Review: Skipper Canteen Restaurant is an Underrated Gem at the Magic Kingdom

Skipper Canteen is a restaurant that’s easy to miss at the Magic Kingdom. Tucked away inside Adventureland, Skipper Canteen is overlooked by countless guests who may not know about the delicious food waiting inside.

How does Skipper Canteen compare to the other table-service restaurants at the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World? Should you try to secure a reservation for your next visit?

Theming at Skipper Canteen

Mess Hall at Skipper Canteen.
Mess Hall at Skipper Canteen.

The story behind Skipper Canteen is a fun one. The restaurant is essentially an extension of the world famous Jungle Cruise attraction. The same skippers who operate the Jungle Cruise act as your servers for lunch or dinner. That means you should be ready for puns and bad jokes by the boatload.

Guests dine in one of three areas at Skipper Canteen – the crew Mess Hall, the Jungle Room or the S.E.A. Room. The Mess Hall is the largest of the three spaces and is where most guests will eat. This space, as with the others, combines Jungle Cruise puns with theming connected to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.).

You will be exposed to Jungle Cruise puns and jokes while dining at Skipper Canteen. But, it’s not so overwhelming that it takes away from the meal.

Food at Skipper Canteen

It’s important to know that Skipper Canteen is not your usual Disney dining location full of burgers and fries. The menu has a wide range of unique flavors that offer something for everyone, but it is more adventurous compared to other Magic Kingdom restaurants. Falafel, Thai Noodles, and Short Rib are just a few of the menu’s many options.

There’s also a “secret” menu that has a few items you won’t see listed. We say “secret” in quotes because your server may eagerly tell you all about these unlisted items as soon as you sit down. It’s a secret menu in typical Jungle Cruise fashion in that it’s not secret at all!

One of the “secret” menu items is what we consider one of the very best appetizers in Walt Disney World – the Pao de Queijo, otherwise known as Brazilian cheese bread.

Brazilian Cheese Bread at Skipper Canteen
Brazilian Cheese Bread at Skipper Canteen.

The cheese bread is phenomenal. It’s a pretty big portion and is a warm, gooey plate of delicious. The Chimichurri Cream Cheese is a nice bonus for dipping. Honestly, we could’ve dominated another serving of these. They’re that good and a must when we return.

If you’ve had the similar cheese bread at the Brazil booth at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, rest assured that these are better. Significantly better.

On to the entrée. We visited Skipper Canteen on an extremely hot and crowded Magic Kingdom day, so we both ordered “Tastes like Chicken” Because it is! entrees. It was not the right day to tackle a big steak or dig into Curried Vegetable Crew Stew.

Fried Chicken at Skipper Canteen
Fried Chicken at Skipper Canteen.

Yes, we recognize the irony in praising the unique flavors at Skipper Canteen and then we ordered fried chicken. But hear us out. We had heard a lot of good things about the fried chicken and sometimes we think it’s best to check out a restaurant’s more basic items that will appeal to the widest audience.

The “Tastes like Chicken” Because it is! is described as Crispy-fried Chicken with Sweet Chili Glaze, Stir-fried Vegetables, and Seasoned Rice. The sides were good, though nothing too spectacular. The rice avoided the usual theme park curse and wasn’t a dry, flavorless mess. We did enjoy it more with the Sweet Chili Glaze mixed in.

The chicken itself was very good The exterior was crispy, but not too heavy on the batter. The meat was flavorful and had been cooked the perfect amount. No one likes dry chicken. Our lone complaint was it did take a decent amount of work to cut the meat out from around the bones.

We asked for the Sweet Chili Glaze on the side as we weren’t sure how spicy it would be. We ended up preferring that method as we could control how much (or how little) sauce was on each bite. The dish usually comes with the sauce already added, and we saw a few plates at other tables where it was fairly sparse. We ended up using quite a bit and enjoyed having the option to add more. In terms of taste, the sauce was more sweet than spicy. Honestly, we thought the heat could be turned up a bit, but we realize this is the “safe” dish for most guests.

Finally, dessert.

Volcano dessert at Skipper Canteen.
Volcano! Cake dessert at Skipper Canteen.

We weren’t planning to get dessert after stuffing ourselves with chicken and cheese bread. Our server had other plans after seeing a ‘Happy Birthday’ pin. Thus, one of the desserts from the kids’ menu found its way to our table. This is the Volcano! Cake, which is warm chocolate cake with a delightfully-gooey center. Just outstanding.

Overall Thoughts

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Skipper Canteen! In fact, we think the food is some of the best of any Magic Kingdom table-service restaurant. Other dining locations excel in overall theming (Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table), but Skipper Canteen has the menu that’s better quality, more adventurous (if you desire), and surrounded by Jungle Cruise humor.

It’s worth noting that it can be a lot easier to get a reservation for Skipper Canteen than it is for most of the other Magic Kingdom table-service restaurants. Same-day availability is a realistic possibility during non-peak times. That fact alone bumps up our score some as you don’t have to bend over backwards just to get a table. As does the pricing that ranges well below other Magic Kingdom meals.

The Magic Kingdom isn’t known for having a great selection of table-service restaurants. It’s often considered a weakness compared to other Walt Disney World theme parks. Skipper Canteen breaks the mold and offers something unique – and delicious – within the Magic Kingdom.

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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