Did you know Disney World does horse drawn “Sleigh Rides” during the Christmas season? Spoiler alert: There is no snow. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a magical experience!
So Sleigh Rides (and Carriage Rides) are available at Fort Wilderness resort. They last 25 minutes, cost $84 per group and seat four adults, or two adults and two-three kids. Unfortunately you have to call to make your reservation. I’m so lazy, can’t I do just everything online? Thankfully the cast members in the reservation department are super nice and put up with a lot of questions.
So the key to this experience is TIMING! You want it to at least be getting dark, though the darker it is outside, the better for viewing the Christmas lights and decorations. We chose a 6pm ride time and it was perfect.
We arrived at the podium to check in, which is right outside of Crockett’s Tavern (in the circle, near the large Christmas tree) and the cast member hesitantly told me they were running a few minutes behind. AWESOME! The cast member looked shocked I was so happy at the delay, but hey, it’s Disney. You gotta roll with the punches. We were just sitting down to a quick dinner from P&J’s Southern Takeout(om nom nom, delicious), so I actually needed a few extra minutes. Not to mention, this gave the day more time to fade to dusk.
We watched the folks ahead of us disembark their carriage and there seemed to be a slight delay. Mr Drum (who we will call Tim from now on…because that is his name) grumbled a little loudly about the additional delay, but he missed the obvious vibe that I was picking up. C’mon y’all… horse drawn carriage, right around Christmas, young man, young woman- you guessed it. We were witnessing a proposal! It was precious. All my single ladies, start dropping your hints now.
We loaded up in our carriage…oh sorry, sleigh and the cast member took some great pictures with my camera. We chatted a moment with our driver, then away we went.
The most surprising part of this carriage ride is Disney doesn’t decorate. You ride through the campsites, so the beauty and spirit of the trip is provided by campers, some who have been coming down in their RVs for decades! It’s amazing. I tried to capture some pictures, but while the ride is perfectly comfortable, it is unfortunately too bumpy for good photos. Put the phone or camera down and just enjoy the lights around you. I promise, 95% of my pictures look like the one above.
There is something absolutely magical about listening to the clip clop of hooves, the jingle of sleigh bells, and calls of “Merry Christmas” as you wave at campers like you’re the reigning beauty queen in a one carriage parade. Miss Bongo got in to the spirit, calling out MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone she passed and singing Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs. I could almost cry now just thinking about it. The smiles on the faces of those she called to…you could really see how much it tickled the folks we encountered.
When you arrive back at the podium, a photopass photographer will snap a quick picture or two of your party in the carriage. I have to be honest, I preferred the earlier pictures, so be sure to take a moment or two to get them before you start your journey. You can never have too many pictures, right?
As an additional magical touch, you get a limited edition pin (just one, no matter how many people are in your party, so if you split this experience with friends, fight it out beforehand) at the end of your experience! Apparently it changes every year and it was a total shock to us!
I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone who wants to make their Christmas trip just a little more special. Even Tim gives it a 10/10 and he can be a bit of a killjoy at times (don’t forget, he was grumpy over a proposal at the beginning of this post. To be fair, he did feel guilty afterwards, but that didn’t stop me from teasing him for…well I’m still teasing him about it). In all seriousness, this is a great experience and I would recommend everyone giving it a try at least once. As for my family, we will happily take another sleigh ride the next time we are in Orlando at Christmas time.
After the sleigh ride we hopped over to the free Chip & Dale’s Campfire Sing-along directly after, arriving with several minutes to spare, capping off a great day of resort hopping and exploring!