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Whispering Canyon Cafe Dinner Review

Wilderness Lodge’s Whispering Canyon Cafe is the kind of place that earns strong opinions from guests. Sometimes positive; sometimes negative.

Me? I love it. Bottomless milkshakes, bottomless skillets of grub, bottomless horses… . Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Atmosphere

Tucked into the left-hand side of the lobby at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Whispering Canyon Cafe is a massive, wood-ensconced restaurant where cowboys still fight Indians (look at the back of your chair and see which side you’re on), napkins are re-purposed bandanas, your server is your fellow pioneer, and nobody stands on ceremony.

Table Setting

If this place has anything, it’s atmosphere (read more here). If it’s the kind of atmosphere that appeals to you, hilarity ensues. There’s even a warning on the menu:

But what they don’t mention is that Whispering Canyon Cafe has bad service. No…wait. Not “bad” service. More like “irreverent” service.

WCC servers are “on the range” with you, and they don’t really have the patience for pomp and circumstance. For instance, your cell phone call might be interrupted by a server insisting that it’s rude to take a call at dinner; you might end up a little embarrassed when the server announces that your credit card didn’t quite cover the meal and could anyone help out?; you might be made to take your own Lone Ranger hobby horse tour around the restaurant; you might end up with a pitcher of soda pop the size of Rhode Island on your table; or your tween son might be sung to by every tween daughter in the restaurant. Anything can happen.

My favorite experience was getting a “fastpass to the bathroom” after I drank a few pitchers of Diet Coke at my meal ;-)

And the kids will have a blast. “Horse” races on (bottomless, of course) hobby horses are a well-loved activity:

Prepping for a Horse Race

But my favorite kids’ activity at the restaurant is the “pledge.” Kids are asked to stand up, raise their right hand, and repeat a few promises. Of course, these include “staying up as late as I can,” and “never, EVER, going to Universal Studios.”

WCC Antics

By the way, most likely, your straws will be thrown at you:

And for those of you who have heard some mumblings about ketchup at this restaurant you can see a picture on this post! I won’t tell you what happens (spoilers-be-gone!), but feel free to contact me for the info.

Eats

(This post is about dinner, but if you’re interested in breakfast food, check out this Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast review.)

The main offering on the dinner menu is the all-you-can-eat skillet. For dinner ($26.99 per adult), this includes:

Smoked Pork Ribs
Pulled Pork
Oven-roasted Chicken
Beef Brisket
Mashed Potatoes
Cowboy Beans
Corn on the Cob
Mixed Greens Salad with Apple Vinaigrette
Coleslaw
Fresh-baked Cornbread

I find the skillet grub to be quite satisfying! The cornbread and pork ribs are usually my favorite, but, like at ‘Ohana, there’s a different “winner” in the meat department every time.

All-You-Can-Eat Skillet at Whispering Canyon Cafe

Salad

Coleslaw

Cornbread

The kids’ portions are quite generous:

Kids' Plate at Whispering Canyon Cafe

The menu has al la carte items as well, including Pork Loin, Pot Roast, Meatloaf, Trout, Rib-Eye, and Chicken Penne Pasta. There’s a full menu of appetizers, too, including Barbecue Pork Spring Rolls, Western Chips and Dip, and Spinach and Pear Salad, among others.

Desserts showcase S’mores Cheesecake, Pecan Pie, and Apple-Caramel Pie, along with dessert drinks.

Of course, one thing that everyone raves about — and they’re only available at this restaurant as far as I know — are the bottomless milkshakes! They come in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

Whispering Canyon Cafe Bottomless Milkshake

To see links to the full WCC menus, discount information, and more, see our Whispering Canyon Cafe page.

Overall

I’ve had great meals and I’ve had “dud” meals at WCC. Some servers are really fantastic at their job, are great actors, and know how to observe your family and play their role perfectly. Others aren’t so great at the acting, but are trying hard! (The servers here have a very difficult job. They basically need to intuit the mood of everyone at the table and deliver their “show” accordingly. It can be very tough when half the folks are ready for fun and half the folks are feeling less rowdy. Be clear, up front, with how you’d like your meal experience. It’ll be better for everyone involved! ;-) ) This is not a restaurant that you can prepare for; you could have any of a variety of experiences here.

The food, however, is uniformly decent if you’re a barbecue fan. You’re not getting 4-star here, but you’ll have edible grub and plenty of it. While I’ve always ordered the skillet in this restaurant, I’ve heard great reviews of the a la carte entrees as well.

I can’t stress enough: if you’d like to take part in the restaurant’s “antics,” go for prime meal time during breakfast or dinner. If you’d like to try the food, but avoid the crazy, go for lunch. FYI: according to my impromptu Facebook poll, breakfast “goings-on” aren’t as rowdy as those at dinner. (The fewer people in the restaurant, the less rowdy it gets — in my experience).

Now, I’d LOVE to hear what you guys think of Whispering Canyon Cafe! Did you love it? Did you hate it? Great food? Horrible food? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks again to Brett Young for letting me raid his recent photo stash!

As always, thanks to the Wilderness Lodge Site for the use of their photos!

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21 Comments

  1. ehoffman says:

    Thanks for the review! We have thought about trying it on our next trip, but our older son (8) is on the shy side and we’re not sure how he would react…

  2. Amanda says:

    We love Whispering Canyon! The first time we went, I literally had to roll my husband out. It’s a must for us every trip!

  3. chris says:

    Um, no. I need my ketchup.

  4. McKt says:

    We love to eat here, but the atmosphere really is key. I would rather have to wait a few minutes for a table during a busy time than to be seated right away. We have been the first lunch table and did not enjoy it very much. There is no one for the waiters and waitresses to play off of, so the show was pretty much non-existent. We have also gotten a table in the back corner, away from the “action” and that was not as much fun. In a full restaurant with lots of folks around it is a blast for the kids and the adults with pretty good food as well.

  5. Kelly says:

    Isn’t there a cotton candy milk shake too?

  6. Mark D. says:

    Our family loves this place, although it has created one bad habit. Anytime my kids want kechup now, they get together and yell “We Need Ketchup!”

    The BBQ is decent and the cornbread is delicious. We tried the apple pie which was great because we were on the dining plan and although I could only each a couple of bites after all that BBQ and milkshake, it was very good.

  7. Maria says:

    We just went for a very late breakfast, and weren’t thrilled with the experience. But after reading a discussion or two (and this post), we may have to try again sometime for dinner…the food was great at breakfast, but looks even better for dinner!

    Although, Hoop de Doo is looking pretty good too…

  8. Liz says:

    My husband and I ate there a few years ago. The food was good, but I made the mistake of asking for ketchup. We haven’t been back since then ;)

  9. Lillian C. says:

    Oh, I love this place!!! We had the best time last year at WCC. To this day, we still talk about this restaurant. BBQ is delicious and I love the bottomless shakes! Oh, now I miss WDW…..

  10. If you are anything like me, breakfast is NOT the time to go! I am not a morning person and had to deal with the races three times during our meal! That being said, it would be a great place to have some fun with the family or friends. The food was average at best. They probably should’ve gotten an Imigichef (I’m trademarking that one :) ) to spruce it up a little. But, you really are going there for the atmosphere more than anything else. I feel like some Disney restaurants get a “free pass” when it comes to food versus atmosphere. I would definitely go again, but later in the day when I’m not so grumpy.

  11. Rikki says:

    I had one of the most fun meals out of any of our trips here. The memories are a little hazy as to how it all went down, but somehow my hubby “mouthed off” to the waitress about how it took her long enough to come by the table or something…

    So, she sent him to the corner in this little cubby they have in the back for time out! Seriously the most hilarious thing I have ever seen! As she then took his phone, which he’d gotten out to be a troublemaker, so she started sending picture texts of him to his friends in the contacts! (Of course asking me if she could send the pic to that specific person.)

    Honestly, nothing will ever live up to the day when my hubby got sent to time out!

    (Oh and by the way, the food was delicious there too! :) )

  12. Gena says:

    My husband and I are going to WDW 8/2 – 8/7. We will be eating at Whispering Canyon for lunch on 8/2. This was an interesting post, now we know what to expect, it will be the first time we have eaten here. I guess it is a good place to start our vacation!

  13. Leslye says:

    We LOVE WCC. We eat there at least once every trip to WDW. We always have breakfast there and often times have lunch — we too LOVE the bottomless milkshakes. But be creative — We have mix and match milkshakes — For example, orange and chocolate, strawberry and chocolate, vanilla and orange, etc.

    We love the atmosphere and everything it stands for. The thing we hate are the people who go to the management and complain about what this restaurant stands for and what it’s all about. It is a fun place to go and we have never had a bad meal.

    Our favorite server is Hickory. She will be our server when we take our one year old grandson for his first trip in 60 days.

  14. Mark W says:

    I have to ask… How much of this is based on recent experiences? I was there in February, and the atmosphere was definitely lacking vs. previous trips. We asked our server about this, and she said that due to guest complaints, they weren’t aloud to yell anymore, bring out jugs of soda, throw straws, etc. The one thing that still happened was the hobby horse race but that was it.

    Did we just go at a bad time and our server came up with a “creative” excuse, or is this the new policy? It’s a shame because this was always one of my favorite restaurants, but if the atmosphere is really gone, IMHO there’s not much of a reason to go back…

  15. AJ says:

    ehoffman — The servers are pretty adept at figuring out who’s “in” and who’s “out” in terms of the antics. :-)

    Amanda — Thanks for the review!

    chris — We’ll just get you a few cheese danish and you can stay in the lobby ;-)

    McKt — Agreed 100%. This is one restaurant where I WANT to go during the busy times.

    Kelly — It’s not listed on the menu at the moment, but I’m not sure if there are extra flavors each day. I’ve also heard of a creamsicle milkshake here at one point.

    Mark D — Thanks for the review! That’s great that your kids have taken an annoying habit back from WCC — the servers would be so proud! ;)

    Maria — While I’d choose Hoop Dee Doo over WCC if I had to make a choice, I’d say definitely head back to dinner if you can sometime soon. Completely different experience than late brekkie or lunch.

    Liz — Ha! It wasn’t THAT bad, was it?

    Lillian — What a heart-warming review! I miss WDW, too…

    Brian — Good point. It’s more fun later in the day, anyway ;-)

    Rikki — That’s awesome! What a fun story! See, sometimes you hit this place on a great day and it can’t be beat!

    Gena — Just a reminder that the lunch service doesn’t really have as many antics or punchlines as the breakfast and dinner service. This is a new development. If you’d like to take part in the “crazy,” re-book your meal for dinner ;-) Still, the food is good, to be sure!

    Leslye — You’re right. There are plenty of folks who DO complain about the atmosphere. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I guess I can see why people might be caught unawares and think they just have a rude server! ;-)

    Mark W — The photos in this post were mostly taken a couple of weeks ago, so I think the antics are still a-happenin’ at breakfast and dinner. I can’t speak to the jugs of soda, though!

  16. robin says:

    just ONE more place we’ll have to visit on our trip to WDW next year! i should start writing these down. ;)

  17. James says:

    My very pregnant wife, DD9, DD6, DS3, and favorite family babysitter all ate here for the first time back in February 2010. We all had a blast! My wife enjoyed the chicken penne pasta and our babysitter enjoyed the trout. The rest of us had the skillet, which was enjoyable albeit way too much food. I will agree that the food was good overall but it doesn’t amaze. What really makes this place excellent is the fun atmosphere! (The ambiance of the Wilderness Lodge helps out, too.)

    The only disappointment for me was the pecan pie. It was favored with bourbon and it was a little too much so for my tastes. I will also add that our babysitter loved the bottomless milkshakes and that there was more than just chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. I recall an orange creamsicle favor that she shared with my son.

  18. Josh says:

    The Wilderness Lodge is one of my friend’s favourite places to stay when she visits the Walt Disney World Resort. I am unsure as to whether or not she has been to the Whispering Canyon Cafe, so I am going to have to ask her. It sounds like such a wonderful place though!

    I like the little “tween daughter” reference as those girls must have been bribed or something to do all of that for a little boy on his birthday.

    This may be on my to-eat-at list of places next time I am down in Disney World. It sounds appealing in the antics department but the food doesn’t seem as though there is much of it. I do like milkshakes though and if they are anything like the ones sold at the Pinnochio Village Haus, I’m on board!

  19. Glenn says:

    We have reservations for this Sunday night. My family loved it last year, and we had to do it again on this trip. The whole atmosphere of the wilderness lodge really adds to the restaurant. I highly recommend trying it.

  20. Heather says:

    LOVE WCC! My favorite milkshake is cotton candy. its so good! my husband and I are big hams and have participated in kissing contests, and have ridden the ponies around the restaurant by ourselves singing “you are my sunshine” at the top of our lungs! Not to mention the skillet is fab and the service is good. this is a must do on every trip!

  21. Bob says:

    We start out our vacation here every year. It is a good way to get everyone in a fun, playful, frame of mind, and if someone is thirsty order the large Ice Tea.

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