us were: Beyond sausage (changed from the Field Roast brand served previously) on a bed of tomato sauce, Gardein brand fried chick’n cutlet, corn on the cob, and then dishes of BBQ jackfriut, fingerling potatoes, and grilled green beans.
Let’s start with the good. The grilled green beans were delicious. Just the right amount of char and full of flavor, with the perfect texture. A great improvement from the canned-tasting green beans featured before closure. Corn on the cob was corn on the cob. Ours was not grilled, while the corn in the meat-skillet was. I assume this was due to cross-contamination, but the beans were the same in both so I’m not sure. It was still good corn.
The fingerling potatoes were very basic. No real seasoning, just plain potatoes. The BBQ jackfruit was the same as before. Very “poured from a can and mixed with BBQ sauce” which is sad. I am not a huge jackfruit fan, but when done right, it’s great. I love it on the Regal Eagle burger and with the brat served during the Festival of the Arts.
My favorite parts were actually the beyond sausage and the Gardein chick’n, which is kind of sad, because I could’ve just made that at home after a quick trip to Publix. The use of tomato sauce was kind of odd, but I get that if you’re using an Italian “sausage” you want to match that flavor profile.
Now, dessert. The big to-do here is they now bring out a giant clear cowboy hat that is similar to a mini kitchen sink from Beaches & Cream. What’s in the non-vegan one is vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint-chip ice cream, topped with sauces, cowboy-themed sugar cookies, brownie, and shortcake, whipped cream, chocolate covered bacon, toasted marshmallows sprinkles and cherries. The vegan version is Tofutti brand ice cream, with non-dairy whipped cream, and sprinkles. The whole thing is served on…wait for it…a gluten-free shortcake bread! with an Enjoy Life brand sugar cookie and chocolate cookie, both of which are also gluten-free.
The Tofutti tasted off to me, I’m not sure why. It did seem like this had been pre-done and sitting in the freezer or something, so maybe that’s why. When I’ve had the same ice cream at Beaches & Cream, it tastes like a delicious butter pecan even tho it’s vanilla. This tasted like soy milk and not much else. Very odd. The shortcake had already turned to stone under the ice cream and was pretty much inedible. I don’t personally care for the Enjoy Life cookies, so the whole thing was a bit of a downer, with not even a chocolate sauce or anything else to add to it.
At the end of the night, I just felt really let down by a place that used to be a favorite spot. Everything that came out was frustrating because it didn’t taste good to me, and left me wanting something that *did* taste good. It’s $29.99 now vs. the old buffet price of $39.99, but $30 for a Beyond sausage and a Gardein Chick’n cutlet was pretty disappointing.
Again, I understand that Disney has to be accommodating to those with gluten sensitivities, and this is the easiest way to feed two birds with one scone. I also get that things are still not back to normal operation, capacity, and staffing. Taking all of that into account, I just cannot recommend Trail’s End for dinner, unless you ARE gluten-free, or love gluten-free breads and jackfruit enough to make it worth while. I will probably not be going back, or if I do, I’ll just go without bread and possibly dessert, and ask if I can get extra beans instead of the jackfruit.
Hopefully Disney can figure out a way to bring buffets back, or find a way to educate Chefs or those creating the menus to work on some more creative plant-forward dishes that include vegan breads that aren’t gluten-free exclusive.
I did enjoy the breakfast a bit more, so if you are choosing between the services, I’d pick that one. We’ll link to that review here once it’s posted. Until then, you can watch our video review of Trail’s End here:
Be sure to tag us in all of your Trail’s End photos at @vegandisneyfood on instagram with hashtag #vegandisneyfood – let us know if you had a better experience than we did with these options.
LOOKING FOR VEGAN OPTIONS IN THE THEME PARKS, WATER PARKS AND DISNEY SPRINGS?
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LOOKING FOR VEGAN OPTIONS IN THE WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT HOTELS?
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