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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch - Setting Sail to Better Dining Adventures at Columbia Harbour House

26 August 2012

From the gothic, foreboding colonial manor to the revolutionary tavern by the lantern lit Liberty Tree, the historic Liberty Square tells the story of a new country where freedom is king. That first step to freedom was actually on the waves of the Atlantic, when the first settlers, sea farers, traders, and more sailed the seas. These ships and other famous nautical vessels are honored at the Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square. Vintage park maps have the restaurant set to be called the Nantucket Harbour House, though with park opening, the restaurant was given a different name, most likely to honor the great Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to circumnavigate the world. A full scale replica of the Sailing Ship Columbia sails the Rivers of America at Disneyland.

The atmosphere of the Harbour House is nautical with portraits of sailing ships, displays of knots, dublooms, and so much more. The main theme is as if you're in a house designed like the inside of a sailing ship. This helps since the Harbour House is in a tiny portion of the already small Liberty Square, so the design's theme helps with practicality as there are two floors for dining. The counter looks like a ship's galley, with dishes on shelves and jugs hanging in nets from the ceiling.

The dining area to the right of the counter on the first floor is decorated more simply, with barely decorated, white board walls and a scattering of tables and benches make it seem like the quarters and mess hall below deck. The second floor really takes the theming up a notch, with pieces from sailing ships and the more elegant upper decks of a sailing ship. One portion of the dining room ' which happens to be over the walkway from Liberty Square to Fantasyland 'is made to look like the captain's cabin with curtain windows, carpeting, and timbers holding up the ceiling of the ship.

Captain's Cabin with our very own Brent Dodge and Amanda W.

Counter ordering area below deck in the galley


Saturday Matinee Albert G 'steers' the ship with his face.

Set as a seaside house to feed hungry seafarers, the Columbia Harbour House serves chicken, seafood, sandwiches, and salads to Magic Kingdom guests for lunch and dinner. In earlier days, I recall that the restaurant served such seafood as battered fried fish and tuna sandwiches. Around the end of the summer 2011, the menu was revamped to offer more seafood entrees, a move that contributed significantly to upgrading the quality of quick service meals at Walt Disney World.

This sign visually indicates that both chicken and seafood are served at the Harbour House

The extensive new menu

The seafood entrees are baskets of fried fish or fried shrimp, a grilled salmon dish, and a Lobster Roll sandwich. The fried shrimp comes with coleslaw and a choice of apple slices, steamed fresh broccoli, or French fries. The fried fish also comes with one of the three choice sides. When the menu first changed, guests could get a combination basket of the two, but on my most recent meal there, this option was not available.

Fried shrimp basket, my brother opted for more French fries over the coleslaw

The grilled salmon is my favorite of the new additions to the menu. The salmon is grilled well and full of flavor from a light marinade. You get quite a fair portion size and also two sides: steamed fresh broccoli and couscous, a grain lightly seasoned mixed with minced vegetables. Out of all the new entrees, this dish definitely elevates the quality of food one normally does not expect at a quick service location.

The two sandwiches offered are both served on toasted multigrain bread and come with Potato Chips. The Lighthouse Sandwich contains hummus, tomato, and broccoli slaw. The Anchors Aweigh Sandwich has white tuna, lettuce, and tomato. The chicken entrees available are the Broccoli Peppercorn salad (mixed greens, garden vegetables, chicken, broccoli, bacon, and parmesan tossed with a creamy peppercorn dressing) and the standard Walt Disney World chicken nuggets. The chicken comes with a choice of steamed fresh broccoli, apple slices, or French fries. My most recent meal there, I noticed the shrimp and fish basket missing, but in its place there was the option for a fried fish and chicken basket. With that, you get two pieces of fried fish and four chicken nuggets.

In addition to the entrees, soups and side items help contribute to the nautical and New England Harbour theme of the restaurant. The most obvious choice, New England Clam Chowder is offered as well as a Vegetarian Chili. Side items include all the sides that come with the entrees (Steamed fresh broccoli, Couscous, French Fries, and Coleslaw), with Apple Crisp, Chocolate Cake, and Strawberry Yogurt for dessert.

New England Clam Chowder with oyster crackers and chives

The combination of an incredibly detailed dining area and aptly themed menu make Columbia Harbour House one of the most well themed quick service restaurants in all of Walt Disney World, and easily a guest favorite. The one thing to note with the restaurant is that sometimes it closes earlier before the park does, so make sure to check the Times Guide or with a cast member. The food is definitely one of the star players in my overall evaluation of the upgraded quick service at the resort and still it offers the expected park food some guests are looking for.


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