Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen is a table-service restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This restaurant sits in Adventureland, across the way from the world-famous Jungle Cruise. Skipper Canteen serves a variety of different cuisine that is fairly exotic (at least for a theme park restaurant). Skipper Canteen counts as one credit if you are on the Disney Dining Plan and they also offer 20% off to those who have annual passes or Tables in Wonderland. We’ve dined at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen several times and this review will cover those experiences including photos, thoughts on several dishes and the restaurant’s value.
Walking into Skipper Canteen, you are met with an array of colors that all compliment each other well. The place is bright and charming. The pastels match the South Pacific theme of Adventureland. There are several different dining areas and we were seated in the main dining room. The restaurant’s back story is that they serve the skippers who just finished giving their Jungle Cruise tours. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that there are visual gags and puns everywhere.
On our way to be seated, the hostess wasn’t afraid to drop puns at a speed that would make the Gilmore Girls blush. That didn’t stop once our waiter came to the table. Not that I’m complaining, the jokes were pretty funny and the waiter worked hard to make sure we were having a good time even if this wasn’t a typical dining experience.
Truthfully, I can see why Skipper Canteen has been a somewhat polarizing restaurant since it’s opening. From the amount of joking done by the wait staff (which shouldn’t bother anyone unless they were looking a romantic date night and came to the wrong place) and the fairly adventurous menu, this isn’t a typical theme park restaurant. I think that’s part of the charm of Skipper Canteen though and makes the restaurant unique and endearing.
There are plenty of places to go for those that want cheeseburgers, chicken strips, and fries. Skipper Canteen isn’t that place which means it’s fairly unique. Not to mention, the restaurant is also beautiful and has a ton of personality.
The other rooms in Skipper Canteen are a little more secluded than the main dining room. There are plenty of details to enjoy – maps, books and pictures are scattered throughout these rooms. In with these details are several nods to S.E.A., the secret (and make believe) society that Imagineers have created starting in DisneySea. It’s a nice little addition that furthers that story.
The top drink photo is the Punch Line Punch which tasted like a mango punch. The bottom drink is the Schweitzer Slush. It’s a mix of frozen apple juice and passion fruit with green apple boba in it. I liked both drinks and would recommend them, especially if you are on the dining plan. Neither were out-of-this-world good but I did enjoy them.
Moving on to the food, the menu is adventurous as I’ve already said. Here’s a link to it. We’ve tried several appetizers so we’ll start there.
The Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas are our favorite thing on the menu. These consist of Corn Pancakes with Beer-braised Pork, Corn, Salsa and Avocado Cream. All of the ingredients complimented each other. The Corn Pancakes were soft, warm and rich with flavor. The star of the dish is the pork, incredibly tender and juicy. The other ingredients helped tie everything together to make an excellent appetizer.
We also tried the S.E.A. Shu Mai appetizer which is Pork, Shrimp, Edamame and Spices wrapped in Gyoza. These weren’t nearly as good as the Cachapas as I didn’t love the filling, finding it a bit heavy and dense without a standout flavor. That’s not to say they’re bad, just that it wouldn’t be my top choice among the offerings here.
One of my favorite entrees on the menu is the Whole Fried Fish. Despite the somewhat jarring appearance, the fish was delicious. It was easy to pull apart and get the juicy part of the fish without getting stuck with bones. Even the quills on the fish were edible and tasted somewhat like potato chips. The fry on the fish was pretty light and not greasy at all. The sauce on the bottom was comparable to soy sauce but slightly sweeter. My only complaint with the dish was that it could have used a vegetable of some kind alongside it.
One other little note on this dish is that they give you two fishes to eat instead of just one. If it had been just one fish this may not have been very filling but with two there was plenty here.
We’ve also ordered the Char Siu Pork and enjoyed it. The cut of meat was juicy and served with a sweet sauce. At just $24, this is a pretty solid value for a nice slice of meat. The vegetable and rice along with are good but nothing too interesting.
Other members of our group ordered the Chicken and the Grilled Steak. The chicken was fairly average and was probably the worst of the entrees we ordered. The steak was very good but by no means the best steak we tried on our trip.
Moving on to desserts… This was a bit of a mixed bag. The one above is the Kungaloosh! and it was the favorite of our table. A chocolate cake with cashew-caramel ice cream and a caramelized banana, this dessert was fairly rich but the ice cream gave it a nice balance.
The Coconut Bar and the Lan Cake were both decent options but nothing out of this world. I thought the Coconut Bar was at least ambitious and could be a hit for those that love coconut and/or lime.
Another ambitious dessert was the Quick Sand!!! (don’t forget that third exclamation point!) Sadly, I just didn’t like this one. It’s a Jasmine Rice Pudding with a mango sauce. If you really like jasmine rice then you will probably enjoy this dessert. If not, I’d stay away as I think it takes a certain palate. I will say that this dessert, and all the others, did seem to be prepared well and each were beautiful in presentation.
Skipper Canteen is largely successful from a food and theme standpoint. The value also is pretty strong. With a nice assortment of appetizers, you could have a fairly cheap meal here if those appealed to you. Likewise, there are several entrees that are on the cheaper side of things. Skipper Canteen isn’t the best value in Disney World, or even in Magic Kingdom, but it’s not a bad value relative to other restaurants.
Overall, I recommend Skipper Canteen. Their appetizers are the most inventive food that you can find in Magic Kingdom and the entrees aren’t far behind. The restaurant certainly fills a void in the park and is a fun place to have a meal. I wouldn’t consider Skipper Canteen a ‘must-do’ but it’s a tier below that and adds to Magic Kingdom’s underrated table-service scene.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews