Whispering Canyon Cafe Platter Dinner Review

We’ll head out to dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe on the evening of October 5th.

Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has been in the news recently with a major menu change.

New dinner menu:

“The Platter” replaces “The Skillet” and it’s now basically your only entree choice.  With the “All You Care to Eat” Platter, I’m not sure why they’re offering appetizers or who would choose to buy them.  Deluxe Dining Plan folks I suppose.  The Lunch menu no longer offers a skillet or platter option – only individual entrees.  If you’re wondering what the menus look like, Disney has updated them here.  Look in the lower right hand corner under “Sample Menus.”

There isn’t a whole lot to the restaurant.  It has a bit of a woodsy feel and the lighting fixtures out in the lobby are present in here as well.  Don’t expect much privacy because almost all of the tables are simply sitting in a large open room.  I think we’re supposed to be excited that the backs of the chairs have cowboys and Indians painted on them, but I’m less than wowed.

While you wait for a table, there’s a small area for kids to play with Lincoln Logs.

Similar to 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the restaurant is known for its antics.  This is not a quiet meal and you can expect to hear yelling, birthday announcements/singing, dancing, etc.  We did the hokey pokey, had straws and napkins thrown at us, and pictured above is a horse race around the restaurant.  The children aren’t horses, but they’re carrying wooden replicas.

And a couple of my dining companions landed in Canyon Jail.  Other common antics – ask for ketchup.  Ask for a second refill of your fountain beverage.  Drop a fork.  Feel free to comment on others.  They have toned things down a bit in recent memory due to complaints from resort guests as well as people that have no idea what they’re experiencing.  You’re not going to hear servers announcing that someone’s credit card got declined and asking for donations anymore.  You would “literally” die laughing if you heard some of the complaints about “rude service” at 50’s Prime Time.  Anyway, Whispering Canyon Cafe is extremely noisy.  This is probably not a good choice for an anniversary meal.

The restaurant is also known for its bottomless milkshakes.  My dining companions agreed the chocolate shake was “creamier” than they were used to.  At $6.69 a pop and available in chocoalte, strawberry, or vanilla, I’d have in mind to get at least two refills.

The meal begins with cornbread and butter, which tasted just fine, but was dryer than I would have liked.  It wasn’t like what they serve over at Boatwright’s, which has crack mixed in, but it set the tone for a pleasant tasting meal.  Since they know what you’re going to order (the Platter), service is going to be fast.  Expect it to take just a couple of minutes between the time you order and when you’re first served.

The Platter as presented.  The look reminded me a lot of how they serve food at Garden Grill over at Epcot.  While it isn’t officially offered on the menu, kids can share the Platter along with their parents.  This is the Herb-Baked Chicken, Kansas City-style Smoked Pork Ribs, and Hand-Carved Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin along with the four sides listed.  They’ll bring you more of whatever you want and you can order the Fish or Sausage after the initial platter comes out.  Additional items come out in bowls the same as what the beans are served in.

The chicken was nice and moist with pieces small enough that it’s easy to try.  Unfortunately, I think the chicken was my favorite part of the meal, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of it.

The ribs were good too.  With Disney scared to death that you aren’t going to like something because it isn’t bland, you’re not going to find a lot of tang or spice here.  Like most pork ribs, they’re on the fatty side.  Good, but nothing special.  For half the price of the skillet, you could order the ribs at lunch.  The ribs are also available at Hoop Dee Doo Revue (starting at $59/person but includes unlimited beer, sangria, wine, and a show) and Trail’s End dinner ($24.99/person).

The Pork er…..Beef was the weakest option in my opinion.  It was limp and looked and tasted more like over-seasoned pork than beef.  I actually had to look at the menu and make sure it wasn’t pork.

The sides were okay.  I felt like the Platter really could have used salad, coleslaw, fruit, or something a little less dense.  The Seasonal Farm Fresh Vegetables consisted mostly of zucchini, carrot shreds, lemon(?), and pea pods.  It was really nothing sustainable and a nice salad would have gone a long way to freshening things up a bit.  The corn was decently crunchy, though it obviously had been sitting somewhere for a while.  The mashed potatoes were lukewarm  and generic.  Same with the beans.  The meal wasn’t “bad” by any means, but nothing stood out as a “wow” item.  I tend to judge all-you-care-to-eat family style buffets and meals by answering the question, “I’m so stuffed I feel sick, but …… was so good I want more.”  Nothing here fit that bill.

For dessert, they start you out with an Apple-Cranberry Buckle.  Portions are on the small side because they know how full you are from the meal, but you can request more of anything, just like the Platter.  This was perfectly fine with a flaky crust and what may or may not be canned fruit.  Presented by Ocean Spray.  The cream on top added an extra layer of sweet saturated fat.

An aerial view of the three desserts, which means I apparently don’t have a good shot of the Jalapeno-Lime Cheesecake, which is available at lunch for $6.99.  This was more of a mousse than a cheesecake with a brownie bottom that is hard to get at from the top.  Since it’s intended to be shared among the table, it was a little awkward trying to shovel the spoon down to pick some brownie up.  I should probably take notes or something, but I don’t remember a lot about this one.  I don’t remember tasting much jalapeno.  It tasted similar to the Key Lime Pie Mousse at Flame Tree Barbecue.  I didn’t get a bite of what I imagine is the Whispering Canyon Chocolate Cake.  It was the girls’ birthday, so they each received a slice with a candle and gobbled it up.  Bad blogger assistants!  But I know better than to get close to little girl cooties, they would probably melt Tom or something.

Overall, the meal was just fine.  With the scaled back antics, noise, reduction in entree choices, bland flavor, and increased price, I’m not sure it’s two thumbs way up like it once was.  Like with any dining review, I would ask that you don’t let this one cause you to cancel a reservation or go into a panic over how you’re depriving your children of the best meal possible.  You’re going to see good/bad reviews of all Disney restaurants.  For me, $32.99 + $2.99 fountain beverage + $7.20 tip per person would have me looking elsewhere.  $36 (for the platter and fountain beverage) will cover just about any character buffet, so there are a lot of other options.  And if you don’t have kids, $33 would buy you most entrees over at Artist Point, which would be far calmer and offer much better food.

The beverage menu:

The Prairie Fire sounded intriguing, so I ordered one.

If you have the misfortune of following this website, you would know that I’m amused by what Disney doesn’t list on their menus.  In this case, there’s no mention of the fact that jalapeno peppers would be residing inside the drink as well as a garnish on the side.  One would think this would be a key feature, whether it be because someone likes spicy drinks or wants to avoid them.  Granted it’s called a “Prairie Fire,” so maybe I should have used my psychic powers. Anyway, this was quite a bit more maple-y than I was expecting.  I’ve never had Tap 357 Maple Rye Whiskey, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  With flavored vodkas, there’s usually a subtle flavor lessening the impact of the flavor from the vodka.  This just tasted like I was drinking a liquid version of a concentrated maple bar doughnut.  I’ll say that it was fine, but I was surprised by the jalapenos and the strength of the maple flavor.  I wouldn’t order a second.

Moosehead Lager is a decent 5% ABV American Pale Lager brewed by Moosehead Breweries in New Brunswick, Canada.  This is basically your Budweiser option, though it has more flavor than your typical American macro.  It’s refreshing, easy to drink, and relatively light, which may be good with the heavy barbecue entrees.    I won’t mention that the Wilderness Lodge is themed to the Pacific Northwest and New Brunswick is east of Maine.

The 5.6% ABV Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is similar to Sam Adams Boston Lager in that it’s widely available at just about every grocery store in the country.  Also like the Boston Lager, it’s excellent and one of the best, inexpensive (at the store) pale ales available.  This one is also light, crisp, and refreshing.  It’s quite a bit more complex than the Moosehead with floral and citrus notes, but is easily drinkable.  Pick up a 12-pack at the store for $13-$16.

Coming in at 7.2%, the Torpedo Extra IPA is one of my favorite beers and the one I purchase most often.  It’s incredibly hoppy with a lot of carbonation, but it doesn’t have that lingering bitterness that you may experience from lesser IPAs.  Don’t get me wrong – the bitterness is still present, but it shouldn’t be unpleasant.  If you’re part of the Bud Light crowd, this is not your stepping stone into craft beer.  The Pale Ale would be better.  But if you enjoy a nice beer and haven’t had the Torpedo, it’s excellent.  Also widely available in 6-Packs and 12-Packs for $8 – $10 and $13 – $16 respectively.

The Sierra Nevada brews hail from California and Widmer is in Oregon.  This is a 5.7% American Pale Ale that is also very good.  This one is on the hoppy side too, though the citrus notes are less apparent than the Sierra Nevada incarnation.  Expect this one to be crisp and refreshing as well.  It’s $1 less and will be a little more difficult to find than the Sierra Nevada on the east coast and down south, but is still readily available at most specialty shops.  It’s particularly good on those hot summer evenings.

I have never had or seen the Widmer Omission Lager, which is apparently a 4.6% Light Lager.  An obvious choice if you’re looking for a gluten-free beer, but those of who us who can stomach it probably want to look elsewhere on the menu.

Pretend this is the Full Sail Session Black Lager rather than Guinness.  I’ve had the Session Black, but don’t have a picture.  The Session Black is a 5.4% ABV Schwarzbier  This one is going to taste of roasted malts, caramel, and chocolate (to a lesser extent).  This style is admittedly one of my least favorite, but this is a decent example.  I’m not sure it would pair well with the barbecue dishes, but I’m biased.  If you like black lagers, you’ll like the Full Sail.

We’ll finally get out to Pete’s Silly Sideshow tomorrow.  And someone remind me I have dinner at T-Rex and lunch at San Angel Inn to write about along with a bunch of odds and ends.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Another place I most likely will never make it to but am happy to have an idea what it is all about. Those are cute WDW bloggers in the making. Can’t wait to read your San Angel Inn post.

  2. Martha says

    I was so excited for WCC when we went back in January and I was very underwhelmed. The food was not great at all and the famous milkshakes tasted like the 69 cent version from Rally’s. I had probably built it up too much in my head before we went. It was our first meal of the trip and I left hoping that was not the standard. I do like your pretty butterfly fingernail though.

  3. KBO says

    We ate here in 2008. Hubby did not know about the antics and he commented to me about the “rude” servers! LOL!!! Ours picked up a camera (at the table next to ours) and started taking pictures of herself. He has NO desire to return…even though I have explained things.

  4. John says

    We have stayed at WL several times and eaten at the Whispering Canyon Cafe each time we stayed there. We always enjoyed the “Skillet,” but also enjoyed the flexibility of ordering an entree if we didn’t want the skillet. My grandson loved the trout that they served. Also we all enjoyed the salad with the skillet and with the Skillet you received 4 meats rather than a choice of 3. The deserts offered have also been greatly revised.

    I agree with you, Josh, that this new platter may not be worth the cost. We will be at WDW and WL later this month, so we will have to see as we do have reservations at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. All in all we are not happy with the changes, but we will see.

    Thanks for a great Website.
    John

  5. shalom says

    I thought the painted cowboy and indian looked cool up until I realized you only get one of each. Silly me, expecting variety.

    “Jalapeno” looks weird without the tilde-thingie over the n.

  6. Clinton says

    You have dinner at T-Rex and lunch at San Angel Inn to write about along with a bunch of odds and ends. Get to it!

  7. bnoble says

    “$33 would buy you most entrees over at Artist Point,”

    I had it in my head that AP was pricier than that, but you’re right; about half of them are at this price point. Note to self: AP goes back in the rotation.

  8. says

    We recently dined here and thought it was just so so. We used to love eating here but the food was mediocre. I love the FUN of this restaurant and it’s too bad some people don’t “get it”.

  9. tanya says

    For a million dollars you could plan someone’s trip, and play a starring role. Now you have something to fall back on when this whole blogging thing is over with.

  10. pfalcioni says

    Best beer photos ever. Really, you made even the Guinness Black look appetizing to me, which is not easy!

  11. Kelli says

    Thanks for the post! WCC is still on my someday list, even with the menu changes. I love silly fun. Your food photos look great!

  12. says

    Nice review Josh.

    As always, love the humour – very British.

    You mentioned in a post last month that you would be heading over to Old Key West, did you ever make it or did you walk pas “Len’s” cot and get knocked off course by a flying teddy?

    We’re to OKW at the end of the month and would appreciate your expert view and some pictures from Tom.

  13. TriSeb says

    Ok, thank you for confirming why I’d rather pass on the food but get off the DME on the way to the contemporary (a brew run… er, rather dash).

  14. Steve says

    I’m just disappointed that pulled pork is no longer in the Skillet. I know there’s plenty of other places in the parks you can get it, but for some reason, it just seemed to fit well with the other meats here.

  15. Sean says

    Wholeheartedly endorse the Torpedo IPA. Not quite in the same category as the Firestone Walker or Surley Furious IPAs but nonetheless a very good beer. $7.25 is a bit steep but its Disney.

  16. Canwegosoon says

    Thanks Josh-I too am skipping WCC for now- and heading over to Boatrights for my cornbread with crack-sounds like just what need to keep me up all night

  17. breezy2 says

    Thanks for the review Josh. This was on our list as a must for the skillet. I knew about the change, but am glad to see the menu. Definately not what we are looking for. The credit card thing would have cracked me up though. Too bad they did away with it.

    And I give 2 thumbs up to Christine and Judy and help around the mouse. Love the three of them. :)

  18. keri says

    Are there spoilers for the antics anywhere? Everyone seems to be saying “I won’t spoil you…” but I’m really curious and there’s NO WAY I’m ever going to be eating there. It sounds like a nightmare, and the food isn’t all that appetizing either, when I could just go to Artist Point for something that I KNOW I’ll enjoy (loved my solo meal there last December – the berry cobbler with raspberry ice cream was divine, too).

    Everyone mentions Mom’s Diner or whatever it is at Hollywood Studios as a comparison, but I ate there as a pre-teen once and don’t recall anything crazy. Did that only start in the last 15 years or so? (Or maybe my parents asked them to hold off, because I was already overstimulated and they didn’t want an 11-year-old in meltdown mode in the park?)

  19. Anonymous says

    I agree with Anonymous #1…a place I will likely never visit. Interesting though. More Magic Kingdom pleeeze….a place we will all visit.

  20. Canuck Detective says

    Josh, despite your insistence to the contrary, it appears that you ARE secretly Canadian… less than .0001% of Americans would know (or care to know) where New Brunswick is… impressive!

  21. Mike says

    Always hate it when you go to an all you can eat(enjoy) joint, and the cost per person usually equals or exceeds the cost of the most expensive dish if it were al’a carte, and then they have “premium” items you can buy. Disgusting.

  22. JoeG says

    Keri – we have had great experiences at both 50’s Prime Time and Whispering Canyon.
    My kids still remind to keep my elbows off of the table because I got yelled at 50’s Prime Time. They really liked that. During our last visit to Whispering Canyon (August) I got yelled at by the CM because she was trying set down a new dish and I thought I was helping her by moving some used ones. Of course it was all in good humor and my kids laughed at me getting yelled at.

    With all that said, we will not be doing Whispering Canyon again because the menu change.

  23. mlm says

    Been waffling on whether to keep my reservation there for this Sunday for lunch. I doubt if too many in our group would have gotten the lunch skillet anyway. Leaning towards Beachs and Cream, or maybe Big River Grille, as an alternative. Really kind of wanted to see WL and take the boat over for MNSSHP, though…

  24. teacherkim says

    I am kinda bummed about the menu change. We ate there because we thougt our nine year old would like the antics, and he did, but I wasn’t expecting great food. Had the trout and it was truly one of the best meals I ate at all of DW. Now we are planning a second trip with some friends and I was bragging on good the food was here and they go and change the menu……arggh!

  25. BeckyA says

    Yup, looks like Artists Point would be my choice! And may need to stop by Boatwright’s for that “special” cornbread.

  26. JenniRae says

    We usually stay at WL and eat at WCC at least twice per trip. I’m sad to see the menu change. When we were there in May, I did notice a decline in food quality.
    For those of you who did not enjoy, or are concerned you wont enjoy the atmosphere, you can request a quiet area they have out back. I dont know if the servers will keep up their antics, but you wont have to get swept up in what happens in the main room.

  27. LisaM says

    Ahh! We were there the same evening! “Celebrity” photo op missed :(
    It was our first time and we enjoyed it (me, hubby, 4yo twin girls) but we are NOT what you would call “foodies”. Our beef looked much better & was REALLY good and my one daughter almost DIED over that Cornbread. She has only had it as a muffin and her eyes popped out of her head over the size of it. She wanted the whole thing for herself. We didn’t get too many “antics” by our server and the girls loved the horse thing.

  28. Rachel says

    We ate there last month for the first time after hearing so much about it. I guess seeing our anniversary buttons made them think we wanted a quiet dinner. We were seated in the small dining area away from the festivities. I had told my husband that the place was like the 50’s Prime Time with the antics (which we love btw) and we were disappointed to be so far away. But my husband did ask for the refill on his soda and his reaction to what happened was great!
    The meal was just ok. I have to agree – not worth the price. Unlike your platter our chicken was dry and it looked like we got the end cuts of the beef – also dry. We did ask for more beef and the second helping was better. The ribs were pretty good. I probably will not return as we were not really impressed.

  29. Melanie says

    My husband made the mistake of making a call on his cell phone during our dinner at Whispering Canyon cafe 2 years back. The server took note, grabbed the phone, and announced to the surrounding diners that hubby was making a call to his mommy. Which he was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *