Finally, a sit-down option with none of the formality of Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Tony’s Town Square or Liberty Tree Tavern. Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen (to use its rather elaborate title, though most just call it the Skipper Canteen) is full service, with a big helping of casual. And that’s a boon for guests who want a little bit of pampering without feeling ever-so-slightly under-dressed in their shorts and flip-flops.
Here, the backstory revolves around the demise of the Jungle Navigation Company (Established 1911), and the opening of Jungle Cruises. Dr. Albert Falls’ grand-daughter, Alberta, has inherited her grandfather’s company and his home, and turned it into a restaurant. But fans of the defunct Adventurer’s Club in the former Pleasure Island area at what was once known as Downtown Disney and is now Disney Springs (whew!) will also recognise some of the decorative elements as belonging to those long-ago adventurers.
Outside, big, comfy chairs make waiting easier, while a small lobby area immediately through the front door features comfortable seating to ease weary feet while your table is being prepared, as well as two thoughtfully-placed ice water dispensers to soothe overheated travellers. Colours are pleasingly subdued, adding to the cooling effect, and a small (but totally ineffective) overhead punkawalla (that’s ‘fan’ to us adventurers who still have India on their must-visit list) adds to the subtropical atmosphere that extends throughout the restaurant.
The main dining room is called the Crew’s Mess Hall, with a bright, Colonial feel complete emphasized by shuttered windows and bleached crossbeams, plus 1920s and 1930s background music, evoking the era when Dr. Albert Falls called the place home. This is, according to the story, where Jungle Cruise skippers take a load off and get some much-needed grub after a long day jungle-cruising with boats full of tourists (you).
Walk through a small passageway lined with bookshelves that once hid the back rooms where Adventurers would gather—in secret, of course!—for their meetings, and you come to the two small interior dining rooms. Don’t forget to pause for a moment to read a few of the book titles and their humorously appropriate author names.
The first interior room is the S.E.A Room (Society of Explorers and Adventurers), the club’s secret meeting room, with old nautical maps, treasures gathered from Adventurers’ voyages, and wild leopard-print chairs that segue into the theme of the Jungle room next door. The S.E.A. Room has a lovely, relaxed openness, though it is much smaller than the Mess Hall, making it ideal for families who want somewhat quieter surroundings with their meal.
The Jungle Room is next, and it is by far the cosiest of the three, having been the parlour area of the house when Dr. Falls was in residence. Slightly darker, but with bright colour accents, its theme is carried out through whimsical lighting fixtures featuring parrots reminiscent of The Enchanted Tiki Room, and wood carvings on the wall depicting scenes from The Jungle Cruise (you’ll get ‘the point’ once you see them. *groan!*). Couples may gravitate here, purely for the more intimate setting.
Interested in knowing more about the details in the restaurant? Cast Members will happily give you a little tour on the way to your table, so don’t be afraid to ask. And be sure to notice the upper storey offices of some very creative co-workers (really, three Imagineers who were instrumental in creating various aspects of The Jungle Cruise attraction), as well as a portrait of Dr. Falls himself, holding pride of place in the lobby.
But what about the food?
Remember when Yak and Yeti opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the menu was filled with creative dishes, some of them twists on familiar entrees, some of them a little bit suspect from a non-adventurous eater’s point of view? You’ll find a similar situation here. Steaks, chicken, lamb chops and fish sit comfortably alongside more daring (we would say ‘exciting’!) choices, such as Curried Vegetable Crew Stew (roasted acorn squash, lentils, and collard greens), hot and sour soup, and falafel. Old favourites with new twists include Skip’s Mac & Cheese, with spiced mince and béchamel sauce; Rice Noodle Bowls; and the intriguingly named Sustainable Fish Collar served with Green Papaya Salad and Yuzu-Soy Sauce.
Allergic? Don’t worry. There is an allergy-friendly menu that will help you navigate (!) your choices to avoid any triggers. Wheat/Gluten-free options are also available, as are some attractive vegetarian/vegan dishes.
If the children in your group are dedicated to their fish-fingers and beans-on-toast, you may struggle here. A child’s portion of the aforementioned mac & cheese is available, as are slow-cooked beef with black beans and yucca chips, and grilled flank steak or sustainable fish (both healthy Mickey Check Meals), but the only widely-familiar item is Chicken Noodle Soup.
Interesting non-alcoholic drinks are on offer, but they won’t drown out those fussy-eater wails, so you may want to buy the kiddies a burger elsewhere, then keep them happy with Skipper Canteen’s Volcano (chocolate cake with caramel sauce) or Monkey Bites (pistachio sponge cake with chocolate-covered bananas and candied sunflower seeds). Fresh fruit is also on the menu, but it’s not likely to keep fidgety youngsters quiet.
Like Yak and Yeti, we wonder if the menu will go through a few incarnations, but it holds great appeal for us as it is, so we hope some of the ‘adventure’ won’t be lost over time.
The Skipper Canteen does not take reservations just yet, but is expected to do so at some point, though the Cast Members we spoke with could not pinpoint a date. If there is a particular room you want to dine in, simply make the request with the hostess and you’ll be seated there once a table is free. And don’t forget to turn your menu over before you hand it back to your server. We won’t spoil the joke…!
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