Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant Sinks Instead of Swims

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When it comes to dining at the Disney Parks, EPCOT is king. In addition to the park’s ongoing stream of seasonal festivals, EPCOT’s World Showcase offers a variety of delicious dining locations and must-have treats.

Unfortunately, this praise doesn’t always extend to the front half of the park.

Yes, we know Garden Grill is good, and there are some items at Sunshine Seasons and Connections that hold up. Agreed. But as a whole, this part of EPCOT just doesn’t compare to World Showcase’s options, and one of the best examples of this ongoing problem is the Coral Reef Restaurant.

Located next to The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Coral Reef is a table-service restaurant offering views of the pavilion’s massive saltwater aquarium.

The decor is admittedly a little dated, but the darkened dining room is a great escape from the Florida sunshine and humidity, and the views of the aquarium are a huge hit with kids.

Still, not all seating at Coral Reef is created equal. While some tables are next to the glass, others are positioned much farther away. However, due to the tiered levels of the dining room, most still offer a view of this underwater centerpiece.

Photo - DisneyOpen for lunch and dinner from 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM, Coral Reef does offer a walk-up list on the My Disney Experience app. But if this restaurant is on your to-do list, Advance Dining Reservations are encouraged. If you’re already within that 60-day window and no reservations are available, be sure to check out our free TouringPlans Reservation Finder.

Also, Coral Reef offers Annual Passholder and Disney Visa Cardmember discounts.

Photo - DisneyWhile Coral Reef has long been considered one of the more lackluster dining experiences at Walt Disney World, our park reporter Chrissy recently sampled the restaurant’s new menu items which debuted on June 9.

But just when she thought it was safe to go back to Coral Reef, Chrissy found that this EPCOT restaurant is still a shipwreck. So batten down the hatches, fellow readers, we’re diving in.

Appetizers

Shrimp Cocktail – $16.00

At more than $3.00 per shrimp, Chrissy expected more.

Is it fine? Sure. But it’s far too expensive for the quality. Thankfully, this isn’t one of the restaurant’s new offerings, but it’s no one she would get again either.

New England Clam Chowder – $10.00

Note: $3.00 for kids

This replaced Coral Reef’s lobster bisque which had been on the menu for decades. Basically, it was just meh. The chowder at the Magic Kingdom’s Columbia Harbor House is cheaper and tastier.

Caesar Salad – $11.00

Not much you can say about your typical Caesar Salad except that it was good and we appreciated the large portion.

Trio of Seasonal Dips – $12.00

The eggplant hummus was the winner.

Entrees

Cajun Chicken Pasta – $28.00

This new dish replaced the herb chicken and it would be a good fit for those in your party who don’t like seafood. However, they will need to like heat. This was SUPER spicy!

Orange-glazed Salmon – $29.00

This is the one entree that Chrissy says she would 100% order again, but only if she was forced to come back here. And someone else was paying. Oh, and everything else at EPCOT was closed and there was no festival. Or popcorn.

Anyway, it was delicious. So that’s something.

Vegetable Skewer with Impossible Kefta – $24.00

When Chrissy had this item two years ago, it was good and she had no complaints. But now that Disney has elevated their plant-based offerings throughout Walt Disney World, it just falls short.

For just $10.00 more, you can get the magical mushroom tortelloni at Topolino’s. The two aren’t even in the same universe.

Prime Rib – $36.00

This replaced Coral Reef’s rib-eye which had been $34.00.

Thankfully, it was properly cooked and the potatoes were lovely. No complaints.

Seared Mahi Mahi – $32.00

You’re gonna need a bigger wallet for this one.

Sadly, this was just a boring mess. One item for $32.00 is expensive and needs to live up to the cost. This does not. Huge fail.

Desserts

Brace yourselves. Not even sugar could save this meal; and sadly, we suggest skipping ALL of Coral Reef’s desserts.

The shark cookie which looks like it was the last one in the free cookie box at Publix is the perfect representation of how Chrissy felt about this meal.

(Also, doesn’t this dessert look like it should be rated PG-13? I feel like I should be covering my eyes or something.)

Anyway, there are (literally) fifty other things she could recommend at EPCOT any other time of year that tastes better and costs the same or less.

Final Thoughts

Even if you were guaranteed a table next to the tank, the price tag simply doesn’t justify the view.

Why Coral Reef continues to charge outrageous prices for subpar quality and remains one of the worst locations on Disney property is something our team just doesn’t get. It’s like Disney forgot about this restaurant.

Skip it. There are much better meals to be had at EPCOT.

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

4 thoughts on “Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant Sinks Instead of Swims

  • June 23, 2022 at 3:16 pm
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    One other major design flaw is the walls separating the different tiers. As you can see in the photo third from the top, the wall goes in a wave like motion, with some tables — basically every other one — getting the high part of the barrier. When we went a couple years ago they sat us, with our 9-year old twins, at a table with the high part of the wall. Well, the kids couldn’t see the aquarium while seated. We immediately asked for a different table. Just odd.

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  • June 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm
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    I think one of the major problems was lack of commitment to fully equipped onsite full sized kitchen (AND STAFF) on the space.
    Everything is like airline food that’s prepped in a off site kitchen and brought to their ‘galley’ for un bagging, final ‘cooking’ decorations and plating or finished off in a ‘combi’ oven for ultra high turnover. Which is why the soup is basically the best thing there.

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  • June 23, 2022 at 5:55 pm
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    I remember being terribly impressed with the food at Coral Reef… in 1982 when it was new and I was 13 years old. The two times I’ve eaten there as an adult (2007 and 2011), it was disappointing. Sad to see it hasn’t improved in a decade plus.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2022 at 6:55 am
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    We went two weeks ago as part of the Garden Rocks dining package so we had all of the three courses (because it was the same fixed price however many courses we had). My husband enjoyed the clowder and the Cajun chicken pasta – I had the prawn cocktail which I was pretty disappointed with (might have been partly my fault as I was expecting something more like the prawn cocktail we get in the U.K.) and the mahi mahi wasn’t anything special. My husband had the Baileys Almande and Jack Daniels mousse and I had the mixed berry mousse which we both enjoyed. It was all quite expensive for what it was. We were seated at the back and there was a “wave” between us and the next layer of seating so we couldn’t see the fish tank very well. HOWEVER -Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits at the Garden Rocks concert were fantastic and because we bought the package and dined at the Coral Reef we got front row seats – so it was all worth while!

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