Is Mickey’s Backyard BBQ the right experience for your family?
SPOILER ALERT: I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone!
The Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground was one of the first resort accommodations available for guests at the Walt Disney World Resort, opening on November 19, 1971. It’s rustic theme and pioneer feel (with modern luxuries) is timeless and surely a nod to Walt Disney’s love of that era of American history and the adventures of Davey Crockett. Naturally, Mickey Mouse has a presence here too and of course the appropriate wardrobe.
Just a few short weeks ago, I traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort with a 11 of my close family members and we decided to give Mickey’s Backyard BBQ a try! We had already done (and loved) the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue a few years back and this time we had more kids with us, so something new was in order. So we decided to saddle up and see how Mickey’s does the Wild West! We really, REALLY enjoyed our experience, but I don’t recommend it for everyone and I’ll explain why in more detail.
Getting to Mickey’s Backyard BBQ can be a bit of a challenge, even if you have your own car. There is no where you can park that is nearby the pavilion, so even if you did drive, you would need to transfer to the internal bus from the main parking lot at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Even if you walk regularly, the campground is HUGE and trust me, you don’t want to take that walk. We were staying at the Wilderness Lodge, which was an ideal location because we just hopped on boat. However, thunderstorms were rolling in and we luckily boarded the FINAL boat until the weather cleared. Our plan B would have been to get Minnie Vans to drive us over since we were cutting it close on time. Those are the only vehicles allowed to get you right up to the pavilion where the BBQ is held. If you aren’t staying at a resort with boat access to the Fort Wilderness you have a few options to get there:
- Drive or Uber to the main building at Fort Wilderness Campground and hop on the internal shuttle bus.
- Minnie Van right to the pavilion. ($25 plus tip for a party of 6)
- Take a bus from your resort to the Magic Kingdom, then transfer to the Fort Wilderness Boat-the pavilion is a very short walk from the dock
- Take a bus from your resort to the Magic Kingdom, then transfer to the Fort Wilderness Bus (ONLY if boats aren’t running)-transfer to the internal shuttle at the Fort.
- Take a bus to any theme park and transfer to the Fort Wilderness Bus-transfer to the internal shuttle at the Fort.
Once we arrived, there was a PhotoPass Photographer ready to take family pictures. He was happy to take multiple groups of photos which was nice. After photos, there is a check-in area where you will get a printed receipt to hand to the host that will seat you. NOTE They say to “see your resort concierge to pick up tickets prior to arrival”. I did this and it didn’t matter. They checked me in there again anyway. So don’t worry if you forgot to pick up your “tickets”, they will just check you in upon arrival. The BBQ is open seating so the earlier you arrive, the better your seat will be. We were kind of on the late side since we spent the day at the water park and were behind schedule, but our seats were just fine!
SIDEBAR if you have any discounts that you need to be refunded for (Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is a prepaid event) you need to handle that at check-in. I have the Tables in Wonderland card and everything I read said “speak to your server” to get the refund applied. Well, our server didn’t know anything about it because they don’t actually serve you! It’s a buffet and all we had were Cast Members seating us and Cast Members clearing plates. However, she was very helpful and got a manager to come speak with me. If it wasn’t such a large party, I probably would have let the discount go, but we were a party of 12, that’s a lot of money to let slide-20%! Long story short, the manager said I needed to go to my resort concierge desk to get the refund. She gave me her name and said they should call her if there was any issue. At the concierge desk, of course there was an issue. They could not apply my refund to the original form of payment, so they put it as a credit on my guest folio. All’s well that ends well, just a little heads up you have to work a bit for a discount on these prepaid dinner shows.
There is no shortage of food that is for sure. There were eight buffet lines, all with an assortment of salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, pulled pork, corn bread, baked beans, corn on the cob and a decent fixin’s bar. Dessert was strawberry shortcake AND unlimited Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars!
Drinks were self-serve much like at resort Quick Service locations and there was a bar serving beer, wine and sangria.
Everything is a self-serve buffet and was all you care to enjoy. The food was tasty and there was plenty of it. The buffet remained open and available for most of the time. My advice would be to eat as soon as you get there so you can enjoy the characters when they first arrive. Then go up for seconds during their breaks.
Cast Members came around quite often to take away any empty plates. On the picnic-bench-style tables were rolls of paper towels to use as napkins, which is a great idea whenever kids are involved.
The show is emceed by Cyclone Sally and Tumbleweed Will who get the audience going with a warm welcome and kind of ensure everything runs smoothly and on schedule. There’s a great band playing fun and popular country favorites that five of your favorite Disney characters come out and dance along to. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale line dance the night away with adults and kids on the main stage and in designated areas to the left and right of the stage. We were seated exactly next to one of these areas which was great for us. This is an outstanding opportunity for character interaction!
The dance party happens simultaneously with dinner, so you just kind of pick and choose which songs you want to dance to. The characters take a few shorts break during the 2.5 hours and during those times Cowboy Trevor comes out and does a whip trick show. Not the most exciting thing to watch, but it does fill the emptiness left by the characters taking a much needed break.
The BBQ is held in an open-air pavilion, so no air conditioning-be advised- and those costumes get hot quickly.
In addition to mingling with guests on the dance floor, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy have a line to pose for PhotoPass photos and sign autographs. Once again our location was ideal for this and our wait was short.
Celebrations get announced on stage by the lead singer of the band and even if you haven’t previously specified a celebration on your reservation, you can add one to the list while you are there.
Who Should Go
I recommend this for families with young children who love characters and enjoy a good BBQ buffet-like mine! It’s a fantastic way to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale. So much better than your standard character meal, where all they can do is come to your table for a quick photo and an autograph. The characters at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ are truly interacting with all the kids (and adults), dancing, high-fives, posing for pictures and making great memories. I’m so glad we went!
Who Shouldn’t Go
I don’t recommend this experience for parties with older children, with children who don’t get overly excited about characters or parties of just adults who don’t get overly excited about characters. While there is country music and a bit of a whip trick show, it’s definitely not enough to say this is a must do for fans of all things country. While those elements are a great addition, they can’t really stand alone without the character experience element. When I think of my own family…we had a blast with the four children in our party! Had it just been the adults or even just my husband and our 14 year old daughter, it wouldn’t have been the same fun experience and I know we would have left wishing we spent our time and money elsewhere.
Important: Be sure to book well in advance, as Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is very popular and isn’t available every night. If a magical vacation including Mickey’s Backyard BBQ sounds perfect to you, Let’s chat about how to get you there. Our travel services are absolutely FREE to you when you book your Disney Destination vacation with us!