As Downtown Disney morphed into Disney Springs, a whole slew of new and amazing shops and restaurants sprung up (no pun intended) that contribute to the new feel of this popular destination. No extra ticket is needed to visit Disney Springs and your trip would not be complete without a stop to savor the flavors and entertainment that make this place unforgettable. And while you're in Disney Springs, a meal at the BOATHOUSE will be a welcome delight! I had lunch there a couple of days ago and I can't wait to go back!
Here is my theory on themed restaurants: you need to have everything fit together magically. The interior and exterior must be detailed and true to the theme, the food must carefully associate with the theme (and be delicious of course) and the service needs to be impeccable. I found that the BOATHOUSE delivered on all of my expectations of a truly great themed restaurant!
I always reserve lunch early in order to get the best photos for you and as usual, the place was practically empty 11:00am. If you can do an 11:00 to noon reservation, go for it! You will not be disappointed with the attention from the wait staff and the quickness of your meal arriving to your table!
From the outside, the building looks exactly as I would expect a classic boathouse to look like. It's beautiful! It's even more charming on the inside with its large bar, separate dining rooms, patio seating area and a stage ready for evening entertainment. The dream boats from the 1930's 1940's and 1950's make this one of my favorite themed restaurants in Disney Springs. This upscale dining experience seems a bit more relaxed at lunch and my server, Scott, is probably one of the best in Orlando!
Let's just talk about Scott for a minute - I can tell you about the food a little later after you enjoy some of the photos I took. The reason I say Scott is one of the best servers in Orlando is because he knows the job and he understands the customers. He has a warm personality and knows the menu inside and out. Ask any questions about the food and he will be able to answer it. I secretly tried to stump him and I failed! So not only does he know the menu, he really got me excited about my choices! This is a super nice guy and his customers are lucky to be seated in his section!
There is plenty to choose from on this menu and no, it's not all seafood but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't select one the many fish and shellfish meals offered. I knew I had to try the seafood and Scott said that all of the items are extremely fresh, never frozen. I asked what the catch of the day was and he said that it was going to be black drum, a fish caught off the coast of Tampa. Problem was, it is so fresh, he had to go make sure that the fish had arrived that morning. Lucky for me, the fish arrived and I was able to place my order for the Crispy Panko-Fried Catch of the Day($18) found under the Dockside Bucket offerings. All of the Dockside Buckets come with french fries. I'm trying my hardest to be low carb but when I go to review a restaurant, I throw my diet out the window and indulge as I say to myself, "this one meal won't hurt". With that said, I am a lover of french fries and the thinner and crispier they are, the better. These fries were not crispy. At all. However, I did enjoy them and the preparation fit with the meal so I was totally ok with the limpyness of these fresh-cut-to-order delights. About my fish.... it is so hard to sit here remembering this meal without drooling on my keyboard but here we go! I will try any fish at least once, I don't care for all fish but I am willing to try. The black drum is a bottom feeder (appetizing, right?) and there is an abundance of these guys in Florida and the BOATHOUSE tends to have this fish frequently on the menu. Turns out, this fishy was one of the tastiest I have ever had. Really! This is a very moist white fish that has the flavor of shrimp and crab. Since crab is my favorite food, I would say that the black drum is now my favorite fish! Move over sea bass, there is a new kid in town!
Put the brakes on, I almost forgot to mention the lovely plate of fresh and hot rolls that arrive at your table only seconds after ordering. Yum! These were amazing and it's not just because I tend to deprive myself of bread, they were soft and delicious. The butter was spreadable too. I hate when you go to a restaurant and they give you tasty bread with these near frozen blocks of hard butter. It's really a pet peeve actually. Anyway, do not miss out on these rolls, they will be one of the stars of your meal!
The menu has a variety of dishes (and prices) from seafood and steaks to salads, sandwiches and a selection from the raw bar. There's a huge beverage menu with a fantastic wine list. There are six different desserts to choose from and the kids can indulge on salmon in addition to the usual children's menu items. I would have liked to have seen a few more seafood selections for the kids but is not a big deal, not worth a mention on a Not So Magical List, that's for sure.
I love gift shops, I am one of the people who doesn't mind when a Disney ride is over and you have to walk through a gift shop in order to exit. So when I discovered that the BOATHOUSE had a gift shop, I was all about it! The nautical themed items are awesome but plan on spending $$$ if you plan on making purchases. There's clothing, accessories, rubber ducks, and these super cute paddles that you can have customized. This is a great place to wander around if you have time before your reservation. And, if you happen to be a friend or relative, Christmas is around the corner and I love the little purse with the flamingo on it. How cute is that?!
Captains Guided Amphicar tours are what make the BOATHOUSE really stand out. These are vintage cars that take you on a guided tour through Disney Springs - from the water! I hear there are less than 400 of these cars still left in the world today. A 25 minute tour for up to 3 of you in one of these beauties will set you back $125. You can save $25 by showing your lunch receipt for a ride before 3:00pm. One of my favorite things to do in Disney Springs is to grab some hot tea and a snack from the Tea Traders and watch these cars go in and out of the water. Very cool!
DON"T MISS: The Dockside Bar. This bar is built over water and is worth a few photos and a stop for a refreshing beverage after dinner. The views are great from the 300 feet of boardwalk that's attached to this bar.
Overall, I must say, this was such a delightful experience. I would like to share with you my Magic List; a countdown of my favorite things. I can happily say, there will not be a Not So Magical List for the BOATHOUSE today. I could not find anything unmagical about this place!
The Magic List
#5 Ship's Store. Any restaurant with a gift shop this amazing will always make the Magic List!
#4 Menu Selection. No matter what you're craving, the BOATHOUSE seems to have what satisfies!
#3 The Amphicars. You won't find anything like this at a another restaurant.
#2 The service. Simply excellent service. Thanks, Scott!
And my #1 favorite thing about the BOATHOUSE is: The Food! It's delicious, prepared just right and brought to the table hot and fresh.
Not just an obsessed theme park fan, I am also a professional theme park private guide and I own Orlando for Families, a vacation services company. I am a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, and also a certified specialist by Universal Orlando Resorts. I hold specialist certificates from Visit Orlando and Visit Florida as well.
I'm a busy professional and mom of two who enjoys visiting Walt Disney World several times a week, staying at theme park resorts (and off-site hotels) several times a month and dining in the parks and around Orlando every day.
I tell it like it is and hopefully my experiences, whether good or bad, will help guide you in the right direction on your next vacation to Orlando!
For questions, comments, call Orlando for Families at 407-734-5195 or send your questions using the form to the right or the chat button at the bottom of your screen.