Walt Disney World Dining

Crystal Palace

Review by Kevin Klose - 3/08

Some friends were in town recently and asked us to join them for dinner. Their restaurant of choice was the Crystal Palace.

We were running a bit late that day and arrived at our exact ADR time of 6:10. When making an advanced dining reservation, you are asked to arrive a bit earlier than your allotted time. Others in our party planned better than we had and were already there and checked in, so that upon arrival, they called our name. How’s that for timing.

The Crystal Palace is located on some prime real estate over looking the hub of the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle. Being one of the three “sit down” restaurants in the Magic Kingdom (as opposed to counter service), the Crystal Palace does a great business with reservations being difficult to secure at times.

In my opinion, it is the only one of the three “sit down” restaurants that actually earns the crowds it gets. While this is not a review of Tony’s Town Square or Liberty Tree Tavern, I believe that the Crystal Palace is the only one of the three that might survive in the real world, outside of the Magic Kingdom bubble.

In most reviews, I mention the price of each dish selected. As the Crystal palace is a buffet Character meal, I can only list the prices. The dinner buffet is $27.99 for adults and $12.99 for children ages 3 – 10.

The Crystal Palace buffet is divided into two sides which are basically mirror images of each other and they are separated by a multi-sided dessert buffet and a carving station. This is a large and BUSY restaurant with guests, servers and characters all vying for space in the walkways.

The characters involved are all from Winnie the Pooh. You will see Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and Pooh himself. The characters mingle among the tables spending time at each table for photos, autographs and hugging. The character interaction is well done and over the course of an average meal, you would probably see each character more than once.

In addition to being hugged by Tigger, you will also find some great food choices. It would be hard to list all of the items on the buffet and that might be doing everyone a disservice as the items can change daily.

I can tell you that there are some terrific choices to be made. There are fresh salad ingredients as well as many pre-made cold salads. There is a soup selection. (baked potato soup with bacon on the night we were there). The carving station offered prime rib, fresh turkey and roast pork.

Some of the stand out items that I remember were a terrific corn bread soufflé, a cranberry – orange chutney that went really well with the turkey, really good mashed potatoes and a chicken dish for which I can not remember the name. There are also some great veggie choices. In addition to the adult section, there is a special children’s area that offered pizza, pasta, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.
The dessert area is set in the center and must be passed each and every time you make a trip to the buffet. On the night of our visit, there was a terrific warm apple cobbler and a bread pudding with a Bailey’s Irish Cream sauce.  I was also told that the macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies were not to be missed. Sadly, I had to do just that as the bread pudding had called my name.

The Crystal Palace is not what I would describe as a fine dining experience. It’s loud and lively and even bordering on boisterous, but it is in my estimation your best bet for some above average buffet choices and the only “sit down” restaurant in the Magic Kingdom where you even begin to approach getting your money’s worth.

And on top of that……you can get a hug from Tigger.

The Crystal Palace is open for breakfast lunch and dinner and accepts the Disney Dining Experience card, except on holidays. Reservations are strongly recommended…even bordering on mandatory.

Discrepancies or Corrections? Please let us know.