A Carriage Ride through Fort Wilderness

Jack Spence Masthead

Before I start today’s article, I would like to fill you in on some things that are happening in my personal life.

Don’t worry. I’m not leaving AllEars.


I have decided to downsize from a rather large home to something much more manageable. I have had my house on the market for a short while and it will close escrow next week. I am currently in the process of packing for a move into an apartment while I have a new home built five minutes from Disney World’s back door.

After today’s blog, I will be running repeats for several weeks until I get settled into my temporary quarters. Once that first move is complete, I will have plenty of time to devote to AllEars and new articles. When my new house is finished in August, I plan on taking two months off from AllEars so I can move in and get settled. Once again, I will post reruns during my absence.

I am extremely excited about this move – and I’m extremely stressed out. LOL. But I’m certain that once the dust settles, life will be even better than before. And I’m going to love living so close to Disney.

By the way, you can clearly see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from my new neighborhood.

I’d also like to share an interesting story with you”¦

I started working at Disneyland in 1971. Over the next several years, I worked my way up to “lead” of the Blue Bayou Restaurant. During this time, I got to know a lot of cast members in New Orleans Square. One of these was a guy named Bob who worked at the nearby Café Orleans.

In 1977, I was asked to transfer to the Club 33 as lead/ maître d’hôtel.

At the same time, Bob was promoted from busboy at Café Orleans to lead at the Blue Bayou. In other words, he was backfilling behind me.

After I left Disneyland in 1980, I lost track of Bob.

Fast-forward to 2013. Bob is buying my house.

It’s a small world after all.

Now, on to today’s article

I know it is hard to believe for some of you, but I haven’t experience EVERYTHING at Walt Disney World. I’ve done a lot, but not everything. One of the activities that has been on my bucket list for a long time, but I keep putting off, has been a carriage ride through Fort Wilderness. Every time I visit the Settlement for dinner at Trails End or the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review, I see the horse and buggy parked nearby, beckoning me. Well, I finally decided to stop putting it off and go for it.

Horse and Carriage

A carriage ride is offered at a flat fee of $45 no matter how many people ride. The capacity is four adults or two adults and three small children. The first ride leaves the Settlement at 5:30pm. The ride’s duration is approximately 25 minutes.

Price Guide

Advance reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-PLAY. Same day reservations can be made by calling 407- 824-2832. When making a reservation, $45 will be placed on your credit card. However, it will not be charged to your card unless you are a no-show.

Walk-ups are also available if no one has booked the carriage in advance. Note, the only form of payment accepted is cash or a Disney room charge. Even if you’ve secured the reservation with a credit card, you still will be required to pay cash or use a room charge at the end of your ride.

I was surprised when I crawled into the carriage to find a sign that not only discourages tipping the driver, but actually forbids it completely.

No Tipping

My hostess for the evening was Laurie Lynn. She is the primary driver of the carriages and transports guests around the campground five nights a week. So chances are good if you book a tour, this congenial cast member will be your guide. Laurie Lynn has been tending the reins here for 13 years.

Laurie Lynn and Tom

Before beginning our journey, Laurie Lynn made sure our horse Tom got a good drink of water.

Thirsty Horse

The carriage is quite handsome. Painted maroon, this vehicle features two tan leather seats for guests. One seat faces forward, the other backward. Brass carriage lamps adorn the sides of the carriage. A leather canopy shades the riders.


Jack in Carriage

My journey began across from Crockett’s Tavern. As I passed beside this wilderness watering hole, the folks sitting on the porch all took notice.

Crockett's Tavern

Crockett's Tavern

As we continued riding through the Settlement, guests continued to gawk and stare as we drove by.


After leaving the Trading Post, we turned left and headed into the woods. Nature was all around us. The only sounds we could hear was the clip clop of the horse’s hooves and the occasional bird chip. I felt miles away from everything.

Riding in Nature

Riding in Nature

Riding in Nature

Riding in Nature

Riding in Nature

Laurie Lynn warned me that we might encounter some wildlife. And sure enough, we spotted deer grazing across a canal.

Grazing Deer

Grazing Deer

After about 15 minutes of riding through nature, we turned into one of the camping loops. Once again, heads turned as we drove by. In addition, ol’ Tom piqued the curiosity of more than one campsite dog.

Riding in the Camping Loop

Riding in the Camping Loop



Eventually, we turned onto the main road running through the campground for our return to the Settlement. As we plodded along, it felt a little intimidating when a bus passed us going the other way.

Return Home

Passing Bus

Laurie Lynn told me that the route she takes changes from ride to ride. Much of it depends on her mood, the weather, and the guests.

I enjoyed the carriage ride – and I’d do it again. For most folk, this isn’t something they can do back home so it’s nice to take advantage of the opportunity when you can.

I purposely booked my ride for 5:30 as I wanted it to be light out while touring. But the carriage ride takes place after nightfall for a more romantic experience.

Disney also offers a 45 minute wagon ride through the campground. The price is $8 for adults and $5 for children. The price is cheaper because you ride with a group of people rather than enjoying your own, private carriage. I have yet to experience a wagon ride, but after my positive experience with the carriage, I might be tempted to do so.

I have created a three and a half minute video of my experience. I hope you enjoy the ride.

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42 Replies to “A Carriage Ride through Fort Wilderness”

  1. Jack,
    I see this was an older blog, but I’m wondering what you think about the need for advanced reservations for the ride, or on the wait time for the group ride. I’m going mid-August.

    Jack’s Answer:

    I actually asked my driver about the need for advance reservations (I had them). She said it all depends. Sometimes she stands around doing nothing. Other times, she is booked all evening. If you can nail down your plans in advance, I strongly recommend them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  2. Jack, congrats on your new house in Golden Oak! At least that’s what I’m going to assume 🙂 I love carriage rides through Fort Wilderness, especially at Christmas.

    Hope all is well!

  3. Thank you very much for this post! My husband and I are planning a trip to Disney for next October. Our 5th wedding anniversary falls during the week we’ll be there, and I’ve been trying to find some different things for us to do that are a bit more romantic. An evening carriage ride after dinner sounds fantastic!

  4. Congratulations on your move!! How amazing it would be to live so close to Disney World!! It is a dream of mine that would take a miracle to happen!
    The Carriage ride looks amazing! I wonder if 4 adults and a child could fit. 5 of us saving and preparing for our December 2013 trip! Absolutely can’t wait to Christmas Walt Disney style!!
    Thanks for wetting our appetites with your story!

  5. Good luck with the move Jack. I’m only a teeny weeny bit envious of you having a firework view from your new home.

    Thank you for this blog I now have a new thing I ‘need’ to do at WDW. Another interesting and informative blog.

    Happy New Home 🙂

  6. Jack,

    Thanks so much for this blog and for all you do for us. My question this time is, can you pet the horse? I think I might like to do this sometime but it might be bittersweet if I couldn’t pet the horse! I always have to give myself a stern talking-to to restrain myself from petting guide dogs when they are working. (I do know I’m not supposed to, and I manage to refrain … but I wish I could!)

    Very best wishes on your coming move. I hope it is something you want and not something forced upon you by changing circumstances. May you experience peace and joy in your new home.

    Many thanks, Wendy

    Jack’s Answer:

    Unfortunately, you cannot pet the horses. Our driver made this very clear as soon as she arrived.

    My move came about for many reasons. It’s the right thing to do at the right time. Although I am downsizing, I’m not downgrading. My new home will still offer me all the creature comforts and be decorated from top to bottom in Disney memorabilia.

  7. Jack,

    Whew! For a minute there I thought you were abandoning us! I just referred ALLEARS to a workmate of mine going to Disney in April, about the same time I will be there. She can’t wait to read all about it
    Good luck with the move…It is a pain but going to fresh digs is fun. New chances to decorate, make new friends and fireworks every night! Wow

    Arrgghh,will thar be rum in the new cabin me harty??

  8. Good luck on your move. We’ll look forward to some new material once you are settled!

    Our trips to WDW are usually jam packed with activities. What a nice idea…spending a brief time quietly enjoying the natural beauty of Fort Wilderness! We stayed in the Fort Wilderness Cabins many years ago (before their renovation) and spent a few hours riding the trails on rented bicycles. It was great way to explore the area. A carriage ride sounds like a good alternative now that we’re 20+ years older!

  9. Hey Jack,

    My husband and I did this on the last night of our honeymoon in December. It was so worth it, it put the pretty bow on the end of our trip. Since it was Christmas time all the sites were decorated for the season. It is a definite “must do”. You get that gooshy,warm, melty feeling when you ride and all you hear is the clip clop of the horse’s hooves. Please set aside some money for this trip. I had always wanted to do it and our honeymoon gave me a good excuse to get all snuggly with my honey under the blanket. It actually brought tears to my eyes at the end of the ride, because it made the honeymoon end perfectly.

  10. Jack,

    Fun article and also a great ride when we went on it several years ago. Good luck with your move.
    Since you mentioned 5 minutes outside Disney’s back door and you can see the fireworks from your new house, let me throw out 2 words. SUMMER LAKE….. My wife’s cousin had a house built there,relocated from Indiana and moved in this past December. We visited with them while at Disney. It was fun being able to watch MK fireworks from their front porch. My wife wants to buy a house there now…..VIC

    Jack’s Answer:

    You are very perceptive. Yes, I’m moving to Summerlake. I really like the community and the proximity to Disney. The next six months are going to seem like an eternity as I watch my house being built.

  11. Jack, thank you so very much for your personal insights to one of my favourite places! We were privledged enough to take the carriage ride at FW just before Christmas last year. The campers go all out for the holidays and it was a great way to relax and get away from the hussle and bussle. Our horse was Doug but I can’t remember our driver’s name. I really wish I could. He was one of those special CM that make a Disney vacation truly memorable.

  12. Jack, I gotta ask – are you getting a house at Golden Oak? That’s the only area I can think of that would be so close to Disney where houses are still being built. How exciting and congratulations to you!

    Jack’s Answer:

    No. I did not win the lottery. LOL. Besides, I’ downsizing, not upsizing.

    Actually, there is a lot of new construction directly north and northwest of Disney property. Oddly enough, this area remained undeveloped for all these years until just recently.

  13. Next time go for a night time ride when the campsites are decorated for Halloween or Christmas. You will not be disapointed! We even decorated for Mardi Gras on our last visit.

    Good luck with the move!

  14. Jack,
    Thank you so much for sharing your personal stories from Disney. They are so interesting. You have really done so many interesting things. Congratulations on downsizing. We share your dream and hope to one day live as close as you do. Best of luck with your moving.

  15. Thank you so much for such a clear and detailed description of the ride. Our next trip we are going to schedule a carriage ride because of your articl. Great job…as always. BTW good luck on your new home…you will be missed for the next couple of months!

  16. We’ve started a new tradition – the carriage ride at Ft. Wilderness every Christmas. It’s peaceful and the decorations are amazing!
    PS Hi neighbor, we’re moving to Disney (16 miles from Downtown) too! 🙂

  17. Which is more amazing…that Bob is buying your house, or that you can see the MK fireworks from your house?!

    After 6 moves in 4 states during 5 years of marriage, my husband has a job interview next week. IN ORLANDO. I’m almost there, living the dream with you, Jack!

  18. Good luck, Jack! No move is ever fun, but once you’re settled in your new digs, it will all be worth it! And 5 minutes from Disney World? Now that is lucky! Thanks for the informative carriage ride post. You’ve got me wanting to take one on our next visit.

  19. Hi Jack,
    Great article as usual. Also something I haven’t gotten around to trying. Going in 2 weeks (Woo Hoo) and may get on my list. Congrats on the move- hope all goes smoothly. Although I would love to live close to WDW -couldn’t handle those hot summers but glad you can. Looking forward to any of your blogs as there are so many I still haven’t gotten to read. Hope you will consider posting pictures of your pirates room when you are done. Maybe you should consider building a mother in law addition for all us fans that you can rent to- may help pay for your mortgage. LOL
    Anyway good luck and try to enjoy your time off (RIGHT!!!)

  20. Hi Jack! Congratulations on the move! I wish I lived 5 minutes from WDW and could see the MK fireworks from my yard. You are SOOOOOO lucky! Instead, I am suffering through another Chicago winter. UHG! But, counting down the days until my April and July Disney trips…
    I have never taken a carriage ride out of Fort Wilderness, but I have taken a few out of POR. My family and I found them to be very relaxing and a great way to end the day at WDW. The one at FW looks very tranquil as well. I will definitely need to try it out…

  21. Congratulations on your move!! You’ll be able to walk to the World shortly!!
    We’ve done the wagon ride a couple of times while at THE Fort, our granddaughters think it’s great. The big differences from the carriage ride are it’s nowhere as intimate, and it only goes through the loops.
    Glad you enjoyed the carriage ride, now we’ll have to do it on our next trip.


  22. Hi Jack –

    Moving once is tough enough – twice in 6 months, Oy Vay! I can only imagine how your new guest room will be decorated as well as the rest of your new home – I’ll be looking forward to that blog.

    Wishing you the best!

    – Jeff

  23. Oh Jack ! how exciting!! I am very happy for you! I am sending good thoughts your way for a smooth move!!! Good luck and thanks for giving us a little piece of magic every week!

  24. Jack,

    Such a great blog this week. This past November while on our Honeymoon, my wife and I did the carriage ride at Port Orleans: Riverside. It was wonderful! So romantic and peaceful! We had a lovely horse named Dan. Eager to take the ride at Fort Wilderness for a more natural atmosphere.

    Good luck with your move. 🙂


  25. How fun! This is what I love about Disney – that there is always something new and different to do. We try to do one new thing each trip that we hadn’t done before. On our March 2010 trip we stayed at POR and reserved a carriage ride for our first night after we checked in and ate dinner. What a nice, relatively cheap way to start our vacation. Tom was our driver, and super nice and friendly. I felt so bad though, because he was so outstanding that I DID tip him (I didn’t see the sign since it was behind my seat) and he tried not to accept it and I basically forced it upon the poor guy – LOL. I’m sure he thought I was nuts.

    PS – Jack – when will my guest room be ready?? 🙂
    I’ll block off some time on my calendar HaHa!

  26. Best of luck with the move! Enjoy your new home. I am looking forward to the re-posts…I’m fairly new to the site, and I know I have not had time to check all the archived posts.

    Really appreciate the time & care you put into each post!

    Again, best to you as you move.

  27. Congrats on the move, Jack. Sounds like writing for Allears will be a bit easier now, or less of a commute at least. Looking forward to seeing which articles you select as your best re-runs.

  28. Wow Disney Fireworks every night!!! Cool
    I bet I know where your friends will be going on the 4th every year. 🙂

    My mom and i took a “wagon Ride” on our Dec. vacation last year. and saw all the campers decked out for Christmas. And the wagon ride was only $8.00 ea. What a bargin the driver was very nice and had alot of very interesting stories to tell. Would be perfect if you could time your ride just right, you would be able to have a perfect view of the fireworks!!

  29. Thanks for another great blog entry. Good luck on your move!!!! It is quite the small world. I’ll still be checking in weekly – actively looking at your repeats until you return!!

  30. Good luck with the move, Jack! You gave me quite the heart attack with your opening line – but am excited you will return to your wonderful articles once things return to normal. I second Ruth’s question – will there be a Disney Room part 2?? That’s all I could think as a read the news! As always – well done with today’s article. Looks like another must do for me and the hubby!

    Jack’s Answer:

    Well, my whole house is Disney. But there will no longer be a Mickey Mouse Suite in the new house. It will be replaced with a Pirates of the Caribbean Suite.

  31. hey Jack
    First off, good luck on your move. hope everything works out smoothly. The Carriage rides look like a lot of fun and one day I would love to experience them. There seemed to be a lot to see on the ride you went on. enjoy your break and as always keep up the great work.

  32. Jack

    Great read as always and best of luck over the next few months! We started making the wagon ride a tradition after the Hoop De Doo a few years ago and find it a GREAT way to unwind (and digest) after the Dinner and Show. If you can time it right, your driver will stop the wagon on the edge of the lake so you can watch the Fireworks over the Magic Kingdom, probably the best viewing point for them I have ever seen!


  33. Yet another entertaining blog, Jack.

    It shows your dedication to the blog that a week before moving you would post a blog that included a video! I know those things are time consuming. And I noticed a lot of video of an empty carraige. Did you do your ride twice? Once with you as a regular passenger and then a second time where you kept hopping in and out to get video of the empty carraige passing by?

    Regarding your charming story about Bob:

    “At the same time, Bob was promoted from busboy at Café Orleans to lead at the Blue Bayou. In other words, he was backfilling behind me….”

    So why doesn’t Bob “backfill” for you by writing your blog while you move? 😉

    Keep up the great work and good luck with the move.

    Your Friend,


  34. My wife and I have done the “sleigh rides” the past two years during the Christmas seasons and the sleigh ride takes you throughout the RV sections so you can enjoy all the light displays that people set up while camping at Disney World. Not sure if you have done that Jack but if you haven’t I highly recommend it. It truly is amazing. Best of luck to you in your new home.

  35. Jack,

    Sounds like an exciting move, but yeah, moving is stressful. Hope it goes as smoothly as possible.
    We’ll look forward to enjoying the “Best of Jack” while you take the time to organize/move.


  36. My family and I have taken both the private carriage ride and the group ride. We have timed the group ride so that we could watch Wishes. where there is a stop and the music is piped in. This is one of those great (cheap) things to do at Disney. The kids and I would go over to the Campfire Sing-A-Long w/ Chip & Dale, roast some marshmallows and then take the carriage ride. It is Disney service without being in the park and without the crowds. This was always one of their favorite things to do.

  37. On our family’s recent trip to WDW, we stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. We thoroughly enjoyed our carriage ride there with none other than Laurie Lynn and Tom! They were both wonderful and our two daughters (6 and 2) loved it! It was such a relaxing way to begin our vacation!

  38. Good luck on your move. If you ever want to join others in something you have not done we will be in Disney September 12-22, 2013 and I have a list of why have we not done these yet.

  39. Such a neat story about you and Bob. It truly is a small world after all! Hope to one day do the carriage ride. Good luck to you with your move(s).

  40. I have always wanted to do this – next time we go to WDW will be to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and the first time just my husband and I will be going. We plan to go in November/December (from the UK) to experience Thanksgiving and the Christmas decorations. I am just wondering whether, during December, the ride would include driving by all the fantstic campsite decorations which I hear are well worth visiting?
    By the way – Happy Housemoving. I am sure it will be worth it – how I wish I lived so close to WDW – will you still keep your Disney themed room you shared with us in an earlier blog?
    Cheers, Ruth x