Whispering Canyon Cafe Lunch Review and Wilderness Lodge Construction Update

As requested in the comments section of the Morocco post, we do what they call a “pivot” in the business world and head to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. It really rolls right off the tongue. At least I think that’s what they call a “pivot.” I have never had a job before.

I have traveled to Wilderness Lodge at least four times with the express intent of posting a construction update, but something has always come up. Above is what the area behind the main Villa building looked like in April.

This is last week. I guess that’s a lot of progress in five months? The outline of the new pool is at least visible.

Too wide from September: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/copper_canyon.jpg

Too wide from June: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/copper_creek_june.jpg

I believe the building here on the far left is supposed to be a new restaurant, which is a somewhat surprising addition considering Wilderness Lodge is already home to Artist Point, one of the least popular signature restaurants on property, in addition to the casual Whispering Canyon Cafe. And they’ve also got Territory Lounge, which offers a robust menu of its own. Roaring Fork is a small quick service that is adequate for the size of the resort, but perhaps not so much with the new additions. On the other hand, Disney elected to build the Villas at the Grand Floridian without any new dining options, causing Mizner’s to be overrun most nights as guests paying $750+ per night compete with Disney bloggers ordering Diet Cokes without ice.

Perhaps this will end up being a grocery store with some kind of window serving food. It would not be particularly convenient from most guest areas in the main building.

Speaking of picturesque, or a lack thereof, it doesn’t seem like the cabins’ placement along the shoreline is particularly pretty?

While an eyesore for just about everyone not standing on the deck, it’s hard to beat the Bungalows’ view across Seven Seas Lagoon of Cinderella Castle. I feel like the room types on the Wilderness Cabins are going to be “Weeds” or “Murky.”

If your Villa is on the water side, your view will be of the construction. I haven’t read that it’s been particularly disruptive to most guests, but you might chime in if you have experience.

Back inside the main building, these rooms remain walled off and have been for 6+ months.

While those on the other side remain uncovered.

One potential advantage of staying at the resort at the moment is that with so many rooms out of commission, there are very few people around, which means easy access to pool chairs, few people clogging walkways, and a more private overall experience. I’ve been to Territory Lounge two or three times in the last couple of months and the most other people that I’ve seen in there with us is six.

If you’re interested in what I think about the Wilderness Lodge Villas, then you can check out my full 1-Bedroom review here: http://www.easywdw.com/easy/resorts/villa/wilderness-lodge-1-bedroom-villa-disney-vacation-club-review/. That includes a full look around the resort as well.

For now, we’ll return to Whispering Canyon Cafe for lunch.

According to Disney: “For a rowdy, rootin’ tootin’ good time, round up the whole family for hearty western fare and antics aplenty.”

“Aplenty” might be a bit of an exaggeration as there is basically one gag that they still do. Every three minutes. The ketchup.

Anyway, like 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the number and variety of the antics has been drastically reduced over the years as the number of guests that “don’t get it” increases. I might bring a case of ketchup on my next visit and set a bottle down on every table so I don’t have to deal with it. On the other hand, it is kind of dumb to go to a restaurant where you know for a fact that all they are going to do is yell about ketchup and then complain that that is all they do. The restaurant was reasonably busy and most people looked like they were having fun.

Like most resort restaurants, lunch is a relatively inexpensive affair:

With the Pecos Bill Taco Burger at Magic Kingdom coming in at $16 and Cosmic Ray’s version topped with pork coming in at $15, these sandwiches for the same money seem like a good value virtually no matter what’s served.

The drink menu offers some unique options with the Troy & Sons and Tap 357.

The bottomless milkshakes are always popular.

We started with the $12 Gold Rush Western Chips with Chili-Queso Dip.

The response to the picture on Twitter was, “did you really just spend twelve dollars on chips and salsa. josh did you really [sic]”

And the answer is yes, I did. But the dip is packed with hot cheese, beans, and beef and there is quite a bit of it though not nearly enough to cover the overwhelming number of chips that it’s served with. If you’re sharing this among four people, it comes out to $3/person and is plenty to share. I’m not sure that it demands a purchase, but there is potentially some value here and perhaps even more so if you are planning on sharing an entree.

Speaking of Pecos Bill, this is what they serve for $12.

On a previous visit I tried the quesadilla back when it was an entree. Very good too.

I tried the $12.50 Moonshine Flight (3/4-oz pour), which arrives with Troy & Sons Platinum, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve, and Troy & Sons Blonde Whiskey. I think this must have been .75 metric ounces or whoever was pouring thought it meant .75 ounces total because the whiskey was liable to evaporate on the way to the table. We all put our hands over the top immediately after it arrived.

A double Canadian Club might be smarter.

Ashley ordered the $13 Canyon Grilled Cheese on Multigrain Bread with Tillamook Cheddar, Apple Butter, Onion Jam, Arugula, and Tomato served with your choice of French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, or Cucumber Salad.

You know I have been to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and it is just as transcendent as you would expect. I will say first and foremost that this is not a grilled cheese but a “melt” as Reddit has taught us. Otherwise, the apple butter and onion jam contrast nicely with the melted cheddar, which there is a relatively thick layer of. Personally I could do without so much tomato but they would be happy to leave it off or you can always remove a slice. Everything was fresh and served hot with crispy bread. Very good for the money overall.

Tom ordered the $19 Chopped Bison Burger with Double Smoked Thick-cut Bacon, Jalapeño Jack Cheese, and House-made Boursin Cheese Spread with Onion Rings and Potato Wedges which is QUITE the production I must say with one of the thickest patties of meat that I’ve encountered in some time. The freshly battered, crispy onion rings and potato wedges were an outstanding change of pace compared to the usual frozen fries. It would be nice if they were offered with the other entrees though some of that probably has to do with the high price tag. The jalapeno jack cheese had a nice kick and contrasted nicely with the flavorful, creamy cheese spread. The bacon was the best that I’ve had on property and the vegetables were thick cut and fresh all in between an impossibly fresh roll. Probably the best burger that I’ve run into in a while. It’s also available with a beef patty if you prefer.

I was a bit less lucky with my Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Roasted Red Peppers and Onions, Fresh Greens, and Olive-Herb Goat Cheese Spread with your choice of French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, or Cucumber Salad. I suppose they are trying to offer something that isn’t barbecue, but the chicken was mushy and the vegetables were just kind of wet, which made the roll soggy. It was also incredibly herb-y from the spread.

I did appreciate that they tried to grill a fresh piece of chicken rather than going with one of those circular pucks. Overall, it was a bit of a disappointment, but okay overall. I’m not mad.

I tried the cucumber salad, which I thought was a little heavy on the vinegar and red onion. If you like that sort of thing you will be in heaven though.

On a past visit, I ordered the Applewood-smoked Turkey Sandwich on Toasted Multigrain Bread with Arugula, Tomato, and Cranberry Mayonnaise, which I deemed to be a “proficient sandwich.”

A good value, particularly with quick service prices rising so much. Interestingly, chips aren’t offered as a side item anymore.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich is good here too – much higher quality than anything that you’ll find in the Parks with a healthy side of sweet potato fries and cowboy beans. Very good.

We also like the Quinoa Cakes, which I think is one of the better vegetarian entrees. A lot of fresh flavors coming together nicely.

And of course, the skillet is always popular, though it may be potentially uncomfortable to stuff yourself silly in the middle of the day. The lunch version is $7 less expensive than dinner, but omits the beef brisket.

We ended the meal with the $9 S’mores Crème Brûlée, which had a little bit of a thinner consistency than a more traditional presentation, but the pudding-like custard had a nice chocolate flavor to it and the marshmallows and graham crackers were kind of fun on top. Not an overwhelming portion, but split three ways it was a nice few bites to finish the meal.

Overall, like a lot of the resort restaurants open for lunch, Whispering Canyon Cafe exceeds expectations considering the relatively reasonable prices. I wish the shtick was a little more varied – they really only do three or four different things these days, all apparently deemed innocuous enough for even the most curmudgeon-y of bloggers.

We’ll close out this post with a few pictures of the art around what will become the Boulder Ridge Villas, one of the more pleasant areas on property to sit and relax:


















Overall, just about every amenity at the Lodge remains intact. There is potentially some construction noise near the Villa wing, but that shouldn’t disturb those staying in the main building. A portion of the upper floors inside the main building remain behind walls, but that shouldn’t have a great effect on most people’s stays. And on the positive side, so many rooms out of commission potentially means a more pleasant stay with fewer people around.

It’s food and wine time!

Comments

  1. Chris says

    I think what you mean to say was:

    “And on the positive side, so many rooms out of commission potentially means a more pleasant stay with fewer Gators fans around.”

    Amirite?

  2. says

    Looks like a great resort overall, I hope to check it out some day!

    > I will say first and foremost that this is not a grilled cheese but a “melt” as Reddit has taught us.

    That post was a top all time favorite of mine. A true grilled cheese enthusiast blows all the pizza/steak drama out of the water.

  3. Dawn says

    we had a dinner at the Whispering Canyon a few years back, our waitress sand happy Birthday backwards…she spun around and sang it while facing “backwards” .. this and the ketchup…made for a cutely entertaining night..

      • Alesia says

        No, but was wondering if its worth a visit. We tend to stick to our favorites. We are coming in December and we will be trying many of the new Disney Springs restaurants, including the beloved Boat House, but I also wanted to try some resort restaurants as well.

        • matt says

          Alesia,

          We loved our meal at Maya Grill. Going into it I was a little skeptical but it was the freshest , simplest form of Mexican food we have had on property. I would go back for sure.

  4. Mike says

    It’s too bad the antics died down at Whispering Canyon. there used to be loud jokes, straws being tossed, “horse” races, songs, ketchup gag etc. almost like a mini-hoop de doo revue. Oh well.

    • Chuck says

      We were there for dinner on the 27th of August. Our server threw napkins and straws at us, as well as sneaking up on the kids and giving them a general hard time when they were ordering. The kids participated in a “horse” race, and there were birthday and anniversary songs. And of course, the ketchup gag. My guess is that we had one of the better servers, and the dinner staff may have been more engaged than the lunch staff.

      • Jill says

        We were there at the end of August for dinner and we definitely had more antics than the lunch review here. So maybe it’s more lively during dinner or depends on our sever. We had straws and napkins tossed, the kids took part in the stick pony races, there was a happy birthday and anniversary song. The table next to us kept getting in trouble for switching seats with the other half of their party at the other table. We had plenty of gentle ribbing of our food choices and requests for additional items during dinner. It was a nice dinner for our first night there and I think our kids were surprised (first trip) that there could be this much chaos during a restaurant meal.

  5. MariaM says

    “….Anyway, like 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the number and variety of the antics has been drastically reduced over the years as the number of guests that “don’t get it” increases. ….”

    These are, without a doubt, the same people that have forced warning labels to appear on absolutely EVERY THING.

    We are finally eating at 50s for the first time ever, next month. Hopefully we will have servers who realize that we “get it,” and have come there *because* we “get it.”

    • Joel says

      Funniest gag at 50’s. Was one of those “feels like” 110 degrees days in July and I was so thirsty I drank 2 glasses of water within the 1st 5 minutes or so. The waiter brings me 5 more glasses of water and a park map which had circles around EVERY bathroom at Hollywood Studios. We still have the map. You never know when you are gonna have that magical moment.

  6. Linkura says

    Bison burger sounds awesome. Too bad they only serve it at lunch and lunch service is less than 3 hours long. Just doesn’t fit into our schedule. We’ll be going to Artist Point for dinner though.

  7. CMM says

    $13 Canyon Grilled Cheese on Multigrain Bread served with your choice of French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, or TOM BRICKER’S GIGANTIC RED MELON.

  8. skb says

    It is so sad that the ketchup gag is the only one left. We went to the whispering canyon about 5 years ago and it was my daughters birthday. They put straws in her hair and then they brought her a cupcake and sang and when the waiter handed her the cupcake he took a big bite out of it (of course he brought her a new one). My daughter loved it and she still talks about it to this day. Also when my husband asked for a glass of water they brought us the whole pitcher. We all quickly drank it and when the waiter came back he made tons of funny jokes about it. Wish things were still the same there.

  9. Schwartzy says

    We just ate there on the 12th of September for dinner. We’ve eaten there before with my parents back in March all they did was the ketchup gag, but my kids liked it so we booked it again. This time it seemed like all the wait staff was on. There were multiple songs. They called all the adult men up to sing I’m a Little Tea Pot. The kids did the stick horse races. And then there was a new gag that I didn’t see back in March, where if you did something wrong they put jail bars in front of you. I stole a bite of my kids dessert and they were quick to tell on me to the server hoping I would get the jail bars. However, the server instead stopped the entire restaurant, had them “put up their 2 Disney pointing fingers” and then point and yell at me “Hey Mom! Don’t steal your kids ice cream!”

    I was impressed by the better variety of gags they had going on. But as Josh pointed out, I think it just depends on the server you get. And perhaps the servers that are all working that night. It seemed like everyone was messing with their tables which made for a fun environment.

  10. Andrew Jackson says

    We stayed in a studio villa in March of this year. Like you said, with only about 1/2 of the resort in service, we never had to wait for a pool chair, and were often only waiting with a few others for a bus. The lines at the quick service were short as well. We had a great time. We were on the water side, and were able to watch the construction. It wasn’t the best view, but it wasn’t much of a distraction regarding noise.

    We ate at Whispering Canyon on the first night we arrived. We left the house at 3:00 AM to catch our flight, then were at Magic Kingdom by 10:00 AM for our fastpasses and to enjoy the park. We were so hungry and tired by the time we ate dinner, my college-age daughter cried because the cornbread was so good. We still laugh about that memory.

  11. Heather says

    I hope you are well. I started using this site because of the crowd calendars. I hope you will some time soon find a way to get back to them. They really are the most helpful tool I’ve found yet.

  12. Joanne Paar says

    I have to agree with others, that I would love to have you continue to do the crowd calendars. They always seemed to be the best tool for me also! Although I do understand that Disney is making it difficult by deciding and posting park hours so late.

  13. Jennifer says

    Does anyone know if there are currently showers available near the pool? I know they used to be by the pool which is now under construction. We were planning to do the pool our last day before we head out and may need to check out before we are finished.

  14. Jan says

    Is there a time line for the construction here? When are they projecting it will be finished? Love this resort and trying to plan a trip for next year but really want to avoid the construction. Thanks!

    P.S- I agree with those wanting the crowd calendars back! They were the best and made planning so easy!!

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