Trails End with Chef TJ

There’s no secret that vegans and people with food allergies have a special friend at Trails End. Chef TJ is a saint that creates multi course meals for those of us who can’t eat off the buffet. He makes sure you eat way too much and are treated like royalty. So it’s no surprise that Trails End is one of our favorite restaurants on Disney property.

Fort Wilderness Boat Dock

Trails End is a BBQ focused buffet at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. So I’m sure that throws people off when we say we love it there considering they’re known for their fried chicken and loaded baked potatoes. But Chef TJ makes it all worth it!

If you’re staying at Fort Wilderness, Trails End also has a great breakfast for vegans with mickey waffles and a tofu scramble.

Before we get into the food, let’s talk about some important things to note about Trails End.

When does Chef TJ Work?
Chef TJ’s current schedule is Sunday through Thursday evenings, but this will probably change beginning in June, I suspect he’ll be back to Monday through Friday but we’ll update when that happens. He does have days off, so even if we say he may be there, life happens.

If you are at a park the day you have a meal with Chef TJ, we usually recommend it be Magic Kingdom as you can take a boat from the park to the resort. This drops you off right where Trails End, P&J’s Carryout, Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ are located.  If not you can always bus to Fort Wilderness then take the internal bus back to the restaurant. That also goes for if you have a car, you will park at the front of the campground and need to bus back to the restaurant. This place is HUGE so don’t expect to walk from the parking lot to the Settlement Depot.

Fort Wilderness Map

How long will it take?
Chef Tj meals often take 2 hours. He serves about 7 course and he may be slower depending on show times for Hoop-Dee-Doo (yes he serves the special diet guests there too!). So if you’re the only vegan, make sure you let your party know it may be a while! Also if you have little ones, we recommend an early (5ish) reservation here. If needed there is a playground super close to the restaurant if you need to take a break.

How much does it cost and how do I get Chef TJ?
A meal with Chef TJ costs the same as the buffet. Prices change depending on season but it it usually around $25-$30 per person. Just let the host know you’re vegan and they will make note for your server to get a chef to assist you for your meal. No need to special request Chef TJ.

Alright enough about that, let’s talk about our last meal we had there!

When we found out that Chef TJ had switched to Sundays we quickly jumped on a reservation, literally for the next day. Upon checking in our servers informed us that Chef TJ wasn’t working. But it was his first Sunday so they actually didn’t know, but he was there.

After we were seated our server got our drinks then went to get Chef TJ. Once Chef TJ came out he walked us around the buffet to let us know what was vegan.

On the buffet was several salads, including one with hearts of palm! There was also a mushroom salad, corn and lots of fruit. Since we all knew just how much food we were about to get, we didn’t bother with the buffet and just grabbed fruit for the kids.

Lettuce Mix
Spicy Jicama Salad and Mushroom Salad
Heart of Palm Salad and Jicama Salad

Our first course came out pretty quickly and it was vegetable samosas. These potato and pea samosas are drizzled in what we assume to be a curry ketchup. He has also drizzled a sweet and sour sauce on them in the past.

Potato and Pea Samosas

Next up was tempura mushrooms and crispy broccoli. This course was great. The mushrooms were super juicy and the broccoli had a great flavor.

Tempura Mushrooms and Crispy Broccoli

Next was the smoked tomato and watermelon salad. This beauty comes out in a glass vase filled with smoke, just like they do at Victoria & Alberts. The tomatoes really take on the smokey flavor here.

Smoked Tomato Salad

We were waiting for our beloved nacho course to show up and, boom, there it was! But Chef TJ surprised us this time and put some Beyond Meat Beyond Burger crumbles on it! This really kicked this over the edge. We’d also like to mention that Chef TJ makes his own vegan  cheese for this!

Vegan Nachos with Beyond Burger

After the nachos came a vegetable curry soup. None of us really loved it, I was hoping for his broccoli soup he had in the past. It was full of veggies though which was really nice, it seemed like it needed some rice noodles to complete it.

Vegetable Curry Soup

Finally our main course came! As always this course is incredible.

Grilled Portobello, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Fried Tofu

Here you can find fried tofu, grilled zucchini, summer squash and portobello. Under all of that is a bed of fried rice.

Grilled Portobello, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Fried Tofu

And lastly, the real treat, dessert! This dessert always turns heads. Chef TJ creates a tower of vegan treats including Enjoy Life soft baked cookies, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream, strawberries and bananas. If you’re lucky, sometimes he’ll even fry Oreos or other items.

Dessert Tower

Chef TJ is an incredibly nice person and an amazing chef! His creations are so unique and full of flavor. We hope everyone gets a chance to dine with him! And if you’re there late, you can catch the Electrical Water Pageant from the beach!

Dessert Tower

Price: $$
Review from March 2018.

Whats your favorite part about a dinner at Trails End?

Author: Melissa Kramer

Back in 2014 I created Vegan Disney World after going to Walt Disney World several times and finding no resource for vegan options. Corey and I began this blog from our trips and have now moved closer to the mouse to eat around the parks on a weekly basis. Since the blog started we have cruised on Disney Cruise Line, gone to Tokyo Disneyland and to Disneyland in California!

16 thoughts

  1. Hello! Love your site and we follow you on Instagram as well!! Is Chef Tj still at Trails End? We have an upcoming trip and I definitely wanted experience one of his incredible meals. Thank you so much!

    1. He is still there but also at Cape May Cafe. He is currently out for recovery on a knee surgery until mid April.

  2. I’ve heard that Chef TJ has moved to Cape May Cafe. Not sure about his schedule. Is Trail’s End still worth visiting if he’s not there?

    1. They still do the samosas and veggies with tofu. We just ate brunch there recently and they had a vegan dessert option on the buffet. While it is not as extravagant as usual, they absolutely still accommodate.

    2. I would say yes. We were there the week of March 17th. Chef Frank was very helpful with a tour of the buffet. While we didn’t get as many courses as with Chef TJ, it was still more food than we could even eat. My one complaint was the taxidermy animals on the wall of the restaurant. I don’t want to eat dead animals or look at them during dinner.

  3. Interesting. You ignored any vegan options available to the hoi polloi in favor of a custom prepared, multi course meal – and criticize any of the dishes?

    1. Hi Anonymouse, have you ever eaten there? You can eat at the buffet too if you want and there’s nothing to criticize. The meal he makes is just so special and amazing. He makes it an experience. It is way too much food and you really don’t have room to also eat the buffet since you want to eat all the wonderful food he makes. I hope you’ll try it. I think you’ll be amazed. I’ve only been once but my family is planning to go again in April.

  4. This looks amazing! Do you know if he cooks special meals for vegetarians as well, or only vegans? I am planning my family’s trip for June and am deciding on restaurants. We are staying at the campsites our last night, so I thought this might be a good option, but I’d like to eat more than mac & cheese and baked potatoes.


  5. Oh my goodness!!!! We are at Trails End and are having to take away some of the food Chef TJ is cooking as I am about to burst!!! He is so amazing and obviously enjoys creating all the different courses! We are waving the white flag 😂 What an amazing dinner! We highly recommend!

  6. We are going December 2018 and based on our schedule it will make most sense for us to visit Trails End on a Friday. You mention above that you think TJ’s schedule is Sun – Thurs but then on another page I saw Mon-Fri. Do you know if it’s changed back to Mon-Fri yet ? I realize you can’t guarantee he’ll be there but we want to make our best effort to be there when he is. Thanks!

  7. VERY interested in going here. Want to make reservations for October. How did you find out Chef TJ’s schedule? Did you just call the restaurant and ask? Thanks so much for posting this review!

    1. Through years of dining with TJ we’ve developed a friendship. We often have his schedule (roughly) on our site. I’d just check back in a few months on the “vegan options” page for resorts.

  8. We’ve had a similar meal there several times. It is SO GOOD, and by far the best deal on Disney World property. Thanks for sharing this review, which I concur with 100%. 😁

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