Before doing a Skipper Canteen Review in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, we’d never eaten there before, so I was excited to try it out. The Jungle Cruise is one of my absolute all-time favorite attractions so when I heard a few years ago that they were building an attraction based on the story of the Jungle Cruise I knew it was a must-try dining location.
The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen (man that’s one heck of a name) is a Table Service Restaurant located in Adventureland in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It requires 1 Table Dining Credit if you are using the Disney Dining Plan. It also participates in Tables in Wonderland which gives you a %20 discount on your food and drinks, so that is a big help in paying for your meals. Skipper Canteen does accept ADR’s 180 Days in advance, and while Skipper Canteen isn’t the most popular restaurant in Walt Disney World, seeing as it’s located in the Magic Kingdom, it’s a good idea to book a reservation ASAP, especially in the busier times of year.
Expect to find the flavorful cuisine of Asia, South America, and Africa at the Skipper Canteen. However, even though it’s exotic, it also caters to the most simple palates too. Some of the famous dishes are: Trader Sam’s Head-On Shrimp, Char Siu Pork, S.E.A. Shu Mai, plus Steak, Salads, Fish and Lamb Chops.
The idea behind the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen is a great one. It’s tells the story of Dr. Albert Falls, founder of the Jungle Navigation Co. in 1911 and his then famous Jungle Cruise. It also delves into the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (or S.E.A), which is a secret organization behind many of the Disney park attractions, especially those overseas in Tokyo and Hong Kong for example. The theming here is amazing, and one of the best in any park restaurant .
Let’s dive into our Skipper Canteen Review so we can find out if it lives up to the hype…
You can find the entrance to The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom as soon as you enter Adventureland, on the right, immediately after the Sunshine Tree Terrace and before the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. Here’s the entrance:
In our case even though we had a reservation, we still had to wait outside for a good 30 minutes. Strange since it wasn’t a particularly busy day in the Magic Kingdom, and also unfortunate since we planned our Skipper Canteen dinner right before the Happily Ever Fireworks so we really couldn’t afford to wait that long. Not sure if that’s normal for the Skipper Canteen or if it was just that day. Anyways if you have to wait you can choose to in the lovely covered veranda at the entrance:
As we said before, the The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen is a restaurant created by Dr. Albert Falls. Dr. Falls founded The Jungle Navigation Co., in 1911, which was a shipping company to service fellow explorers and adventurers on the jungle rivers. He was also prominent member of the S.E.A.(you will see their influence as we do our Skipper Canteen review).
As time went on and Dr Falls passed, his grand-daughter Alberta took over the family business and fewer and fewer true adventurers were coming to Adventureland, she stopped focusing on shipping and started offering Jungle Cruises to tourists instead. Naturally these hungry visitors needed a place to eat and so the Skipper Canteen was opened up to the public, including all 3 Dining Rooms in the Skipper Canteen; the Crew Mess Hall, the Falls Family Parlor and the secretive S.E.A. Room.
Let’s look at the first one:
The Crew Mess Hall:
This is the dining room when you first enter the building. This is also where the crew working for the The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd ate. You know they worked up a big appetite out there on the jungle rivers so naturally this was a welcome sight when they entered:
This is by far the biggest of the 3 dining rooms at the Skipper Canteen:
The room itself is filled with high vaulting ceilings and painted in bright colors, no doubt boosting the moral of the crew members working hard on the rivers.
Look at how high the ceilings are:
You’ll also notice hundreds of artifacts found by the explorers and adventurers along the way. If you lose something yourself while visiting the Skipper Canteen, this would be a good place to look for it:
Here’s a banner honoring the commemoration of the Jungle Cruise started by Alberta Falls:
A typical table here:
The African masks and statues on the left of the hall are nice, but it’s what’s behind there that’s far more interesting….
While the Crew Mess Hall is nice and all, I don’t think any Skipper Canteen review would be complete without visiting they most prestigious dining room in the restaurant: the S.E.A. Room. This is where Dr. Albert Falls met secretly with his colleagues and fellow members of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. To get there we’ll have to go through the secret passage way behind the bookshelf:
When visiting the Skipper Canteen, you have to pay attention to the details. The books on the shelf are a riot to read and are all puns on pop culture and Disney attractions and films. Take some time to read some of them as you pass:
When you enter you immediately understand why Dr. Falls chose to meet back here:
The room is beautiful, with wood paneling from the floor all the way to the ceiling which give it a real sense of luxury and prestige:
One of my favorite things to do in the Skipper Canteen is to just wander around and look at the artifacts collected over the years by Dr. Albert Falls and his fellow explorers:
This portrait is awesome and gives you a shot a quite familiar looking jungle, wouldn’t you say….
You can also find a beautiful wood map carved into the wall:
There are literally dozens of rare butterflies displayed on the wall too. Here are a couple samples. They are breathtaking to look at:
Falls Family Parlor:
The 3rd and final dining room in the Skipper Canteen is the Falls Family Parlor, where the Falls family would spend most of their time eating:
This room is also really cool and unique with tons of neat details throughout. It’s also quite bright looking with greens and blues adorning the walls:
Just like in the previous room you can find dozens of treasures discovered in the depths of the jungle:
Ok, not everything was necessarily found in the jungle:
This is a model of the actual Jungle Cruise boats:
- TIP: Of the 3 dining rooms, I’d take the S.E.A. Room and then the Falls Family Parlor, which are both miles ahead of the Crew Mess Hall imo. Both are a quiet and more intimate dining experience. Ask for one of them when you check in for your reservation!
So we agree that the theming in the Skipper Canteen is fantastic, and a great representation of what a Disney restaurant should look like. What about the food though? Let’s find out….
So the Skipper Canteen is advertised as South American, Asian and African cuisine, which might make some pickier eaters worried. While this was true in the beginning of the restaurant’s history, the menu has been significantly dialed-down, so you won’t find anything overly exotic, and will surely find something that appeals to everyone.
Some of the choices are Steamed Dumplings (S.E.A. She Mai), Pork, Chicken, Steak Salad, Shrimp, a Noodle Bowl, etc. Probably the “strangest” thing on the menu is the Whole Fried Fish, which still has the head on. The Skipper Canteen used to have their Shrimp dish also with the heads but they dialed that one down. Honestly it’s extremely hard to pull-off a more ambitious menu in a theme park and have it accepted by the masses. I actually preferred the original version of it and it’s a shame that people complained about it. It was only a matter of time it became a bit more main-stream. In fact I fear the same fate eventually for Tiffins in the Animal Kingdom which has already had some minor tweaks but remains more upscale and more exotic than Skipper Canteen.
As for prices they are quite reasonable with Appetizers running from about $9-11 each and Entrees from about $17-32. It’s more expensive than a quick service restaurant for sure, but being in the Magic Kingdom you pay a premium and they aren’t bad at all.
First before having our meal we had to try the Schweitzer Slush:
You Know I’m obsessed with any drink with Boba Balls in it, so it was a no brainer for me! It has a strong green apple taste, and is refreshing, especially after it was so hot. Loveeeee The bobba balls, which are Apple-flavored too. It was a little too icy and could have had a stronger passion fruit taste, but overall it was good!
Our first appetizer was the Falls Family Falafel:
The falafel uses a secret recipe of Chickpeas, Garlic, Onions, Lemon Juice, and Herbs served with White Bean Dip and Tomato-Cucumber Salad.
Unfortunately I wasn’t a huge fan. It comes with 5 pieces, but even though it looks beautiful outside and is fried nicely, it’s actually a little dry inside and could use more flavor. The sauce made it tastier, but it needed a little more. The garnish of cucumber and tomato was nice touch, but ultimately the Falafel “falls” short…(I swear it wasn’t intended…??).
Next was the Orinco Ida’s Cachapas:
Honestly I didn’t know what to expect with this one as I’ve never heard of a Cachapas before in my life. They are actually Corn Pancakes pilled high with Mojo-braised Pork, Black Bean Salad, and Avocado Cream. My wife devoured these, absolutely loved them, which is obvious as she’s a big avocado person. Definitely an appetizer you don’t see often in a theme park and executed perfectly!
The next appetizer was one I’ve been waiting to try ever since reading the menu, even if only because of the awesome name, S.E.A. Shu Mai:
Inside the box there are 5 dumplings:
The S.E.A. Shu Mai were really good! The meat inside was juicy, it had a great texture, and they were really flavorful! Love the combo of pork, shrimp and edamame! Now I understand why Dr. Falls had so many secret meetings back here!
Now onto the Entrees! First up were Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp:
Like I said before, these used to really be “head-on” shrimp, but many park guests are not used to seeing shrimp with their heads, so we now have the tamer version of the dish. My mom really loved these, the shrimp were succulent and nicely seasoned. Also the jasmine rice was cooked great. Only complaint is that there are only 6 shrimp which if you’re hungry and didn’t have an appetizer might not fill you. But it’s a solid plate overall.
Next was the Hardy Har Char Siu Pork:
Honestly this was a big letdown for me. I had heard great things about the pork and it being the must-try entree at Skipper Canteen, and just looking at it seems amazing, but honestly it was almost un-eatible. Really it was that bad! The pork itself was way over cooked, and resulted in dry and super stiff meat. Also I didn’t like the sauce at all, thought it was bitter and just a bad overall choice. Don’t order!
Lastly was the A Lot at Steak Salad:
First thing is that it’s a really big portion. Lettuce was good and the dressing super light. That’s where the compliments stop though as it was really lacking flavor. The steak was tender as you can see in the photo, but didn’t have an inch of flavor to it. Not a fan and wouldn’t order again.
I couldn’t finish my Skipper Canteen review of course without trying dessert. There aren’t very many choices, but the ones they have are of course filled with ingredients you would expect to find in the jungle, ex. fruit, coffee, etc:
I went with the Coconut Bar with Pineapple-basil Compote and Vanilla Cream:
So back when I told you we had to wait at least 30 minutes to be seated even though there weren’t many people in the Magic Kingdom that day, as a result I had to fly through dessert if I wanted to make Happily Ever After. I waited about 30 minutes for the dessert and that meant of course I had to gulp it down in about 10 seconds. That being said it was pretty good. It was very light and the taste of coconut and pineapple was very present. It had a good texture too, and was pretty creamy. I wasn’t wild about mixing the basil in there, I prefer basil only in savory dishes, but I thought it was a solid choice.
I’m sorry to say but overall I was a bit disappointed with the Skipper Canteen, I really was expecting more. I’m a huge Jungle Cruise fan so I thought the atmosphere was incredible. I think we had worst waiter in the place because they are supposed to be in character and a bit funny like on the Jungle Cruise itself and ours was just dull, but I saw others that seemed to be really good, Oh well. But I loved the theming and integrating S.E.A. into the domestic parks where it’s hard to find them a lot. I hope Disney works them in even more in the future.
The food though was a let down. The S.E.A. Shu Mai were the best appetizer for sure and a must try. Also Orinco Ida’s Cachapas, especially if you are a big avocado fan! Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp was a good but not spectacular entree, but the rest were all disappointing to us. It’s a shame because the Skipper Canteen has a lot of promise, especially being in the Magic Kingdom where good Table Service is almost non-existent. I’d be willing to give Skipper Canteen another try in the future, but I can’t recommend it on the food quality alone. If you are looking for a really cool atmosphere then it could be worth it, just beware the food is hit-or-miss.
Skipper Canteen is open for Lunch and Dinner (11:30 AM – Park Closing Daily). The Disney Dining Plan is accepted, it’s a 1 Disney Dining Table Service Credit.
Click here for the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen Menu
I love to write Restaurant Reviews of Walt Disney World and I hope you found this one to be informative and helpful. If you liked this review then please visit my Disney Dining Reviews Page where I have many other Restaurant Reviews. I’m happy sharing with you what I love doing best…eating! ? I try to bring you the most thorough and unbiased reviews about the food and restaurants at Walt Disney World, so that as you are planning your vacation, you know the “can’t be missed” places, and where you shouldn’t waste your time. Hope you enjoyed this one and will enjoy many others in the future!!
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