Overall Score: 9/10
There are an insane amount of restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort. There are restaurants in the Theme Parks, there are restaurants at the Resort Hotels, and then there is Disney Springs–an entire district dedicated to restaurants and shopping. These options, of course, vary across spectrums of cuisine, luxury, and Disney Magic. On one end, you have the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Morimoto Asia, and on the other, you have Casey’s Corner and Cosmic Ray’s. And then there are character dining experiences like Cinderalla’s Royal Table and Topolino’s Terrace.
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For one reason or another, each restaurant stands by a certain average amount they charge per person, whether that is a flat rate like the Character Buffets, or a calculated estimate. And would-be Disney World Guests can see restaurants divided by groups based on that average on both the Disney World website and the MyDisneyExperience app.
But because of this, one question always emerges regarding any seemingly expensive restaurant experience: Is it worth it?
On Tuesday, February 21, I had the chance to dine at Disney Springs’ landmark restaurant Paddlefish, and I can confidently say… Yes! Paddlefish at Disney Springs is worth the money.
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It was my first time eating at the riverboat seafood restaurant on Lake Buena Vista since Fulton’s Crab House was replaced, and I have to be honest, my sentiment made me a little worried about what I would find in its place. But I was not disappointed in the least.
The dining room was extremely elegant–modern yet still true to a classic yacht club aesthetic. My date and I arrived early, and while we were not able to experience the rooftop, we were able to be seated 20 minutes early. I had the New England Clam Chowder to start and the Etoufee with a glass of Albarino.
It was all fantastic. The chowder was thick and rich, chock full of clams and bacon bits. The etouffee was extremely flavorful, spicy and savory, and more shrimp and crawfish than peppers and rice. In fact, the seafood hid the rice completely. On top of that, what I was most surprised by was the serving sizes. They were absolutely massive! I can’t believe how much food I got for the price. We both ordered expecting noticeably small portions and ended up leaving with to-go boxes and no dessert. The wine also fit perfectly with everything. It was heavy and kind of earthy but still maintained a proper level of sweetness.
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Every member of the service staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, attentive but not overbearing or rushing. The sommelier was more than happy to humor me when I asked which white wine went best with my cajun dish, and even the hot sauce I asked for my chowder was delivered in a proper pouring boat (which I know that most people probably don’t think twice about, but it demonstrated the staff’s intention to keep the presentation of the overall dish and fine dining feel at a certain level).
While this is still a relatively expensive restaurant, I can confidently say that the quality and quantity of food–at least for what I decided to order–as well as the elegance of the restaurant’s interior and the level of service provided, more than justified the price point.
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If you are looking for a proper night out at The Walt Disney World Resort that does not include a traditionally Disney hotel, look no further than Paddlefish. (Then again, if you don’t like seafood, feel free to ignore everything I said and go elsewhere.)
There is still a lot I want to try on that menu, from the crab cake to the seafood boil options, and I still need to experience the top deck, so I will be returning soon.
Disclaimer: The opinions in the article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.