We’ll head out to the Wilderness Lodge to see what’s new and grab lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe. Whenever someone has the misfortune of visiting The Lodge with me, they inevitably ask, “Does it feel like home?” To which I answer, with eyes welling up, “Dead Guy Ale, please.” Wilderness Lodge is not exactly Seattle. If you do find yourself visiting the area, I highly recommend checking out Northwest Trek, which is sort of a Northwest version of the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. It includes a 50-minute tram tour where you’ll (hopefully) see moose, elk, caribou, bighorn sheep, etc. as well as a walking tour where you’ll have the opportunity to check out badgers, porcupines, bald eagles, red foxes, black bears, and more. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the Trek, making the drive out to Eatonville with the fam. For $20 a head, you can easily make a day of it. Maybe if enough people request Wilson he can land a job out west protecting an animatronic beaver.
All pictures are via the Sigma 35mm F1.4 lens.
Don’t quote me, but I think these high-back chairs are newish in the lobby.
Lunch is at 1:25pm at Whispering Canyon Cafe, the casual sit-down restaurant located just inside the entrance on the left. For a recent dinner and look at what’s included on the Platter, check out this post. The restaurant was, at most, half full and it’s an easy reservation to snag and an easy walk-up if something sends you packing back to The Lodge from the theme parks. When touring Magic Kingdom, a lot of guests eyeball the Monorail Deluxe resorts for a less hectic, relatively inexpensive table service meal. The Wave, Kona Cafe, and Grand Floridian are all very good and relatively easy to visit via watercraft or monorail. From Magic Kingdom, Wilderness Lodge is a relatively easy bus ride or larger watercraft trip away. While less novel, the bus is usually the quicker, easier method because a lot of people opt for the boat. The Lodge would be about a ten minute drive from Magic Kingdom and it’s about the same time by boat.
Like the menus for the other resort restaurants that offer lunch, Whispering Canyon’s is fairly inexpensive. The top Starter should read “Serves 2.” And it probably serves more:
There are a couple sandwiches in the $12 realm and most other entrees are $17 or less.
The $21.99 Enjoy Platter should look similar to this depending on how many people are ordering.
On the non-alcoholic front, the Shakes here are popular. On the alcohol front, the bottles of beer are awfully expensive. The Torpedo IPA is the most alcohol for your money, and a very good IPA, but I’d really have to be feeling vacation-y. You may feel that vacation-y. Or by the time you finish a 7.2% Imperial IPA you may feel less regretful.
The Prairie Fire has “Fire” in its name for good reason. I didn’t care much for it, honestly. The drink is kind of thick and the syrup flavor is more prominent than other maple whiskeys that have less…character (think Crown Royal). Anyway, just be aware that this one is spicy and not necessarily in a good way, like La Cava’s Jalapeno Margarita that I enjoy.
If you get a chance to do Troy & Sons’ mixology seminar for the Food and Wine Festival – do it. These are three excellent whiskeys that run $30 – $40 a bottle here in the south. Don’t let the term moonshine turn you off – these are very smooth white whiskeys. Troy, who is female, is behind some of the smoothest white whiskeys you’re liable to find.
Breakfast is also served:
Traveling here for breakfast via Disney transportation would not be worth it in my estimation due to the time it would take. If it’s your first or second trip, you may not want to try and jam in too many restaurants that aren’t in the theme parks or within walking distance of a Park exit. Would your meal be better here than Pecos Bill for not a whole lot more money? Most likely. But when you consider transit time, the heat/rain, and all the things that are available to do inside the theme parks, you may not want to deal with the transfers. You’re already paying to be inside the theme parks and it may not make a lot of sense to spend a couple hours visiting resorts. On the other hand, those lucky enough to be able to schedule a down day or two may want to spend the time checking out the various resorts and transportation methods.
In the center is a “Diet Coke.” Get it? It’s about four ounces and comes with a little baby straw. Whispering Canyon is similar to 50’s Prime Time in that it can be heavy on the shenanigans. Unfortunately(?) due to miscommunication and complaints over the years, the shenanigans are limited to just a few.
The Smoked Chicken Quesadilla sounded interesting – With Western Roasted Vegetables, Smoked Cheddar and Mozzarella, Arugula, and a Side of Tomato Salsa and Moonshine Mayonnaise – $16.99.
The portion was plenty large. You could probably make a meal out of sharing these and the excellent Pulled Pork Spring Roll appetizer.
The taste was fairly straightforward despite a lot going on – it tasted like a barbecued chicken quesadilla. I don’t know if that’s surprising. The corn/arugula added a bit of a crunch and the moonshine mayo added some extra moisture. The barbecue flavor was more sweet than tangy. A heavy molasses flavor was not present. I didn’t think the tomato salsa added much to the dish and ended up using just a little. Overall, it was one of the better dishes I’ve had at a resort for lunch in recent memory.
Lisa ordered the Slow-smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich on a Brioche Roll with Cowboy-style Baked Beans, Sweet Ancho-Barbecue Sauce, and Western Slaw – $12.49. With Sweet Potato Fries. House-made Idaho Potato Chips, French Fries, and Cucumber Salad were also available as sides.
If you’re wondering why I tend to hype the resorts for a much better, not much more expensive table service lunch, this is the reason. Above is an $8.99 Barbecued Pork Sandwich – the same one you’d get at Cosmic Ray’s, Pecos Bill’s, Fairfax Fare, Flame Tree Barbecue, etc. For $3.50 more at Whispering Canyon, you’re getting a significantly better, larger sandwich with choice of sides. All brought to you in a (potentially, this is Whispering Canyon) more relaxing atmosphere with unlimited water/soft drink refills.
And that’s one of the things multiple trips to Walt Disney World affords. When sister-in-law/neighbor/friend asks you how you could possibly be taking the family back to Disney World “when you were just there last year,” you can respond that while they visited in July and sucked down pork glop at Pecos Bill in between standing in line for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain for a combined 240 minutes, you’ll be enjoying a moonshine flight and a handcrafted Ancho-Barbecued Sandwich at the Wilderness Lodge. That was sort of a long sentence, but if you point your finger in their face and raise your voice towards the end, they probably won’t notice.
Lisa enjoyed her sandwich, which was piled high with pork and served on a soft, fresh not-too-thick roll. The ancho-barbecue sauce was not as much to my personal tastes. I’m not sure how I would describe the flavor from the ancho chiles – there was sort of a mild sweetness/spiciness to it that almost tasted hickory smoked without the sugary sweetness. Just be aware that it’s a little different take on standard barbecue. Otherwise, the pork shreds were thick and the kitchen wasn’t too heavy handed with the sauce. It had a nice balance to it overall and I probably would have warmed up to the flavors had I eaten more. Lisa’s opinion is more positive. On the other hand, I think we would both agree the beans were on the bland side of things. Some hot sauce would have livened them up a bit.
These were some of the best sweet potato fries I’ve had. They’re actually “less healthy” than regular fries, but they were hot, crispy, and sweet as one would expect – certainly a nice change of pace from the run-of-the-mill fast food dazney fry.
Dessert should you have interest:
That Tropical Infusion Cocktail sounds like it would be refreshing on a hot summer day – you might want to request one with an appetizer.
It was pouring rain, which added to the authentic feel of the restaurant. Service was friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable. While I enjoy the atmosphere of classic Whispering Canyon and 50’s Prime Time, I feel like the soul is missing here at Whispering Canyon. If that makes any sense. While the servers and staff probably used to enjoy a lot more discretion in what they could say and do, the approved shenanigan list must be thinning out. For every family that goes to 50’s Prime Time looking forward to getting harassed, there’s another family that arrives and is offended by what they perceive as rude behavior. With an increased international presence that doesn’t necessarily understand English or what’s happening, you have a recipe for confusion. At Whispering Canyon, the only two gags, which were repeated over and over, pertained to ketchup and drink size. If you ask for ketchup, the server will yell “KETCHUP” and whichever table has the 12 bottles of ketchup is expected to walk the bottles over to the needy table. This is funny once or twice, but becomes more annoying than anything after the third time in five minutes. The jar gag is funny and a little more subtle. Anyway, it was more or less a regular meal with the addition of an annoying server yelling “KETCHUP!!! WE NEED KETCHUP OVER HERE!!!!!” every three minutes.
I would certainly go back to Whispering Canyon for lunch, but Kona Cafe is a perennial favorite.
Artist Point, the resort’s signature restaurant, continues offering up some of the best Disney food in a relaxed, rustic atmosphere:
Attached is the Territory Lounge:
Instagram’d out for your enjoyment.
You may remember from a “recent” review that Territory offers one of the best lounge menus on property. And they have Redhook ESB and Moosehead on draft.
It looks more like this. With the recent hype, this bar tends to be busy in the evening. Crowds are thinner from 4:30pm – 5:30pm and after 8:30pm when the dinner crowd waiting for a table is less of a concern.
Over at Roaring Fork, we have one of the smaller resort food courts with a limited variety:
But what they do offer is typically very good, particularly the sandwiches and flatbreads. If you’re staying at Wilderness Lodge and plan to return around 1pm or 2pm for a break, you may want to take a longer look at Whispering Canyon above. Take a look at Roaring Fork breakfast here.
Outside the beautiful resort, things seemed to be as we left them.
I have never seen the geyser erupt.
The pool and its multiple hots tubs were fairly crowded…probably for about 20 more minutes until the rain storm hits.
Trout Pass Bar was closed during our last visit. It should be open most of the day over the summer:
Redhook ESB, Moosehead, Bud Light, and Kona Longboard are available on draft in addition to most of a full bar.
In back are tables that are rarely occupied. Probably even less so with traffic cones up in front of them. It’s just like Cars Land!
Nobody at the beach and also awwwwwwwwww look at those little chairs!
Bikes, death machines, and boats are available for rent down at the beach.
But really…nothing going on down here at 1pm.
The Deluxe resorts are supposed to be getting a new round of resort merchandise this summer. As we’ve seen over the last year, every Deluxe other than the Contemporary has offered shirts, tumblers, sweatshirts, and other items with unique logos. I thought some of this stuff was new, but looking over old pictures, it doesn’t look to be.
But it’s still awfully cute.
A wider look.
And what’s in the cooler:
Should you like the “Moonshine” from the sampler, or you’re more of a 16oz glass-of-whiskey guy like me, bottles are available in the gift shop.
They also have some of the wine from Whispering Canyon for sale by the bottle at surprisingly reasonable prices, compared to everything else they sell. It’s neat that they have wine themed to the resort, even if it’s just a label.
Assuming you could find it, the Purple Cowboy would run you around $11 – 13 in stores. Masked Rider comes in around $10 – $12.
Some items for folks with allergies, aversions, and ailments.
An example of what you’ll find these days in most resort stores. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/wlstuff.jpg. A lot of the items seem to go hand and hand. Disney sells this stuff for an arm and a leg so you probably don’t want to plan to pick something up here if it can be packed. It’s probably around $375.00 for six cotton balls.
Not a major update to the Wilderness Lodge, but it’s one of my favorite resorts to visit. I have admittedly been avoiding the theme parks for the most part recently because of the hot temperatures and heavy crowds. I don’t really like visiting any more than the next guy during, but I’m planning to be out most of the day tomorrow for some fresh updates on what’s going on.