It’s been FOREVER since I enjoyed a fun evening at Whispering Canyon Cafe. So I talked a friend into heading over to this supa fun restaurant for dinner the last time I was in Orlando!
Whispering Canyon Cafe
Sitting just off the main lobby of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the moderately priced table service restaurant is a can’t miss for some guests…but nothing special for others.
During our last visit, we took a look at how the lunch and dinner menus had changed drastically from what fans were used to. And guess what? In the middle of writing this review, we get word that it’s changed again!
Git yer ponies saddled up and yer vittles bag tied on! It’s time to ride on in! (Did any of that make sense? No? Hmm.)
Whispering Canyon Cafe is one of the easiest Disney restaurants to find. Head into Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, hang a left, and you can’t miss it.
There’s even a good chance that you’ll hear it before you see it. That’s because there are bona fide antics going on throughout the meal. The name Whispering Canyon? Definitely tongue-in-cheek.
Themeing here seems ever so slightly more “cowboy and Indian” than in the rest of the lobby. Whereas the rest of that area has a slightly more elegant Mission style, Whispering Canyon is more whimsical. It reminds me of a playroom off from the rest of the grown ups’ space. 🙂
Wood is all around you everywhere, echoing that lodge-y feel. Seating is mixed, with table and chair combos, as well as booths. And check out the super cool Indian chief on the backs of these chairs!
Others feature cowboys on bucking broncos.
The servers can make or break your experience at Whispering Canyon. They have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves, though. So whatever you do, don’t drop your fork! (Unless you really want to know what the giant fork is for.)
And speaking of the giant fork, Whispering Canyon is as well known for the crazy games and silly gags as it is for its Bottomless Milkshakes and Skillets. Ask for ketchup, and you’ll likely get a tableful. And naughty grown-ups just may find themselves competing in a stick horse race.
And you can count on the fact that your straws will most likely be delivered in a less than gentle manner.
In our experience, the shenanigans — are the kids saying that these days? — are more lively at breakfast and dinner than at lunch. And of course, if you’re just looking for a quiet dinner, just let your server know you aren’t really up for the silliness and they’ll happily switch gears for you. (Though even if your server is taking it easy on you, we can’t promise that the rest of the place will be quiet.)
Overall, the atmosphere is casual, fun, and charged, so prepare yourself (and your kids if they’re with you) for that.
When it came time to check out our options, we started with the Beverage Menu, and noticed a couple of new items right away. And for the first time ever, I was aware of the less-than-expansive wine options here. I wonder if you could get something from Territory Lounge, or even the Artist Point wine menu? Let me know if you’ve had success with doing this!
We made our last visit to Whispering Canyon Cafe in the wake of earth-shattering news — big menu changes removed the beloved skillets from the lunch menu, and took a la carte options off the dinner menu.
Well. That didn’t last long.
I just peeked at the lunch menu online, and there’s a “Seasonal All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Platter” for 21.99 per person. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this means that something similar to the skillet is BACK on the lunch menu! Has anyone enjoyed this option recently?
And — as we see during this visit — a la carte options have returned to the dinner hour. So everyone should be a little closer to happy than they were during the menu hatchet-job a while back.
And one of our wonderful readers just informed us that Whispering Canyon has rolled out a new menu. Well, newish. Below, you’ll see the menu that we had during our visit. It includes the Build Your Own All You Care to Enjoy Platter and a la carte options.
Well, whimsy reigns supreme at WCC, and they have JUST rolled out this new menu as of the beginning of May. Thanks to @Iheartbiscuit on Twitter for the heads up!
It doesn’t really look like a ton has changed food-wise actually.
Under Trailblazing Starters section the Flash Fried Navajo Bread is (sob) gone. But take heart — apparently, it’s still available at lunch. (For now, at least.)
The Loaded Yukon Gold Potato Leek Soup has given way to Ranger John’s Chicken and Corn Tortilla Soup. There’s also a new seafood starter — Mason’s Shrimp and Crab Cocktail.
And here’s another piece of big news — the name “Skillet” has returned to the menu! Interesting to note, there doesn’t seem to be any of the “pick some stuff, and then you can order more” routine that we encountered during our meal. They’ve returned to the old protocol, and you get it all. Hooray! (Fish is no longer a skillet option. In my opinion, that’s just as well. More about why in just a sec.)
Finally, what had been referred to as the Lighter Side of the Trail is now Main Claim Entrees. (This makes sense, as there was nothing really light about a lot of the offerings on the previous menu.) The biggest news in this section will interest fish lovers: you now have two options to choose from.
Whew! So some changes — and I’m betting that they’ll make many of you happy! For now though, let’s go ahead and talk about the meal we enjoyed, since everything here is available at some point in the day. 🙂
We decided to start with a couple of new beverages. We just had to check out the Moonshine Flight. Featuring three different varieties of Troy & Sons Moonshine, we thought this was a really fun addition to the list of flights you can get at Disney World. And it’s pretty reasonable as flights go as well.
As for taste, it reminded my friend a bit of tequila, which we both thought was interesting.
But we also wanted to check out the Mountain Trail Cocktail, which included Whiskey, Chambord, Blackberry Brandy, and a little lemonade. Isn’t this gorgeous? Sweet and delicious with a little spike of tart. I have a feeling this is one of those drinks that could go down way too fast and easy if you aren’t paying attention! 😉
I wasn’t in the mood for it this time, but I had previously sampled the Moonshine Margarita, and loved the perfect sweet-tart balance.
To be honest, there weren’t a whole lot of new items to try on the menu. But that was A-OK with us! It just meant that we could enjoy a repeat of some of our old favorites.
We started with Western Chips, featuring Tortilla Chips and a trio of Dips — Venison Chili, Cheese Dip (!!!!!!!), and Fresh Salsa. The presentation had changed a little since the last time we had it, and the chili — which previously featured Buffalo — now stars Venison. But overall, the flavors were similar. If you like chips and dip with a Tex Mex feel (and plastic cheese), you’ll like these.
We also couldn’t pass up the Flash Fried Navajo Bread. Brushed with Citrus Honey and served with a chunky Tomato Jam, this unique appetizer is a winner. Too bad it’s no longer available at dinner service; but you can get it at lunch!
A new dish for us this time out was the Smoked Chicken Quesadilla.
The wedges featured Roasted Vegetables and Smoky Jack Cheese in addition to the Chicken. And they had a nice little spicy kick! They were really good, with complex flavors and just the right amount of spice. Still, not too much going on here that the kiddos wouldn’t like it.
I chose the Platter — thereby setting myself up for an endless parade of food!
The odyssey began with the Platter Salad:Mixed Greens tossed with the fan favorite Apple Vinaigrette Dressing. I thought it was pretty impressive, with the Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans on top.
I also enjoyed Cornbread with my platter. It’s not DISNEYLAND cornbread, which is ah-mazing; but at least it’s in the ballpark.
Building your own All You Care to Enjoy Platter means that you’ll start with three of the protein selections, and then you can try the other two (or have more of something you especially liked.) Somehow, I managed to score four options on my first go-round.
To begin, I went with my favorites — Western-style Sausage, Pulled Pork, Kansas City-style Smoked Pork Rib, and Hand-carved, Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin. Everything was decent, but the pulled pork and pork rib weren’t as flavorful as I expected. The sausage was the winner here. (Remember, you now get the “skillet” again, which includes everything on the list.)
The serving of each meat was plentiful — definitely more than enough for one person!
Normally, the sides are served family-style for the table to share, and are replenished as needed. However, I was the only one enjoying the platter on this visit, so I got cute little individual sides instead.
Even though I was more than satisfied with everything we had sampled up to this point, I wanted to at least see the other meat options. I mean, you guys need to know! Right? And so I asked for a serving of the Citrus Crusted Market Fish as well as the Roasted Chicken.
I joked with our server because I just knew that the chicken was going to be dismal — dry, overcooked, and tasteless. But I was so wrong! It was AWESOME!!!!! Seriously; I would totally order that chicken alone the next time I’m there.
I didn’t have high hopes for the fish, however, and that prediction bore out. My friend sampled it, and said that it was wholly forgettable.
But wait! In addition to the platter bounty, we also sampled an a la carte dinner item. Ya-hoo! We’re nothing if not thorough.
My friend was in a comfort food frame of mind — how could you not be, sitting in a cowboy chair? — and chose the Griddled Western Buffalo Meatloaf. Served with crisp Green Beans and rich Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, she thought the dish was pretty heavenly.
You may find this hard to believe, but dessert was still calling our name. Not a lot is different here in the dessert category. You will note, though, that dessert is no longer included with the platter, as it was following the menu change.
Welp, it’s not much of a surprise. But anytime I’m in Whispering Canyon Cafe, there’s probably going to be a slice of Apple Caramel Pie involved.
And tonight, it was enormous! Definitely big enough for sharing. Oddly, though, it wasn’t warm like it usually is. We asked our server about it, and she assured us that it was warmed up (and in her defense, the ice cream had sort of become a pool of vanilla sauce on the plate, so she’s probably right.) I’m not sure where the disconnect was. But it’s definitely a dessert that should be warm. So make sure yours is. And I promise, you will love it. (And if you don’t, call me. I’ll happily help you finish it.)
We also ordered the Seasonal Fruit Cobbler, which is meant to be shared. And it’s pretty enormous, too, so there was no problem with that. The Peach Blueberry filling definitely had the taste of something that was prepared in house, and not emptied from a can. The cake was the perfect foil for the tangy fruit and melting ice cream.
So simple, and so yum.
My great track record with Whispering Canyon Cafe still holds. This is still an excellent place to get better than good food in hearty proportions. And with a few different “bottomless” options, it’s a good non-buffet choice when you have a table full of big eaters to accommodate.
Our server was attentive and read the situation well; we had fun with her, but she didn’t go too far with it. And actually, a few dishes that we weren’t expecting to be all that great turned out to be the winners of the night!
And so, Whispering Canyon Cafe continues to get high marks from me — for a fun atmosphere, good service, and tasty food.
Is Whispering Canyon Cafe one of your favorite dining destinations? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!