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Guest Review: Crystal Palace Restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Join us in welcoming guest author Katie McFarland with a guest review of the Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

The Crystal Palace is a restaurant that holds a special place in many Disney fans’ hearts.

For me, it was where I discovered Breakfast Lasagna, had dinner with my husband right before he proposed, and where we ate the very first night of our honeymoon.

For many people this is where they first met Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet.

Atmosphere

The décor is Victorian elegance with a 1904 World’s Fair-feel. It’s “old fashioned” without feeling stuffy, which is probably in direct relation to the enormous amount of windows in this restaurant.

Crystal Palace Signage

They offer wonderful views of Cinderella Castle, Main Street USA, and the entrance to Adventureland (and also lots of ducks if that’s your thing).

Outstanding view from our seat of Cinderella Castle

In addition to the soaring windows, there are stained glass windows all around the restaurant, most notably in the buffet area. And be sure to check out the bathroom – it’s very fancy (much better than the Cinderella’s Royal Table bathroom!).

Crystal Palace Exterior

During the meal, everyone is treated to a meet and greet with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. Periodically, the restaurant will host a kid’s parade during which all of the children in the restaurant are encouraged to go on a jolly walk — set to a lively Winnie tune — with the characters around the tables.

Eats

The Crystal Palace is great because it offers so many different options, so there is bound to be something on the line that even the pickiest of eaters is sure to enjoy. My dining partner and I, however, are not picky; so we tried nearly everything on the buffet line.

There were some familiar favorites as well as new items on the menu.

The famous and well-received Ancho Chili rubbed Salmon is no more! (I know – hold back your gasps… .) Instead there was a Mango Black Bean Salsa Salmon, which was very disappointing. The fish was a little dry, and there was not enough of the salsa to make it flavorful.

It really felt like it was just a piece of fish with some beans thrown on top. If I have to chew salmon as many times as I do pork – not good. (Picture note: the salmon is the flaky looking meat at the top right corner behind the mound of turkey and cranberry sauce.)

Plate from Crystal Palace Buffet

Speaking of turkey and cranberry sauce… this was delicious! The turkey was moist and so flavorful (like what every Thanksgiving turkey should be), and the cranberry sauce was super chunky and tangy.

The Broccoli with Key Lime Ponzu was tasty as always — not overcooked and had a delightful, yet surprising lime flavor that you wouldn’t expect to taste good when paired with broccoli.

The yellow pile in the bottom right corner of the picture was a sweet potato/butternut squash and bacon ragout. It was …meh; nothing to write home about.

The chicken tenders that I snagged were so delicious! Not at all like a deep fried pre-formed patty! They were all crispy with a juicy center. (Yes, I had to try multiples to make sure I didn’t get lucky with the first few).

And the mashed potatoes …OH MY the mashed potatoes! My dining partner and I agreed that these were the best mashed potatoes that we had ever eaten. They were creamy with some lumps and had a buttery delicious garlic taste.

In addition to the entrees and sides offered, there is a wonderful salad bar. (I probably should have talked about this first, but I was too excited about the mashed potatoes and had to address those right away. ;-))

The edamame salad was cool, crunchy, and refreshing. It was kind of like a healthy cole slaw (with big green pod beans in it)!

Crystal Palace Salad Plate

There was a cold pasta there that I had never seen before: chipotle pasta. It was packed with flavor but wasn’t overly spicy. The spinach and other veggies made it very tasty and healthy (ya right).

The cucumber salad was boring — it just tasted like a pile of cucumbers with a vinegar dressing, which is great if you’re into that kind of thing. I went back for more edamame salad instead of cucumber salad, though!

The couscous salad had a Mediterranean flavor to it, and was a delightful side to my plate of meat and potatoes.

The baked chicken was also expertly prepared — seasoned to perfection and baked until juicy (and not dry!).

Buffet Selections at Crystal Palace

The roast beef was tasty but chewy.

Roast Beef and more from Crystal Palace

Not pictured is the Pork Marsala. This was absolutely delicious! It had huge pieces of pork and fresh mushrooms, and had a delightful savory flavor. It was to-die-for when spooned on top of the mashed potatoes.

Did I mention the perfect dipping sauce for the Crystal Palace chicken tenders? You guessed it: mashed potatoes.

In addition to the entrée, salad, and side buffet there is a dessert buffet. And in the good name of science and discovery, we tried nearly everything.

Crystal Palace Dessert Selections

My favorite dessert was a new one to me: honey peach cheesecake. It was sweet with a good cream cheese flavor, firm texture, and the honey and peach flavors added a nice tang. Unlike the usual buffet cheesecake, I wanted more…lots more…of this bite-sized cheesecake!

Honey Peach Cheesecake Close-Up

The key lime tart was very creamy, tart (duh), had a thicker graham cracker crust than expected, and was very delicious.

The fancy looking raspberry cake with coconut shavings was good, but tasted like it was just an ordinary cake with a pudding filling. It had a nice raspberry flavor, but there was nothing “WOW-y” about this cake. Pass the honey peach cheesecake, please.

Raspberry Cake Close-Up

The cannoli tasted like a burnt ice cream cone stuffed with store-bought chocolate icing.

Chocolate Cannoli close-up

The banana tart had tasty, thick banana custard on top of a tender crust with chocolate bits. It was a very flavorful, bite-sized treat, but nothing that I would repeat (aka — eat more than 1…or 2…of).

Banana Tart close-up

We also tried the bread pudding (meh – stick to ‘Ohana’s) and the apple cobbler.

The cobbler consisted of hard apples, was bland, and didn’t have enough filler — pizazz — whatever you want to call it. The only redeeming grace for this cobbler would be if it was covered in yummy ice cream and then topped with a better-tasting cobbler.

Overall

Crystal Palace is a great dining spot in the Magic Kingdom and has probably one of, if not THE, most kid/picky-eater friendly buffet menu in the “World”.

I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to dine in Magic Kingdom, looking for a great offering of American & slightly-ethnically themed cuisine, and that is a Winnie the Pooh fan!

Also, this is one of those restaurants that will do something special for you if you are celebrating a special occasion! When my husband and I got engaged they sprinkled little foil Mickeys and glitter all over our table! AND we got a signed Congratulations card from the Pooh characters!

(Editor’s Note: pixie-dusted moments are not guaranteed, however you should note your special occasion on your reservation as well as mention when you check in, and mention it to your server.)

What’s your opinion of the Crystal Palace Restaurant? Is it just for families with kids? Do you recommend this buffet often? Let us know in the comments!

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15 Comments

  1. Michael Zimmerman says:

    My wife and I went about a year ago for a late honeymoon and we also got the card signed by everyone along with a free cupcake for us to share. It was one of our highlights of the trip.

  2. Michael McKelvin says:

    This is like one of the two character meals at WDW that i just didn’t enjoy. For me, it’s good for the characters, but not the food. Every time my family has eaten there, the food was uninteresting/bland and we knew could get the characters there somewhere else. Never again.

  3. Pudge the Fish says:

    Very nice review, with great details. However, it confirms my belief that we should only eat breakfast at Crystal Palace.

  4. Victoria says:

    We got the confetti and a card, too, last year. It was our anniversary. It was such a nice touch. They also brought us special cupcakes to celebrate! – which was kinda funny since we were there at 8AM for their wonderful breakfast buffet. ;)

    We will have to try dinner soon!

  5. Miranda says:

    We love the Crystal Palace. That Edamame salad was delicious when we ate there this summer. It had a strong sesame taste to it that went really well with the roast beef! I loved the banana custard tarts, and the choc chip cookies there are always yummy too! They also have a nice multrigrain bread there that I really like.

    A good tip at CP is that if you eat at the end of that meal time slot, EG last seating at dinner, just as they are closing up, all the characters gather at the centre of the restaurant and you can get a group shot of yourself with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger all at once!

  6. Alan says:

    I think buffets can be hit or miss. The food is usually less than high end since it is cooked in large amounts and then it may sit on the steam table too long. However, this is such a beautiful restaurant and if you have kids, this place is well worth a try. Pudge’s comment is right – try it for breakfast.

  7. Terry Horton says:

    We ALWAYS have a breakfast at CP – we get the earliest ressie we can so that we have an empty Main Street to walk down – take a couple pics and head in for the delicious breakfast buffet. It’s amazing, Tigger remembers me every year!! Then we head to the Castle and rope drop – we get in line for Peter Pan before the crowd gets there and can usually get through everything in Fantasyland and are leaving the area as the crowds build up! We’ve eaten dinner there a couple times, but much prefer the “perks” of breakfast!

  8. Mike says:

    Ate here about a month ago. If you dont have an ADR, you can forget about trying to eat here on most nights. Its always packed since this seems to be the best bang for the buck when it comes to sit down dining at MK. It seemed Liberty Tree was always the best value, but after they did away with the characters, CP became an impossible reservation to get.

    Good selection of character greetings and as well as the food. The only downer I had with this place is that its cramped. Seating is real close together and not much room in the aisles. If characters are doing their thing, be prepared to go the long way around with a plate of food.

    Speaking of the food, I agree with the review, especially the cheesecake. That thing rocked!! Of the dozen of so times I have eaten here, I don’t think I came away with any complaints. Best value for the money for sit down dining at MK, IMHO.

  9. Patti says:

    We have eaten at Crystal Palace on almost every trip to WDW. The buffet is usually great, the characters fun even for us seniors, and the cranberry/grain rolls are to die for!
    Sadly on the last trip we learned that the cranberry/grain rolls had been taken off the menu! A cast member told us that the new manager didn’t like them so he took them off the menu–a real bummer as they were THE best rolls af any restaurant in all of WDW!!!
    We chose Crystal Palace not only because of the food and characters but mainly for those rolls. I will check before I make the next reservations, and if they are still off the menu, we’ll try someplace else instead.

  10. Heidi says:

    We usually go to Crystal Palace at least once every time we go to WDW. We’ve definitely been for breakfast and dinner but I can’t seem to remember if we’ve been for lunch. I enjoy it (I go every visit!) but in all honesty it’s not my favorite buffet.

    I really miss the cafeteria style restaurants that Crystal Palace and Hollywood and Dine use to be like years ago (I think Le Cellier was the same way but I never got a chance to go there then.). I guess it’s more cost effective the way it’s set up now.

  11. Stephanie says:

    One of my favorite memories was made at the Crystal Palace: after taking part in Pooh’s march around the restaurant, my 3 year old son jumped up at the nearest table and resumed eating.. but it wasn’t our table, our family, or his plate! Very funny. We always end up with a meal at CP just for the love of that memory.

  12. Kevin says:

    We had dinner here last September and had a good meal, and agree the chicken strips were great.
    I was last here was six years ago and remember the fried chicken was to die for. I was disapointed to see no fried chicken on the buffet. When did the menu change and the fried chicken get switched to baked chicken? I also miss the characters at the Liberty Tree!

  13. Jackie says:

    My family went to Crystal Palace on December 17 to celebrate our granddaughter’s 2nd birthday. The children had a fabulous time with the characters, but that was the only thing that pleased the adults. The service was horrendous: the waitress rarely attended to our beverages and she never came to clean our table. The dishes at the buffet were dirty. At one point I went through 6 dishes to find a clean one. It was a most disappointing meal and although the characters are enchanting, we will never go to this Disney restaurant again.

  14. Eva says:

    We visited disney for 1st time in june 2013. Ate at chef mickeys 1st nite then crystal palace 2nd. We were not impressed by the dinner buffet at crystal palace. Honestly I don’t see what was so child friendly about the food we have a 4.5 year old and twin 1 year olds. Service was not too good, left us a bit dissappointed. Perhaps we will try their breakfast next time to change our minds.

  15. Ninja says:

    Well, I worked there 20 years ago. Nice to see the carpet and the chairs and tables along with the ugly green upholstery is still there.
    The food looks like it may have been an updated selection since it reopened 20 years ago.
    Not much fo vegetarian options for the price of dinner.

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