Walt Disney himself was a big fan of horses. In fact his very first job as an artist was drawing his neighbor’s horse named Rupert. He earned the tidy sum of five cents for the job. But from small beginnings, big things come. And Walt’s love of drawing and horses grew through the years. If you think back, you can probably name several different Disney movies that feature horses – especially bearing princes. And that appreciation for horses can be seen even now throughout the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Today Disney World normally keeps more than 75 horses at a time that serve in many capacities, from pulling Cinderella’s glass carriage for special wedding ceremonies to providing pony rides to excited little tots.
The home of the Disney horses, the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, is located in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. The Ranch is actually split into two different pieces. The first piece of the horse ranch is located just inside the campground entrance at the Outpost. Here you can make arrangements for a trail ride. The second piece of the ranch is located at the back of the campgrounds in the Settlement area. There is where the horse barn, blacksmith shop, ponies, and carriages are stored. It is also in the second area that you can see a huge red calliope on display.
Here are just a few of the ways you can interact with horses at Walt Disney World:
Ride the Trails
Take a leisurely 45 minute trail ride that leaves from the Outpost area of the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. If you want to experience this attraction, you must be at least 4 feet tall and must weigh less than 250 pounds. You aren’t able to carry anything while riding. Fortunately, you can store your possessions in a locker for free. Most importantly, you must have closed toe shoes – no flip flops. You will get to enjoy the “real Florida” of unspoiled riding paths and meadows.
Ride the Ponies
Nearly all kids enjoy riding a pony, and they can do just that in the Settlement area of Fort Wilderness. Take a few minutes to visit the horse barn and blacksmith shop, and then those kids under four feet tall and 80 pounds can ride a pony around a small course. Parents are always nearby and actually guide the ponies.
Ride the Wagons
A few times each evening you can catch a horse drawn wagon for a tour around Fort Wilderness. The space on the wagon is limited and is first-come, first-served, so be sure to get there early.
Ride the Carriages
Away from the campgrounds you can ride in a carriage through the splendor of the old south that is Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. The carriages hold four adults or two adults and three kids.
All of these adventures are subject to change, so confirm availability and make advanced reservations by calling 407-WDW-PLAY. You can also check in with the Tri-Circle-D ranch when you arrive. You will be glad you did when you get to interact with these gentle giants, the Disney horses.