Sometimes I need a vacation after my vacation to Disney. Up at the crack of dawn for rope drop, running from one end of the park to another for fastpasses and character meets, staying up late for the fireworks or even the Kiss Goodnight; It can really tire me out sometimes. Luckily for me, all I have to do is take a breath and realize that this IS a vacation. I can go at a slower pace and not spend all day, every day in a park. The resorts and Disney Springs nee Downtown Disney area have just as much to offer if you merely look.
After a few days of hitting the parks hard on our last trip, we decided to slow it down and spend a day enjoying our favorite resort area: the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. The night before our “break” we checked with the front desk at our resort for reservations for horseback riding at the campgrounds. They had two openings so we signed up.
My husband and I had wanted to go horseback riding for quite a while; It was part of my bucket list in fact. We had researched places in our home state to go, but why settle for an ordinary horse, when you could go horseback riding on a Disney horse? It just seems even more magical.
The morning of our ride we slowly moseyed our way over to the Wilderness Lodge for breakfast at Whispering Canyon (a real hoot of a time), then decided to walk over to the stables. It was a nice morning and we still had plenty of time before our scheduled ride. Words of Wisdom: even if you think you have plenty of time, do not dawdle, the casual walk turned into a frenzied fast pace hustle. There was construction going on and we had to back track to the Lodge and take a bus. What could have been a 15 minute walk now had turned into a 10 minute walk followed by a 20 minute wait for a campground bus. Once the bus arrived and we were on our way to the stables, we started to relax. It was going to be fine; we still had 30 minutes before we were supposed to be there for the obligatory safety lesson.
We got off the bus when we saw the stables and followed another couple over to that area. However, once there we couldn’t find any horses. These were all ponies. Now we had no idea where we were supposed to be going and panic started to set in again. Luckily the “ranch hands” in that area were able give us directions and call over to the correct stables and let them know we were on our way. Back to the bus stop and some more waiting for another inner loop bus.
By the time we finally arrived at the correct location, we had 5 minutes to spare as we walked up to the horse corral. Seems you need to go to the building across the way for registration and weigh in first. We both were starting to sweat now as we speed walked to the building. There was, of course, a family in front of us who were just inquiring about the program and pricing. After not so patiently waiting for them to leave, we registered and were sent back to the corral just in time to have a helmet thrown our way. We had missed the whole safety lesson. Being the first time either of us had been on a horse, this frightened me a bit. But it was our own fault, so we saddled up.
It was explained to me that I was going to have to keep my horse back from the one in front of us during the ride, as my guy liked to “tailgate” and the other horse really didn’t like mine. That rider and I just looked at each other with dread. I spent most of the ride worrying that I was going to invade the leading horse’s personal space and make him angry. My husband was behind me on a horse that liked to do his own thing and munch on vegetation along the way. He had to continually try to keep him on the trail and out of the weeds. For the most part, the horses are all trained to follow one after another with little guidance from the rider. There also are two trail guides who accompany the group in case a rider has some issues. The trail is mostly through the wooded areas of the campgrounds where other guests are not permitted. The experience was not as relaxing as I imagined it would be, but I think if we would have not gotten lost and arrived on time, we may have felt differently.
Overall, I don’t think horseback riding is something I would want to do all the time. My butt is not meant to spend 45 minutes in a leather saddle. But, being able to go horseback riding on a Disney horse…something I would encourage everyone to try at least once.
Where: Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, located at the campground’s main entrance
Where it is not: the pony stables by Trails End
When: every day weather permitting; 8:30am, 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm
*Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 30 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-PLAY. There are only 20 riders maximum per time slot.
* Riders must be 9 years and older, 48” tall and up, and weigh less than 250#.
* Cost is $46 per person.
* No double riders.
* Closed toe shoes are required and long pants are recommended.
* Purses, cameras, backpacks, etc. are not permitted. Lockers are provided.
* Arrive 30 minutes early for weigh in (purely confidential) and safety training.