Located in Epcot’s Future World in the Seas With Nemo and Friends Pavilion is one of my favorite table service restaurants in all of Walt Disney World. The Coral Reef Restaurant immerses diners in an undersea wonderland filled with countless sea creatures and delicious food. The best part about this restaurant is it can be enjoyed by everyone. While it is themed around the seas and heavily features seafood options, there are plenty of options for those who do not enjoy seafood (like me!). There is also a separate children’s menu for those young ones who also do not enjoy eating seafood.
The Coral Reef Restaurant is a popular table service location, so I recommend making reservations as soon as you begin planning your vacation. As with any table service location in Disney World, you can make an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADRs) up to 180 days prior to your vacation. Many restaurants fill up extremely quickly, especially for the most popular meal times, so be sure to book early. If you find that you cannot obtain a reservation for any restaurant at the time you want, try booking either a late lunch or an early dinner. More reservations are usually available at those times as they are less popular than the usual meal hours. If you do not have a reservation, but decide while in the parks that you would like to try a restaurant, speak to either the Concierge at your resort or the Dining Booth at any of the parks. They will be able to secure a reservation for you on that day if there are any available.
Once you have your reservation for the Coral Reef Restaurant, plan to arrive at least twenty minutes early. I suggest this since you can request upon arrival to be seated against the salt water tanks offering a completely unobstructed view of the sea creatures. While this seating request cannot be guaranteed, you have a much better chance of being seated there if you request it early. Don’t worry if you cannot get a table against the tanks, the restaurant is set up so that tables are arranged in tiers, offering each table of diners a fantastic view of the sea creatures and coral. It is also a great idea to get to the restaurant early as there are some gorgeous undersea decorations and color motifs in the waiting area to check out before being seated. My favorite features are the lights behind the check-in desk that look like giant squids and are lit with wonderful tropical colors.
Once you are ready to be seated, the hostess brings you down a small staircase and into the main dining room. Immediately you are taken aback by the enormous tanks as they are truly the focal point of the room. This 5.7 million gallon tank is over 200 feet wide and 27 feet deep and houses over 4,000 different sea creatures. It is the largest inland saltwater environment ever built and it holds enough water to fill over fifty Olympic-sized swimming pools! Once you are seated, be sure to make use of the “Coral Reef Restaurant Fish Guide.” Inside is a comprehensive list featuring a picture and small piece of information about each sea creature inside the tank. See how many you can identify throughout your meal! My favorite creatures in the tank are the giant sea turtles and the sting rays. These two creatures can frequently be seen making laps throughout the tank and thus will pass by your vantage point multiple times throughout your meal. One of the great things about these tanks and the beautiful creatures within is that they make the restaurant appeal to guests on many different levels. Not only do children enjoy finding the sea creatures, but adults can also find the ambiance to be romantic. So no matter what your motive for dining in the Coral Reef Restaurant, you will be sure to be satisfied.
After you have enjoyed the tanks for a few minutes and are able to tear your eyes away from the spectacular views, it’s time for the most important part of any meal at Disney- choosing your meal! Appetizers include Crispy-fried Shrimp, Crab Cakes, Creamy Lobster Soup, and a Field Greens and Endive Salad. I recommend the Caesar Salad served with parmesan cheese and croutons for this course. The entrees offered include Pan-Seared Sustainable Catch, Coral Reef Lobster Orecchiette Pasta, Seared Chicken Breast, Grilled New York Strip Steak, and Orange Ginger-Glazed Scottish Salmon. As I do not eat seafood, I recommend the Grilled New York Strip Steak which is served with roasted potatoes, mushroom spinach, and red wine sauce. It is delicious!
For dessert, the menu offers the ever-popular Chocolate Wave, Classic Vanilla Crème Brulee, Champagne Sabayon Tart, Baileys and Jack Daniel’s Mousse, and Orange Cheesecake. My choice from the dessert list is the Chocolate Wave which is served with raspberry gelato. Be sure to notify the restaurant or server if you are allergic to any foods or have a dietary restriction. Most always they will be able to accommodate you by substituting another item or creating a special dish just for you. While I love the Chocolate Wave, I am allergic to raspberry. My server was able to switch out the raspberry gelato for vanilla ice cream with no problem! Also offered at the Coral Reef Restaurant are some unique and delicious cocktails along with select beers and wines. There are two drinks that I would recommend- the Pinot Grigio from Italy and the Coral ‘Rita which is a margarita with Patron Anejo and Cointreau. There are also plenty of non-alcoholic beverage options including traditional sodas, root beer, and lemonade.
Did you know that after trying any dish at a table service restaurant in Disney World you can make the same dish at home? That’s right- you can easily obtain any recipe that you desire. Simply ask your server for the information card to fill out in order to receive the recipe. You will be asked to fill out a brief card with your contact information and within a few weeks the recipe will be sent to you! What a great way to recreate a little Disney magic at home after your vacation!
Overall, the Coral Reef Restaurant is one of my favorite places to dine on property due to the combination of its amazing views and ambiance and its delicious food. I love returning here time and time again as it never fails to disappoint. Since it’s based on living creatures, it is also guaranteed to never be the same experience twice (just like Kilimanjaro Safaris!). I highly recommend trying this restaurant as you are sure to have a great experience no matter what.
Do you love dining at the Coral Reef Restaurant? What are your favorite foods there? Have you ever had a special interaction with one of the sea creatures? Be sure to let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.