Top 5 Reasons You Need to Eat at Skipper Canteen
When you’re at Magic Kingdom, you’ll have plenty of dining choices. You can grab and go at several marvelous Quick Service restaurants, or you can sit down and luxuriate at one of their joyous Table Service settings. In the latter category, one of the restaurants is a hysterical extension of a beloved Disney attraction. Here are five reasons to eat at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen.
Since the inception of Disneyland in 1955, Adventureland has carried a certain mystique about Disney fanatics. When Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the Florida version translated and updated that idea of daring exploits in faraway lands. At both parks, Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction that anchored Adventureland. It’s a beloved ride with a theme that is easily identifiable and tons of fun.
At Magic Kingdom, park planners sensed an opportunity to tap into the decades-only appeal of Jungle Cruise. They built an accompanying restaurant in Adventureland, albeit not right next to the attraction. When you exit Jungle Cruise, you’ll follow the main path through the themed land.
Along the way, you can look for a couple of markers to verify that you’re going the right way. You’ll see The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Swiss Family Treehouse before you reach the restaurant. It’ll definitely put you in the mood that you’ve traveled through exotic locales and are ready for some local cuisine.
Of course, you can reach the restaurant from Cinderella Castle hub, too. It’s not as great from a theming/escapism perspective, but it’s sure easy to find Skipper Canteen from here. On the left/west side of the hub, the one that connects to Liberty Square and Adventureland, you’ll discover three main paths.
The southwest one leads to The Crystal Palace. The northwest one has the connector bridge to Liberty Square. The pure west or middle path is the one to take to Adventureland. When you follow it, Skipper Canteen will be the first building on the right in the themed land. But it’s waaaay better to head there from Jungle Cruise. It’s a mood thing.
As part of the Jungle Cruise mythos, Imagineers gradually crafted a narrative involving the Society of Adventurers and Explorers (S.E.A.). It’s a special kind of storyline theming that has connections to several Disney attractions around the world. The underlying thought is that famous (but fictional) characters like Barnabas T. Bullion, Harrison Hightower III, Lord Henry Mystic, and Mary Oceaneer were all members of this exclusive club.
While Disney aficionados will recognize several of those names, the most famous one is Dr. Albert Falls, the namesake of Schweitzer Falls. Yes, he’s the subject of that terrible pun that you’ve groaned at several times over the years. He also established the Jungle Navigation Company, which transported goods to and from the most remote parts of adventurer’s paradises. His granddaughter Alberta is the one who started Jungle Cruise in the first place.
The Jungle Navigation Company has many employees, and those folks all need a place to eat. That’s where the restaurant comes into play. The theme here is that the food stems from the places serviced by the company. Those are Africa, Asia, and South America. And we’ll discuss the glory of these menu items in just a moment. We’re still not done with the theming, though.
The Funniest Restaurant Cast at Walt Disney World
The signature portion of the Skipper Canteen meal experience is the dialogue. Disney cast members have crafted a scripted narrative akin to the one that you know and love on Jungle Cruise. From the moment you are introduced to your server, you’ll hear the spiel. It’s as pun-intensive and hilarious as you’d expect. You do have the right to skip this if you’re not in the mood for comedy. Simply tell the host/hostess at check-in that you’re not looking for laughs.
Should you lean into the jokes, however, you’ll have a wonderful time at Skipper Canteen. As is the case with Jungle Cruise, some skippers are more entertaining than others. Even the mediocre ones can lean back on the script, however, and it’s dynamic.
You’ll hear all sorts of jokes about how the Jungle Navigation Company acquired the ingredients used in your dishes. You’ll also learn about some of the famous members of the S.E.A., and you’ll hear the humorous details about how a few people died, too.
When I say that Skipper Canteen is an extension of Jungle Cruise, I mean it. All of the corny jokes that form the backbone of the attraction carry over to the restaurant. In fact, you should take the time to wander through the various dining room areas. You’ll see a lot more details and sight gags in each section. Occasionally, a cast member will notice your curiosity and add more dialogue, a kind of Easter Egg that only the curious will hear.
I cannot stress this enough. When you eat at Skipper Canteen, expect to be entertained. The meal is almost an ancillary component to the dining experience. Cast members will do everything that they can to put a smile on your face.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the World Showcase at Epcot are the two places at Disney theme parks where guests know that they will eat well. Animal Kingdom is famous for its exotic cuisine, while the World Showcase offers flavors from 11 different countries each day and even more during festivals. Skipper Canteen’s introduction at Magic Kingdom changes the dynamic a bit, though.
When you dine here, you’ll have your choice of exotic menu items and flavors. Frankly, there’s nothing else like it at Magic Kingdom. Over the past two years, Disney’s rolled this menu over four times and counting. Along the way, Skipper Canteen has featured dishes like shrimp stew, lamb chops, Thai noodles, and a curried veggie stew. It’s a far cry from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café or Crystal Palace in terms of dining selection.
Several of the dishes have cheeky names, too. They have puns like “Hardy Har Char” Siu Pork or memorable names such as Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas. Confession: I don’t even know what a Cachapas is, but I love the name nonetheless. There’s even something called Lost and Found Soup, whose ingredients I probably don’t WANT to know.
Finally, the most memorable title on the menu is “Tastes like Chicken” Because it is! Cast members seem to get a real kick out of this one, as they always present the dish with much fanfare. You know the menu is eclectic when a simple chicken entrée seems entirely out of place.
Skipper Canteen’s menu has proven a bit divisive for an amusing reason. The dishes are so heavy that some guests have found them a bad mix with a busy park day at Magic Kingdom. They’re also comically diverse for a park where burgers, hot/corn dogs, turkey legs, and chicken nuggets are still the most popular selections.
Sankuru Sadie’s Seafood Stew and Perkins Thai Noodles are a far cry from standard park fare, even dishes like lobster rolls and fajitas. When you eat at Skipper Canteen, you’re expanding your culinary horizons, much like when you eat at Yak & Yeti.
Few desserts at Disney theme parks merit individual discussion. Generally, that’s an area reserved for classics like Dole Whip, Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars, and Zebra Domes. We can add a new entry to that list.
Kungaloosh! is the star of any meal at Skipper Canteen. While the restaurant has four desserts on the menu, you’ve picked wrong if your table doesn’t have any Kungaloosh! on it. Disney describes it as: “An African-inspired Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Bananas served with Cashew-Caramel Ice Cream topped with Coffee Dust.” I describe it as heaven on a plate.
The ONLY other place at Magic Kingdom that has a non-Dole Whip dessert on a par with Kungaloosh! is the Grey Stuff at Be our Guest. Kungaloosh! is a magical treat that will plus your entire meal at Skipper Canteen.