When I was at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World recently, I got the complimentary opportunity to try out a new restaurant called the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. The Jungle Skipper Canteen is located in Adventureland right across from the Jungle Cruise, and features a menu of Asian, South American and African cuisine inspired by the flavors of the rivers found on the nearby Jungle Cruise attraction.
Surprisingly, the space that the new restaurant occupies was unused for over 20 years. It was primarily just corporate space, that we all walked by for years, but with the rising number of Disney guests who are looking for meal service, it was time to offer a new place to dine in Magic Kingdom.
Anyone who remembers the Adventurers Club in Pleasure Island will also feel nostalgic with the features and decor in the Jungle Canteen. Many of the items from the Adventurers Club now decorate the walls inside! Plus, don’t be surprise to hear a familiar phrase: Kungaloosh! You will know what I mean if you spent time at the Adventurers Club!
This new 222-seat table-service restaurant is staffed waitstaff that make it their mission to tell hilarious stories and punchlines. You will be offered “River Water” and jokes like, “What do you call a humpless camel?” Humpfree! The Canteen is open for lunch and dinner, and the theme is based on the story of Jungle Navigation Company Ltd. owner Alberta Falls (granddaughter of the company’s founder Dr. Albert Falls – who fans will recognize from the quips about the waterfall on their Jungle Cruise journey), who opened the doors to their home base of operations to hungry explorers.
That is one of the reasons I love Disney. Between the ‘roles’ the wait staff assume, the meticulous backstory and the woven theme from Disney history makes it more than just a place to eat.
Guests dine amidst three curiously quirky themed dining rooms: The Mess Hall, a large multipurpose space used by the skippers for decades; The Jungle Room, a parlor featuring treasures from the Falls family’s personal collection; and The S.E.A. Room, a secret space once hidden by a false bookshelf that served as the meeting place of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.).
Diners can explore the bold cuisines of Asia, South America and Africa with healthful dishes that have unique twists on classic savory specialties. Entrees include a rice noodle bowl of pho broth served with choice of chicken, duck breast or tofu and served with jalapenos and mix of fresh herbs; Trader Sam’s Head-on Shrimp with sustainable, local farm-raised shrimp tossed in a chili-garlic sauce and served with Chinese broccoli and five-grain or white rice; and house-made arepas with slow-cooked beef, black beans, tostones and queso fresco. There’s also Dr. Falls’ Signature Grilled Steak, with strip loin marinated in sofrito and served with house-made chimichurri, avocado and yuca planks.
A sweet sendoff is in store for those who opt for dessert. There’s a choice of the Coconut Bar with Pineapple-Basil Compote and Vanilla Cream – a vanilla chiffon cake with coconut and lime-white chocolate ganache; or Kungaloosh! – an African-inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas served with cashew-caramel ice cream topped with coffee dust. By far, the latter was my favorite!
Adventure awaits for kiddos, too. Menu items include delectable dishes such as Junior Skip’s Special Mac and Cheese, which is inspired by an Egyptian dish with ground beef, pasta, Bechamel Sauce and house-made cheese gratin, served with broccoli; and Amazon Annie’s House-made Arepas with beef, black beans and queso fresco served with yuca planks. If your kids have similar tastes, you can request plain ol’ mac and cheese.
For dessert, there’s a special kids volcano with gooey chocolate cake overflowing with caramel lava and exploding chocolate rocks.
Guests can choose from two non-alcoholic specialties, the Punch Line Punch with tropical fruit juice and mango puree (also available with a savory spiced-rim); and the Schweitzer Slush, with frozen apple juice and passion fruit topped with bursting green apple boba balls. Both of the special ‘mocktails’ also can be ordered in a souvenir mug.
This is a restaurant to enjoy. Between the detailed dishes and the theming, it is not an eat-and-go restaurant, so make sure to book in advance and carve out enough time to soak in the jungle flavor in more ways than one.