When one visits WDW’s new Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) Boathouse Restaurant, one might wonder if it is an amazing boat museum attached to a great restaurant or vice-versa.
It is the latter. Disney and the design team of Steve Schussler may have spent 2 million dollars on the fantastic boat accessories, but they also spent 3 million dollars on just the 8,000 square foot kitchen.
The Super Speedboat and the Boathouse Restaurant
The huge waterfront restaurant, managed by the top-grade Gibsons Restaurant Group of Chicago, takes full advantage of its location of Lake Buena Vista. Two hundred seats are outside on open decks or along the full-service bar on a pier and Boat Yard filled with wooden dream boats of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s.
Motorboats Even Grace The Main Bar Area
Two boats are available for group tours: a 40-foot wooden Italian water taxi and a wonderful replica of an 1889 steamboat Lady Rose. The Boathouse is also the site of a “fleet” of amphicars, $150,000 convertibles you may rent, complete with uniformed chauffeur-pilot for a drive around the Disney shopping and entertainment complex.
Returning To Dock In An Amphicar
Disney oldsters will find this massive restaurant, with its walls lined with antique outboard motors and motorboats parked in the bar, a little too much overkill of the imagination. Of course, that is the intended response expected from most tourists.
Even The Restrooms Get That Boathouse Touch
The good news is that while some of the menu items are quite expensive, the food and service provided by Executive Chef Bob Getchell and a huge staff is very good. The menu of seafood and steaks has been carefully developed. There are five varieties of oysters. The S’more Baked Alaska contains 1.5 gallons of rocky road ice cream.
I ordered a cedar plank salmon, which I later discovered was cooked in a special 875- degree oven. It was perfect. My wife ordered one of the more expensive items on the menu and she said her Maine lobster and crab was the best she had ever tasted.
Plank Steak At The Boathouse
In talking to staff members at the dockside bar and in the main restaurant, I was impressed how many full-time staff members were recruited from Florida resorts from Clearwater Beach to Fort Lauderdale. It is clear that the Boathouse management wants to be more than a boat museum with food.