Ultimate Review: Whispering Canyon Cafe
Every frequent Walt Disney World visitor settles on a few favorites over the years.
I’m never shy to praise mine, including Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana, and 1900 Park Fare.
Alas, during our most recent visit, none of those places offered dinner. So, we improvised a bit.
Here’s my review of Whispering Canyon Café, a place I love that delivers an entirely different meal experience right now.
About Whispering Canyon Café
You’ll find this restaurant at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. In fact, during a regular visit here, you’d consider the place hard to miss.
Whispering Canyon Café has developed a reputation for its boisterous atmosphere and loud service.
A couple of years ago, hotel management actually dialed the experience back a bit to foster a calmer atmosphere in the hotel lobby.
Still, you cannot miss the eatery when you’re here. It’s right beside the lobby, across from the check-in desk section.
Even with a calmer ambiance, it’s still ordinarily loud enough that you’ll hear the place before you can see it.
On a side note, if you’ve never visited Wilderness Lodge, you should make it a point during your next trip.
This rustic building will dazzle you with its architecture, especially the floor-to-ceiling fireplace and totems.
You can catch a bus or boat here from Magic Kingdom. It’s only three miles away from the park, although Disney has hidden it a bit in the woods.
Check-In Process and Getting Seated
We weren’t staying at Wilderness Lodge this trip. So, we took a bus to Wilderness Lodge, as we sometimes have bad luck with the boats.
I say this, but I should acknowledge that when we left later, a boat arrived at the precise moment we needed it. Transportation is always enigmatic at Disney.
When we arrived, we hit the button on My Disney Experience the moment we entered the lobby.
On our trip, we’d wanted to spend more time in our favorite lobbies. If I had this one to do all over again, I might have waited because the notification popped up immediately.
We later realized the explanation for this. The restaurant opened at almost the exact moment we signaled our arrival.
This led to a bit of a crowd at check-in, as four different parties arrived simultaneously. We laughed at this later, as they were the only four tables in use for most of our meal.
Our delightful server took great care of us throughout the meal, which wasn’t hard. She only had two tables most of the time.
So, we had plenty of time to get to know her, and she appreciated that we asked more about her backstory, which made her want to hang out more.
My primary takeaway from getting seated is that the restaurant seemed so empty that I struggled to reconcile it.
The last time we dined at Whispering Canyon Lodge, we’d waited 20 minutes despite having Advanced Dining Reservations.
Seeing an empty room qualified as a record scratch moment that put the entire Walt Disney World pandemic operation in perspective.
The Dining Experience/Entrees
I already mentioned that the service was terrific.
However, I must confess that this meal didn’t feel like Whispering Canyon Cafe.
When I’ve dined here in the past, the restaurant’s raucous nature has elevated the experience.
Fans know all about the Easter egg here, the moment when you order ketchup.
Several variations of this prank exist, but the gist involves a bunch of servers burying your table in ketchup bottles.
In fact, guests from other tables may get involved, too. You will NOT lack for ketchup.
Several other shenanigans are possible, even after management rolled back some of the excitement.
So, I found the situation somewhat surreal when I ate a restrained meal at Whispering Canyon Café. That was definitely a first. And I missed the show.
This place is supposed to be fun, but it can’t be that during the pandemic. I’m counting down the moments until the ketchup gag returns.
These gripes sound like my party didn’t enjoy the meal, which is the furthest thing from the truth. It was just…different.
We’ve grown to expect fireworks at this restaurant, but we wouldn’t come here unless we loved the food.
Well, I’m happy to report that it’s still among the best meals at Walt Disney World.
For those unfamiliar with Whispering Canyon Café, the conceit here involves campfire cooking.
Everything you’ll eat here would seem right at home on a camping trip. And the portions are similarly decadent.
While you can order other standalone dishes, odds are good you’ll select one of the bottomless skillets.
These dishes are All-You-Care-to-Enjoy, which means you’ll eat as much as you want. And you’ll probably want more than your stomach can handle.
My wife and I celebrated a rare romantic dinner here, as we almost always dine with friends/family at Disney.
So, I snagged The Pig, the skillet that comes with pork products. I dined through two refills of sausage and pork belly, and that was me holding back.
In a world without calories, I would have feasted on pork ribs until I blacked out.
None of these proteins represented the best part of the meal, though.
I kind of went crazy with the corn and smashed potatoes, which were the best I’ve ever had at Disney.
I’m glad I walked more than 10 miles that day. Otherwise, the button on my pants might have popped.
Meanwhile, my wife tried the Pan-fired Red Quinoa Cakes and quickly decided it was probably the best plant dish she’d eaten at Disney.
Friends, when you’re hungry and in search of a good meal, the skillets here will thrill your palate, and there’s plenty for veggie lovers to enjoy as well.
In glancing at my notes, I ate dessert every meal this trip…except this one. I just couldn’t after all the skillet refills I’d devoured.
In my defense, this restaurant always serves free cornbread as its pre-appetizer throw-in. And that “bread” tastes just like a lemon pound cake.
So, I think it’s a game of semantics about whether I had dessert.
My wife proved a braver soul than me. She half-heartedly ordered Rice Milk Panna Cotta, A No Sugar Added Dessert.
I’ll spare you the picture of this, as the one we took is gross and doesn’t do the dish justice.
What I’ll say instead is that you can already tell that this was an A+ dining experience. Dessert was probably the best part…except for the cornbread.
While this meal proved quieter than any I’ve ever had at Whispering Canyon Café or ever expect to happen again, I still loved it.
In fact, I’m amused that one of the loudest eateries at Walt Disney World provided such an intimate dining experience on this night.
From there, we walked to our hotel, The Contemporary. It was a truly magical night that started at a place I would never have deemed romantic.
Even though crowds will return to Whispering Canyon Café soon, I would still highly recommend it for the hearty skillets.
These dishes please meat-lovers and vegans alike.