Disney Springs' Newest Seafood Restaurant, Paddlefish, is Open For Business

by Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer

There's a new restaurant at Disney Springs. It's the reimagined paddle wheel boat along the shore of Lake Buena Vista at The Landing, called Paddlefish. This restaurant opened to the public on Saturday and we were fortunate enough to have a sneak peek the night before.

You won't recognize this new restaurant from its previous versions. It's representative of a modern luxury yacht, but since we've not spent a lot of time aboard a luxury yacht, we thought it looked a lot like some of the better cruise ships we've sailed with. It does give you the impression that you're aboard a ship, and we thought it was a very inviting arrangement.

The Dining Rooms

There are several dining rooms spread out among three decks. On the first floor are three separate dining rooms:

  • The Boil Room.
  • The Trophy Room.
  • The Paddle Room.

The Paddle Room sits in the stern of the ship with a view of the paddle wheel. The Trophy Room sits on the starboard side of the ship and overlooks Lake Buena Vista, and the Boil Room is in the bow. The Boil Room is, in our view, the most innovative dining room in the restaurant. The back of the room houses two large boil pots where chefs prepare various meals from the specially prepared Seafood Boil Menu while you watch, or you can make up your own mix of items, from fresh crab, to clams, lobster, and shrimp, and more. In the front of this dining room is one of the restaurant’s three well-equipped bars.

Chefs in the Boil Room are preparing meals while guests view from their tables, or from the bar at the very front of the room. You can see one of the large boil pots behind them. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The boil pots are started first thing in the morning. In them, they prepare the water with various vegetables, salts, and spices. By the lunch serving, the pots have had a chance to mature into a rich broth for a great tasting seafood experience. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

These crab legs are part of the selection of seafood you can make yourself if you're in the mood to create your own meal for the boil pots. Photo by Donald Fink.

In the bow of the restaurant, Deck 1, sits a well-equipped bar where guests can enjoy unique, Prohibition-inspired beverages, as well as 175 different wines and many different specialty beers. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

In the Trophy Room, you're sitting amidships on the starboard side, Deck 1. You're at water level and every table has a great view of the activities on Lake Buena Vista from the expansive windows. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

In the stern, Deck 1, is the Paddle Room. This dining room offers a sweeping view of the paddle wheel mounted on the stern of the restaurant. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

There's also an outside seating area that's slightly elevated from Deck 1 in the bow of the restaurant. It sits just in front of the bar. From this vantage point, guests can enjoy an expansive view of Lake Buena Vista while having lunch or dinner. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

On the second floor, or Deck 2, is another dining room called the Industry Room. It sits in the stern and overlooks Disney Springs from a higher viewpoint, above the paddle wheel. There’s a bar in this room too, and it serves the second floor. Along the port side is a walkway that makes its way forward and just under the Paddlefish sign at the restaurant entrance. We found several people taking advantage of this location to grab pictures with friends and family members with the sign. There’s a small dining room near the bow on Deck 2 that looks to be perfect for private, more intimate catered affairs.

In the Industry Room at the back of Deck 2, diners can get a sweeping view of Disney Springs—from Ghirardelli to T-Rex—while sitting above the paddle wheel. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The bar on Deck 2 is more intimate than the others. With only seven seats, it provides a more private setting. Of course, the bar serves the entire floor, so anyone can have their drinks served at their tables. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The real showcase of this restaurant in our view is the top deck. This area has expansive outdoor seating and offers impressive views of nearly all of Disney Springs, including Marketplace, The Landing, and all of Lake Buena Vista. We found ourselves headed towards this casual seating more than once during the press event just because it was a fun place to be. There's a bar at the stern with plenty of seating as well as plenty of room for a small band near the back. Along the starboard side is seating along the rail, and lots of seating with bar-style tables in the front.

The plans for the top floor are a bit different than the rest of the restaurant. Their focus, as we understand it, is to host a late-night menu. What they have planned, at least for now, is to offer drinks and appetizers from about 7:00 p.m. until closing at around 1:30 a.m.

Many of the signature drinks are "Prohibition" style. They include the Prohibition Mai Tai, made with Scarlet Ibis, orgeat, banana liqueur, fresh lime, Scrappy Orleans, and amarena cherry. Then there's the Lilly Spritz, an homage to the Empress Lilly, the original restaurant where Paddlefish is located. This cocktail is made with Mas Fi, Cocchi Rosa, and just a splash of seltzer.

At the back of the top deck, there is seating in a lounge style for guests to visit and enjoy drinks and food while they take in the expansive views of Disney Springs and Lake Buena Vista. There's a bigger than life view of the volcano at the Rain Forest Cafe too. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Bar-style tables are located in the front of the restaurant on the top floor where guests can enjoy their drinks and food from the Late Night Menu. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Food and Drinks

At the press event, there were many samples of the appetizers from the menu and all of them looked to be inviting. We sampled only a few and thought pictures might serve better than words. After all, we're photographers, not foodies.

The Southern Sangria is a special mixture of Medley Bros. bourbon, peach liqueur, Tempranillo, and seasonal fruit. Today's seasonal fruit was raspberry and black berry. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The lobster roll is one of Chef Mark Boor's favorites on the new menu. He's excited that it faithfully re-creates the style and flavors of New England. The roll shown here is a somewhat smaller version than the one that appears on the lunch and late night menu. On the menu, it’s one-and-a-quater pounds. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The burgers on the lunch, dinner, and kid's menu use a proprietary blend of meat. On the lunch and dinner menus, there are pickles made in house, pimento cheese, and red onions. The fries are hand cut. The sample here is a slider that was prepared for the press event. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

Pan-seared scallops, crispy Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower puree. This, of course, was a sampling of the scallops that appear on the dinner menu. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

The Chef

Chef Mark Boor is the Executive Chef at Paddlefish. He's been here since 2011, when he took over as the Executive Chef for Fulton’s Crab House. Chef Boor has a history of working in Florida, but has headed up some of the best seafood restaurants in he Midwest.

Chef Mark Boor, the Executive Chef at Paddlefish, was a hard man to find for a quick picture. During the press event he ensured everything was perfect, but still took time to interact with guests while pausing for a camera now and then. Photo by Donald Fink.

Our view of Paddlefish is that it will make a significant addition to the fine dining available at Walt Disney World, and especially Disney Springs. We found the facility inviting and comfortable, and the staff was helpful and friendly. This, as with all our Disney articles, is not meant to be a critical review. We make photo tours, not evaluations. But our guess is that when you start looking over the reviews that this restaurant will receive in coming weeks and months, you’ll find it well received.

Our special place in this restaurant was the top deck, where we had a sweeping view of most of Disney Springs. There were comfortable places to sit with accommodations that could fit many different numbers in a group. We expect that, even if people have dinner somewhere else, they’ll enjoy a trip to the top deck at Paddlefish for drinks later.

Here is a quick video of some of the scenes at the press event last Friday night. Video by Donald Fink.