Review: Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

We’re heading back to Whispering Canyon Cafe for dinner!

This fun spot, located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, is the perfect place to dine with the whole family. What can you expect at Whispering Canyon? Generous portions, comfort foods, lots of all you care to enjoy options, and antics aplenty.

If I’m not enjoying breakfast here during a Walt Disney World visit, then you’ll probably find me at the dinner table at least once a year. And that was the case recently. Let’s check it out.

Atmosphere

If you’re trying to locate Whispering Canyon Cafe, you can’t really miss it. It’s immediately to your left as soon as you walk through the doors of the Wilderness Lodge.

Whispering Canyon Sign

Whispering Canyon Sign

Because it’s not all that removed — or removed at all — from the lobby, that means that when the antics really get going, you’re probably going to hear them throughout the space.

Antics, she said? What antics? Well, things like this:

Warning -- Good Times Ahead -- Click to Enlarge

Warning — Good Times Ahead — Click to Enlarge

So don’t say you weren’t warned. But you may want to know just exactly what kind of goings-on you can expect. Well, in the morning, you might see kids’ hobby horse races:

Dining Room During Morning Races

Dining Room During Morning Races

And in the evening, naughty parents may be coerced into the same for their misdeeds.

Hobby Horse Race at Whispering Canyon Cafe

Hobby Horse Race at Whispering Canyon Cafe

Ask for straws, and you’re likely to get a handful thrown at you. And what happens if you request ketchup? Well, probably this:

Someone Asked for Ketchup . . .

Someone Asked for Ketchup . . .

Is there a way to stop this madness if it’s not something that you dig? Well, yes. Yes there is. Use these handy Flip Cards to communicate your wishes to your server. If you don’t want to play along, let them know, and they’ll pull back on the zany.

Flip Card -- Red "Watch from the Fence!" Side

Flip Card — Red “Watch from the Fence!” Side

Flip Card --Green " Jump and Play" Side

Flip Card –Green ” Jump and Play” Side

Seating at Whispering Canyon Cafe is fairly basic. Tables and chairs comprise most of the seating.

Seating

Seating

I do love the old fashioned motifs on the backs of the chairs. You can play Cowboys and Indians to your heart’s content.

Cowboys and Indians on the Back of Chairs

Cowboys and Indians on the Back of Chairs

And when it’s time for fun, they’ll call you with the triangle!

The Triangle!

The Triangle!

Ready to move on from the playing and get down to the serious business of eating? Me too. Let’s go.

Eats

At Whispering Canyon Cafe, the core of the menu just doesn’t change a whole lot. The thing to get here are all-you-care-to-eat skillets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have a la carte items as well, of course, but the most popular items are the skillets.

Menu Cover

Menu Cover

A few years ago, when they briefly fiddled with the menu and removed the skillets, there were nearly riots. Fortunately, they’ve returned all of the menus — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — to a mix of skillets and a la carte options. So order has been restored.

In the spirit of the “All You Care to Enjoy” phenomenon, I decided to start with a Whispering Canyon hallmark — a Bottomless Milkshake. This time out I chose Vanilla. I love the little extra decadence in the form of Whipped Cream on top…as if all-you-can-drink milkshakes aren’t quite enough. :-) And here’s a TIP — You can get them for breakfast, too!

Bottomless Milkshake

Bottomless Milkshake

Once we placed our food orders, a lovely loaf of sweet Cornbread arrived, accompanied by Whipped Butter. This is pretty much the same stuff you’ll get around the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, including Hoop Dee Doo Revue. And that’s a good thing. This is pretty killer cornbread.

Cornbread with Butter

Cornbread with Butter

On to appetizers! We spied some new menu items, so we decided to give a few a try. First up were the Duck Pot Stickers. I found these to be less like Potstickers and more like full-on fried dumplings. They were served with a Soy Dipping Sauce.

Duck Potstickers

Duck Pot Stickers

I’m a duck fan, and a dumpling fan, and we found these to be deeeee-licious. No joke; we loved ‘em. Wilderness Lodge restaurants have been incorporating Asian-themed menu items for several years now, and this is a highly recommended one.

Duck Potstickers -- Inside

Duck Potstickers — Inside

Next, I couldn’t pass up one of the most popular Whispering Canyon starters, the Gold Rush Western Chips. The heaping plate of Tortilla Chips is served with a Chili-Queso for dipping. We weren’t too impressed with the chips here (our group was largely from Texas where chips and queso are a way of life), but the chili-queso with a sour cream floater was substantial and smokey. Plus, as you can see, the serving size was HUGE.

Gold Rush Western Chips

Gold Rush Western Chips

I’ll go ahead and give away the plot now — one of us ordered the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Skillet. :-) As part of the entree, you get a salad to start. It’s a pretty serious deal, chock full of Veggies, and topped with Blue Cheese Crumbles, apples, and Apple Vinaigrette Dressing. This was nicely fresh and a good amount to share even though we only ordered one skillet.

Family Style Mixed Greens Salad

Family Style Mixed Greens Salad

Soon, our entrees began to arrive. Let’s start with the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Skillet. This is a whole lotta food, even when the portion is just for one person. In addition to the Meats TeamSmoked Pork Ribs, Barbecued Pulled Pork, Roasted Glazed Chicken, Beef Brisket, and Western-style Sausage — you also get ample side dishes.

All You Care to Enjoy Skillet

All You Care to Enjoy Skillet

On this visit, we also received a Vegetable Medley, Mashed Yukon Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, and Cowboy-style Baked Beans.

The skillet overall, is still a major winner. This is all-you-care-to-eat, so you can order more of anything. The winner on the meat team was the Barbecue Pork. The loser? Chicken. And I’ll tell you right now to order extra of those mashed potatoes!

All You Care to Enjoy Skillet -- Another View

All You Care to Enjoy Skillet — Another View

I had enjoyed the Skillet on a previous visit, so this time out, I decided to try the Steak-Your-Claim Char-Crusted New York Strip. The presentation was pretty upscale for Whispering Canyon, I thought.

Steak-Your-Claim Char-crusted New York Strip

Steak-Your-Claim Char-crusted New York Strip

The steak came nicely marked from the grill, and I loved the ample serving of Blue Cheese Compound Butter on top to add an extra element of flavor. The Housemade Steak Sauce (that’s the schmear on the plate — there was no added steak sauce on top of the steak) also adds another dimension. And the accompaniments of pencil-thin fresh sauteed Asparagus and roasted New Potatoes were simple, but well executed.

Steak-Your-Claim Char-crusted New York Strip

Steak-Your-Claim Char-crusted New York Strip

A cross-cut of the steak indicated that it was cooked nearly perfectly. And, honestly, this was much better than I’d expected it to be. The flavors were spot on.

Steak-Your-Claim Char-crusted New York Strip -- Inside

Steak-Your-Claim Char-crusted New York Strip — Inside

We certainly could have called it a day right there! But Whispering Canyon has some wonderful comfort food-inspired desserts. And there was no way we were taking a pass.

My friend opted for the Campfire-Style Gooey Cake.

Campfire-Style Gooey Cake

Campfire-Style Gooey Cake

Campfire-Style Gooey Cake -- Up Close

Campfire-Style Gooey Cake — Up Close

Basically, this is a Lava Cake, with a super liquidy, chocolate center. Chocolate fanatics — you’ve come to the right place.

It was amazing, but I’d highly recommend ordering it with a scoop of ice cream.

Campfire-Style Gooey Cake -- Inside

Campfire-Style Gooey Cake — Inside

Sadly, one of my favorite desserts, the Apple Caramel Pie, was nowhere to be found on the menu. Why Disney? Why?

So we contented ourselves with our second favorite dessert here — Fruit Cobbler à la Mode.

Fruit Cobbler à la Mode

Fruit Cobbler à la Mode

I love that the warm-from-the-oven dessert comes topped with BOTH Whipped Cream AND Ice Cream.

Fruit Cobbler à la Mode -- Up Close

Fruit Cobbler à la Mode — Up Close

Both of them sort of melt into the cakey cobbler in a wonderful way. And speaking of the cobbler, it’s seasonal; so on my visit, we had a peach-blueberry version. SO good! And that sweet cake crust on top was the next best thing to a streusel in my estimation. It was delicious.

Fruit Cobbler à la Mode -- Inside

Fruit Cobbler à la Mode — Inside

So much great food! And another successful dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe.

Overall

Whispering Canyon Cafe maintains its standing as one of our favorite family friendly restaurants in Walt Disney World. With a lively atmosphere, decent service (referring to the actual taking of and fulfilling orders, since the servers are supposed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek here when it comes to how they treat guests), and good (bordering on great) menu items, I am comfortable recommending this spot nearly every time I eat there.

Sure, you aren’t going to enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner here. (Well. Not unless you’re really unique in your tastes.) But that’s not what you’re here to experience. You’re here for stick-to-your-ribs food, and a rowdy good time. And don’t forget — YOU set the tone and control the rowdy. Don’t hesitate to tell your server if you’d rather have a quieter dining experience.

As for me, I’ll keep enjoying my Skillet with a side of fun. Because that’s how we roll here at DFB. :-)

But now, I’d love to hear from you guys! What’s your favorite dish or experience at Whispering Canyon Cafe? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Comments

  1. says

    One of our families all time favorites. Girls, ask to go every time we go to Disney. Can’t beat the skillet, bring an appetite. Truthfully, never had bad service, usually they are way over the top.

  2. Deb says

    You’ve been nicely reviewing some of the new places we decided to try on our trip in December!! Thanks for this one!! We added it to our list from a previous review, so excited to see its still a good one!!

  3. Jess says

    Thanks for the review. We are going here in October at the request of my father. He looked it up and kept saying he wanted to go here. He never makes suggestions and is very roll with the punches so I knew I had to add it to the list. Seeing your review, now I know why. This SCREAMS my father. I look forward to trying something new. Last time we ate at Artist Point and it was incredible.

  4. Jessica says

    Love Whispering Canyon! The grilled salmon is delicious and has a beautiful presentation as well!

  5. Janet says

    One of our favorite places to go! We aren’t really outgoing but the food is good, and while I’d never really ride a horse , it’s fun even to just watch. Only once in our many visits have we ever had a waiter who was kind of a jerk, i.e. Mean not fun but I doubt he lasted long!

    Just a tip, we like to go for breakfast on a non park day so we can linger. Dinner, just don’t go exhausted :)

  6. Essie says

    I have to put this on my future to do list. I always try to do at least two new spots on each trip and I’d love to see the lodge.

  7. Hannah says

    We love the breakfast skillet but now seeing the dinner skillet, it looks even better. Essie…the lodge is totally worth the trip. We have stayed here twice and it’s amazing. The boat trip from MK is beautiful.

  8. Jose says

    I am SUPER excited to say that my family and I are eating here on Christmas Day and enjoying their Christmas meal. Has anyone ever done Whispering Canyon for Christmas?

  9. Dave F says

    Loved our lunch there while staying at the resort last yr. We were all in on the fun (green side up) and weren’t let down. I had a case of ketchup, still plastic wrapped together as a 12 pak, dumped onto table when my daughter requested some. Straws were flyin! My salmon was amazing, pulled pork sandwich with all the fixins awesome, quesadillas were good, I had the bottomless shake after justifying it with ordering salmon and had 3 different flavors. Great place for large parties, loud parties, kids, etc. I also received a restroom fast pass to the local outhouse!

  10. Laura R says

    Do they still have the Moonshine Margaritas? I’m not a huge drinker, but those were amazing. The last time I was there we saw our server the next day working the Jungle Cruise, so by that alone, you know the service will be fun.

  11. Elizabeth says

    I heard they have a new ice cream dessert similar to the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream. Do you know anything about that?

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