We continue our walk around Magic Kingdom with a stop in Adventureland. If you’ve missed the last couple of updates, they were:
- A look at Cosmic Ray’s condensed menu and a review of a couple of the newish entrees, in addition to a look at the return of the Cream Cheese Pretzel.
- A broader update on changes around Tomorrowland – mostly blue rocks, new signs, and new lighting, though there is a discussion of how crowds flowed through October and into November.
- Liberty Square with a review of the returning Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich and a review and some tips on seeing The Muppets Present…, in addition to some other changes.
The threat of Hurricane Matthew last month caused Disney to take down a number of refurbishment walls and scrims, including the ones over Swiss Family Treehouse. The facade work is usually a lot more intense than it might first appear with Disney typically removing and rebuilding the fronts of buildings once the tarps go up rather than just repainting the old facade. Like the majority of Disney’s recent projects, this one was delayed by more than a month after the expected reopening date.
But it did reopen in late October:
While I am far from an expert on the Treehouse, I didn’t notice any glaring changes and my assumption is that most of the work was structural in nature. While the vast majority of people walk right past the entrance, this is a good opportunity to spend 10-15 minutes doing something that isn’t just standing around. Some of the sets are kind of neat and the view out at Space Mountain and Cinderella Castle from the top, while probably overrated, is unique. Conversely, you could just scroll through these pictures three times and come away with a similar experience that’s a little easier on the knees.
The Jingle Cruise overlay arrived at Jungle Cruise last week for the fourth straight year.
Jungle Cruise is perhaps the most hit-or-miss attraction at any domestic Disney theme park, but I really enjoy the holiday touches and it seems like the skippers have a lot more leeway in their spiel than they would have a couple of years ago. We saw some really funny stuff over three or four rides:
Looking over wait times during regular hours from the last week:
I’m not sure most people consider Jungle Cruise to be a “high wait time ride,” but the peak waits occasionally surprise and they are typically higher during Jingle Cruise season. FastPass+ availability later in the day can also be sparse. If you check out the fall version of the cheat sheet touring plans, you may notice that we often rely on Jungle Cruise FastPass+ booked in advance for that reason. By 10:15am, you’re looking at an actual wait of 25-35 minutes and by 11am, I’d expect to wait 35 to 50. So keep that in mind if you’re planning on riding. If you’re attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, actual waits after 8pm are typically under ten minutes, making it a fun and festive choice after dark.
Like Swiss Family Treehouse, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room is another quintessential anytime attraction that will eat up 15 to 30 minutes:
The wait will virtually never be any longer than it takes for the next show to begin, which should be fewer than 15 minutes and is clearly posted at the attraction entrance. You can twiddle your thumbs elsewhere if there’s 12 or 13 minutes left, but getting in position seven or eight minutes before show time is smart as you’ll be able to enjoy the pre-show elements.
I have written a couple of reviews for Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen or “Jungle Skipper Canteen Restaurant” for short. While I hesitate to get overly pedantic with you because who really cares if you call it “O’Hana’s,” I would take a moment to mention that hearing “Skippers Canteen” or “Skipper’s Canteen” or “Skippers’ Canteen” makes me want to hurtle myself through the back side of water face first. Skipper Canteen.
Anyway, I wrote a lengthy reintroduction to the restaurant last month in this post, in addition to reviewing several of the overtly new items, including the Whole Fried Fish and Shiriki Noodle Salad. That review also covers how the restaurant has been received since opening along with some other changes that have occurred over the last 11-ish months. The original review is available here as well.
A reminder of what the menu looks like:
And there are perhaps more changes here than it first appeared with a lot of different ingredients and presentations despite the entree names staying the same. Typically when a menu item changes at a restaurant…the title of the dish will change…but that doesn’t seem to be true here.
The $7.50 Ginger’s “Croc” of Hot-and-Sour Soup Flavored with Ginger “not the crocodile,” Garlic, Soy Sauce, and Rice Wine Vinegar finished with fresh Egg, Tofu, and Wood Ear Mushrooms is not necessarily one of those items. But I hadn’t previously tried it, so we picked up a bowl. This falls under “Disney spicy” by default, though you can ask for them to spice it up more when you order for an extra punch. And I thought it impressed – there was a lot of “stuff” mixed in with the flavorful broth and it was served piping hot. The sweetness from the ginger was a little different than your typical bowl, I think, but it worked nicely against the acidity of the vinegar and saltiness of the soy sauce. It doesn’t necessarily demand a purchase, but it’s somewhat reasonably priced and a large portion.
The version at Nine Dragons at Epcot comes in at just $4, but is a considerably smaller portion.
I thought Canteen’s tasted a lot fresher – like something that hasn’t been sitting in a pot all day.
One entree that has seen a considerable number of changes is the $17 Curried Vegetable Crew Stew – A favorite of the Crew Stew Crew (especially Stu). Served with Coconut Rice, Seasonal Vegetables, and House-made Curry Sauce. While the name of the dish hasn’t changed, the previous description was, “Served with Roasted Acorn Squash, Lentils, and Sauteed Collard Greens.”
But I think that’s okay.
The flavor profile reminded me a lot of what I had ordered at Tiffins over at Animal Kingdom for $29. The curry at Canteen is otherwise packed with potatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and other vegetables in a creamy, mildly spicy curry and topped with green beans and parsley. Any excess sauce can be soaked up by the naan bread, which seems like a move right out of the Sanaa playbook and the coconut rice had a distinct taste that was a lot more interesting than your typical white variety. Overall, a better vegetarian entree at Magic Kingdom isn’t coming to mind. Very filling and a steal at $17.
While reading a variety of recent reviews about the Canteen, one reoccurring theme of the ones that came in at one or two stars was the $24 Char Siu Pork – Marinated Grilled Pork served with Chinese Broccoli and choice of Five-grain or White Rice.
And after ordering it myself, I can see why. The pork was incredibly tough, overcooked, and dry, with just a faint, generic sweet-and-sour flavor that seemed to be overpowered by the fact that it had obviously been cooked too long. I would have poo-poo’d this if it was served at the quick service arm over at Yak & Yeti for $12, but it’s a downright tragedy at $24 at a table service restaurant. I thought the Chinese Broccoli was overly bitter. Avoid this one.
If you’re looking for proof that the purpose of the menu changes was not to dumb down the menu then I think you need to look no further than this unattractive picture of the $25 Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp – Sustainable Local Farm-raised Shrimp tossed in a Chili-Garlic Sauce and served with Chinese Broccoli and choice of Five-grain or White Rice. The shrimp here are large, nicely seasoned, and generally prepared well with a nice snap to each bite. The whole head-on thing is to keep as much of the juice inside the shrimp as possible and it succeeds in doing that, making for a much richer flavor than your typical boiled variety. The glaze also works nicely here adding a bit of spicy sweetness. Overall, you might be able to say, “really, 25 bucks for five shrimp?” but seafood of this size is typically more expensive and it’s a well put together dish. If it’s overpriced, it’s only by $2 or $3. And I think you can make that up with a well-timed Trader Sam joke if you try to trade a couple of your heads for a bite of someone else’s dish.
Straight out of the vault of The Tom Corless, this is a picture of the $23 “Tastes like Chicken” – Because it is! – Crispy Fried Chicken with Citrus and Ginger-scented Rice, Chili Glaze, and Seasonal Vegetables. The chicken has a nice, light, crispy exterior that surrounds quite a bit of chicken across the two pieces. The chili glaze also returns, creating a slightly sweet, slightly spicy flavor profile that also helps add another dimension to the flavorful rice underneath. For Magic Kingdom table service, this is about as well put together as you’re going to find an entree and another impressive addition.
With the recent changes to Liberty Tree Tavern and price increases/changes at The Plaza, among others, I think Skipper Canteen should be on your short list for table service lunch/dinner if you don’t want to head to Disney Springs, a nearby resort, or elsewhere. Be Our Guest dinner is certainly worth doing once, but Skipper Canteen pricing is lower and it’s much easier to book a reservation. The atmosphere is also fun and varied.
But who knows, maybe they’ll reopen Tortuga Tavern?
I think we’ll take a look at some holiday pictures around Main Street next. Then visit Fantasyland.