Throughout the Magic Kingdom, there are a number of Quick-Service restaurants spread around the park. They’re designed to be conveniently located, with good food and seating (to give your tired feet a rest). Over in Liberty Square, the Columbia Harbour House restaurant is an unsung hero of the Quick-Service variety.
Most guests who walk past this nautical-themed restaurant are either stopping by the Haunted Mansion, or are on their way from Fantasyland to Frontierland and Adventureland (or vice versa). Who knows when hunger will strike, and if you happen to be in the area, there are some excellent reasons why you should stop in to grab a bite. All of these reasons (and more) we present to you, in what we’re calling “More Than Just A Fish Fry – A Columbia Harbour House Review”.
From the outside, Columbia Harbour House is pretty unassuming. Fitting into Liberty Square, the restaurant has a very New England feel in old Colonial America. Inside, it’s all about the nautical theme. An old diving helmet greets you a few steps inside the doors. Further inside, you can find an assortment of vintage fishing and sea-faring items adorning the walls and ceilings. There’s even a large steering wheel from a ship which puts you at the helm… of the stairwell – still cool, though!
The rest of the décor can be summed up in one word – wood. There’s wood on the walls, there’s wood on the floors and the ceiling also has big wooden beams, reminiscent of the old building styles. The tables and chairs…you guessed it…wood. It’s a bit of a carpenter’s dream in there, but it only adds to the warmth of the restaurant. It doesn’t feel too dim or cold.
One of the biggest benefits of Columbia Harbour House is the fact that there is so much space inside. While the restaurant can sometimes reach capacity in the peak season at the golden lunch and dinner hours (12-1pm and 5-6pm respectively), chances are usually good that by the time you have ordered your food, a table somewhere in the building will open up. There’s an entire 2nd floor in the restaurant, which effectively doubles the capacity of the space. Usually a quick walk around will reveal an open table, or one just about to be freed up.
The sign outside says Chicken – Seafood – Sandwiches, though truthfully, the main player here is the seafood. There are Combo Platters piled high with a combination of standards like fried shrimp and battered fish, along with chicken breast nuggets.
If you’re looking to avoid the fried foods, the entrées have a great variety from which to choose. The classic Lobster Roll gives you a generous helping of lobster on the New England-style bun, alongside their house-made potato chips. The Harbour Salad comes with either chicken or shrimp and is topped with a Zinfandel Vinaigrette dressing. Also, on the lighter side, the Grilled Salmon comes with Vegetable Rice and a combination of seasonal vegetables.
The Lighthouse Sandwich!
The underrated star on the menu here is the triumphant return of the Lighthouse Sandwich. Lauren and I love this sandwich and when it was taken off the menu, we were a little disheartened. We’re happy to say that Disney has brought it back and we make a bee-line for it whenever we visit Columbia Harbour House. It’s nothing too elaborate, but it is delicious. Hummus, tomato and a broccoli slaw on toasted multigrain bread, served with their house-made potato chips. Simple, and effective. It’s just a really unique dish that you can’t really find at any other Quick-Service restaurants in the park.
On the side, you can order a bowl of New England Clam Chowder, and everyone’s favourite little bundles of deep-fried goodness, Hush Puppies. If you’re hungry, either one makes a great addition to an entrée. If you’re not too hungry, then they’re perfect to share.
For dessert, there is always a seasonal cobbler available. It will change, depending on the fruits that are in season. Sometimes we’ve had a blueberry cobbler and another we had a peach cobbler. They’re all pretty similar and you can’t really go wrong with any of them, since they have that crumble on top and a vanilla drizzle to finish it off.
**Right now, Columbia Harbour House has a Mickey and Minnie Whoopie Pie with red velvet and chocolate cake, and cream cheese icing in the middle. They’re adorable…and (we assume) available only for a limited time, so try them out while you can!
Columbia Harbour House has a lot going for it. Not only does it offer a wide variety on the menu, but it caters to your mood. Looking for a classic fish fry? There’s something for you! If you want to have something a little on the healthier side, there are some really great options. I think there are also some good opportunities to share meals here. You could easily split an entrée, and a side of clam chowder between 2 people (adding hush puppies on if you’re a little hungrier).
The ability to pop in at any time, for lunch or dinner, and grab a seat is pretty remarkable, and a definite plus for the restaurant. On any given weeklong trip, if we’re heading to Magic Kingdom more than 2-3 times, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll be visiting Columbia Harbour House at least once.
On a side note, the lines for ordering can be long at peak dining times, so fire up the app and try the mobile ordering to save yourself a possible wait.
Disney QUIPS – Columbia Harbour House
Quick – New England theming, New England-inspired menu. Great seafood dishes and a plethora of seating.
Unique – Apart from the traditional fish fry dishes, the Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder and the Lighthouse Sandwich can’t be found anywhere else in the parks.
Impressions – Its nautical theme and use-wood-for-everything décor is a simple backdrop, but you’re really here to grab a good, quick bite and be on your way.
Palate – The fried combo platters are fairly basic, but the entrées have a lot to offer in terms of flavours. You can’t really go wrong here, but the Lobster Roll and Lighthouse Sandwich are clear winners for us. Pair them with Clam Chowder or Hush Puppies on the side. If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, the seasonal cobbler is a good way to get there.
Skip or Stay – This is a stay. It’s good food, with some variety to the menu and it’s a great spot to stop and rest for a meal. P.S. Mobile Ordering is your friend, here!
If you’re interested in more of the dining options, check out our picks for the 6 Best Places to Eat in Magic Kingdom!