We interrupt this series on vacationing in Iceland (with children) to bring you this breaking news! Thanks to a surprise trip to Walt Disney World from the Wife, we at Blog of the Dad managed to eat lunch at the brand new Skipper Canteen restaurant during its “soft opening” and have been burning the midnight oil at both ends to bring this review to you.
Located in the Adventureland area of the Magic Kingdom across from the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, Skipper Canteen is a table service restaurant that continues the theme from the Jungle Cruise ride. The idea is that the fictional owner of the Jungle Cruise, Alberta Falls, also owns the Canteen — part of her attempt to diversify the “shipping cargo to and from exotic locales” business her late father built, I suppose. (Yes, I bother to read the backstory to Disney rides. They’re getting made into blockbuster movies these days, so why not?)
The decor really feels like it was put together with trinkets and supplies from the jungle trading company. The cast members were wearing uniforms identical to those over at the ride (indeed, our server said he had been piloting one of the boats that morning). Also, the cast members employ the same deadpan delivery of terrible puns that is the hallmark of the Jungle Cruise. You’ve been warned!
Below, you’ll find some pictures I took of the interior, in my unique “I hope the Stasi doesn’t catch me using this miniature camera” style.
The cuisine is similarly based on the far-flung regions visited by the Jungle Cruise. While the meats are still cow, pig, and chicken (no “you’ve seen these exotic animals on the ride, now eat them in the restaurant” here, unless you consider lamb and shrimp exotic) but served in a vaguely African, Brazilian, or Eastern style.
The Wife ordered the Punch Line Punch and we started with the arepas appetizer. The server also brought us some Ethiopian bread with a sort of spiced honey to dip it in. The Wife and I both thought the drink was yummy and refreshing, even though we both dislike mango (a key ingredient in it). The slow-cooked beef portion of the appetizer was fantastic, perhaps the best thing I ate there. While the beef was very flavorful, the rest of what made up the arepas was fairly bland by comparison. (The Wife points out — no doubt correctly — that the cornmeal cakes and tostones are meant to just be a delivery system for getting the meat and beans into your mouth. They are supposed to add texture, not flavor. Well, mission accomplished!) I liked the Ambasha bread, and the honey did wonders for the little cornmeal cakes that came in the appetizer, too.
The Wife and I split the Char Siu Pork, which was delicious. I failed to take any pictures of it because I was too busy cramming all the yumminess into my face. The bright red pork was tender and full of flavor. The rice was just a tad too al dente.
Sadly, we did not get dessert.
All in all, the food was great. The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd.’s Skipper Canteen offers flavors different from anywhere else in the park. In addition to that, the cast members’ awful puns add perhaps a little more entertainment value than you get in other restaurants in the Magic Kingdom — though a few bits were recycled from the Jungle Cruise script. I enjoyed the 1930s explorers theme (which made me yearn for an attraction or eating spot based on Tale Spin) and I have to admit that I find it kinda cool that they’ve expanded on the narrative behind the Jungle Cruise. According to our server, Trebor, we ate there on the last day they were accepting the Tables in Wonderland discount card. That’s too bad, because the Wife and I will likely make this a frequent lunch or dinner spot whenever we have time for a sit-down meal while in the park.
At least, we will until the jokes get stale.
The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen opens today (!) in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.