A day at the park does not have to mean burgers and churros and wishing you still had the metabolism of a ten-year-old! Really, really, really! At the Magic Kingdom, you can be a child at heart and still feed your adult need for a healthy and satisfying meal–and without spending a fortune or making a reservation. All true at Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square, conveniently located next to the Haunted Mansion, with the Rivers of America directly in view.
We’d passed Columbia Harbour House countless times over the years, always reading the menu and thinking, “Yeah, but bad seafood is far worse than a mediocre burger.” You might say we were skeptical. But several years ago and a big shift in diet later, the need for food that wouldn’t leave us feeling full with regret became a priority. And even though we’d been eating with a health-conscious mentality since our arrival, ordering more fish and chicken than beef and pork, there was a consistent lack of green in the side dishes, due to the autumnal emphasis on root vegetables and new potatoes. This was having a cumulative effect on Amy, who finally reached her breaking point shortly before lunch: “If I can’t get broccoli, I’m going to die!” The sudden outburst surprised even Amy, who only knew her body was screaming for something green and fresh and nutritious, and that meant more than a tostada-shell filled with iceberg lettuce.
We reexamined the menu for Columbia Harbour House and… boingggg… BROCCOLI! Fresh, steamed broccoli! While it wasn’t the first time we’d stepped foot inside, it was the first time we were staying, and this time we allowed ourselves to fully appreciate all the charming and authentic nautical touches of this New England-style seaside inn. And there are touches o’plenty to be sure. Food aside, the Columbia Harbour House is well worth stepping inside for no other reason than to enjoy the many replicas, models, posters, maps and memorabilia in a setting that will make you feel like you’re onboard an early 19th century passenger vessel. The Columbia Harbour House is truly an homage to America’s seafaring past.
Happily, sea legs aren’t required to enjoy the fresh, refreshing and hearty fare the Columbia Harbour House has to offer. Clam chowder, vegetarian chili, sizable salads, a lobster roll and grilled salmon with couscous and steamed broccoli are all highly regarded and not likely to show up on many quick-service restaurants in the park. But for us, it’s the Anchors Aweigh Sandwich, and it literally changed our lives–all thanks to broccoli: white-meat tuna with just the perfect essence of brine and the right amount of mayo, accompanied by lettuce and tomato and served on a nice, meaty but not dense, lightly toasted multi-grain bread. It’s probably worth confiding here that we’re not tuna sandwich people. There are too many things that, if just slightly off, can ruin the entire affair. We’re those kind of tuna sandwich people. The Anchors Aweigh was a whole new world, and our sides of perfectly steamed fresh broccoli made us feel like we were at a picnic, not a fast-food joint.
Moreover, we were sharing a perfectly romantic view from the second floor, overlooking the mingling of whalers and sailors (a.k.a., guests and cast members) to a selection of appropriately themed melodies. For an even more romantic experience, settle into an alcove for two. They aren’t hard to come by since most of the guests come in larger numbers. And on cold days, the authentic fireplace near the entrance is a welcoming sight and provides authentic warmth in the way of fire. At Columbia Harbour House, the crew run a tight ship, so don’t be daunted if there’s a line. It moves fast and the seating is ample. There are even restrooms!