A couple of weeks ago I was trying to decide what to do one evening when I was on a work trip at Disney World. I know, I know a "work trip at Disney World", it's a tough life! Anyways, I was walking through Epcot and with all of the construction in future world there isn't a lot of dining available. It was also the opening night of the Festival of the Arts over in World Showcase, which also meant wall to wall people and 60 minute waits for a plate with three bites on it. So, I just did a quick search on the My Disney Experience App and a reservation at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen popped up for a couple of hours later. Now, I had been to Skipper Canteen before with my family and we really enjoy the food, so I jumped at this chance to go again.
After finalizing my reservations I said my goodbye's to Spaceship Earth and hopped on the monorail to head back over to the Magic Kingdom Area. By the time I made it into the park I had about an hour before my reservation, which gave me just enough time to see the updated Hall of Presidents show. It was down for updates on our last family trip. I loved the show, which is normal for me, but I'm a sucker for a good patriotic show such as this or The American Adventure at Epcot. Once I got out it was time to head over to Skipper Canteen for my reservation!
I had checked in on my phone and hadn't received the text that my table was ready yet, so I went to sit down at one of the chairs by the outdoor check in area. The hostess saw me and said, "Are you Mr. Arthur?" I said I was and she said they just about had my table ready. She also struck up a conversation with me about whether it was my first time to eat there and how my trip was going. She was great and before too long another cast member came to take me to my table. As if the first hostess wasn't enough of a great start, this lady who took me to my table was a Disney Cast Member Gem! She was super excited to be doing her job and we talked for two or three minutes after she sat me down about my trip, about the restaurant, and other things. This same lady also stopped by a couple of times during my meal just to see how everything was going! It is always so nice to see that Cast Member Magic is still happening around Disney World.
My server arrived after a few minutes and it was a chilly night in the Magic Kingdom in January and coffee just sounded good, so I got going on that. I will say though, as good as the two hostesses were, my server left a little to be desired. She wasn't super attentive or quick, even though the restaurant was barely half full at this time. Speaking of the time it was at about this point I could hear the 8:00 Enchantment Fireworks going off outside.
Now, to decided what I wanted to eat! It was a little late for dinner and I wasn't just super hungry so I decided to just try two appetizers as I find some of those super delicious at Skipper Canteen. I was going to try the Cachapas, which is one of my favorites, and then something new to me, the Shrimp Fried Rice. Unfortunately, my server informed me they hadn't been able to get any shrimp that day, supply chain issues, so the Fried Rice wasn't available. So, I ended up ordering another favorite of mine, the Falafel, to round out my meal.
The first item I had is definitely a favorite of mine, the Falls Family Falafel - A secret recipe of chickpeas, garlic, onions, lemon juice and herbs with white bean dip and tomato-cucumber salad.
This time around for the Falafel appetizer was just as good as in the past for me. The warm Falafel balls were fried perfectly and the white bean dip that goes with them on the plate is awesome as well. The light sauce that goes with the dish is also really good. The one part of the description that confuses me a little is the "tomato-cucumber salad". I assume this is part of the greens and sauce that is on the dish, which is tasty, but I'm not sure that description is the best. Despite that one strange part of the description this dish is excellent and was a great addition to my meal, but it's also a great appetizer if you are wanting to share with a larger party.
The second item I tried was another one that I have loved here in the past, Orinoco Ida's Cachapas - house made corn pancakes, beer-braised pork, roasted corn, Fresno pepper salsa, and avocada cream.
Now, let me tell you, this is one of my favorite appetizer dishes in all of Disney World. The corn pancakes that are the base are light, flaky, and delicious. The beer braised pork on top is good along with the corn, but to me the star of the show is the Fresno Pepper Salsa. It's what we call salsa verde in my neck of the woods. I'm not really a foodie per say and I've never heard of a Fresno Pepper, but whatever it is I know it makes a great salsa! The avocado cream also adds a nice texture to the dish, but the salsa is definitely the thing that takes it up a notch and puts it as one of my favorite Disney dishes.
As my meal drew to a close I was considering finishing things off with some Kungaloosh! for dessert, but ended up deciding on a Dole Whip Float instead. Yes, it was cold outside, but it's never too cold for a Dole Whip! Overall, I was super happy that I picked up this last minute reservation for Skipper Canteen. This restaurant is not one you hear about a lot in the Magic Kingdom, but I think it's a true hidden gem. Our family has had some of the entrees over the years and have enjoyed them as well, in fact my wife is a big fan of the steak. The final thing that makes this a great experience all around is the fun I experienced with the two hostesses. They were truly excited about making Disney Magic for guests and that is what it's all about!
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By: Lysa Thornton, Agent at Big Dreams Travel
Try as I may, there’s really no way to successfully argue that the Disney World crowds during peak seasons are not that big of a deal. They’re a big deal. No doubt that traveling to the most magical of destinations during the summer, the ever-increasingly-popular Fall (with Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) or Christmas/New Years can cause your stress levels to rise just at the mere thought of it. However, those are some of the best times to make memories! Pools and waterparks, trick or treating at Magic Kingdom, scrumptious food and wine festivities and the fairy tale world of Christmastime--these are times that should not be ruled out just because there are several more thousand crazy mouse lovers there with you!
While it can be tricky, navigating these popular times is absolutely doable and magical! Check out the following list of helpful hints and tips!
Stay on property
Although I believe that staying in a Disney resort is always the best idea, there are occasions where families will rent condos, stay with friends or try a discount hotel to save money. Peak season is not the time for that! The travel time to and from property wastes valuable minutes, not to mention the extra parking fees and the chance you could always get lost! The Disney transportation system, whether by bus, monorail or boat, takes you right to the heart of the action!
Utilize Extra Magic Hours
Those early morning or late night hours for Disney guests can provide guests opportunities to knock out several attractions! Sleeping in and enjoying easy mornings are wonderful if you’re on a cruise or at the beach. When you’re at Disney during peak seasons, it’s all about rising and heading to the parks! Grab a granola bar and arrive at the parks about 30 minutes before the Magic Hour opening. You could quite possibly ride 3-4 rides in an hour! Now, by the time lunchtime hits, the park that had the Extra Magic Hour will probably be extra crowded, so head home. Eat at your resort, take a nap, swim and then head back to a park. You could even leave one park and head straight to another that didn’t have Extra Magic Hour. Chances are that park won’t be as crowded. Don’t forget the late Extra Magic Hours! You can knock out several attractions that last hour after fireworks when people start to head home!
I am not always a fan of park hopping, but during the busy seasons, it can be a life saver! Utilizing parks just for their Extra Magic Hour and then hopping to another park can prove very efficient to your conquering of the parks!
Use those Fast Passes! Select those Fast Passes 60 days out! Do not wait until the car is packed and you’re heading east on I-10 to make those selections. Get to the parks at opening, and ride, ride, ride. Crowds are smallest in the morning, so no need to use Fast Passes before noon! Make your Fast Passes for early afternoon when things begin to get crazy. Then, once those initial 3 are used, use Fast Passes on every ride you can! Why wouldn’t you??
Ride Instead of Watch
People flock to the streets to line up for parades and fireworks. Take advantage of that and hit some attractions. If you want to watch parades or evening shows, always choose the latest times.
Have a Plan
I picture my dad in socks and sandals, pulling out a map in the middle of Main Street pondering which direction we should point ourselves. Um, not these days! You must go with a plan! Websites, My Disney Experience, blogs, experienced friends and Authorized Dsiney Vacation Planners (like me!) can help you design a plan of attack for your vacation during these times.
Ok, now that you have a plan, be flexible enough to stray from it just a bit! It is so essential to tour Disney with a plan, yet it is even more crucial to not be locked into that plan. Sometimes things don’t work out according to plan. A ride will break down. Cranky pants will needs nap to save everyone’s sanity. Dad loses his glasses on Space Mountain and must search now for them. Or the crowds will just be too much. Be willing to bend for the sake of everyone’s emjoyment and your ultimate success of your vacation. Magic happens in the World, but sometimes you must work for it and give just a little.
Use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
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