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Crystal Palace: A Great Reason To Get Up Early

Early Morning on Main Street

Early Morning on Main Street

The Early-Morning Advance Dining Reservation (ADR)
One of the well-known tips among Disney enthusiasts is that you should always try to book a dining reservation for breakfast in a theme park before it opens. Why? Because this means you get in before the general masses. You get the golden opportunity to wander through a practically empty Disney park. It’s magic at its finest. (Plus, if you eat quickly enough, you can make it over to the Adventureland rope and be first in line for Splash Mountain…but I didn’t tell you that.)

Empty Tomorrowland

Empty Tomorrowland

One of my favorite restaurants at which to snatch up one of these break-of-dawn reservations is Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom Theme park of Disney World. This is a character breakfast, so you get to share your noms with Pooh and the gang (usually Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet); it’s a buffet, so you pretty much dictate how long your breakfast lasts; and it’s HUGE, so you have a great chance of getting those elusive 8:05 AM time slots.

Nearly Empty Main Street

Nearly Empty Main Street

So with all that going for it, you’ve got to give it a try! And I didn’t even mention that many guests deem Crystal Palace eats to be some of the best buffet food at Disney, scout’s honor.

...And the Castle

...And the Castle

Getting Into the Park for Your Reservation
While it may seem like a red tape nightmare to get into the park an hour early, it’s usually pretty streamlined. Bring your dining reservation confirmation number with you to the park and show up about 20 minutes before your scheduled time. You’ll simply enter through the turnstyles marked for the Breakfast crowd (usually all the way to the right, but this can change); a Cast Member might check off your name and confirmation number, and then you’re free to explore Main Street in all its empty glory. This is why I suggest arriving 20 minutes early; you get to take all of those fascinating photos. Don’t forget to make your reservation for a day without extra magic hours in the morning!

By the way, if you’re staying at a Disney resort and taking the bus to the Magic Kingdom, a “breakfast bus” usually begins running at least 30 minutes before the first reservation in any park. The monorail also starts running far enough in advance as well.

Time for Breakfast!

Time for Breakfast!

Checking In for Your Reservation
The Crystal Palace can be found between Main Street USA and Adventureland — it’s the huge, glass domed building to the left of the walkway. Simply head up the steps (past the throngs of people, most likely — the Magic Kingdom may seem empty, but almost everyone who IS in the park is at the same restaurant) and jump into line to check in for your reservation.

magickingdom1-093

Once your party is called, you’ll head into the beautiful Crystal Palace restaurant and be greeted by…

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers...

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers...

…some very familiar friends! Not to mention an absolutely stunning, light-filled atrium made entirely of clear and stained glass. For all of Disney’s signature dining restaurants designed by award-winning interior artists, I find Crystal Palace’s atrium to be one of the most gorgeous design aspects on property.

The Beautiful Central Atrium

The Beautiful Central Atrium

A Buffet With Character!
Once you’re seated in one of the two side rooms (these are beautiful, too — paneled with mirrors and filled with plants) you’re free to head up to the buffet.

There are two sides to the buffet, and these are mirror images of one another. The two sides culminate at the customize-your-own-omelet station in the center of the semi-circular buffet.

The Buffet

The Buffet

Hot Items are Identical on Both Sides of the Buffet

Hot Items are Identical on Both Sides of the Buffet

The Buffet

The Buffet

On the far ends of the buffet lines are cold items: yogurts, granola and other toppings, fruit, salmon, breads, etc. In the center you’ll find hot items: breakfast pizzas, breakfast meats, waffles, the famous puffed french toast, breakfast potatoes, and omelets.

Cereals

Cereals

In the middle of the room you’ll find muffins, cereals, and Pooh’s famous breakfast lasagne.

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagne

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagne

Baked Items

Baked Items

The food is fairly similar to most of the other Disney breakfast buffets, which is actually quite good. Here are a few more close-up foods of some of our favorites. That Mickey Waffle might look familiar to some of you! It’s my avatar on Twitter!

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

Mickey Waffles

Mickey Waffles

Puffed French Toast

Puffed French Toast

Pooh and Friends
Once you have your food, it might be time for the first Character Parade! Hopefully you haven’t forgotten that some of your favorite friends are here, and they can’t wait to have a great time with you (and/or your kids…they’re good to go either way).

Piglet Leading the Parade!

Piglet Leading the Parade!

While Character teams (Pooh and Piglet, and Tigger and Eeyore) take turns visiting tables on either side of the restaurant, some sort of Character Parade or Celebration occurs when it’s time for the teams to switch restaurant sides. This is when you should encourage your little ones to go find a character and follow along. Cast Members will be there to help move the parades forward.

There’s usually much singing and music; napkin “twirling” is a common activity during these functions. All in all, it’s a good time!

Eeyore Being Shy During the Parade

Eeyore Being Shy During the Parade

And then it’s back to signing autographs, taking photos, and making people smile for the characters (and back to eating for you!).

Tigger Signing Autographs...Sort Of...

Tigger Signing Autographs...Sort Of...

And then, if you’re lucky, you pay the bill when the park is just about to open. I couldn’t resist posting this photo of a family following Alice (in Wonderland) as she hurried to “unlock” Fantasyland and her TeaCups ride right at opening time!

Alice is Very, Very Late in Opening the TeaCups Ride!

Alice is Very, Very Late in Opening the TeaCups Ride!

So you can see why Crystal Palace is one of my favorites for breakfast, but don’t forget that you can dine here for lunch and dinner as well! Both of those meals are buffets as well, and offer great food (in my opinion).

Enjoy!

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17 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Fantastic post AJ! Breakfast at Crystal Palace is a great way to start a day at the Magic Kingdom. I actually prefer it over Cinderella’s Royal Table because, like you said, its a buffet so you can eat and run as fast as you want.

    The service at CRT is great, but if you want more of something you still have to wait for them to bring it to you. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’re traveling with a family where each member wants something else at completely different times, it really lengthens the time you’re at the restaurant.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks, Tim! I agree completely. We’ve been known to ask up front for two servings of our drinks when we know the restaurant’s busy! –AJ

  3. Jenn says:

    Great post! I was lucky enough to get 8:05am at Crystal Palace on my birthday. Can’t wait! I haven’t eaten there in years :)

  4. admin says:

    Make sure to tell them it’s your birthday, Jenn! They decorate the table and give you a card signed by the gang (and a free cupcake!).

  5. Gray says:

    Breakfast lasagna?!? Sign me up!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I love the Crystal Palace at breakfast before the park opens. It is a must do tradition in our family now!!!

  7. admin says:

    Ha ha! I’m surprised you didn’t know about it sooner!

  8. admin says:

    It’s great, isn’t it? So cheery; a great way to start the day.

  9. Ricky L says:

    I’ve got to try it out now next time I go to disney! do each of the parks have their own breakfasts? – tastychomps.com

  10. admin says:

    Hi Ricky! Actually, yes! Every park has at least one breakfast that you can book prior to park opening. In Epcot, you can book the Akershus (Norway) Princess Storybook Breakfast; in Hollywood Studios, you can book Hollywood and Vine’s character breakfast; in Magic Kingdom, you can book Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table; and in Animal Kingdom, you can book the Tusker House Donald’s Safari Breakfast.

  11. Nicole says:

    Thanks so much for this post – it’s such a great idea and I didn’t even realize the restaurants opened prior to the parks. Thanks to you we have an 8:25 ADR at Crystal Palace on Friday, August 28th. However, I’m a little unsure how use the transportation to get there that early. We are not staying on property, and I can’t seem to find out what time the parking lot opens and what time the monorail from the transportation center starts running. Any ideas about the best way to time all this? The ADR said to arrive at the restaurant 20 minutes early…

  12. AJ says:

    Hi Nicole,

    I called Disney and got this info:

    Drive to the Magic Kingdom tollbooths and go to the far right tollbooth (this is the one that’s always open for resort guests). If nobody’s there, just drive through and go park in the MK parking lot. If there IS someone there, just let them know that you have an early ADR at the Magic Kingdom. Once you get to the parking lot, take the RESORT monorail (NOT the express monorail) to the Magic Kingdom (this is the only monorail that will be running prior to 8:00AM).

    Have fun!!

  13. Nicole says:

    Wow! Thanks so much for this info. That was incredibly nice of you to go to the trouble to call for us! This really puts my mind at ease regarding how to get in that morning. Crystal Palace here we come.

    Thanks again!
    Nicole & Family

  14. AJ says:

    No problem! I’m glad to help. It was good to find out the info for myself, as well! :-)

  15. Patsy says:

    Has anyone tried lunch there?

  16. Josef Wagner says:

    For 17 years, we’ve always gone to the Crystal Palace on our last day. We love it.

  17. Robert Russon says:

    I’ve heard of getting in the park before opening for breakfast, but what about separate ticketed events, like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? I know they start honoring tickets at 4:00, but if I had an ADR for 3:00 could I get in at 2:30? Or even 3:30 for a 4:00 reservation?

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