Columbia Harbour House is a quick service restaurant located in Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom, just around the corner from the Hall of Presidents. I actually think this is one that is really easy to miss – we certainly did. The first few visits we just wandered right on past – I can’t remember if I just didn’t notice it or if I assumed it was a table service, but either way, my first experience of it was when we stopped off here for lunch as part of the Keys to the Kingdom tour. Any place that does prawns for a quick service is fine by me so we’ve been back numerous times since.
As the name suggests, the restaurant has a sea-faring theme to it. It is excellently done and manages to be obvious without being overwhelming or intrusive. With the fish-based menu, the whale painted on its sign, the anchor outside, the ship’s wheel at the entrance and the examples of knots on the walls, it’s a theme that runs throughout the restaurant. Oh and having been a editor in a former life, I also love the fact that Harbour is spelt “correctly” – with the ‘u’ in it! Sad I know. I assume the reason for this is to do with the era that the restaurant is set in.
The menu is made up of fried fish and shrimps, sandwiches, chowder and a BLT salad. On our latest trip, the food was really only so-so. Both my husband and I had the same thing – the fried shrimp basket, which comes with coleslaw and french fries. The fried shrimp is almost always my pick – its tasty and the prawns are larger than we’d get in this kind of dish in the UK.
We both thought the food was ok. For me it was actually the coleslaw that was the best bit. The fries were warm, not hot and a little bit limp. The prawns were nice but again, could have done with being hotter. All in all it was nice enough but nothing great.
We were on the dining plan so we had dessert too. The choices at Columbia Harbour House were strawberry yoghurt, chocolate cake and apple crisp. We both went with the apple crisp but mainly because neither of us really knew what it was. Turned out to be a bit like an apple turnover. I’d been hoping it would be a little bit healthier but it was more apple mush/bay food than actual apple in it. Again, it was ok, but I doubt we ate more than half of one between us. I really wish that the apple slices, that they offer as an alternative to french fries here and in many Disney restaurants, were also offered as an alternative dessert. If we were on the Quick Service dining plan, I know I’d be suffering from fruit-withdrawal by the end of the holiday!
The restaurant itself is fairly small but not as small as it would first appear, although the ordering points are limited. It usually seems pretty busy when you head in there, and can take some time to get your meal, due to the low numbers of tills, but there is additional seating upstairs and we’ve always been able to find space up there – in the less busy periods it is practically empty – and there are very few places that you can say that around Disney. I’d much rather be in here than some of the other quick service restaurants in Magic Kingdom, which many be much larger but are also packed. The tables are also fairly spread out – something I love when we’ve got a seat, but curse when I’m looking for one and thinking that they could easily fit more into the space! My favourite spot is a little nook upstairs that looks out over the pathway between Liberty Square and Fantasy Land. From the outside, it looks like just another part of the set but a window seat up there means looking out and see the people passing between the two lands. It’s fun to watch people enjoying their Disney day.
This year we were probably a little disappointed with Columbia Harbour House for the food. However, we’ve had great meals there in the past and I still like the feel of the place. It offers something a bit different to the average fast food meal.
- Would we go there again? Yes
- Would we do it twice in one trip? No
- My rating: 5/10
- Hubby’s rating: 4/10