It’s good to see you again, Roaring Fork!
Roaring Fork is the primary Counter Service restaurant at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Over the past several months, the entire resort has been undergoing several refurbishments, and these changes have certainly included some of the dining options at the Lodge.
For instance, this past February brought the addition of Geyser Point Bar & Grill — a hybrid outdoor lounge and Counter Service location. The opening of Geyser Point coincided with the temporary closure of Roaring Fork for a renovation of its own.
And even though Geyser Point has been a terrific addition to Wilderness Lodge, we have missed Roaring Fork. As home to everything from Specialty Waffles in the morning to some of our favorite cupcakes anywhere — all served up in the Lodge’s uniquely beautiful rustic setting — Roaring Fork has long held a special place in our hearts. And we know we’re not the only ones who feel that way.
So, I’m sure some of you are as anxious as I am to see what’s new and what’s remained the same (did the Waffles make the cut?!?) at Roaring Fork. Let’s not waste any more time checking it out!
Before the refurbishment, there were a few words you could always use to describe Roaring Fork. Among them were “rustic” and even “cozy.”
One word you couldn’t choose was “large.” The food prep, ordering area, and indoor seating are pretty small, especially considering the size of the Resort itself. Granted, the same could be said for the Polynesian Village Resort Captain Cook’s and other Deluxe Resort food courts, where several Table Service restaurants provide additional dining options. But Roaring Fork always struck me as unusually so.
While indoor space hasn’t — nor could it — exactly “grow,” there have been some changes in the basic setup.
In the food preparation and ordering area, one immediately notices — at least for now — the lack of queue lines, with the more open flow providing a bit more space to the eye.
And the food placement has somewhat changed around the perimeters. Remember the small refrigerator that used to be tucked in between the two major food prep stations? Right next to it was a small bakery case filled with cupcakes and other desserts.
Well, now there is a big ol’ grab and go WALL, and the options have changed and been expanded.
We’ll take a close-up look at those selections later on.
Also opening up more room is the ordering process itself. Rather than ordering, receiving, and paying for your food in one fell swoop (keeping all the guests in the same area), now you place your order with a Cast Member at the prepared food stations, receive a printed order ticket, and pick up anything else you may need from grab-and-go section.
Then, bring your ticket and grab and go items to the cash registers, pony up 😉 , and you’ll receive a numbered table tent, which will help a Cast Member locate you with your food after sitting down.
Though the indoor seating space was never colorful, per se, in keeping with the rustic wood-and-stone atmosphere of the rest of the Lodge, the updated color scheme leans even more towards a muted palette.
Flooring has been updated and a darker wood has been selected for the new tables and chairs, but the room still feels cozily familiar.
You’ll find the fountain beverages, coffee, and cocoa in here now, and the condiments are still here.
To alleviate some of the space concerns, the biggest change has stemmed outward.
While Roaring Fork always offered outdoor seating, it was primarily several large, single umbrella-topped tables. Now, there is a large shaded seating area with ceiling fans to provide more options for folks to eat in comfort even in the warmer times of year (with a few tables still out in the open for those perfect Florida days).
It’s a terrific touch, and a natural extension. But outdoor seating isn’t where we’re noticing the only major changes…
There’s lots to see here, folks, so why don’t we just start with the headliner menus? And for the first meal of the day, the Breakfast Menu has seen some pretty significant changes.
Now, I’m totally on board with new items like Chocolate-Hazelnut Stuffed French Toast, and 10-Hour Pulled Pork-Cheese Grits — ooh, and a Breakfast Flatbread with Sausage Gravy (and some other stuff 😉 )! But while there IS a Mickey-Shaped Waffle Basket, I’m sorry to say there are no longer Specialty Toppings available.
Here’s a look at the Corned Beef Hash.
And for the Kiddos…
This is also where you’ll spot the Wilderness Lodge Specialty Coffees — like the Wilderness Bark Latte — on the menu.
The Lunch and Dinner Menu, meanwhile, has seen some changes as well. Though still relatively small (and we’ll see if there are further additions after these opening days), several of the options are intriguing. I honestly never found my own personal headliner item on the previous Lunch and Dinner menu. But the Brisket Cheeseburger, Specialty Flatbreads, and Grilled Chicken on Focaccia all hold some promise at first glance.
And what’s this I spy with my little eye… a Gourmet Grilled Cheese?!? You better believe we’ll be checking that one out.
Those lucky kids can still grab some Chicken Breast Nuggets on their menu.
Or, as we know them…
I promised you a look at the new — with a few surprising! — Grab and Go options. That could seriously almost be a full tour of its own, so let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
Tucked in among the expected danish pastries, muffins, bagels, cinnamon rolls, croissants and the like are items like Bear Claws (so perfect for the Lodge!), Mickey Sprinkle Donuts, and Maple Bacon Donuts.
Hot choices include the Spinach Feta Pastry and Quiche.
Outside of breakfast, cupcakes are also up for grabs (of course!).
And I’m happy to report that the Magic Cookie Bar is safe!
You’ll also notice some pre-packaged options (both from the house and otherwise branded) and whole fruit on the table in the room as well.
House options feature the S’more Doughnut holes in a Cup.
The refrigerators are stocked with sandwiches, salads, sushi, drinks, and desserts.
The Seasonal Cheesecake, by the way is less exciting than it sounds on the menu.
It’s just one of those basic, round chilled desserts (with the current seasonal topper being blueberry).
Oh, and here’s the ol’ Soft Serve machine…
Okay, let’s grab our own Roaring Fork and eat already!!!
You didn’t think we could resist something called “Chocolate-Hazelnut Stuffed French Toast,” did you?
It’s topped with bananas and some (quickly melting but still much appreciated) mascarpone whipped cream.
Wow. WOW! Is this ever SWEET. Sooo sweet that it’s almost the only word I can use to describe it. No extra syrup required. This dessert-for-breakfast has plenty enough on its own to fix any sweet tooth. You might consider sharing this with your group for a couple bites each. It’s tasty, but it’s almost too much for one person.
Also for breakfast, we tried the 10-Hour Pulled Pork Cheese Grits.
Aside from the pulled pork, it’s also complete with a chipotle-apple barbecue sauce and poached eggs.
Now this is definitely stick-to-your-ribs kind of grub. The sauce adds a nice hint of sweetness (thanks to the apple) to this otherwise very savory dish. A really good — and fairly creative — addition.
Lunch items (and remember, these are also available for dinner) include the Brisket Cheeseburger.
Let’s start with the good news, which includes the toppings: Tillamook Cheddar, cranberry sauce, Cast Iron onions, apple frisee and beef brisket top the burger inside the sweet brioche bun. Plus, it’s served with crispy Tater Tots! Or, as the menu says, “Potato Barrels.”
All of those flavors on the burger really work together, and the brisket tasted fantastic.
The bad news? The burger patty itself.
So bad that it almost felt like a waste to put such great tasting brisket on top of such a dry (and unfortunately fairly typical) hockey-puck-esque quick service burger. Bummer. Maybe your mileage will vary, though, and you’ll get a less “well-done” burger patty.
Now, when we saw the Gourmet Grilled Cheese on the menu, we had the same thought that maybe some of you did. Could it be… has the old Grown-Up Grilled Cheese that used to be available at the Polynesian Village Resort’s Captain Cook’s come back to us?!?
Well, not exactly. Instead of a combo of three cheeses, the Gourmet Grilled Cheese is simply white cheddar along with the arugula, tomato, and onion jam inside the Multi-Grain Bread. (And again, is served with Potato Barrels.)
But still. It is so, SO good and I say close enough!! This cheesy sammie has a very pronounced onion flavor from the jam (which we totally dug) and the bread was actually another highlight, remaining super crunchy even around the packed fillings.
Now, how about some dessert? Check out this SUPER CUTE Campfire Cupcake… complete with a teeny tiny roasted marshmallow on top!
This chocolate cupcake is topped with marshmallow icing and “dirt” (cookie crumbles), with a little frosting campfire and candy rocks.
Sadly, it’s not filled with ooey gooey caramel like the ol’ Chocolate Caramel Cupcake (just more marshmallow, which is fitting).
But, it’s waaaay more photo ready!
And with that, we say “Welcome Back” to Roaring Fork!
Nosh or Not?
You’ll enjoy Roaring Fork at Wilderness Lodge if:
- You’re grabbing a quick meal on your way to the parks
- You’re looking for something a little higher end than pepperoni pizza and a standard burger
- You’ve got family with several different tastes. This location is still quick-service, and offers a few more standard options for the kids; but the adult offerings have really been dressed up without being too high-end to be accessible.
- You’re looking for some unique vegetarian items.
Roaring Fork might not be for you if:
- You’ve got a super picky crowd who just needs the basics like regular burgers and fries, basic pizza, and chicken nuggets. These items are on the kids’ menu, but you won’t find them on the adult menu any longer. (Note that adults can always order from the kids’ menu, however.)
It’s always a nice thing to visit Wilderness Lodge, and it remains another very nice thing to visit Roaring Fork. Definite improvements include the new, beautiful outdoor seating area. And even with the updates to the indoor spaces, I love that it still has that same Roaring Fork feel as always.
As for the menu, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed about the whole removal of the Specialty Waffles. But there are some truly worthy replacements for breakfast. And better yet, it’s so fun to have some definitely spruced up offerings for lunch and dinner. Between Roaring Fork and the addition of Geyser Point Bar & Grill, I think the changes to dining at Wilderness Lodge deserve two thumbs up. How about you?
What are your thoughts on the new Roaring Fork? Let us know in the comments below!