*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to sit on the terraces that overlook the narrow, bustling corridors of Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. Countless times, I’ve dreamt of lounging in a comfy patio chair, enjoying a refreshing tropical Dole Whip as families below hustle towards Pirates of the Caribbean or Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. I finally got my chance during a recent dining experience at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen.
As our party checked in for an early-afternoon meal, we were offered seating in an outdoor breezeway facing the Swiss Family Treehouse – the same area where you might have visited with Princess Jasmine and Aladdin in years past. Large fans offered a refreshing breeze and reprieve from the afternoon sun. Inside, the charming lobby decorated with maps and faded photos introduced us to our story. We found ourselves visiting a 1930s river expedition mess hall, serving as home base for the same punny skippers who operate the Jungle Cruise just a few steps away.
As the friendly skipper on duty escorted us to our seats, he pointed out the restaurant’s many “highlights” and themed rooms. Our party was seated in the Jungle Room, allegedly the former family parlor of Dr. Albert Falls, the legendary founder of Jungle Navigation Company that operates Adventureland’s famous Jungle Cruise. The parlor is textured with ornate wood moldings, exotic upholstery, and souvenirs collected from past jungle expeditions. The dim lighting (and robust cocktail menu) made us feel worlds away from the Magic Kingdom outside.
Once seated, our server took us on a tour of the adventurous menu, featuring inventive and flavorful cuisine inspired by South America, Asia and Africa – such as Curried Vegetable Crew Stew, Perkins Thai Noodles, and Falls Family Falafel. We chose to start with Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas, a rich dish of corn pancakes topped with braised pork and avocado cream. We then followed up with Baa Baa Berber Lamb Chops with roasted carrot puree and “A Lot of Steak” Salads. The soup-of-the-day was a divinely creamy butternut squash bisque, which I can honestly say was the most delicious thing I’ve tasted in my dozens of visits to Walt Disney World.
Ahead of its time, the 1930s canteen menu features an abundance of allergy-friendly options. In fact, our server noted that even the crispy fried chicken dish is gluten free, though it doesn’t say so on the menu, so as not to deter gluten-loving explorers from having a taste.
Our crew did not save room for the desserts (and I had my heart set on a Dole Whip over at Aloha Aisle). However, the little explorers at a nearby table seemed to be enjoying their Quick Sand jasmine rice pudding.
The signature Spiced Sangria was exceptional, along with the Jungle Navigation Co. Shandy mixed with refreshing lemonade… though I personally felt a tinge of guilt for imbibing on Magic Kingdom property. Old habits die hard, I guess.
Our late afternoon meal served as the perfect respite before enjoying an evening of magic in the park. For those who love the classic river cruise attraction, Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen is a must-try premium service dining experience.
Lauren Sparkman is a podcast producer, creative consultant, and Disney-phile from Indianapolis. As a DVC member and Annual Passholder, she visits Walt Disney World several times a year with her family and friends. Her favorite Princess is Pocahontas, her favorite dessert is Dole Whip, and her favorite Disney is Roy. O.