Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Where to Eat: Dinner at The Boathouse in Downtown Disney

June 16, 2015, 9:46 AM · Chris Craft mahogany boats, Amphicars, and waterfront views make Disney's The Boathouse a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Opened in mid-April, this Downtown Disney seafood restaurant touts itself to be an upscale, family-friendly place, featuring classic boats from the '20s through '50s. The restaurant has three dining rooms and three bars, all decorated with nautical nostalgia.

Inside The Boathouse

Unable to find reservations through the My Disney Experience App, though the restaurant was listed, my fiancée, Annie, and I got a spot through OpenTable. You can call and make reservations, too (+1-407-939-BOAT). When we arrived for our 5pm reservation, there were still many tables around us that were empty, though the dockside bar was crowded.

Greeted by our friendly waiter as we sat down, he explained to us that the Boathouse contracts with local boats to obtain fresh fish. Menus are updated daily and contain various fresh seafood. We could tell, for example, from a previous look at an opening day menu, that stone crabs were no longer listed because they are now out of season.

Our first appetizers were raw oysters ($3.50 each) and the yellowfin tuna poke ($18). The restaurant has anywhere from three to six oyster varieties at one time. Today, they had three: Sun Hollow (Washington), Caribou (Nova Scotia), and Blue Points (Long Island area). I opted for all three. Served with cocktail sauce with a touch of horseradish on top and cucumber mignonette sauce, all three oysters were nicely shucked and totally delicious.


The tuna poke was excellent as it had a generous portion of tuna served on a bed of avocado and mango with a soy lime vinaigrette sauce. Annie is a big fan of tuna poke and found this to be excellent as everything accompanied well.

Tuna Poke

Shipping off to our main meals, I opted for the Crab Stuffed Lobster and Annie went for the Lobster Roll ($29). I guess we love lobster. The Crab Stuffed Lobster was a split 1 1/4 Maine lobster with lump crab baked right on top. The lobster perfectly soft and the crab was nice and sweet. It's usually served with asparagus, but I asked for a baked potato which proved to be a fine substitution.

Crab Stuffed Lobster

Annie's lobster roll was stuffed full of lobster and equally tasty. After that, we were stuffed as well.

Lobster Roll

We wanted to get a dessert because their s'mores dessert looked amazing as it had rocky road ice cream, graham cracker crust, chunks of chocolate, and of course marshmallows. However, as full as we were we couldn't handle that dessert made for four. That's for round two.

The fun doesn't stop there, you can go on multiple water tours and check out their gift shop. Try that Amphicar, a car/boat that will drive you and two of your friends for 20 minutes in the lake ($125). Or go on a romantic boat ride for two on the 24' Lady Rose serving champagne and chocolate covered strawberries ($150). There's also an Italian River Tour that handles multiple guests ($75-$1700). Their Ship's Store has various merchandise that includes some of the coolest rubber ducks I've seen.

Rubber ducks

Currently there are no discounts, but they accept the Disney Dining Plan. I hope they will one day accept Tables in Wonderland (a program you buy that gets 20% off food and drink), because this was one very expensive meal. Oysters for $3.50 a piece is extremely high and $29 is also a tad high for a Maine lobster roll. Wine was decently priced, but the champagne was way overpriced. Signature cocktails start around $13 and for extra can be served in a souvenir glass. Kid's menu seemed appropriate because it's all made in house. Overall, it had wonderful atmosphere, great food, and friendly service, but became a place we'd go to on a special occasion because of the price.

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Replies (8)

June 16, 2015 at 11:07 AM · Awesome article, Jeff. Looks like an amazing meal. What was your favorite oyster?
June 16, 2015 at 11:14 AM · Great article! Looks beautiful inside and the food looks delicious! Boathouse will definitely be on my list of must do's in Downtown Disney.
June 16, 2015 at 11:16 AM · Sun Hollow. It was nice and sweet with lots of oyster juice to add that brininess to it.
June 16, 2015 at 12:38 PM · You noted that the restaurant accepted the Disney Dining Plan. I assume that it is considered a "signature" restaurant that requires 2 TS credits, is that correct?

Those oysters do seem rather pricey at $3.50/each. Perhaps the market price was high that day and is further reflected in your limited choice, just 3 available. Also $18 for an appetizer portion of poke seems pretty obscene (probably should be @$12 based on the photo--about 5-7 bites). You can get Ahi Tuna tar-tare (Poke) flatbread at Emeril's Tchoup Chop (Universal's Royal Pacific Resort) for $14, which is essentially the same dish served on a flatbread crust.

I wonder when WDW guests will come to their senses and start rejecting some of the ridiculous prices many of their restaurants charge for dishes that are not particularly unique or expensive to prepare. It's one thing when you're getting something fairly unique or rare, or with unusual preparations that you see at the higher end places like Citrico's California Grill, Victoria & Albert's, or Artist Point, but when it's just a pretty standard fine dining item (i.e. steaks at the Yachtsman or LeCellier - WAY overpriced IMHO) it's simply not worth the exorbitant prices Disney continues to charge (and steadily increase). Sadly it seems the DDP, despite its popularity and value when utilized effectively, creates some of the strange menu prices that are far beyond the norm.

The boat trip prices are ridiculous. I can't believe anyone in their right mind would pay for that - $125 for 20 minutes???? I guess Disney's aiming high, and I suppose those that see a Disney vacation as a "once in a lifetime" deal will spend whatever it costs to make their trip unique and memorable.

"he explained to us that the Boathouse contracts with local boats to obtain fresh fish."

I would question this if I was told this by a waiter in Orlando - perhaps it's part of the "theme", or is only applicable to the fresh catch of the day. There's no way a single inland restaurant is contracting with individual boats to supply all, or even a majority of their fresh seafood. It's quite possible that they're contracting with marinas on the Gulf and Atlantic sides, but it's more likely they're contracted with a local fishmonger or seafood supplier in Orlando that pulls product from all over the country. I highly doubt that the restaurant made a call directly to a lobsterman in Maine to order the main protein for your entrees.

June 16, 2015 at 12:37 PM · I'm not much of a seafood person but my girlfriend loves it. Next time we head to downtown Disney we will definitely give The Boathouse a try.
June 16, 2015 at 12:42 PM · Whoa, that lobster looks great!
June 16, 2015 at 3:24 PM · The restaurant requires 2 dining credits for Dining Plan or Deluxe Dining Plan. Certainly sounds expensive. Disney is going for the high roller and there isn't a lack of that.
June 16, 2015 at 5:44 PM · Great Article as usual! I have to say, your recommendations are spot on. Yes, Disney can get expensive and I'm usually trying to find the bargains like most people, but you also seem to discover great experiences which I am always willing to pay a little more for. I particularly like the romantic lady rose ride that you mentioned. Maybe the ideal date is to head in for some oysters, then out on the lady rose for champagne and chocolate covered strawberries ;). Thank you again Jeff for being the road map to another great date idea! Looking forward to the next read.

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