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Guest Review: The Crystal Palace Restaurant

Welcome Guest Reviewer Katie Drake as she transports us to a by-gone era and the world of Winnie the Pooh!

Couldn’t snag a reservation with the princesses at the Castle? Why not try the Palace down the street?!

The Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace may not boast any Disney movie royalty, but it does have everyone’s favorite friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, available for meet and greets all day long.  Most guests take advantage of the scrumptious breakfast offerings, but the restaurant is one of the few at Walt Disney World that offers character meals three times a day, and lunch and dinner have several tasty offerings.

Atmosphere

After walking down Main Street U.S.A., visitors are in a turn-of-the-century frame of mind, and taking a bit of refreshment in the conservatory sounds perfectly delightful. With it’s airy walls of windows and greenery throughout, the Crystal Palace feels like a Victorian greenhouse, but with plenty of AC cranking to keep the heat and humidity at bay.

Guests must wait outside on the veranda until their table is ready, the air stirred by large ceiling fans.  Inside is full of greenery, with lots of light streaming through the windows.

Crystal Palace Atrium

Visitors are seated on either side of the restaurant, with the buffet in the center.  Pooh and his friends are celebrating “Friendship Day” and have several homemade decorations up for the party.

Crystal Palace Seating

Pooh and Friends Decor

Characters
Though the food offerings are fab, this is really the reason to dine at the Crystal Palace. The billing is “Winnie the Pooh and friends,” which usually includes Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore, who all come around for photos and autographs. The restaurant is always busy, and with only four characters the ratios aren’t great, so be sure to have those autograph books out and cameras ready. The characters are all “furs,” but all manage to communicate quite well through gestures.

Eeyore and friends

About once an hour, the gang rounds up all the children in the restaurant for the Friendship Day Parade, a long line marching around the restaurant waving napkins.

Some guests are annoyed by the antics, wishing the characters would spend the precious time with their little ones instead, but the parade can make for some great video moments. In our case, it resulted in my toddler losing her shoe during the madness, resulting in her older cousin carrying her around while Tigger returned to find the shoe. Certainly a moment we’ll remember when we look back on our dining experience!

Eats
On paper, the Palace’s menu does not sound very exciting, yet another American, all-you-care-to-eat buffet.  But many of the items have a different take on the traditional, and are replaced often for excellent freshness.

Menu items change often, so you can never be sure what will be offered, but you can bet everyone in your group will find something. The salad bar is loaded with fresh fruit, crispy greens and several other unique offerings. My favorite was a simply Greek salad with romaine, red onions, olives, tomatoes and fresh crumbled feta in a vinaigrette.

Too much dressing or too long on the bar could result in soggy salad, but it was crisp, tangy and delightful. Others, like the Moroccan seafood salad with couscous, fresh veggies and seafood like shrimp and calamari, is a bit too adventurous for some, but guests in our group loved the chance to try something new.

Salad Bar

Hot dishes are equally well executed.  The restaurant operates its own rotisserie, offering BBQ pork tenderloin, roasted chicken, and a delicious citrus-marinated flank steak.

Rotisserie

BBQ Pork Tenderloin

The poached salmon with creamy pesto is a must-try, flakey and delicious. Hot sides like mashed potatoes, pastas and stir fries are also good, and the fire-roasted corn spoonbread is a fixture on the menu due to guest requests.

Poached Salmon with Creamy Pesto

Kids can find plenty to eat at Pooh Corner, offering the best chicken nuggets I’ve ever tasted (I swear they were hand breaded), pasta with marinara sauce, and mac and cheese alongside healthy offerings like green beans.  Kids can help themselves at Pooh Corner, which is just their height, or eat with Mom and Dad at the main buffet.

Kids' Buffet - Pooh Corner

As with many restaurants in Disney World, the desserts are a bit of a disappointment.  Simple offerings like cookies, lemon bars and marble-cheesecake bites are fine, but the fancier desserts are a big letdown.

A chocolate-coconut trifle tasted like grocery-store sheet cake, and the banana bread pudding with Bailey’s Irish Crème sauce is nothing to get excited about.  Kids do seem to enjoy the create-your-own sundae bar.  One dining hint: both sides of the main buffet are identical, but the dessert offerings are different on either side, so be sure to check out both.

Trifle

If it’s you birthday, let the cast members at the podium and your server know. You may get a special treat!

Birthday Cupcake

Dinner service is the same as lunch, with the addition of a few items like peel-and-eat shrimp to the menu.

Overall

Lunch and dinner at the Crystal Palace can be pricey, with adult meals at about $25 and $37 respectively, but are a great way to use a dining plan credit!  All of the food, with the exception of desserts, is excellent, so fill up on savories and have a Dole Whip or Mickey Premium Bar later for dessert.  The restaurant offers one of the few chances on property to meet Pooh’s gang, and can make for some great photos and memories.

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17 Comments

  1. It is a beautiful restaurant. I was considering it for our next trip because I love Pooh and Friends. (It will be just me and Poppa this time.) But, I’d forgotten how crowded it can be! Great review.

  2. Emma Godbold says:

    As you may have gathered by now, eating breakfast is my favourite thing to do whilst visiting WDW, and Crystal Palace is my favourite place to do just that! Love the food, the theme, and the atmosphere. Especially like the way each character is brought round to every table, so even the adults get a morning welcome from Pooh and friends!

  3. Alison says:

    Crystal Palace, in my opinion, is the most perfect restaurant in WDW. It has everything going for it: perfect location, lovely building, fun atmosphere, yummy food for kids and adults, and character interaction. It is exactly what a great theme park restaurant should be.

    And I love the little parade! I am a little too old to participate, but the Pooh characters have always been my favorite — as a kid, I would have just died to march in a parade with Winnie.

    We usually go for a late lunch (around 2pm) and make it our big meal for the day. Not as pricey as dinner, and a great time of day to get out of the heat of the parks.

    Great review!

  4. AJ says:

    Jayne — Hope you choose to go! To avoid crowds, just go at an “off” time like 10am or 3pm :-)

    Emma — There’s no better way to spend the morning than with a big hug from Pooh (or Eeyore in my husband’s case).

    Alison — Ha ha! I love this description. It is a perfect restaurant :-) Good tip to go for a late lunch and avoid the dinner costs!

  5. Janna says:

    CP had dropped off of our ‘must-do’ list because the character interaction was lacking on our last two visits. Thanks for reminding me of the great salad bar and fruit options! That puts it back into contention…:)

  6. vanessa says:

    My boyfriend and I had always wanted to try CP so we did. We went to lunch and while we loved the characters and decor everthing else was just alright. The ham fish and meat selections at the carving station were all very salty, the salad area while various were a miss since some were bland and others had some flavors to it, the fruits weren’t very ripe and the dessert wasn’t anything to scream about. I did like the coconut flan that day if anything and the mashed potatoes. I do know one thing though. This place was way better then chef mickeys for lunch. We got real sick at cms.

  7. Kristina says:

    We just returned from our trip to the World and the breakfast at the Crystal Palace was my family’s favorite of all our meals. We were using the dining plan and followed the tip of scheduling a reservation before the Magic Kingdom opened so that we were able to get some great photos without masses of people in the them!
    My husband especially loved the Pooh Puffed French Toast. The best part for me was the look on my 3 year old daughter’s face when she saw Pooh for the first time.
    I think if you have small children (mine are 3 and 5) this is the best way to start a day at the Magic Kingdom.

  8. Janet says:

    Just a question – what is it with “peel & eat shrimp”? We noticed that we always found the shrimp that way at WDW buffets, Ohana, etc…, never already peeled.

    Is it a east coast or southern thing? We’re from California & we seldom see it that way out here. (Except for Mother’s Day/Easter Buffet Brunch at the Disneyland Hotel.)

  9. Marc says:

    Don’t like this one very much. It’s my least-favaourite lunch-dinner buffet on the property. Never been for breakfast, but the kids loved the characters. Tusker House was far better, and so was the Cape May cafe. The food here is just OK at best.

  10. Barbara Wilson says:

    I’m a Winnie the Pooh fiend, so naturally I had to check this place out on my first visit of Disney World. Figured it would be the perfect place to get to visit some of my fave characters and eat some good food. I was right. Got to see Pooh, Tigger and Piglet; took pics with all three, but unfortunately, Eeyore kinda swished by my table. Maybe he couldn’t see me through that huge costume, so I missed giving him an almighty hug. Regardless, the food was excellent. Nothing special, just basic breakfast fare, but it was fixed great. Made three trips to the buffet bar! In short, an excellent place to visit at Disney World. Wished I’d have gotten a pic with gloomy, old Eeyore though. *sigh*

  11. AJ says:

    Thanks for the reviews, all!!

  12. Anastasia says:

    I LOVE Crystal Palace for breakfast. I’ve never been for the other meals because I love the breakfast so much. I generally go first thing and it’s never been very crowded. Although I never seem to get much interaction from Piglet. The others have always been really great (especially my favorite, Eeyore :-D) but Piglet one time never even stopped for a photo. :-(

  13. Christopherjeffery says:

    What can yo say about CP. Easy you must go there wether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. We go there every time which must be 10+ times. The choice of food is amazing and you eat as much or little as you like .
    The only thing I would say book early and arrive early.
    Enjoy

  14. Jackie says:

    We recently celebrated our granddaughters 2nd birthday at Disney and thought that Crystal Palace would be a perfect place for dinner. The characters were delightful but the service at this beautiful restaurant was despicable. The table wasn’t cleared and the plates at the buffet were dirty. I had to go through 6 plates to finally get a clean one. Our waitress was never around to refill our beverages. The children had a great time but the adults all agreed this is one restaurant we will never go to again. Such a shame.

  15. andrea says:

    My family and I, plan to go to this restaurant, we are going to Disney World in September and with a dinning plan. But there is something I want to know? In the website they say that the price range depends of the season, I want to know if by the time we are going the prices get lower? Because we dont want to redeem meals this time (we want to stick with the 1 table service, 1 snack and 1 quick service meal per day)

  16. Stephanie says:

    Andrea – Crystal Palace will always be just one point for table service.
    As for seasonal pricing, during busier times in the year such as July 4th week and Spring Break, the prices go up about $3-5 per meal. It’s not terrible but it brings up the dinner price to around $41.99.

  17. Maria says:

    We celebrated my daughter 14 birthday last week with lunch at the Crystal Palace. The character were great specially Piglet and Pooh (her favorite), they were always walking around to take pictures and sign autograph.
    The restaurant is beautiful and the service was great, food was incredible you could have as much or as little as you like, are waiter was always walking around and bringing drinks.
    Great lunch. We hope to be back soon. :)

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