Pros: Surprisingly good food, not too expensive.
Cons: Certainly not a romantic place to dine!
Although my December trip to Orlando was designated as strictly non-Disney, I managed to talk hubby into a single meal with the house. For the occasion, I selected lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe, one of the few on-site restaurants neither of us had dined at previously. Overall, we found the experience to be geared toward children but fun for adults and a relative bargain.
Know Before You Go
Whispering Canyon Cafe is located inside Disneys Wilderness Lodge, a beautiful deluxe resort located adjacent to the Magic Kingdom. We dined during the holiday season, when the resort was at its most fabulous, but the Lodge is a stunner at any time of the year. Parking is generally reserved for guests during the busiest times of the year, but a reservation at Whispering Canyon Cafe will get you in no matter what.
This is a casual table service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reservations are almost always necessary given its popularity. They can be made toward Disneys main dining line at 1-407-WDW-DINE.
Whispering Canyon Cafe is set directly off of Wilderness Lodges giant lobby. The western/national park lodge theme is incorporated throughout, starting with a Lincoln Log play area at the restaurants entrance. Some tables have views of the lobby, others of the outdoors. The open feel of the restaurant ensures all tables provide a view of the action that goes on within. Drinks are served in jelly jars, and each table features a lazy Susan upon which food is placed for easy access from all sides.
The vibe at Whispering Canyon Cafe is rowdy, fun, and terrible for those seeking a quiet or romantic meal. This is a family restaurant, first and foremost, and it feels like it. A meal here will be punctuated with periodic wooden horse races and napkin twirling. Fortunately, kids dont get to have all the fun. The sassy servers fling napkins, poke fun at heavy drinkers, and generally have fun with their guests. At one point, one of the hosts made me jump by sneaking up on me with a three foot tall wooden chef. At the same time, they seem to have good intuition as to whether a particular table is looking to get in on the fun or just sit back and watch. We had fun joking around with our own server, but even more fun watching the antics of other patrons. Some folks will hate the experience with a passion, but most of the diners we observed seemed to be having a blast.
For lunch, diners can order off an a la carte menu of sandwiches, enchiladas, and salads at about $12.00 a pop or opt for the all-you-can-eat skillet which costs $16.00 per person for lunch and $22.50 per person for dinner. We opted, of course, for the skillet with its multiple meats and sides. Our meal commenced with a basket of corn bread. It wasnt the greatest cornbread Ive ever had, but it wasnt bad either. The butter was nice and melty.
With respect to the main course, the smoked ribs were very good, with plenty of meat on the bones and just the right amount of seasoning. I was less enamored with the blander oven roasted chicken, but found the pork sausage sufficiently flavorful. The mashed potatoes accompanying the meat were excellent. These guys were clearly real, buttery potatoes, not the imitation crap one finds so often at buffets and diners. We also had green beans and coleslaw to round out the meal. Our first skillet would have been plenty to satisfy us, but we liked the ribs and potatoes enough that we asked for more and promptly received heaping portions of each.
Dessert options on the day of our visit included a Smore cheesecake and a caramel apple pie. In the end, we left without, due to being completely and totally stuffed.
We had a good time at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. Youll have to be the judge whether you will too. We were in and out of the place for under $40.00, which is a rare thing indeed when dining on Disney property. Some food items are better than others, but the atmosphere is fun and you certainly wont have a dull meal here.
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