Disney. A place that’s built around fun. With well over a hundred restaurants on their property, there are dozens of choices that keep that fun going while you eat. Then there are a handful that go out of their way to provide antics specifically aimed and having child-like fun with the customers. One such place is located at one of Disney’s deluxe resorts.
Wilderness Lodge is a resort that simulates the Pacific Northwest. As you arrive, you are initially greeted by a grand sized building with a green metal roof. A large covered drop-off area hangs over the front entrance, with several employees waiting to help you check in or valet your vehicle. If you choose to self park, it is free of course, and after many visits I’ve never had trouble finding a spot in their expansive parking lot.
As large as the building looks on the outside, once you step inside, the view is simply stunning. The expansive lobby spans several floors in height. Huge wooden tree trunks support each floor, which are also framed from large wooden logs. The railings, walls, and ceiling, also wood. All this wood, along with some stone trim give the building a real wilderness retreat feel.
On the left side of this vast, open lobby sits the restaurant where we had breakfast. Whispering Canyon Cafe.
The restaurant is popular for a couple reasons. One is for the great American food they offer, including all you care to eat options on every menu. However, the biggest draw here are the antics provided by the staff. As the sign to the right of the entrance states: “We’ve got stories, games, and even a song or two…the goings-on can get a little loud, and that’s just the way we like it!” So yes, they give you fair warning to what you’re about to get into, but most people are well aware before going in.
The fun doesn’t usually start until later during breakfast, and we were here earlier so we didn’t see much of it. This is really about the food though, so I’ll revert you over to my favorite Disney food site, Disney Food Blog, to learn more about what you can expect here when it comes to fun.
First, let’s take a quick look at the atmosphere at Whispering Canyon. The restaurant continues the theme of the log cabin, with wood being the prominent look from the ceiling to the furniture. I’ve always liked this look, and seeing the round log ceiling with exposed log supports put me right in the old West. For theming that fits the kids, the chairs have either a cowboy or indian on the back. Most of the seats are chairs, with just a couple banquette seats along the walls. Glossy tabletops make for easy cleanup after families have their fun.
As with most Disney restaurants, the décor is detailed from the floor to the ceiling. The all metal, antique looking chandeliers here include metal carvings of cowboys, lassos, and steers on top, and horse tie rings on the bottom.
One of the common “happenings” you’ll see here is a horse riding parade. Children are gathered from around the restaurant and encouraged to ride wooden stick horses around the room. Parents of course will be seen grabbing their cameras and catching the fun moment that isn’t something that would normally be welcomed during a meal.
Another thing commonly seen at only Whispering Canyon, if someone happens to ask the server for ketchup, they will be answered with every bottle in the restaurant placed on the table. Since I was taking photos of our meal, our server decided to give us our ketchup in a more organized fashion, rather then just dumping them all over the table.
Before the ketchup “event,” we had begun the meal earlier by looking over the menu. Although I didn’t partake, it was nice to see you the All-You-Care-To-Enjoy milkshakes were available during breakfast. Another All-You-Care-To-Enjoy item that’s always available during lunch and dinner are the unlimited skillets. This also carries over to breakfast with their Breakfast Skillet.
With my gluten-free wife at the table, we had to follow the standard Disney procedure for all restaurants. Before anyone could order, the chef had to come to the table to advise her of what was, or could be made gluten-free. On this visit it was Chef Willere from Haiti. He was very pleasant to talk to, as are most all of Disney’s chefs, and he answered every question about what she could and could not eat.
Once he finished speaking with my wife, our server came back to take my order, and confirm my wife’s order.
I started with my usual appetizer that gets ordered anytime it’s available, the cinnamon bun. This time it was a Pecan Sticky Bun for $3.99.
The sticky bun was covered in lots of sweet gooey icing, and a solid covering of chopped pecans.
My wife was sitting across the table and said she could smell the warmed bun all the way on her side, and told me it smelled wonderful. The bun portion was properly flaky, with the cinnamon baked right into the dough. There was plenty of cinnamon flavor inside, but unfortunately not enough icing in there for my liking. However, that was just a minor disappointment with an over all tasty bun.
While it was lacking any icing on the interior, it was still very gooey, thanks to the incredibly moist, seemingly minimally cooked dough. I was very satisfied with this starter, and other than preferring a tad more icing on the inside, this bun was near perfect.
I ordered two meals for this breakfast, with the fist being Jeffro Bodeen’s Belgian Waffle. This waffle comes with a topping of maple butter and candied pecans, along with a choice of bacon or sausage for $10.99. I chose the sausage, with this one, and bacon with the other meal. The sausage was cooked very well, and happily was not the usually small, rough edged, wrinkly looking things you get at many other breakfast places. These were the larger, thick, pork-tasting sausages, and didn’t taste like they were made on a machine run assembly line (although they probably still were).
This waffle was perfectly cooked. It was crispy on the outside, while remaining soft on the inside. It was lightly dusted all over with powdered sugar.
The real highlight here was the maple butter. Most likely a mix of just butter and maple syrup, it had a thick but spreadable butter texture, but with a sweet flavor. Putting pecans on a waffle is not an original idea, but it did add a little to the flavor and texture of the meal.
Over all, I found the waffle somewhat basic (although cooked well), the maple butter fantastic, and the pecans a neutral addition to this tasty plate.
My second choice was the $11.99 House-made Banana Bread French Toast with Bananas Foster Sauce. With this plate I chose bacon over sausage.
The bacon here has to be mass produced to accommodate the numerous meals being ordered, especially with the number of people that order the all-you-care-to-eat platters. I use this to excuse the fact that it came out less than perfect and was a bit chewy and flimsy. While this isn’t my ideal bacon, this was just a side item and easily forgotten.
I have never eaten banana bread served as French toast. It was interesting to see what it looked like once battered and grilled. It was very dark, but still looked moist, even on the outside. This too was lightly dusted with powdered sugar.
The Foster’s sauce a much thicker consistency than what I’ve seen in the past. It had a consistency very close to apple sauce. It was as sweet as any syrup I could have used, and the flavor combination of banana Foster’s sauce with banana bread was genius.
The dark, rich sauce kept the bread from tasting too dry, although that benefit was completely unnecessary as the banana bread was incredibly moist on its own.
This was a totally unique approach to French toast. It was probably also the sweetest French toast I’ve ever had. I enjoyed the denser nature of this type of bread, and the banana/banana combo made this normally common breakfast seem to be under a completely different category all together. I have to give some credit for the originality.
This was my third visit to Whispering Canyon Cafe. I’ve now had breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. The antics are the major draw here, making it fun for children, and most adults. I enjoy the all-you-care-to-eat platters for lunch and dinner, but I passed on the breakfast platter due to the included foods seeming too basic. The end result was that I was able to try some unusual tastes, and a fairly quality breakfast from a place I wouldn’t normally expect anything above standard Disney buffet-type food.
The staff here are fun, there is entertainment, and plenty to eat. A definite must-visit for any family. I will certainly be back, and will share one of the unlimited platters with you after the next visit.