Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom of Disney World is one of their newest full service restaurants. I’m not sure when the last time you visited Magic Kingdom but full service restaurants was never really their thing. Eventually they would open up Be Our Guest which is located in Fantasy Land which really turned everything around for them. Even though that restaurant has taken a few turns for the worse, Disney learned that full service restaurants can be very popular at the Magic Kingdom. If they are done right. Skipper Canteen (which is actually called Jungle Navigation LTD Skipper Canteen – mouthful) is an example of “done right.” In true Disney style, everything is themed impeccably from the décor to the food and fits right into the whole Adventure ambiance. It is sitting in Adventure Land of the Magic Kingdom after all.
The food is great here, just as it is anywhere in Disney. But it wasn’t my absolute favorite. I ordered the Smiley’s Croc of Soup for appetizer which was a chicken and rice noodle soup. It wasn’t very easy to eat and it felt like a lot of things were just thrown into a soup bowl. It was very tasty, but overly difficult and messy to consume.
For entrée, I ordered the fried chicken which this place has become famous for in the gluten free community. I mean come on, when do we ever get to safely eat fried chicken? This dish was great! However, I’ve had better. I’m not sure if any of you have eaten Friedman’s in NYC but their fried chicken is far better. So unfortunately for Skipper Canteen, I can’t help but compare the two. The breading is what I’m talking about which is where most of the taste comes from. But the chili glaze is what makes this dish. It adds a sweet and spicy flavor to the chicken which is intense (in a good way). And I’m a big fan of jasmine rice which is what this sits on top of. Overall, I’d definitely recommend this dish for someone who is gluten free.
Let me break down this score. The kitchen and chef receive a 10, as always in Disney World. But what brings this score down to an 8.1 was our waiter. I get that the wait staff is “in character” and must adhere to the theme. But our waiter had two things going against him.
First problem was he was new. When I hear a waiter/waitress is new, I typically run for the hills with my allergy. Thankfully this is Disney World and you just need to ask for the chef and everything will be fine (which was true here).
The second problem, he was way over the top with his “acting.” After the chef brought my dish out and placed it on my table, he played around with me by joking if the dish was actually mine or not. He grabbed someone else’s dish without an allergy stick and tried swapping it – mine in one hand and the gluten filled dish in the other. In my head, as I watched my dish like a hawk, the only words that kept popping up in a pulsating panic was CROSS CONTAMINATION. This waiter was too new and just didn’t get it, regardless of his training. Not sure how this was part of the theme either. But luckily I was fine but this was one of only two times I actually worried for my food safety on the entire trip. That is a rare feeling to have in Disney.
This is one of the best allergen friendly menus in Disney World – in terms of food options and quantity of options. I mean the fact that you can get fried chicken with gluten free breading that is cooked in a dedicated fryer is just amazing. That alone pumps this score up tremendously. But if you look at the pictures of the menu I provided here (sorry for the low quality – bad lighting) you’ll see a ton of great options.
Did I Get Sick (NO)
It was a minor close call with the waiter but everything was fine and I felt great after eating this. It was actually one of the lighter meals we had so I didn’t feel like I needed to be rolled out of the restaurant. But that has nothing to do with gluten. This experience really just goes to show how waitstaff can mean everything when eating out while being gluten free.
This is a great restaurant. I really enjoyed myself, minus the minor scare with the waiter overacting. The food was great and the atmosphere and theming was top notch. Again, this is a Disney World restaurant so the kitchen and chefs are the best in the gluten free game. Overall, I definitely recommend this spot if you are in the Magic Kingdom and have time for a full sit down meal. As always, make an advanced dining reservation far ahead of time. Side note: ask for the S.E.A. which is a hidden dining room past a secret door within a bookcase. It was an extra wait even with the reservation but was well worth it.