Many Disney restaurants offer unique meals, but some of them offer truly interactive dining experiences. Whether it be wise-cracking waiters, music or dancing, some of these iconic experiences can make (or break) a Disney trip for many families. In this week’s episode, Leslie and Joe take a look at five interactive restaurants at Walt Disney World: Skipper Canteen, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Whispering Canyon, 50’s Prime Time Café, and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Find out whether the jokes and wackiness will be up your alley and whether the food is worth of the increased prices that many of these dining experiences entail.
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Like a little Disney antics thrown into your dining experiences at Walt Disney World? Disney offers quite a few interactive restaurants that are part meal and part entertainment. If you enjoy that kind of thing, here are five favorites to consider for your next vacation.
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom is essentially a restaurant version of the Jungle Cruise. If you appreciate jokes about the back side of water or being in denial (de Nile?), this is the restaurant for you. Dry humor and puns abound, all set in a vaguely exotic location somewhere between Southeast Asia and the Amazon jungle.
The amount of interactivity you will experience definitely depends on the skill of your waiter as well as your willingness to engage with the jokes. Give more and you’ll get more in return. Or, if you are Joe, give less and they’ll leave you alone just like our resident curmudgeon likes it.
Even if you aren’t fully into the antic dining experience, Skipper Canteen is worthy of a stop for the food alone. It might be one of the more underrated Disney World food experiences, with high quality seafood and around-the-world offerings (insider tip: the siu mai is delicious!). If you have picky kids, you’ll still find offerings they will enjoy on the kids menu.
The restaurant also has a lot of offer the Disney super geek, as the restaurant plays a role in the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Look closely in the curio cabinets and art hung on the walls for tips of the hat to the likes of Lord Henry Mystic, Mary Oceaneer, Dr. Albert Falls, and many more.
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is one of Disney’s longest running shows. Set in the Wild West, the show is full of wise-cracking saloon girls, vaudeville style humor, lots of fun and familiar songs, and a washboard or two to play along. The show is held in Pioneer Hall in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds.
Dinner is family style and the food choices include ribs, fried chicken, veggies, beans, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and strawberry shortcake. Bottomless beer, wine, and sangria is included for adults needing a little liquid courage in case you are one of the lucky few pulled on stage for the gags.
Located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the Whispering Canyon restaurant offers a dining experience with sassy wait staff and a few gags that get guests out of their seat.
If you’ve read reviews about Whispering Canyon in recent years, know that some of the antics have been dialed back this year (presumably due to the noise created with the restaurant opening to the lobby with rooms above). The guests drive more the gags these days. Definitely ask for ketchup and you might just receive much more than you asked. Kids will enjoy a special parade that gets them in on the fun.
50’s Prime Time Café
Hollywood Studios is home to the 50’s Prime Time Café. Wait staff plays the role of mom or dad, chastising you for failing to eat your veggies or having bad table manners. Your miles very much vary at this restaurant as to whether the waiter engages in all the gags, so it can be a good entry level antic dining experience for guests more suspicious of this kind of dining experience.
Food at 50’s Prime Time Café is just like you’d expect to find in a mid-century American household: meatloaf, pot roast, and apple pie are all on the menu. The peanut butter and jelly shake is always a unique favorite as well.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is Disney’s take on the tiki bar, so you know wackiness reigns supreme in a dining establishment such as this. This small venue is located in a back corner of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort off the lobby. It’s highly popular, so expect waits of an hour or more on weekend evenings after dinner.
There are small bites available, but the reason to come to Trader Sam’s is the drinks. The antics arrive when your waiter delivers some of the signature drinks you have ordered. Volcanoes erupt, zombies parade by, and you might even be taken on a scuba adventure where you get a little wet. Trader Sam’s also features a trick stool. Make sure to seat all newbies here!
If you want the full themed experience at Trader Sam’s, you have to go inside (even though you can still get the same drinks outside on the terrace). Kids are allowed at Trader Sam’s until 8pm so parents can experience the fun without necessarily needing a babysitter.
Leslie and Joe take a look at some of the uniquely interactive dining experiences Walt Disney World has to offer. From Skipper Canteen to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, we look at the restaurants that prize cast member interaction with guests. One of us loves this kind of stuff and one of us hates it, but neither of us can deny the fact that some of these dining experiences can’t be missed. Listen for tips, things we love, and why these restaurants belong on your itinerary, and what to expect if you get anxious in these kinds of settings (but your kids make you go anyway!). If you’ve dined at any of these restaurants, we’d love to hear your thoughts – comment on the blog, leave a note on our Facebook page, or message us on Twitter!
If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!
You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.
0:00 – What is antic dining?
3:03 – Skipper Canteen
6:37 – Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue
9:26 – Whispering Canyon
14:04 – 50’s Prime Time Cafe
15:44 – Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
19:15 – Disney dos and don’tsConnect with Disney Deciphered!