News: Fulton’s Crab House Becomes Paddlefish this Fall

We’ve got more Disney Springs dining news, my friends!

While much of the recent talk surrounds several eateries still on the way to Disney Springs — AristoCrepes, D-Luxe Burger, Amorette’s Patisserie, Sprinkles, and The Daily Poutine to name just a few — we’ve known for some time that big changes are also in store for Fulton’s Crab House.

Whether or not you’ve ever dined at Fulton’s Crab House, it’s quite likely that you would still recognize this restaurant if you’ve ever paid a visit to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), thanks to its eye-catching design — a replica of a riverboat that Walt Disney purchased for his wife, Lillian.

A view of Fulton’s at dusk

Fulton’s Crab House

However, this longtime landmark will be a little less familiar when it reopens this fall with a new name, look, and added features. Under the name Paddlefish, the cuisine will still focus on fresh seafood (as well as chops and steaks and a new oyster shucking bar). But some plans for the “bow to stern update” resulting in a more modern feel can be seen in the concept art recently posted by Fulton’s Crab House on their Twitter account and Facebook page.

Paddlefish Concept Art @fultonscrab Twitter

Paddlefish Concept Art @fultonscrab Twitter

You can also catch a glimpse in the artwork of the new rooftop lounge on the way (while the new waterfront bar will feature a “build your own” fish boil). The artwork does not reveal, of course, the anticipated updates to the interiors which Disney states will reflect the “crisp luxury of modern yachting.”

So, there is your first glimpse of Paddlefish! What do you think so far?

Will you be paying a visit to Paddlefish when it reopens later this year? Please let us know with a comment!


  1. Holly says

    I remember eating breakfast on this boat when it was the Empress Lily. It looks like they are taking all the charm away. :(

  2. says

    Hummmm… it seems to me like the Boathouse was designed to reflect the “crisp luxury of modern boating”, and the old Empress Lilly is never going to look like a luxury yacht… so I’m not really feeling the whole concept.

    There should be some way to bring a Mark Twain era paddleboat into this century, sprinkle in a bit of historical Flagler/Florida elegance, toss in a bit of Boca style, and end up with a truly creative, modern-day, centerpiece restaurant that looks like it belongs in the middle of Disney Springs.

    I hate to say it, but from the exterior, the renderings make it look like a floating Starbucks, built on a houseboat tenement, somewhere in Oregon.

  3. matt says

    Futons crab house has alwAys been a special place to me. From going to dinners there as a kid with my parents to taking my wife there now. Was one of our favorites. Sad to see the name change but I am sure the food will be good.

  4. nancy says

    This is a terrible change. Which picture makes you want to go inside and eat? The Empress Lily always made you want to go inside. The remodel is like the remodel of the Contemporary Hotel…it lost all the Disney charm. Now the rooms just look like q nice hotel…but not at Disney unless you look out the window. I think the Empress remodel will do the same thing, just a nice restaurant but generic…it could be located anywhere.

  5. Dave says

    My family and I have been to Disney World over 60 times since 1993 for both business and pleasure, and seeing or going to Fultons was always a unique experience. We will truly miss Fultons but we will always have our memories.

  6. Ashley says

    I agree with Mealtrip’s description. Looks better the old way. We never ate at Fulton’s, but we had lunch there a long time ago back when it was the Empress Lily.

  7. Erin says

    It looks like a cheap and functional concrete school from the 1970s. Lost all it’s charm. And I generally love modern architecture. They really should leave it like it is.

  8. Tim says

    Like the rooftop bar idea. Changing the façade however to the artist concept looks like a building on water – not a paddleboat from the Mississippi. Like the oyster shucking idea also – love raw oysters.

  9. Alice says

    So sad it is changing. Fulton’s was such a landmark. From the concept art, Paddlefish looks like a floating 60s pre fab.

  10. Timothy says

    It is kind of boring! It does not even look like a paddle boat. It looks like an apartment building in a gentrified city. Hopefully he artist rendition is off and it will look more like a boat in the final version. Lost it’s charm and does not even look like it fits in with the theming of Disney Springs. I think the old version fit in better

  11. Judy Bacon says

    ohhhhh, you could change the name, but not the ambiance – yes, years ago the Empress Lily, and then the Fulton House where I had a romantic dinner & enjoyed some of the specials & now I don’t recognize it.

  12. Paul A. says

    Don’t like the concept art at all and methinks the idea of “crisp luxury of modern yachting” means nothing other than another ridiculously expensive addition to Downtown Disney, ahem Disney Springs.

  13. Kim says

    I have to agree with many of the previous comments. Some things should just be left alone. Change/get rid/make over Paradise Island, got it. Keep the old charm. I remember eating at the Empress Lily on our very first trip to Disney World back in 1976 (I was 5) and a couple times since. Yes it’s EXPENSIVE but you know that going in. Update the menu and the interior but leave the outside alone.

  14. Tarantula says

    I wonder how many of us will eat here once out of curiosity, then go back to eating at the Boathouse… I really hope they go in a totally different direction to the Boathouse, to offer two unique experiences, cuisines and themes. Otherwise they will both only appeal to one group of people and will be in direct competition with each other. That’s not good for the customer or the restaurant.

  15. Kristina says

    Very short sighted of Disney..
    As the original is a timeless, classic look. He new changes will be dated in 10-20 years. Kinda how the Electric Umbrella makes me feel like I should wear a banana clip in my hair….Fultons will give me flashbacks of over the knee boots and chevron patterns.

  16. NENOLAN says

    I have to admit I’ll miss that old Steamboat! So many memories tied up in that place. I’m still looking forward to trying this though. I also want to try The Boathouse on our next trip so I’m hoping it isn’t the same. Although they sound similar, I’m hoping the menu will be different. As long there is a lot of seafood, then I’m pretty happy!

  17. JohnWD says

    We’ve eaten their twice, and both times I was very disappointed. So I’m all for the change. But for everyone else, I hope the change doesn’t rob the good memories.

  18. Maggie says

    We went there for our first ever trip to Disney World in 2011 and ate dinner there for my birthday. I was surprised by my brother and sister in law who came from D.C. to make it extra special. I have that memory and will make a new one in December of 2016 when my husband and I celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary on our next trip to Disney World. We are looking forward to the new look.

  19. Valerie says

    So sad….went to the Empress Lily on my first visit to Disney World in 1973 and then took my son to the Empress Lily in 1994. My husband and I have been going to Fultons and love the look of the paddle boat. Disney is taking away all old looks of Downtown Disney but they can never take away my memories. That’s right it will always be Downtown Disney to me!!

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