I first tried the Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen a few years ago when it opened. My family and I love the cheesiness and puns you can hear on the Jungle Cruise attraction, so we thought the idea of a restaurant themed similarly was extremely fun. We enjoyed our experience there, but the menu was fairly different from what it looks like now, and we weren’t huge fans of what we ordered. My mom and I decided to give it another try while she was in Orlando in February visiting for our birthdays, and we were both highly impressed this time around!
The backstory of the Skipper Canteen follows a family member of Dr. Albert Falls (who founded the Jungle Navigation Co. and has a waterfall named after him on Jungle Cruise), named Alberta Falls. Alberta decided to open a restaurant in the company’s headquarters in order to bring in some extra money. Because the restaurant doubles as the skippers’ mess hall, you get to interact with them outside of their tours as they wait on you. They are just as silly and sarcastic as they are when they’re at work on the Jungle Cruise, full of puns and jokes to keep you laughing—and groaning—while you eat.
Skipper Canteen is located toward the front of Adventureland when you’re entering it from the Hub, close to Sunshine Tree Terrace and Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. It’s tucked away, so you might miss it if you’re just passing quickly through to get to the attractions in the area, but the building it’s housed in is quite kooky and beautiful, just like the whole theme of the Jungle Navigation Co.
It is separated into three different dining rooms, and no matter which one you’re seated in you will definitely want to spend a little time wandering around and checking out the other rooms. Each of them has so many little quirks and jokes hidden throughout the décor, reminiscent of the queue of the Jungle Cruise (see a pattern here? Disney always knocks it out of the park when it comes to theming and seamlessly connecting stories!).
The largest and main dining room is the mess hall, which is the first room you see as you enter the restaurant. We ate in this section on our first trip to the restaurant, and because it is so big and open, it is also quite noisy. If that is something that you or someone in your family will not be able to tolerate, see if you can be seated in one of the other two rooms. Through a small walkway is the family archives, which is where my mom and I were seated this most recent trip, and next to that is the SEA—Society of Explorers and Adventurers—room. Both of these are much calmer and quieter than the mess hall, if that’s something you’re looking for.
The menu at Skipper Canteen does not include a lot of the typical fare you can find in most Walt Disney World restaurants. The skippers have brought back many different types of cuisines from their explorations, so you can find all sorts of unique flavors and cuisines here. If you or someone in your party is a picky eater (as in, “will only eat hamburgers and chicken nuggets” picky), they may have trouble finding something that will please them, but don’t let that deter you! Although it is fairly small menu, the list of options is quite diverse. There weren’t any entrees that sparked my interest, so I decided to try a couple of the appetizer choices. I went with Ginger’s “Croc” of Hot-and-Sour Soup, and the Shiriki Noodle Salad.
One thing you should know about me is I am a hot-and-sour soup junkie. Anytime I order Chinese takeout I have to include at least one quart of the stuff because I enjoy it so much. I have come to love the hot-and-sour soup my local Chinese restaurant serves, so I had high hopes and expectations for a Disney version. It didn’t end up being what I expected, but I think that was mainly because I’ve become so accustomed to a specific kind of hot-and-sour soup. The soup I enjoyed at Skipper Canteen was thicker than I’ve had before, and spicier as well. It didn’t have a lot of vegetables in it, mainly just eggs and mushrooms with a little bit of tofu. I personally like my soup to be packed with lots of stuff, and this soup was mostly broth. As a whole, I did enjoy the flavor of it quite a lot, and again, I think my slight disappointment with it comes from my being very picky about my hot-and-sour soup.
The Shiriki Noodle Salad, on the other hand, was something I’d never tried before, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was a cold salad with extremely thin noodles, various veggies including carrots and edamame, and a little bit of mango. The combination of sweet and savory flavors was so interesting, and the sweet chili sauce the salad was doused with gave it a little spice without being too overpowering. Surrounding the salad were small disks that we later found out from our waiter were pickled lotus root. I was too nervous to try it at first, but he convinced me to take a taste and I can honestly say it was one of the strangest flavor combinations I’ve ever experienced—like a crunchy mixture of vinegar and cinnamon. I didn’t go for more than just one bite, but if you’re adventurous you should definitely try this unique root when you order the salad!
My mom ordered the Perkins Thai Noodles, named after Pamelia Perkins—the president of the Adventurers Club—who loves this dish. Served in a relatively large portion, the dish was packed with thick noodles, chicken tofu, and a variety of vegetables, including carrots, peppers, and onions. It was dressed with a “spicy soy-chili-garlic” sauce, which did indeed have a kick to it. We both found the dish to be tasty, and it was quite filling, as well.
We didn’t order any dessert, but since we were celebrating our birthdays, our waiter brought out a complimentary cupcake for us to share. It was just your average Disney cupcake, but what really “took the cake” was the presentation. There was a map of the Jungle Cruise tour route stamped in chocolate on the plate, which lead to the vanilla cupcake topped with thick green frosting to represent the foliage of the jungle. It was a unique way to present a birthday treat that you can get in many different restaurants around Walt Disney World, and we really appreciated how intricate the design was.
Overall, I think Skipper Canteen is a great option for a table-service lunch or dinner in Magic Kingdom. The price is comparable to many of the table-service locations at Magic Kingdom, but it is not as sought after as some of those other options, and although it is certainly pricier than a quick-service meal, it will most likely not be as busy or hectic as many of the quick-service eateries are. The food may be a little out-of-the-box compared to standard theme park meals, but if you are adventurous and willing to try something new, you will get a relatively calm, stress-free dining experience with a unique atmosphere and menu. And during a day spent surrounded by the high energy and craziness of Magic Kingdom, what more could you ask for?