Whispering Canyon Cafe
Despite its name, the Whispering Canyon Cafe is a rowdy restaurant that encourages diners to sing, ride hobby horses (if you’re a grown-up, you only have to do this if you’re naughty), and laugh-out-loud throughout the meal.
Fitting the Wilderness Lodge location in Disney World, Whispering Canyon Cafe servers are in “old West” character, and this place is definitely casual to say the least!
To say it bluntly, Whispering Canyon Cafe will make you feel like a kid again!
Cowboys and Indians decorate the backs of the wooden chairs, whimsical tee-pee light fixtures hang from the ceiling, kids can play with Lincoln Logs while waiting for a seat, and the noise factor will definitely remind you of your junior high lunchroom (maybe not a good thing, but pretty much the truth!).
The servers here are special as well. There are a few Disney World restaurants where servers are part of the entertainment, and Whispering Canyon Cafe is one of them!
With funny “stage” names and devil-may-care attitudes, they’re usually a fun addition to an already fun dining experience. (As always, if you’d rather keep your meal low-key, just let the cast member at the podium as well as your server know that you’d rather not participate in the antics — this usually works.)
Our server on this visit was “Foxy Roxy,” pictured here with a giant fork! What’s the giant fork for, you say? Well, you might just find out should you — or a member of your party — drop your fork during the meal! 😉
Of course, dropping your fork isn’t the only thing that might make you part of the atmosphere here! These two women might have been making cell phone calls at the table — or any other of a number of “naughty behaviors” — that landed them in a hobby horse race around the restaurant!
Personally, I’ve been brought a huge bucket of Diet Coke when I asked for too many refills. And when I was finished drinking the bucket of pop, our server was kind enough to bring me a “Fastpass to the Bathroom,” which I promptly used! 😉
A quick note here that the kids have a great time here as well. There are often games and songs, and they get to take part in real hobby horse races around the restaurant!
However, if you’re planning to try Whispering Canyon, we’ve had reports (and experienced ourselves) that the lunch antics aren’t quite as extensive as those at breakfast and dinner. If you’re hoping for a quieter, less “entertaining” meal, go for lunch.
Our visit was impromptu. We didn’t have an ADR, but wanted to visit a table-service restaurant for lunch and realized that we hadn’t been to Whispering Canyon for quite some time!
We only had to wait for fifteen minutes or so before our buzzer buzzed us into the restaurant. It was nearly empty, so they must have been between the lunch and dinner rush.
Roxy promptly came over and threw napkins and straws at us along with our menus. Like I said, I hadn’t been here for a while, but I was happy to see the staples still on the menu along with some interesting new (to me) appetizers!
We, of course, ordered a Diet Coke and one of the Whispering Canyon Cafe’s famous “Bottomless” milkshakes (free refills through your meal!). The drinks come in mason jars…as they should — this being the old West and all.
The bottomless milkshakes are a specialty of the Whispering Canyon Cafe, and reason enough to visit if you ask me. You can order them in chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. We didn’t test the theory, but I’d bet you could change up flavors on each refill if you you so desired.
We started with a couple of new-to-us appetizers: the Smokey Sweet Corn Chowder and the Pulled Pork Spring Rolls. The corn chowder was delicious — thick and rich with lots of flavor!
The pulled pork spring rolls were good as well; they reminded me of the venison spring rolls that used to be on the menu over at Artist Point. The wrappers were very crispy, and we enjoyed the sweet chili dipping sauce. I could have used a bit more filling — as it was, the wrappers were the predominant texture in the dish.
For our entrees we ordered the BBQ skillet — an all-you-care-to-eat platter of ribs, chicken, sausage, beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and cornbread — and the angus chuck cheeseburger, because I’d heard raves about it from DFB readers!
The turkey sandwich looked good as well — vaguely Thanksgiving-y; and I also liked the addition of the sauteed red quinoa cakes, which seemed like a different take on a veggie meal that what you’d normally see in a BBQ restaurant (especially a moderately-priced one).
The cornbread came first, along with some barbecue sauce for the skillet. The cornbread was more savory that sweet (I prefer sweet) and a little drier than I’d have liked, but those negatives kept me from eating too much and spoiling my dinner!
The skillet arrived quickly, and we dug in. The sausage was the winner for me here, though the ribs were a close second. The chicken was a pretty distant third, sadly. Not too much taste or flavor there.
The mashed potatoes and baked beans were great, and the corn on the cob tasted fresh instead of “re-heated,” which was very nice. I have some serious contempt for restaurants that serve re-heated corn on the cob — the kind where all the kernels are starting to collapse in on themselves and that plump “just-boiled” sheen is all gone? Yuck. This corn on the cob did not suffer from the “collapsed kernels” affliction. The coleslaw was a nice, cooling addition to the skillet.
The burger was…perfection. Cooked to order, it wasn’t overdone, dried out, or completely raw (shocking how difficult it is to get a truly good burger cooked well these days), and the serving of meat was massive.
We both enjoyed the few bites we took, but with that much food, I’ll admit we didn’t get nearly as many bites as I wanted. Thanks to those readers who recommended the burger here!
On to dessert!
It was a difficult decision. I knew I wanted to try the s’mores cheesecake, but the second dessert was up for grabs. I was sold on the bread pudding, but when we asked Roxy, she told us to get the apple-caramel pie. We trusted Roxy, and we weren’t disappointed!
The s’mores cheesecake was great. I wish the marshmallows had been toasted — or even that there had been a marshmallow “frosting” type of situation like we found on the s’mores cupcake down at Roaring Fork — but the layers of graham cracker crust and delicious cheesecake filling made up for it.
The apple-caramel pie, though, my friends, was amazing. I think I owe Roxy my first-born for that recommendation. As full as we were, we were fighting over this one.
I know, I know — it doesn’t look like much in the picture, but those fresh, cinnamon-y apples; the strudel; the caramel sauce; the ice cream…absolutely incredible.
By the way, that extra little dish of caramel sauce doesn’t come with the pie. We ordered it on the side since we’re pretty sure that you can never have enough caramel sauce.
The Whispering Canyon Cafe, in my opinion, has stepped up its game food-wise. My last visit was a couple of years ago, and while it was good, it seemed tired. The skillet meats were overdone, the menu items didn’t read as fresh and interesting, and the atmosphere felt flat.
Whoever is running the place now, however, has breathed a bit of life into WCC. I thought the food was simple, but excellent. We were impressed with each dish, even though we’d had the skillet many times before. The new appetizers were fun and interesting, and we liked the addition of a few new entrees as well.
Interestingly, this is how I feel about the Artist Point next door, too, so I wonder if the change has to do with new oversight over the restaurants at Wilderness Lodge. I really have no idea if there even is a new manager in charge of the cuisine at the hotel, but if so, kudos to him or her! Both restaurants seem rejuvenated in terms of food and service, and I’ll be heading back over more often than before.
So if you haven’t been back to Whispering Canyon Cafe in a while, it might be time to journey back to the old West for a bite to eat. They’re doing things a little differently, but the same old fun and antics are still around!
Have you been to Whispering Canyon Cafe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!