The Little Mermaid is celebrating 30 years on November 13 (somehow Ariel doesn’t look a day over 16!), and Walt Disney World is celebrating with a truly unique spin on a movie anniversary tie-in.
For a limited time, some menu items have been renamed with a little inspiration from Little Mermaid at Coral Reef Restaurant in Epcot’s Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion!
The Little Mermaid-named menu items started October 19, and while Disney has said it will be a limited-time run for these offerings, no end date has been announced at this time. The ‘new’ menu items are actually just thematically-named regular full menu items (you can see them on the online menu sans their Mermaid names).
Of course, every meal at Coral Reef comes with that under the sea feel and plenty of fish in the 5.7 million gallon aquarium adjacent to the dining room!
During our visit, we even spotted a human fish in the distance. (Our server mentioned that mid-afternoon is a great time to dine at Coral Reef because it’s feeding time — for the fish!) Watching the fish while you dine is a fun part of eating at Coral Reef but let’s be honest here — it can also seem kinda awkward eating fish while live fish swim by!!
Sooooo which of our aquatic friends shall we eat today? The Little Mermaid-inspired menu items cover crustaceans, for the most part (sorry Sebastian!). But thankfully the menu still includes some land-based dishes like Oven-Roasted Herb Chicken Breast and some plant-based options like the Grilled Garden Vegetable Skewer. So if you’re hoping to avoid getting side-eye from the fish swimming by, you can do that!
The non-alcoholic specialty drinks are included on the main menu, too, for those diners applying Disney Dining Plan credits that include a specialty or alcoholic drink (or those just looking for refreshment!). You’ll also find a short list of desserts (including one Mermaid-inspired addition!)
The meal starts with some soft dinner rolls and simple butter. Nothing fancy with the butter here — just a straight-up pat and we’re not complaining.
The rolls are straightforward, but if you love a dinner roll like we do, these are a safe and familiar option.
First up from The Little Mermaid menu is Dinglehopper Shrimp Cocktail (see the Colossal Shrimp Cocktail on the regular menu). It’s not served on a dinglehopper (known more commonly as a fork up here on land), but a skewer gives you the sense of one. (They’ve got a legit dinglehopper at the Bon Voyage character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno where some dishes are Little Mermaid themed, so why not at Coral Reef?)
The Dinglehopper Shrimp Cocktail is a trio of jumbo shrimp prepared simply. In this case, simply means boringly. There’s no discernible added flavor here, and maybe that’s fine if you’re looking for plain shrimp cocktail. But we were hoping for a little something special given the momentousness of the occasion.
As far as how they were cooked, the shrimp are perfect.
And the cocktail sauce and grilled lemon are traditional accompaniments that, of course, work fine. But we wanted a little pizzazz to celebrate one of the most beloved mermaids in the sea, and there’s, unfortunately, nothing special here.
Now for the next dish — Chef Louis’ Lobster Seafood Boil — diners receive a set of tools, including crab pliers and a shell cracker.
Chef Louis’ Lobster Seafood Boil (aka the Lobster Seafood Boil) is served in a large metal pan to mimic the actual boiling, we presume. It’s a decent portion of food, but note that substitutions are not available for this, so what you see is what you get!
Components of the flavorful boil include lobster, a Jonah crab claw, shrimp, andouille sausage, red potatoes, and a spiced cioppino broth. Ouzo-garlic butter adds a bit of aroma and complexity to the dish.
Overall, we were pleased with this dish. Unlike the Dinglehopper Shrimp Cocktail which was relatively boring, the Seafood Boil was packed with some flavor — including peppery heat from the broth.
The lobster tail was the star. It was loaded with garlic butter and herbs (parsley, we noted), and it was powerful (in a good way!).
Though there’s only one tail in the Boil, it’s large, sweet, and satisfying.
The Jonah crab claw was good, too, though not as heavily seasoned. The cracker is definitely necessary for this pinchy fellow!
The other components were fillers but also good. The andouille sausage added a great savory flavor to the dish, and who doesn’t like corn and shrimp soaked in spicy broth?
For dessert, Coral Reef has themed one of its desserts after the sea king himself: King Triton’s Key Lime Tart.
This plated dessert consists of a crisp graham cracker tart shell, tart Key lime filling, toasted meringue, and a white chocolate square.
Tropical fruit coulis adds color, sweet flavor, and some visual interest to the otherwise not particularly sweet treat.
We enjoyed the filling, which is thick and rich but not heavy. The previous incarnation of this dessert (seen in our review here) didn’t have a shell and was topped with a thick white chocolate disc. This current form is a step up for sure. More traditional and just overall more pleasant to eat.
We have to say, while the menu isn’t revolutionary or even a change, really, from the norm, the names were still a fun way to spice up the offerings. And we made a friend while we dined as well! This fishy friend seems genuinely thrilled to join us for the meal, and we found this shark ray a delightful dining companion.
Note that as part of the promotion for The Little Mermaid menu, you will be able to take your themed menu home with you. Ours was slipped into a standard plastic merchandise bag, so there’s no fanfare here, just a pretty menu in a pretty bag.
Overall, this was a fine meal. Nothing particularly blew us out of the water (pun intended with more to come), but it didn’t rock our boat, either. If Ariel is your favorite star fish, the commemorative menu might be enough of a hook to reel you in. Otherwise, it’s just a typical day at sea in Coral Reef.
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Will you voyage like The Little Mermaid to enjoy this themed meal at Coral Reef? Sign your fins away in the comments to let us know!