Today, we are enjoying lunch in one of my very favorite corners of Magic Kingdom — Columbia Harbour House!
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This restaurant is an original fixture of Magic Kingdom, although it opened way back in 1971 as Nantucket Harbour House. It was soon re-christened Columbia Harbour House, which echoes references to both Disneyland and the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (Pause for sigh of nostalgia.)
Without knowing better, you may be tempted to pass right by this quick service spot, thinking that it’s a garden variety bastion of fried food. But while there are some battered options here, you’ll also find some lighter fare that’s worth a closer look. (Actually, I think the fried stuff is pretty rad, too.)
Today, we’re exploring that fabled upstairs dining room, and we’re ordering up one of the eatery’s classic combos!
With its long-standing history and incredible attention to detail, Columbia Harbour House should not be dismissed as just another counter service spot.
One of the most interesting things to note about the restaurant is, in fact, its outside view. From the Liberty Square Side, it appears to fit in perfectly with its environs. It reminds me of a spot right on the harbor of some quaint New England town.
But be sure to approach the restaurant from its Fantasyland side as well for a completely different view, which is decidedly more European. From that side, it looks like something straight out of Bavaria.
Once inside, you definitely feel like you’ve wandered straight back to Colonial America.
This fireplace and mantel are beautiful in their functional simplicity. And while logic tells me there’s never been a fire laid here, you’d never know it from the sooty bricks.
The oversized hutch houses a collection of authentic-looking pewter pitchers, tankards, and willowware.
Within the main ordering area, pause for a moment to look up and observe the detail. A full model of a ship is encased in glass (and is better observed from the second floor). But from below, it’s really fascinating to take in the ship figurehead, as well as an oil painting featuring the same type of seafaring subject.
The ship wheel chandelier has ship lanterns mounted on four sides, and a framed edition of the First Navy Jack hangs nearby.
Interesting wall hangings depict the phases of the moon, and a globe map looks suspiciously like a Mouse we all know and love.
Take a step back and you can see some of the atmosphere in context. The ordering area is actually an atrium, with a skylight allowing the sunshine to brighten the space naturally.
The ordering area is classic Disney. You won’t find self-serve kiosks here…yet.
Once you place your order and collect your food at the kitchen counter, you’ll go about choosing where to sit. There is some seating outside, but there are also two large, comfortable dining rooms inside. And it’s cool in here. 🙂
Normally, just because of the sheer enormity of the restaurant, you can find seats downstairs if you wander far enough. BUT — the real find at Columbia Harbour House is the upstairs seating area. It’s truly one of the best kept secrets at Disney World, because most people don’t even know it exists. Kind of like the balcony seating at Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland.
Rich wood paneling surrounds the top of the stairs. Look back down over the railing, and you’ll see the ordering area.
Ample wooden chairs surround wood-grained tables. I love the ceiling especially in this room, as the slight curve and wooden beaming feels like the inside cabin of a ship.
And remember how busy it was downstairs? Ahhh…I love this. And round tables!
Windows from the second floor offer views of either Liberty Square or Fantasyland, depending which way you look.
Now that I’ve shown you a little of just what you may be missing, let’s head back downstairs and order something. I’m starving!
While the ordering area features the standard Disney cash registers and queues, menu boards are the updated LCD screens, which feature changing photos of the menu’s main items.
And if it’s light eating you’re after, check out the Grilled Salmon or Salad options.
Photos of menu items make it easy to decide what you’d like to have.
The spot has long featured one of Magic Kingdom’s most beloved and well-known vegetarian options, the Lighthouse Sandwich, which features Hummus, Tomatoes, and Broccoli Slaw. Folks love this winning combination!
But there’s also another fan favorite here — the Anchors Aweigh Sandwich. This Tuna Sandwich may not sound all that amazing, but it is! It’s routinely considered a guest favorite here.
But this is also a great stop for some traditional fried options, especially if you like Fish and Chips. And Chicken Nuggets. Which I do.
I made my selection and headed off to the condiment station to pick up some sauces, utensils, and napkins. The are LOTS of sauces and add-ons here…yay!
Purists will be happy to find Malt Vinegar here.
Ketchup and Mayo are also abundantly available, as is Tartar Sauce.
For your chicken dipping pleasure there’s both Barbecue and Honey Mustard “on tap”.
As for my selection, I went with the Chicken Breast Nuggets and Fish. In an effort to provide guests with healthy options, the platter comes with your choice of Fries, Apple Slices, or Steamed Broccoli.
Fish and Chips and Disney’s chicken nuggets combined? Yes please. The breading is crisp and flavorful, and the meat is juicy. Even though the fries are technically a little skinny to be called chips, they were delicious as always!
Beyond great taste, portions here are large. It would be VERY possible to share this meal, especially if you added a bowl of their creamy Clam Chowder. Read all about it in our DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks!
Columbia Harbour House has long been a Disney fan favorite, and it remains as such. It’s cozy, it’s a standing piece of Disney World history, and it’s big fun to wander around, taking in all the wall hangings and detail. It’s a great option for hot, fast food when you don’t have an advance dining reservation.
If you are looking for some delicious lighter fare, or you have a craving for fish and chips while at Magic Kingdom, be sure to give this spot a try. It’s a true hidden gem.
Is Columbia Harbour House one of your favorites? Leave a comment and tell us about it!