by Ray Keating
September 22, 2019
Oh, sure, the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. knows how to do a Jungle Cruise, but do they know how to run a restaurant? The answer is: Yes, definitely!
It turns out that Alberta Falls, granddaughter of Dr. Albert Falls, who started the Jungle Cruise Company in 1911, was wise in shifting the company’s focus away from moving cargo up and down rivers to offering guided tours to visitors. That effort was so successful that Alberta decided on an additional service. As she puts it, “I decided to open our home offices to hungry travelers. The crew’s mess hall, our old family room and even my grandfather’s old secret meeting room are now open to our diners!”
By the way, that secret meeting room was known as the S.E.A. Room—the meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers! (A wink-and-a-nod to those intrepid explorers who long for the days of the now-defunct Adventurers Club at Pleasure Island.)
Well, recently, we not only took a journey on the Jungle Cruise, but decided to have dinner at The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom. It was not on our original itinerary; the somewhat daring menu for a theme park initially made us hesitate to book an ADR (advanced dining reservation). Recommendations from previous travelers encouraged us to take the leap, however, and we were glad we did.
In the end, three things matter when it comes to a restaurant – service, ambience and, of course, the food. Skipper Canteen scores big on all three.
Our skipper-turned-waitress was a delight. She was knowledgeable about the menu as well as our adventurous environment. For good measure, she carried over into the restaurant the unique sense of humor that visitors experience on the cruise. (Thanks for showing us your favorite “highlights,” Kim!)
The relaxed atmosphere and fascinating décor of Skipper Canteen – including the aforementioned family and meeting rooms – added enjoyment to the overall dining experience.
And as for the food, the alluring offerings on the menu made it hard to choose which to have. The food’s presentation was attractive to eyes, and the flavors ranked as a celebration for the taste buds.
I had the Sankuru Sadie's Seafood Stew – a mix of shrimp, mussels, bay scallops, octopus, and sustainable fish in a coconut sauce. It was overflowing with flavor.
One person in my party enjoyed the Trader Lamb – tender, spiced-rubbed lamb chops. That was not what she originally thought about ordering, but followed the recommendation of the waitress, and had no regrets whatsoever.
As for beverages, in response to the jungle heat and humidity of the day, I had the Schweitzer Slush, described as “Frozen Apple Juice and Passion Fruit topped with Bursting Green Apple Boba Balls, first concocted by the noted explorer and humanitarian, Dr. Albert Slush.” Kudos to Dr. Slush, it was wonderfully refreshing.
My fellow travels and I enjoyed two of the desserts – the Coconut Bar with Pineapple-Basil Compote and Vanilla Ice Cream, and the Kungaloosh! – a chocolate cake with caramelized bananas and cashew-caramel ice cream. Wow. (Incidentally, “Kungaloosh!” is the traditional greeting for members of the Adventurers Club, as well as a fondly remembered adult beverage at the Downtown Disney club ... there’s that wink-and-a-nod again!)
Yes, Alberta and her team at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. do well at running a Jungle Cruise, but they truly excel at providing delicious eats to travelers at the Skipper Canteen.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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