Did you know you can take a pony ride at Disney World? Well you can!
Pony rides are offered daily (check the weather) at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground between 10am and 5:00pm, however the last ride of the day occurs 30 minutes prior to close. Riders must be at least 2 years of age, weigh under 80 pounds, and be no taller than 48 inches. They also have to be able to hang on by themselves, though a parent or guardian will be leading the pony. The security guard directed us to get on a bus and head to the settlement, but be aware that the ponies have been moved up to the front of the resort- if the bus stop is on your left, you’ll walk to the right until you see a small cabin. They only take cash, so have a few bucks with you.
The cost is $8 for one lap or $12 for two.
We took Miss Bongo to ride for her birthday. There is a mounting block, so you don’t have to be able to lift your child onto the pony, and kids are required to wear a riding helmet for safety. The ponies were very sweet with the kids, though one was a little fiesty with the other ponies in their relaxation spot.
We were assigned Jester, who my child promptly renamed Chester. He was a quirky little guy, preferring to keep his nose right in my back pocket, which I was not prepared for. Whatever floats your boat, Jes- I mean Chester. You are instructed to keep two hands on the lead at all times. Jester was incredibly docile and I had to fight the urge to drop the rope with one hand and just give him forehead scratches the whole time. Instead, I was good and followed the instructions.
There isn’t necessarily a lot of time for your child to “get to know” the horse, but there was a brisk ride business being done that day. I imagine that if your child is nervous, you would be allowed a few minutes to pet the pony’s nose and make them feel more comfortable. Bongo was pretty happy to jump on and get going! She also did plenty of petting while she was riding him.
There is no shade around the small track, and you will be dodging horse apples and puddles, although less than you would think considering this is what the horses do for seven hours a day. The ponies are not allowed to stop the ride for a snack (ie grazing), but they are allowed to stop for potty breaks. That basically means if they stop while you are leading them and take up a stance, back up a few steps and leave them alone. Jester tried to take advantage of his potty break to finish up and then swing his head down and snatch a bit of grass. I’m on to you, pony.
Never fear, there were three ponies on duty while we were there. As one finishes up a ride, he gets to go into a small fenced area that is well shaded. There is water available and plenty of hay for snacking. Then they get to relax until they are needed again. Another pony, I believe his name was Cloud, was on the track while we mounted up. Since he was a faster walker, we waited for him to start his second lap before we got going. I was not aware of another horse on the track with us, though a child was mounting up as we came off. So no worries that this feels rushed or crowded! The Cast Member did an excellent job of rotating the ponies, making sure no one pulled more than their fair share of rides.
There are plenty of areas that whoever you’re with can use to get “action shots” of your kiddos riding. They don’t mind if your photographer (in this case, my husband), moves along the outside of the track. You’ll have easy access to most of it. Just remember to be respectful of the space and keep in mind that these are live animals. Even though they are beautifully trained and very calm, acting a fool can still startle them. Thankfully, everyone waiting for the experience and those walking by were awesome. I paint a worrisome picture, but these horses are used to folks jogging by the track or calling out to each other.
We felt this experience was totally worth it. While the track is fairly small, it’s Disney. I can guarantee the ride lasts longer than a Mickey bar in the hot Florida sun, and the price is comparable. My biggest regret was not getting the two lap deal. The first thing Miss Bongo said was “Can we go again?” I had worried that she would be afraid and I didn’t want to push her. This was silly of me, because she loves to pet big horses. Getting to ride one, even a smaller one, was the highlight of her day! I would recommend going in the morning, before you get to the heat of the day, but sometimes circumstances dictate you must go later. Just be sure to slap on some sunscreen and take some water! Sweat was pouring off the kiddo when we took her helmet off and dismounted.
We added this experience onto our Resort Hopping day, but it was a quick experience. Because the rides are now at the front of the resort, it was easy to get to and easy to leave for those of us driving in. We had no trouble parking for the experience, even on a holiday weekend in May, but of course your results may vary depending on how busy things are.
If you’re too big for a pony ride, check out the horseback riding option!