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July 18, 2011

Disney Explored: Whispering Canyon Cafe

The Wilderness Lodge is one of the more elaborate of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Themed as a rustic mountain lodge, the Wilderness Lodge boasts a warm, inviting atmosphere of immeasurable coziness! I do intend to cover this resort more in-depth in the future. This time around, we were focused on the immediate goal... dinner.

Here are a few of the pics I was able to capture around the Wilderness Lodge lobby...

But, I digress.... As I said, on this particular night, our sights were set on food. We had recently taken note of the "all-you-care-to-enjoy" Canyon Skillet at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.

The Canyon Skillet was all we dreamed of and more...
"Includes mixed greens with apple vinaigrette and fresh baked cornbread, smoked pork ribs, pulled pork, oven-roasted chicken, pork sausage, mashed potatoes, creamy coleslaw, beans, and corn on the cob."
... but, that was about all that met our expectations at Whispering Canyon Cafe. We snapped a couple of pics before all hell broke loose, but we were unimpressed from the get-go...

I must start off by acknowledging that I am sure this type of environment has a certain level of appeal to many Disney guests. For those who enjoy an "audience participation" style dinner atmosphere, I can see where Whispering Canyon would be a blast. However, we are not that type of family. We're not all that interested in being public spectacles. Even if we were, we probably wouldn't expect that type of behavior at dinner... especially one that cost almost $200!

Perhaps we should have done our research. We generally do when it comes to anything Disney. Just this once, we kept our research basic. We didn't see past that damn all-you-can-eat skillet. It would've been much appreciated if they had posted some sort of warning at the restaurant entrance. As you can see from my pic above, there was a sign, but all they seemed to warn us about was that things may get a bit loud. THAT wouldn't have been a problem.

Some of the highlights of our dining experience at Whispering Canyon:
  • While seating us, our hostess through paper napkins all over the table.
  • She was followed by our server, who similarly tossed an excessive amount of straws all over us AND the table.
  • He proceeded to ramble on, pitching the "bottomless milkshakes" to us. For about $8, you can over-indulge in all-you-can-ingest milkshakes of many flavors. After his lengthy pitch, Sierra and I decided to partake. Soon after, the bartender came to tell us that the milkshake machine was broken... no shakes. And by the way... they left the $16 charges for them on our bill.
  • Sierra had the nerve (sense the sarcasm?) to ask the server for ketchup to accompany her fries and chicken strips. Oh boy... THAT did it! Apparently, ketchup is a no-no at Whispering Canyon. The server instructs us that we can only receive the ketchup if our entire party screams an impolite demand for it. Upon doing this, another couple of families all come running at us from their tables with at least 20 bottles of Heinz 57 to pass on. Are you kidding?? This sealed it! Sierra had had enough and was ready to leave. With prices like these, we were not allowing this option. She was told to eat, but she did so begrudgingly, through tears.
  • We soon learned that if we actually asked for seconds on our all-you-can-eat fare, it would be a similar debacle. Needless to say, we opted to limit our food intake at this point.
  • Based on conversations at tables around us, guests should also be advised to not mention other area attractions (or represent them via caps or t-shirts), ask for the restroom location, acknowledge their cell phones, or request anything at all from their server... or risk the ramifications!! Apparently, the goal is to put each family on humiliation display, one by one.
  • And those volume warnings at the entrance... well, let me explain that just a bit more. What this actually means is that the entire restaurant is expected to randomly break into song and children are frequently encouraged to gallop in circles around the entire (crowded, as all Disney dining establishments are any more) dining room on stick horses.
Needless to say, we were much less than impressed. This was a dining event that ended up being comped by WDW based on our complaints that resulted. Never forget... Disney creates the expectation of absolute flawless, magical perfection during your stay. If they provide anything less... let them know it. And the moral of this story... If dining at Whispering Canyon, bring your Aleve and your extroverted side!