Wilderness Lodge Update, Whispering Canyon Lunch, (Not) New Merch – 6/11/13

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.

Drinks:

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 apparel.

And what’s in the cooler:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/lodge1.jpg.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/lodge2.jpg

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.

Comments

  1. Angela says

    The red table and turquoise bowl (Fiestaware?) make your photo of the Enjoy Platter look like something from a 1960’s cookbook. Awesome.

  2. Chris says

    We were just at the lodge the other day and I thought those high-backed chairs were new as well. I’ve always wanted to try WCC but can’t ever see to fit it in. Not big on “shenanigans” though – I’d rather be left alone! Can’t say I feel the love for Kona. We finally made it there and, while the meal was fine, I was pretty underwhelmed. Maybe I’d read too much hype but I expected a lot more.

    I’m with you on the crowds/heat. We have 3 more days and I’m not sure I’m gonna make it. It’s been pretty brutal on both fronts this trip

    When are we gonna finally see You and Lisa in a character pic? I’m assuming she has a blue striped blouse and cargo skirt. : ) Hope to see you around the parks today!

  3. John says

    Did they add the all you can eat platter back to the lunch menu?

    Didn’t they take it off a few months back?

  4. keri says

    I think the guyser goes off every two hours on the hour, or something. It definitely was more often when I was a kid and the resort was new. But I saw/heard it several times during my stay last weekend. It’s pretty loud and hard to miss I you’re anywhere near the pool area. My room was on the top floor facing the villa pool (which is the best quiet pool I’ve been to at Disney), and I could just barely make it out if there weren’t a bunch of kids hollering and my balcony door was open. Also the boat horns and the petty raceway experience engines. It was very pleasant, actually.

  5. Carol says

    I’ve never stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, but we did eat dinner at Whispering Canyon once. Our shenanigans were on the mild side too, but dinner was great. One of my favorites of that trip. Can’t wait to try out the Territory Lounge on a future trip.

  6. em says

    We loved the Whispering Canyon for dinner. But alas with only the platter on the menu for dinner it is off our list. On our last trip there before the menu change we has 13 for dinner and that included 6 boys ages 9-11. Our waitress went all out on them from the jail to signs on their backs to literally taping my son to his chair LOL!

  7. Jody says

    Thanks for your post on Wilderness Lodge, and I like your photos.

    My wife and I ate at Whispering Canyons in 1997, but due to the humiliating “shenanigans” of the staff we did not return to the restaurant for 12 years, even though we visit Wilderness Lodge on every Disney vacation and sometimes stay there. Thankfully, there were much milder shenanigans at the restaurant during our subsequent 2009 Christmas day meal at Whispering Canyons.

    I have never had a meal at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, and probably never will, as I enjoy eating food and talking at the dinner table with my family about our day without having to endure humiliating and distracting role-play.

  8. neffernie says

    Does anyone else think it is mean that they put the low fat, gluten free fruit snacks right about the high fat, loaded with gluten Minnie’s Cookies?

  9. tukogirlAndrea says

    Great report! I grew up in Puyallup (live in SoCal now) and went to NW Trek at least twice a year for school and with family. What a fun surprise to see a shout out for it here!

    Whispering Canyon Cafe, The Salt Lick, as we like to call it, can be fun, but don’t expect great service when you really do need something. The family at the table next to ours had obviously been there several times before and knew all of the antics – straws, another drink, diet drink, napkins, ketchup…. and kept the waiter busy. We were out of water and asked for more because we genuinely were thirsty. While the waiter was delivering great mountains of napkins and straws, I started choking on some bit of overly salted food and couldn’t stop choking and coughing. And of course, had no water yet. Three minutes later I’m still choking and coughing and the waiter brings us water in those tiny cups. With me alternating between giving him the death stare and eyeballing the ‘fun’ family’s drinks to see what was within easy reach, I think he figured out he wasn’t getting high praise from us.

  10. pfalcioni says

    ” 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. ”

    How have I never heard of this place before? I feel I’ve failed as a native Northwesterner! Fine, it’s on my itinerary for our 3-day ride through Rainier later this summer. Hope you’re happy.

  11. Lisa says

    I once had to buy tweezers from there when DS got a splinter running his hand on the rails walking from the boat to the WCC. VACATION RUINED

  12. says

    “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.”

    This describes my primary communication style which is why many people term me “difficult to get along with.”

  13. Faith says

    We stayed at Wilderness Lodge around New Year’s last year and loved it! My husband and 2 small girls ate at WCC for a late lunch after we came back for a break before heading back over to see the lights at the Studios. We really enjoyed the food, but the only antics we saw were with the ketchup. However, my parents ate there with my 10 month old for an early lunch while the rest of us had gone on to Magic Kingdom in the rain (they decided to sacrifice and make some work calls and keep the baby out of the rain when all I heard about were the drinks they were enjoying!) and my dad was called out for talking to me on his phone. I had warned him about the possible antics, but I thought he was going to kill me later that I had called and caused him to be embarrassed when their waitress yelled for the entire restaurant to be quiet while that man over there was trying to talk on his phone! I thought it was hilarious!

  14. 6Js says

    “Does anyone else think it is mean that they put the low fat, gluten free fruit snacks right about the high fat, loaded with gluten Minnie’s Cookies?”

    As a Celiac who has to eat only 100% gluten free (and DD11) I’m just glad its there. If it seems mean to those of you who have a choice consider the alternative.

  15. pfalcioni says

    6Js, that’s what Josh is saying, it’s mean to those who can only eat GF to put the gluten-loaded snacks right above them. He’s sympathizing with you.

  16. Carol O says

    “death machines”? story or link to story, please.
    I’ve never eaten at 50’s Prime Time or Whispering Canyon because of my severe aversion to shenanigans during meal times. I have, however, visited the WL many times and think time spent visiting the various hotels is a great way to spend an afternoon.

  17. 6Js says

    @pf: it wasn’t Josh’s words but that’s besides the point. And re-reading my own post I realized it came off completely wrong to what I meant. Didn’t mean to sound like I was criticizing the person who wrote it and my comment reads to me as very jerk-like behavior. Sorry bout that. I’ll try to ‘splain. I’m someone who has been keenly aware of the strides Disney has made over the years to be the best in the industry regarding provisions for those of us for whom gluten-free is a medical condition. For both us, as consumers and Disney, as the vendor, gluten-free as a healthy alternative/diect choice is an afterthought at most. A “normal” person can eat just as “unhealthy” on a gluten free diet as on a diet that contains gluten. GF Mickey Waffles and GF cupcakes anyone? While I appreciate that the GF diet choice popularity has helped bring the GF issue to the forefront I think that Disney’s primary target for GF foods, Celiacs and the GF sensitive, aren’t concerned with what other tasty treats may be next to our options because we don’t think of them as food at all. It’s like seeing a bar of soap or a bottle of Drano in the fridge. It’s a very different mindset that most people don’t get.

    All that being said I just realized I’ve become “that guy” in this comment thread and I’m sorry to have gone there in the first place. Carry on. :)

  18. David says

    LOL @ the poster who said the “antics” at WC are “humiliating”. Lighten up a little, its a vacation…

  19. cupcake says

    I’ve only ever eaten at WCC once, when my sister chose it for her birthday. My ‘entertainment’ during the meal consisted of being served a cardboard-dry hamburger that I had to spend 5 minutes ‘playing’ to get condiments for, having to wait 15 minutes for a drink refill so I could be chastised for needing a ‘trough’s worth’ of water, and enduring ‘spirited’ eye-rolls and sighs when I presented my TIW card. You crazy people can keep your shenanigans, I’ll stick to Kona, The Wave, and GF Cafe.

  20. Sue says

    Josh…. Do you remember how much the bottle of Troy was going for? Husband’s eyes lit up when I showed him…

  21. Alison says

    We ate at Whispering Canyon April this year for the fifth time and had the most shenanigans ever. We were a family party of 12 and as well as the ketchup adn gallon sized mason jars of iced tea we had the men made to sing I’m a little teapot with actions, hobby horse racing, a stuffed squirrel “served”, a tray of “drinks” thrown over us. One of our teenagers was dragged away on her chair and sat in the naughty corner in another part of the restaurant whilst her younger cousin was given a dustpan and brush and made to do chores, another of the younger children was place in Canyon Jail and had to drink through the bars. There was so much going on I am sure I have missed things.

    I understand if you weren’t expecting it or didn’t enjoy those kind of interactions it would be awful but we all absolutely loved it!

  22. dusty cheatham says

    people get a life please!!!!! do your homework . your spending $$$$$$ to go to Disney .if you do not want to partake in any foolish play carry your tight asses somewhere else .rant over. josh keep up the good work

  23. Melanie says

    My oblivious husband got called out for cell phone use at WCC. Next visit he will think twice before calling his mommy from the dinner table.

    I say bring on the shenanigans. If you want a dignified family meal, go elsewhere.

  24. Mike says

    Tried this place yesterday. It was charming and a lot of fun. If u go here there is a wonderful waitress that is a lot of fun. Ask for mt I know strange name but a wonderful waitress that makes your dining experience a lot of fun. Don’t think I will ever forget the look on my mom’s face as she did what I asked and asked for ketchup. It was priceless. Thank you Disney

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