Review: Skipper Canteen in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Greetings, fellow Explorers and Adventurers!

We’re back for another dining adventure at the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen… more often referred to (for obvious reasons) as the Skipper Canteen, or — before we learned that tongue twister of a full name — the Jungle Cruise Restaurant, themed for the classic Jungle Cruise attraction.

Your very own Jungle Cruise Skipper is ready to take you on a culinary tour through the Jungle Cruise’s regular stomping — or floating — grounds of Asia, Africa, and South America. That’s what makes up the “World Famous Jungle Cuisine!

And you may just enjoy some of that Jungle Cruise slapstick — both from your server and your surroundings — while you’re at it.

So, welcome back, Cruisers…

Skipper Canteen Entrance

Skipper Canteen Entrance

… as we once again set foot inside the Skipper Canteen!

Atmosphere

Our story begins with Dr. Albert Falls (the name behind the Schweitzer… Falls in the Jungle Cruise. Naturally ;) ).

Dr. Albert Falls

Dr. Albert Falls

In 1911, he founded the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd., specializing in tropical river cargo shipping.

Jungle Navigation Co. Grand Opening Banner

Jungle Navigation Co. Grand Opening Banner

In the years that followed, the company was taken over by the Dr.’s daughter, Alberta.

Alberta Falls

Alberta Falls

Skipper Canteen Story Written by Alberta Falls

Skipper Canteen Story Written by Alberta Falls

As it turned out, though, the tropical river cargo shipping business wasn’t quite what it used to be. As shipping opportunities declined, the business model changed.

Inaugural Jungle Cruise Banner

Inaugural Jungle Cruise Banner

Thanks to the suggestion of a Skipper, the Jungle Cruise was born, offering guided rivers tours where tourism had eclipsed cargo shipping! The banner above hangs in the Crew Mess Hall, one of three possible dining rooms you may be seated in.

Crew's Mess Hall

Crew’s Mess Hall

Artifacts from the regions of the jungle rivers line the colorful walls.

Artifacts on the wall

Artifacts on the wall

And while it may appear less interesting to the eye at a glance, be sure you take a good long look at the Crew Bulletin Board to pick up some of that punny-and-wonderful Jungle Cruise humor along with other Adventureland references.

Crew Mess Hall Bulletin Board

Crew Mess Hall Bulletin Board

Crew Bulletin Board

Crew Bulletin Board

Crew Bulletin Board

Crew Bulletin Board

Seriously, be sure to pack in some extra time for exploring the whole restaurant no matter which room you’re seated in, which may be the Falls Family Parlor, also referred to as the Jungle Room.

Falls Family Parlor

Falls Family Parlor

Falls Family Parlor chandelier

Falls Family Parlor chandelier

Should you find yourself being lead past a group of bookcases, though…

Bookcases lining the hallway from the Mess Hall

Bookcases lining the hallway from the Mess Hall

Hallway Bookcases

Hallway Bookcases

…that means you’ll be seated in the S.E.A. Room, which was once hidden behind those very shelves. Why?

S.E.A Room

S.E.A. Room

Because this room was once the secret meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, of which Dr. Falls was a member.

S.E.A. Room

S.E.A. Room

S.E.A. Room

S.E.A. Room

Of course, we could spend all day looking around at the details and diving deeper into the story. But we’ve got even more exploring to do…

Eats

You see, the food at the Skipper Canteen is a little on the adventurous side, with dishes inspired by the areas of the world featured on the Jungle Cruise attraction: Asia, South America, and Africa.

But let’s start with drinks, because the offerings here have certainly changed since my last visit. Like a few other Table Service restaurants in Magic Kingdom, Skipper Canteen began serving alcohol last December (prior to that time, Be Our Guest Restaurant was the only Magic Kingdom restaurant that sold alcohol — for dinner only — in what used to be a completely dry park). Here are the Canteen’s offerings.

Wine and Beer Menu

Wine and Beer Menu

You’ll find non-alcoholic options listed on the same page with the the Appetizer menu. I’ll get into more detail about the apps next. But while you’re waiting, just a friendly reminder that you can still opt to get souvenir cups here.

Appetizers and Beverages

Appetizers and Beverages

But how about some grub? Because a few of the appetizers here are worth losing your head over (just DON’T tempt Trader Sam with that info)! S.E.A. Shu Mai is a delicious combination of Pork, Shrimp, Mung Beans, and Spices wrapped in a pleated Gyoza Skin. They’re steamed and served with a simple side of rich Soy Sauce.

S.E.A. Shu Mai

S.E.A. Shu Mai

Visible seasoning includes Sesame Seeds, while you can also get a hint of Ginger and Garlic. The steamed pork and shrimp go really well together, like a pillowy surf and turf. The Gyoza wrappers are simple dumpling dough, providing a slightly chewy texture that suits dumplings.

S.E.A. Shu Mai Interior

S.E.A. Shu Mai Interior

But for what it’s worth, there’s another app that topped even that one. It’s called Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas, and features many of the components of the Housemade Arepas that this dish replaced. It starts with golden Corn Pancakes that are topped with Mojo-Braised Pork, Black Bean Salad, and Avocado Cream.

Orinoco Ida's Cachapas

Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas

Now, maybe it doesn’t sound like much. Beans? Avocado? Corn Cakes? But that Mojo-Braised Pork is seriously outtathisworld! In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I asked for some on the side during the entree round. And then I asked for more. Just sayin’.

Speaking of entrees, this is where the Skipper Canteen really lets the creativity flow for Niles… and Niles… and Niles. Even the names of the dishes will have you chuckling that sardonic little chuckle that’s part of the whole Jungle Cruise experience.

Entree Menu

Entree Menu

The uber-adventurous diners in your group might be interested in trying the Whole Fried Fish or Trader Sam’s Head-On Shrimp, while “Tastes Like Chicken” Because It Is and “A Lot Like Steak” Salad offers some more familiar fare among the rest of the dishes that make up the range.

Since the Skippers started serving grub at the Canteen, we’ve seen a few subtle and not-so-subtle changes to the some of the dishes. So I wanted to dive in and try some of the updated versions.

Skipper Canteen Plates

Skipper Canteen Plates

First up: a crowd pleaser called “Tastes Like Chicken” Because It Is.  This dish used to feature marinated and grilled chicken with a hoisin sauce, but now the chicken is served battered and deep-fried (Aw, yeah). The Fried Chicken now comes with Citrus- and Ginger-Scented Rice, Chili Glaze, and Seasonal Vegetables.

Tastes Like Chicken

“Tastes Like Chicken” Because It Is

THIS. IS. DELICIOUS. I loved the sweet and slightly spicy Chili Glaze, and the nice julienne of the vegetables. The chicken was perfect — nice and crispy, but super tender and not heavy with oil. It rivaled some of my favorite Disney fried chicken at Homecomin’!

Skip’s Beefy Baked Pasta has also undergone a change, this time in plating. It used to come in a bowl, and honestly looked a little anemic. But the new plating is a large square of the baked pasta dripping in creamy Bechamel Sauce. The protein here is a Spiced Braised Beef (shredded, as opposed to the original ground), which the menu indicates is inspired by Egyptian cuisine.

Skip's Beefy Baked Pasta

Skip’s Beefy Baked Pasta

This incarnation of the dish is maybe a little more assembly-line-esque with its cube-ness, but the flavor is still good, especially thanks to the Bechamel Sauce. But keep the salt shaker handy.

Nile Nelly’s Noodle Bowl is precisely what you’d expect it to be: a large bowl full of Rice Noodles and thinly-sliced Veggies with bits of Chicken in a flavorful Broth. And if you’ve ever tried a noodle bowl, you know it’s all about that broth. I’m glad to say this one is good. You’ll also find fresh Jalapeno and fresh Herbs in there, giving some depth to the flavor as well.

Nile Nelly's Noodle Bowl

Nile Nelly’s Noodle Bowl

Where adventurous adult eaters can find plenty of fun options on the menu, you may want to know that the Kids’ Menu does have some more kid-friendly options, like Junior Skip’s Classic Mac and Cheese, Chef Tandaji’s Crispy Chicken, and Mickey Check Meals which include Grilled Sustainable Fish, Grilled Steak, and Chicken Noodle Soup.

Skipper Canteen Kids' Menu

Skipper Canteen Kids’ Menu

And, of course, Skipper Canteen offers some playful desserts as well, but none of them are truly great. We skipped them.

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Plus, in this case, the options haven’t changed a ton. You may remember the Coconut Bar with Pineapple-Basil Compote and Vanilla Cream.

Coconut Bar with Pineapple Basil Compote and Vanilla Cream

Coconut Bar with Pineapple Basil Compote and Vanilla Cream

And, of course, the Kungaloosh!

Kungaloosh Dessert

Kungaloosh Dessert

And with that, as always… the sign off from the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen remains the same.

Note from Alberta Falls

Note from Alberta Falls

“Please get out.”

Nosh or Not?

Skipper Canteen might be for you if:

  • You have adventurous eaters. While Skipper Canteen isn’t Andrew Zimmern-worthy, it does stray outside the envelope of typical Magic Kingdom restaurant food.
  • You LOVE Jungle Cruise. The puns permeate this joint, and you could spend an hour just looking around at all of the details. Be sure to read the book spines on the bookshelves!

Skipper Canteen might be a miss if:

  • You have super picky eaters who just want chicken nuggets and pizza. This place won’t deliver.
  • You’re looking for princesses and pooh bears. If your kiddos are looking for Mickey, this place will go totally over their heads.
  • You’re seeking romance. While adventuring through the continents may sound romantic, this place is more silly and fun than swoon-worthy.

Overall

The Skipper Canteen hasn’t even been open for two years at this point. But thanks to its tie-in to an absolutely classic Disney attraction, it feels wonderfully familiar. And even though the menu has received some tweaks since the Canteen’s opening days, I’m glad to see that it still leans towards the side of adventurous items — by theme park standards, in any case — in keeping with the adventurous theme of the restaurant AND attraction. The fact that several of those items are well made and enjoyable makes the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen a must-visit — at least one time, if not more — for Jungle Cruise fans as well as fans of great dining experiences at Disney World.

And NOW… I’ll get out, as requested ;) .

Tell us all about your Skipper Canteen adventure in the comments! 

 

Comments

  1. says

    My husband and I went to Skipper Canteen for this first time this past May on our honeymoon! It was fantastic! We like to check out the decor, but felt a bit intrusive peering around as everyone was eating. Still, we enjoyed the S.E.A. room! We were seated in the mess hall, and didn’t even realize there was a third room! Love those chandeliers!

    We sat in the mess hall near the entrance and kitchens, and I caught a snippet “from the kitchen”. In this ambient audio recording, the boss told the dishwasher to get moving on the dishes. You hear the boss walk away and the dishwasher calls for some help from his elephant friend, who uses her trunk to help with the mess! It was a great little touch!!

    We got the cachapas and they were FANTASTIC! I didn’t think corn cakes, pulled pork, beans, and avocado could work together so magically, but they totally did! My husband got the fried chicken and I got the whole fried fish, feeling adventurous. Both were delicious, and I have a great little adventurous story to tell!

    Since it was our honeymoon, our waiter brought out a dessert free of charge. I didn’t see the dessert on the menu, but it was a little lava cake with crispy “rocks” cascading down the sides, a hardened, sugary explosion of lava (how did they do that!?) and a “Congratulations!” written on a bit of white chocolate. It was the first thing we did on our honeymoon, so it was a touching (and scrumptious) way to start!!

    We will most definitely be going back to Skipper Canteen when we go. I want to try it all!

  2. says

    We just ate there a couple weeks ago for lunch. Our waitress skipper was very funny! I ordered the whole fried fish, and it was hard to eat but delish!

  3. says

    Hi AJ, just a minor correction, you mentioned Alberta is Dr. Albert Falls daughter but according to her Skipper Canteen letter, she’s his GrandDaughter.
    Cheers,
    Ray

  4. Essie says

    I love the Jungle Cruise Ride, but up to this point, I’ve had no interest in eating here. The menu just left me cold. I loved Yak & Yeti, the atmosphere and the food, but for some reason, nothing here appealed to me. Now it does. I’ve always been anxious to see it and now the fried chicken dish looks wonderful. I would definitely like to try this spot on my next trip. Great report!

  5. says

    You missed out by not getting the Quick Sand dessert. Not everyone like rice pudding but it is really great. One the best in the parks I’ve tried.

  6. Heidi Bamford says

    My daughters and I had lunch at the Canteen this past March and we found it to be a wonderful experience! The subtle(!?) humor found in both the decor and the staff is definitely not lost on young adults! Good place to bring families who may be just getting a bit beyond the traditional character meals! And absolutely good food – and a break from the usual park fare – my girls are adventurous eaters (and one is vegetarian), so this was perfect for them – we all had the falafel and crew stew and loved both! Prices may be high, but so is everything pretty much in Disney! If we return to the MK, this will be on our “to-dining list!”

  7. says

    We just tried Skipper Canteen for the first time a few weeks ago and I was not impressed. I like adventurous food, but everything left me wanting. Even the shu mai just didn’t do it for me. I had the tastes like chicken because it is and it was just okay. It needed more sauce, more flavor, more something. And the staff left us hanging for a while. Not the service I’ve come to expect from Disney. It was my birthday (pin and all) and I barely got a Happy Birthday. I want to try the pasta so I will probably be back, but if it is disappointing again that may be the last try.

  8. Crissy says

    I get some of the humor (Kungaloosh!),but I bet there are many who don’t get the nods. Please consider doing an article on the details (October 1st, Merry Time, etc.)

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