After a long hiatus, it’s time to reveal number 3 on the list of my top 5 favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World. Just to catch you up, number 5 was The Captain’s Grill at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort and number 4 was Le Cellier’ in Canada at World Showcase in EPCOT. Number 3 on the list will either get boisterous cheers or eye-rolls. I fell in love with this place simply because it was a go-to for most of my childhood visits to Disney World. The atmosphere is also terrific; but more on that later.
3. The Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
As I said, I can think of more than a few people who will greet this revelation with little more than a, “pssht,” and an eye-roll, but if you’re like me, there’s just something about eating here that make a Disney World vacation complete. While I do miss the old sauces, the food here is still pretty terrific, especially if you’re on the dining plan. But it’s the setting that puts this restaurant so high on my list… even above Le Cellier!
This is an easy one. I have only ever had one thing at this restaurant. I think it was only in recent years that there were even other options on the menu, but the All-You-Can-Eat BBQ Skillet is the obvious winner.
With the skillet, you get three meats from ribs, rotisserie chicken, beef strip loin, citrus crusted fish, or smoked sausage. Not only that, but the skillet comes with a host of family-style sides including fresh vegetables, roasted potatoes, barbecue baked beans, corn on the cob, cornbread, and a salad with the best dressing on the planet.
I’m not typically one for vinaigrette style salad dressings, but the apple cider vinaigrette featured at Whispering Canyon (and many other Walt Disney World locations) is a wonderfully balanced sweet and sour dressing that goes especially well with the cornbread.
While the vegetables and potatoes are fairly forgettable, the barbecue baked beans are literally some of the best I’ve ever had anywhere. Don’t think of the puny, thin junk you find in cans at the grocery store; these baked beans are hearty, thick, rich, and sweet with a great barbecue flavor and tender chunks of pork. The barbecue ribs and beef are also remarkably good to be mass-produced and probably not smoked. These aren’t baby-back ribs, so if that’s all you care for in the rib world, these aren’t for you. These are those toothsome style pork ribs more akin to Texas-style ribs. I love ribs in all varieties and these are delicious. “Tender” would not be a complement for this kind of barbecue as you really want that bite and chew to this style.
If you’re on the dining plan, especially the free one, you can’t go wrong with an all-you-can-eat deal of any type, especially one that features delicious barbecue. I can’t say much for the dessert. I believe I’ve only ever tried the Deep Dish Bourbon Pecan Pie and I can’t think of anything remarkable or memorable about it (obviously).
Atmosphere and Location:
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, while food goes a long way with me, atmosphere and location just might mean the difference between number 4 and number 3 on my top 5 list (sorry, Le Cellier’).
One of the best things about Whispering Canyon is getting there.
WARNING: DO NOT TAKE THE BUS TO THE WILDERNESS LODGE
One time, due to rain, we took the bus from Downtown Disney out to the Wilderness Lodge Resort and it took for-e-ver. It was rainy, cold, long, and miserable.
The key to making your trip to Whispering Canyon magical is to go ahead and plan on being in the Magic Kingdom for the afternoon and evening. Go to a park in the morning, go back and nap or swim in the early afternoon, and head over to the Magic Kingdom for the later afternoon and evening.
Unless the Magic Kingdom is closing super early for a special event, wait until 7 or 8:00 (if you can eat supper that late) and then take the boat over to the resort. The boats are pretty empty this time of day (unless it is near closing) and the trip is a relaxing, quiet, breezy, 10 or 15 minute ride that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the park and into the serenity of the Great American Northwest. You also can’t beat this entrance to the resort. The walk from the boat dock takes you along a floating barge, through a moss-covered wooded area, past the geyser-themed swimming pool and directly into the center of this resorts beautiful lobby. For real… this is just about half of the reason this restaurant is on my list. Sure, you could do this same thing without eating at Whispering Canyon; but why not make an evening out of it?
The atmosphere of the restaurant itself is… relaxing… to say the least. This is where the eye rolls can be prominent if you’re not into this kind of thing. The waiters and waitresses have a good time with you (think more along the lines of a friendly heckling than rudeness) and plenty of surprises await the unknowing guest with special requests (go ahead and ask for ketchup, too many refills, straws, etc.)… good times for everyone. The decor fits right with the grand lobby of the resort as it is actually part of it. As such, beautiful wood beams and canvas chandeliers highlight the ceiling of the restaurant. This is just an overall relaxing (though maybe not quiet), beautiful, seemingly remote, and fun place to spend your dinnertime together.
I would give The Whispering Canyon Cafe a grand score of 7.75 out of 10. Sure, the food isn’t a world-class steak like you might find at Le Cellier’, but the experience of getting to and eating at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort is well worth the trip and certainly contributes some hefty bonus points.
Check out The Whispering Canyon Cafe here.
As with all Walt Disney World table service (sit-down) restaurants, reservations, while not required, are certainly strongly advised if you wish to eat where you want, when you want.
Stay tuned for number 2 of my top 5 restaurants at Walt Disney World soon!