The Ultimate Review: Columbia Harbour House
Quick quiz: what’s changed at Walt Disney World since the early days of the 1970s? The correct answer is, “almost everything.” Still, you’ll find the occasional attraction that’s still the same such as Jungle Cruise or Peter Pan’s Flight. There’s even one restaurant whose roots trace back to 1972. Today, let’s take a look at one of the most popular Quick Service restaurants at Walt Disney World, Columbia Harbour House.
Do you know where Disney’s Haunted Mansion is? Then, you also know where Columbia Harbour House is, even if you don’t realize it. The location is understated by design. When you stand at the FastPass entry point for Haunted Mansion, turn 180 degrees. You’re now looking at the restaurant. You may not have noticed due to its theming, something we’ll discuss in the next section, but it’s there!
Columbia Harbour House has stood as an integral part of Liberty Square since the restaurant debuted in 1972. Park planners wanted a thematic eatery that would blend in perfectly with the patriotic backdrop, and they also wanted to make it easy to find.
Reaching this place from the front gate of Walt Disney World is simple. You walk straight down Main Street, U.S.A. until you reach the Partners Statue of Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse. Then, you take and follow the left side of the circle until you reach the Liberty Square path.
There are signs that tell you where to go from here, but you can check a couple of landmarks to verify. It’s the last place you can turn left before Cinderella Castle. Also, it’s the path that crosses the bridge. The other potential left turns don’t.
You’ll know that you’ve taken the correct path when you see the Liberty Square Ticket Office followed by the Hall of Presidents on your right. When you see Liberty Square Riverboat boarding area directly in front of you, go right as soon as the path allows. Ignoring Liberty Square Market on the corner, the next place that you’ll see is Columbia Harbour House!
There’s a simple and an exhaustive answer to the restaurant’s theme. The short version is colonial New England seafood joint. In fact, the name of the place was originally Nantucket Harbour House, and some early Disney maps of Liberty Square reference it as such.
The idea of Columbia Harbour House is that you’re visiting a Revolutionary War-era restaurant and cottage. No, you can’t stay there overnight as was the trend at the time, but you can enjoy a delicious meal by the river. Well, you can’t see much of the river across the pathway from inside the building. That’s the theme, though.
Disney planned this establishment during the late 1960s. An Imagineer took note of the Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland and presumed that the new park would possess a similar vessel. He plotted an eatery that would fit against the backdrop of a massive ship sailing into port. Guests who pay attention to the details on the north side of Liberty Square will realize they all fit into this concept. They have Cape Cod-style designs that would have seemed right at home back in the early days of America.
As you know, there isn’t a copy of Columbia at Magic Kingdom. Instead, Disney constructed the more sensible Mark Twain Riverboat, a rare instance of inconsistent theming at the park. These choices transpired after the restaurant had opened, though.
At Columbia Harbour House, you’ll still feel like a guest at a thriving village inn. In fact, you can wander around the building to appreciate how precise the interior theming is. Across two floors, the scenery suggests several cottage rooms, each of which has a name! You can eat in the Cape Cod Room, the Newport Room, the Annapolis Room or several others that fit the premise of early Americana. And the food follows this tone.
What would you expect to eat at a thriving seaport village inn? Seafood, of course! The menu here is straightforward, with one dish that’s a Walt Disney World legend. You’ll discover a set of seven entrees available plus three combo platters. The price of these dishes ranges from $8.99 for a salad to $14.99 for its signature item.
That entrée is the Lobster Roll, a staple of many Best of Disney lists for more than 45 years now. While the recipe has evolved over the years, dish’s popularity has remained constant. When your party eats at Columbia Harbour House, someone HAS to order to the Lobster Roll. That’s the rule. I happen to know enough about Lobster Rolls that I have a recipe posted on Joan Lunden’s official website, and I say with confidence that for $14.99, you’ll be hard-pressed to eat a better entrée at Walt Disney World.
The other fresh fish items on the menu are a Shrimp Wedge Salad, Grilled Salmon, and a Tuna Sandwich. Mickey Travelers who hate fish will also find satisfactory entrees like an eight-piece Chicken Breast Nuggets pack or the ultimate comfort food, a Chicken Pot Pie. Another delicious option is the Land and Sea Trio, which includes Fried Shrimp, Battered Fish, and Breaded Chicken.
I should mention three other side dishes here. The Couscous is hearty and filling, while the Vegetarian Chili is remarkably rich and (somehow) savory. Finally, the New England Clam Chowder is so authentic that it will sweep you away to Fenway Park.
The primary dessert options are Seasonal Peach Cobbler and Boston Cream Pie. When you’re at a New England-based restaurant, you need to order the Boston Cream Pie, my friends. The custard and chocolate mesh perfectly in this tasty treat.
Columbia Harbour House is a Quick Service establishment. For one entitlement, you can eat a meal that includes an entrée and a beverage. This restaurant also participates in the Mobile Ordering program, allowing you to skip the lines.
The quality of food here is well above average for a counter service restaurant at Walt Disney World. Since Magic Kingdom is the most trafficked theme park, it’s also a convenient location for most guests. At some point during your vacation, you’ll want a quick but tasty meal. Columbia Harbour House will satisfy your needs while providing an extremely good themed element. Somehow, even after 45 years of service, it’s still a bit under the radar, too!
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