In Central Florida, spring’s relatively comfortable temperatures will soon completely give way to summer’s sweltering heat and humidity. Therefore, it is imperative that visitors to Walt Disney World® (WDW) know the best places and ways to beat the oppressively hot and muggy climate during their time at the world famous parks.
While I cannot speak for anyone else, I know my appetite is nearly non-existent when I am sizzling under the harsh Florida sun. I tend not to be interested in eating rich and/or heavy foods. Instead, I crave something light, cool and rejuvenating that I can partake of in an air-conditioned environment. In my opinion, when it comes to eating light, there is no better quick-service dining location than the Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom® Park.
Many people may be unaware that the restaurant even exists. It is possible that it goes unnoticed by patrons that are hurriedly in route to an attraction or shop elsewhere in the park. Some, who are aware of its existence, may not venture in because they assume the restaurant lacks the food and/or atmosphere they are seeking. Still others, concerned with time, may not realize that it is a quick-service location. Consequently, they opt out and miss out on all the restaurant has to offer.
While the establishment is appropriately best-known for seaside fare like the Battered Fish Basket, Fried Shrimp Platter and New England Clam Chowder, its menu also boasts several chilled items that are on the healthier side. These “light” offerings are available for the health conscious eater as well as for folks like me, who simply wish to be a bit more comfortable in the Florida heat.
Guests, who choose to dine there between typical mealtimes, can enjoy a cool, less-crowded and calmer atmosphere than during peak dining hours. With windows that overlook Liberty Square and Frontierland®, those who eat there during mid-afternoon might just be lucky enough to sit at a second floor window table where they can take in the afternoon parade.
For all those who have passed by the Columbia Harbour House unawares or without consideration, I encourage you to venture in and enjoy some of the best dishes—especially “light” foods—available at Walt Disney World® quick-service restaurants:
Lighthouse Sandwich—Before humus was in vogue and as “cool” to eat as it is now, Disney Chefs made it the star of this light and refreshing sandwich that consists of chickpea humus, broccoli slaw and tomato served on toasted multigrain bread. Great as a meal for one or a snack to share, it is a delicious way to beat the heat. It is offered with a package of Disney brand potato chips.
Lobster Roll—The lobster used to make the salad for this dish is not imitation—artificially flavored fish. In this delicious New England classic, a generous amount of succulent, real lobster meat has been cut into large chunks and combined with fresh vegetables, spices, mayonnaise dressing, and served on a substantial soft roll. It is offered with a package of Disney brand potato chips.
Grilled Salmon—While this meal is not a cold dish, it is one of the lightest full meals available in the parks. The salmon is grilled to light, tender, and flaky perfection and served alongside subtly flavorful couscous and steamed broccoli. Though it is a complete meal, it never leaves me feeling overstuffed in the Florida heat. For a non-table service restaurant, the quality is exceptional.
Lemon Slush—On a hot Florida day, nothing beats the heat like a frozen drink, and the Lemon Slush served at Columbia Harbour House is one of the best. With the airy, fluffiness of a Frozen Coke® ICEE, it is always straw drinkable and icy cold. Some find it sweet, others tart, I think it’s just right!
While these are the items from Columbia Harbour House I crave most often, there are several other light menu options that will help guests beat hunger and heat during the upcoming summer:
- Anchors Aweigh Sandwich (white tuna salad with lettuce and tomato on multigrain bread)
- Broccoli Peppercorn Salad (mixed greens, broccoli, chicken, bacon, parmesan, vegetables and peppercorn dressing)
- Garden Harvest Salad (mixed greens, green beans, carrots, garden vegetables, chicken)
- Strawberry Yogurt
- Iced Coffee
(Image from the author’s personal collection.)
What is your favorite menu item at Columbia Harbour House? What is your favorite quick-service dining location when the Florida heat hits? Let us know in the comments section.
Kendall began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. As a child, she and her family filled vacations with challenges such as “How many times can we ride Splash Mountain during SpectroMagic and the fireworks?” (Answer: 7) Now, after marrying a converted Disney skeptic, she and her husband enjoy challenges such as “How many hours can we eat nonstop at the Food & Wine Festival?” (Answer: 4)