Coral Reef Restaurant review

“Coral Reef Restaurant” by Richo.Fan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Epcot is known for its incredible restaurants which feature a wide variety of cuisine from all over the world. The World Showcase, with pavilions representing Japan, France, Italy, Norway and more, is the center of Epcot’s Annual Food and Wine Festival. That is how popular Epcot is with “foodies.” While the World Showcase is a crowd-favorite for its culturally diverse treats, another food gem for Epcot hides towards the front of the park, in Future World.

After scanning your MagicBand or ticket, head towards Spaceship Earth. After you pass Spaceship Earth, there will be a fountain in front of you. Right before you reach the fountain, you’ll want to make a right. Take another right and Coral Reef will be all the way at the end of that road, past the statue of greedy pelicans from Finding Nemo.

Upon entering, Coral Reef captures the feeling of being under water with beautiful orange and blue décor. Seashell light fixtures and fish sculptures bring this sea inspired environment to life. After signing in for your reservation, you’ll be given a buzzer. Take time to admire the décor in the seating area. When your buzzer goes off you’ll meet the hostess at a beautiful sculpture of an octopus.

Then, you’ll be walked down a short, sloping path that opens into the main dining room. The atmosphere at Coral Reef is so unique to any other restaurant on Disney World Property. The dining room is tiered into multiple levels, optimized for viewing the aquarium at the front of the room. The tables are somewhat dimly lit, making Coral Reef a prime spot for date night.

Coral Reef may not have your typical idea of “live” entertainment, but the aquarium is all you’ll need. Floor to ceiling glass at the front of the dining room showcases an exotic assortment of marine life. The animals are mesmerizing and elegant, and if you’re lucky, you may even see a group of divers interacting with the sharks, fish, turtles, and starfish. If you find yourself a bit jealous, don’t worry! You can book tours of the Coral Reef aquarium online and become one of those divers yourself.

The Service

As in nearly every Disney restaurant, the service in Coral Reef is impeccable. The staff is knowledgeable, courteous, and timely. They will also always do their best to personalize any meal for preferences or allergies. Now, opening the menu is the best part. Coral Reef specializes in seafood, obviously, but they are incredible at fashioning classy meals that excite every pallet.

The Menu

Disney is known for switching up their menus quite regularly. While they keep their best-selling items, you might want to ask your waiter or waitress about new additions to the menu. Seasonal changes are sometimes the tastiest meals, so be sure to ask your cast member to tell you all about what’s new or temporary to the menu. Often, new additions can become the new best-sellers!

Coral Reef is only open for Lunch and Dinner, and each meal shares the same menu. While this is nice because no matter the time of day, you are guaranteed a delicious meal, it also somewhat limits the variety to choose from. Either way though, Coral Reef does a great job of offering a variety of options to please everyone.

Starting with the appetizers, the Lobster Bisque ($10.00) is a top-notch choice in my opinion. Warm and creamy, this soup is the perfect opener for a seafood meal with chunks of tender lobster throughout. If you’d rather start with something simple, the Caesar Salad ($10.00) is a safe option, but if you’re trying to get the best bang for your buck, a salad might not be the most frugal choice. The Seasonal House Salad ($12.00) is a delicious, less traditional option. If you’re a huge New England Clam Chowder ($9.00) fan, this might not be the soup for you. While it is delicious, clam chowder connoisseurs have been known to criticize it.

If you’re a pasta lover like myself, starting out with the Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli ($11.00) is your best bet. Topped with prosciutto chips and a balsamic glaze, this dish is warm and comforting, perfect for a cozy meal.  I feel as if the Lobster Bisque and Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli are the best value for your money on the appetizer menu. Your other options include: Crispy Rhode Island Calamari ($13.00) and a Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail ($14.00).

Moving onto the entrée’s, there are many more fantastic options to choose from. Lobster Macaroni & Cheese ($33.00). Do I really need to say more? A creamy cheese sauce over tender macaroni pasta served hot with fresh chunks of bacon and breadcrumbs really can’t displease. If you’re looking for a more traditional and elegant entrée, try the Seared Mahi-Mahi ($29.00). Paired with jasmine rice and a cilantro-lime sauce, this is the perfect light and airy meal. If you’re a true meat lover, Coral Reef still has you covered.

The 10-oz Grilled Top Sirloin Steak ($32.00) is still a wonderful option featuring a tender and juicy steak alongside fluffy mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. If you’re the opposite of a meat-lover, Coral Reef offers a delicious Vegetarian Tempura-Fried Cauliflower ($24.00). This meat-free dish is coupled with baby potatoes, soy-sausage crumbles, and a delicious vinaigrette. You can also find Oven-Roasted Herb Chicken Breast ($27.00), Seared Sustainable Salmon Filet ($32.00), and Shrimp and Grits ($30.00). If you need an extra dose of Coral Reef’s incredible seafood, you can also order a Lobster Tail ($22.00) a la carte as a side dish. Seafood Lovers can enjoy Crab Oscar ($10.00) or Shrimp Skewers ($8.00) as other possible side items.

The desserts at Coral Reef are all tasty, but to me, none really pop off the menu. The Chocolate Wave ($9.50) is the most-popular choice because you can always trust a warm chocolate cake topped with chocolate curls and raspberry gelato, right? If you’re a Bailey’s fan, the Bailey’s and Jack Daniel’s Mousse ($9.00) is delightful. Chocolate ganache with chocolate pearls and a little bit of a kick might be the perfect way to end an evening at Epcot. A unique choice at Coral Reef is the Warm Vanilla Custard Filled Strudel ($9.50) which features a seasonal fruit compote and prosecco ice cream topped with pralines and butterscotch sauce. I’m pretty sure I just drooled a little bit. They also have included a Turtle Cheesecake ($9.50), Key Lime Tart ($9.00), and Angel Food Cake ($8.00) on the dessert menu.

The last (but most certainly not least) items on the adult menu are the drinks! Coral Reef offers a selection of draft beers, specialty coffees, dessert wines, and ports. However, the specialty drinks are the starfish of this show! The Abyss ($11.50) is a beautiful blue cocktail featuring Skyy vodka, Bacardi Rum, Blue Curacao, and Pineapple Juice. It’s light and fruity but still packs a punch. Another interesting choice is the Piña CoLAVA ($12.00) which combines Bacardi Raspberry Rum, Piña Colada Mix and Raspberry Puree for a gorgeous pink frozen drink. If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy drink, this is the one for you! They’ve also got some other fun drinks such as the Captain’s Rum Runner ($11.50), Magical Star Cocktail ($13.75), and the Coral ‘Rita ($14.00).

The Kids’ Menu

The Kids’ Menu at Coral Reef is optimized for every picky eater. They have a few different appetizers to choose from such as, Clam Chowder ($3.00), Lobster Bisque ($3.00), a Jr. Garden Salad ($3.00), or Vegetable Crudités ($3.00).

Kids can pick one entrée and two sides of their choosing to create their own perfect meal. For all of those kids that just can’t get enough pasta, the Pasta with Parmesan Cream Sauce ($10.00) is an obvious option. It is a simple but scrumptious dish that every kiddo will enjoy!

If they want to delve into the seafood side of this menu, the Grilled Fish of the Day ($13.00) or Shrimp and Grits ($11.00) are two wonderful options. Ask your waiter for details on the Fish of the Day for your little one, they’ll be happy to answer any questions. Children can also enjoy a Turkey Sloppy Joe ($11.00), Jr. Reef Steak ($13.00), or Grilled Chicken with Sweet Soy Sauce ($11.00).

There are a multitude of sides for little ones to choose from at Coral Reef such as: Broccoli, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Jasmine Rice, and Ice Cream to name a few. They are all pretty simple, standard side dishes, but they are all cooked to perfection!

The Price

Coral Reef is a great novelty restaurant that I truly believe should be a stop on most Disney World trips. However, if sticking to a budget is your top priority, I think this might be one to skip. While the food is beautiful and delicious, it is a tad overpriced in my opinion. I believe there are some other stops in Epcot that can get you a better bang for your buck with an equally delicious meal. Here is a list of my best Disney dining options for an affordable price at Epcot:

  1. Via Napoli is a great option, serving top-notch pizza and pasta from the Italy pavilion in the World Showcase.
  2. Le Cantina de San Angel is another great spot serving traditional Mexican fare from the Mexico pavilion.
  3. Nine Dragons offers fantastic Chinese food with portions you can easily share.
  4. Tokyo Dining features traditional Japanese cuisine including incredible sushi.
  5. Liberty Inn features typical American favorites, sure to please everyone!

I wouldn’t recommend Coral Reef for large groups as the menu is pricey and there aren’t great seating arrangements for large parties. If you attend with more than six guests, there is a good chance you may have to sit at separate tables. However, Coral Reef is a great place to use your Disney Dining Plan credits.

The Quick-Service Dining Plan won’t help you here, but both the Disney Dining Plan and Deluxe Dining Plan will be accepted at Coral Reef. Each table service meal credit will get the guest using it one entrée, one dessert, and one beverage. Just recently, Disney added alcoholic beverages to the table service credit for patrons 21 and older. Overall, the pricing of Coral Reef is great value for money if you’re using your dining plan at this location.

The Reservation

While it can be hard to get a reservation here, the atmosphere is still calm and quiet thanks to the smaller dining room. If you’d like to dine here last minute, you may be able to snag a reservation the day before your visit. Many people cancel the day before, opening up spots for your party.

However, if you have enough time to plan, I would book this like I book all of my Disney World dinner reservations, 180 days in advance, the maximum amount of time in advance you can book any Walt Disney World Dining reservations. If you are attempting to be seated as a walk-up, you are more likely to be seated quickly here if you are eating at lunch time. If you truly want to snag a last-minute dinner table at Coral Reef, try for an early or late dinner. Dining between 5pm and 7pm will be the hardest time to get a walk-up table.

The Conclusion

I truly believe Coral Reef is a unique dining experience that kids, and adults can both enjoy. The atmosphere here is unique and special with aquarium-side dining and under the sea décor. Watching the marine life over dinner is an interesting experience that is not easy to find. The service here is amazing, and the staff is kind. Each cast member is attentive and quick to get your plates on the table. The menu is great for all types of people as well.

With a wide variety of options from steak to seafood or even vegetarian dishes, every pallet will be satisfied at Coral Reef. Even better, the unique blend of desserts and drinks will keep every party member excited to try something new. While it can be expensive, especially for large groups, it is completely worth it if you are on the Disney dining plan.

Otherwise, you might want to consider the value of this unique experience compared to the price to decide whether this a must-see restaurant for you! If you decide it’s worth the price, make sure to schedule your reservation as soon as possible. Remember, Disney reservations open 180 days before your vacation begins. If you decide to visit Coral Reef on your next Disney vacation, I hope you have a magical time dining with the creatures under the sea!

  • Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

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