The Old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Walt Disney World

Checking Out the Old Place

Before our 2018 Florida Summer Vacation, we had heard that there were plans to tear down the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness. That has now happened, but fortunately, they have built a new facility not too far from the original one, so that the original land can be used for a new resort in that area.

We always enjoy stopping by to see the horses at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, so we thought we should stop by the old location one last time during last year’s trip. Here are a few photos from our visit.

One last visit to the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

The Tri-Circle-D Ranch barn was a rather simple-looking barn from the outside. I am sure that the horses did not mind, as they don’t need anything all that fancy. Still, our horses here at home would be jealous, because that barn is much nicer than theirs is. Hopefully, our horses won’t see these photos.

The Ranch was the home of all of the horses used at Walt Disney World. Many of these horses can be seen pulling the trolleys on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. And they have other horses for other uses, too.

There used to be a petting farm area nearby, but those animals for petting have been gone for a while. Just about all that was left of the ranch was the barn.

Looking inside the barn of the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

This view looks straight into the barn, and it also gives a better view of the sign. I guess the meaning of Tri-Circle-D should be pretty obvious from looking at the logo on the sign. And no, they don’t actually brand the horses with that brand. You can see Laura and Jaylin inside the barn here. Every time we went, there were only a couple of other people there at the most. It was quiet and relaxing. What is Laura looking at? Keep reading…

Exhibit area in the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

Just inside the barn was a small exhibit space about Walt Disney and horses. There were several photos of Walt with horses, including a couple from his polo days, along with photos of horses from some Disney movies and a few awards, too. At the right was a model…

Calliope model in the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

This model was of the Walt Disney World Calliope pulled by a team of Percheron horses. The actual Calliope was kept just across the hall on the other side of the barn when it was not being used. However, the real Calliope was not there that day. Maybe they had moved it to a new home somewhere else on the property. It has always been fun to see the Calliope and to hear someone playing it because of its unusual steam-pipe sounds.

One last visit to the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

Looking down the main corridor of the barn, there are horse stalls on each side. There is a rope to keep guests from going farther down into the barn, but it was nice to be able to see some of the horses up close. Sometimes, a cast member would be in the barn working with one of the horses, and they would always be glad to answer any questions that you might have.

A horse in the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

There were signs asking you not to pet the horses, because as with any animal they could possibly be unpredictable. But the horses were always friendly and wanted to look at you while you were looking at them. Rocky is a Percheron, and he wanted to say hello. He is also much, much larger than our horses back at home!

One last visit to the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

I liked the cool Mickey Mouse silhouettes that were on some of the barn doors. Those were a reminder that this was not just any barn, and that these were not just any horses. And don’t let a little bit of dust on the door fool you - this was by far the cleanest horse barn I have ever seen!

One last visit to the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World

And as we close our look at the old Tri-Circle-D Ranch, here is a close-up look at the sign in front of the old barn. As you can see, a draft horse stands on the sign, representing the working horses inside the barn. But also on the sign post at the far right is a lizard, just like you will see all over the area. While the horse is just flat metal, the lizard is very much real, and he just happened to be there while we were visiting. But I thought it was a fun touch.

We are looking forward to visiting the new barn, assuming they allow visitors there. I am hoping that they will once everything opens back up fully. I am sure it will be at least as nice as the old barn was. And the horses really won’t complain.


Change almost never is very easy. Yes, there are a few changes that are good, such as the change from the end of the school year to summer if you are a student. But most changes involve giving up something that you enjoyed.

I have enjoyed visiting the Tri-Circle-D Ranch since my first stay at Fort Wilderness in 1987. We have returned several times over the years to visit the horses, especially since Laura loves horses as much as she does. We were slightly concerned when we first hear that they were going to tear down the ranch to build a new resort, because we have fond memories of our visits. However, we were glad to hear about the new barn that they have built, keeping the horses close to where they lived before.

Change can be good if it is handled well. While letting go of something old is difficult, it is made easier by moving on to something at least as good, if not better.

Also, change is often necessary. Sometimes the old things have become outdated and need to be replaced, no matter how much affection we have for them. It is sometimes difficult, but you have to let go of something to be able to grab on to something else.

Right now we are having to make all kinds of changes from the ways that we have done things. And many of those changes have brought a nice, fresh view of things. I am hoping that at least some of the changes we have seen will last.

It can be hard to let go, but it can be worth it, too! Change can be good!

Change can be good

Bible Verse

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

About the Photos

These photos were fun to take, because we always enjoyed visiting the barn. And they were fun to process, too. I used the same preset in Aurora HDR on each photo, making a few adjustments each time as necessary.

Hopefully, this captures well what a visit to the barn was like. I consider these more “documentary” type photos than “artistic” photos like much of what I share here. But then, who says they can’t be both?

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Aurora HDR. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens:  Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Date: June 14, 2019
Location: Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney WorldFlorida