We got to Wilderness Lodge about a quarter until 5:00 p.m., and I touched base with the hostess as Whispering Canyon Café. She wanted a head count broken down by adults and children. Uh oh. I was told there would be no math on this exam. So as the masses of DISDads and their families continued to gather in the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge (and the Territory Lounge), I did my best to get a count. Then I was told that Randall and his wife were on the ferry on their way over from the Magic Kingdom. And Nate was on the way too. Someone had a stomach issue and wasn’t going to be able to make it after all. Add one here. Subtract one there. Someone else is on the way. It was like herding cats (and I don’t even like real cats).
Finally, I gave up and turned the counting responsibilities over to someone else. Then we double-checked it. Then I got the hostess our count. And then some more people arrived, and I gave the hostess a new count. Note to self: there HAS to be a better way to handle this part next time. Once we got the count figured out, Whispering Canyon was simply awesome. The seated us at four large tables, all grouped together. Somehow, Terry and Marie ended up as the chaperones for the kids’ table. It’s a testament to this group that, after only having known the Hawkins’ for a few hours in real life, I was perfectly comfortable with them supervising my daughter at dinner.
The Whispering Canyon CMs were awesome, especially our waitress Kristin. There were 40 of us, and they did a great job getting our orders taken and getting drinks out. It did take a little while, but then again, we were a table of 40. I couldn’t decide between my favorite WCC beverages, so I chose both – a beer and a bottomless milkshake. Some of my fellow diners insisted on a LARGE soda – and got the WCC special bucket-o-soda. Special recognition is due to Eric Anderson’s wife, you was the first to actually finish enough soda to drown a housepet.
Ordering dinner at Whispering Canyon is easy – the only thing on the menu is the skillet. Each group of 4-6 people chose three meats to start the ever-full skillet. My group started with the Pork Ribs, Chicken, and Beef Strip Loin. (Mark Pratt and his brothers-in-law down at the other end of the table included Sausage in their first three, and I made sure to get a taste of it). Those choices were just starters, we were free to ask for more of anything and/or ask for any of the items we hadn’t included in our first. I thought both the chicken and ribs were excellent – tender, smoky and flavorful. As with previous visits to WCC, the beef was the disappointment. It was a bit dry and tough for my taste. But a taste of the sausage cured any disappointment about the beef. It was surprisingly flavorful and spicy – a nice departure from the frequent habit of Disney restaurants to tone down anything remotely spicy to a lowest common denominator level.
As we enjoyed our main courses, we also got to enjoy the classic Whispering Canyon Café antics. The kids enjoyed the stick pony races. Our waitress Kristin recognized us for having the best, “WE NEED KETCHUP!!” call of the year (it was, of course, the first full week of January). Someone – I think it was Chris Carroll – ended up with a three-foot-long straw with which to drink his soda bucket. It was great to see all of the guys and their families interacting and enjoying spending time together.
I think one of my favorite things that came of the night was that, as we were finishing up dinner and paying the bills, we discovered that the girls at the kids’ table had been plotting. Unbeknownst to the adults, the girls had been trying to plot a sleepover! We vetoed that option, but it was terrific seeing how well the kids got along with one another. Overall, we had a fantastic meal served by enthusiastic and attentive waitresses. Sure, there were times when we were having to wait around longer than expected for things like drink refills and the like. But there were 40 of us spread out across five different tables, so I’m not going to complaining. Ultimately, dinner at Whispering Canyon Café turned out to be the perfect way to officially launch DISDads Convention 2013!