Review: Lunch at Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Welp, boys and girls — it’s time to head into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and take in lunch at Crystal Palace! This is a beloved character spot for many Disney fans, and a must-do character experience for lots of you.

Me? I hadn’t been to Crystal Palace in foreva…not since an ill-fated late-night visit a couple of years ago when the food was AW-FUL! Yep, it was the end-of-the-night dregs of the buffet and we were pretty much just grossed out. (Have you ever seen a buffet about 15 minutes before a restaurant is about to close? Not pretty.) We ate very little and left as soon as we could. Sad, since we do love dining with Pooh and friends.

But it was time to revisit the 100 Hundred Acre Wood — after all, we’d had lots of great meals here previously — and I made reservations with some friends for lunch.

We have tons of shots to show you, so let’s get started!

Atmosphere

You’ll find Crystal Palace to the left of Main Street USA’s end, just as you approach Cinderella Castle. The beautiful glass building, inspired by ornate conservatories of the late Victorian Age, is a slice of Disney history as well. The restaurant has been around since opening day in 1971.

Entrance to Restaurant

Entrance to Restaurant

And here’s a tip if you’re looking for an extra-special experience during your Disney vacation: try and book Crystal Palace for an early breakfast. You’ll be one of the first guests into the Park when you do this, and visiting a nearly empty Magic Kingdom is an event to remember.

Once you step inside, you’ll see whitewashed walls that carry the bright, light decor throughout. Artwork depicting inspiration for the architecture as well as photos of lush palms cover the walls.

Artwork and Framed Photos

Artwork and Framed Photos

The soaring atrium above is gorgeous — especially on a sunny day!

Crystal Palace Atrium

Crystal Palace Atrium

After you check in, you’ll wait for your table outside on the shaded veranda. But once you step in, pause a moment to take it all in.

Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms

Tons of windows and glass domes allow for plenty of natural light in the two dining areas.

Dining Room from Another Angle

Dining Room from Another Angle

And really — look up. Because the windows are really stunning. I love the beautiful stained glass detail.

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The decor puts you in mind of a Victorian conservatory, with its outside-but-inside feel. Lush flowers and what reminds me of patio furniture finish the area.

Evening Light

Afternoon Light

Crystal Palace is, of course, a character dining experience, and you’ve stumbled onto a party!

Center Atrium -- Up Close

Center Atrium — Up Close

In fact, visit here, and you’ll take part in a Friendship Day Celebration with Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Banner -- Up Close

It’s Friendship Day!

Just check out these gorgeous flower topiaries of the whole gang!

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Pooh and His Hunny Pot

Eeyore Topiary

Eeyore Topiary

The sweet little figures appear to be made of dried roses, and foreshadow the characters you’ll meet while you dine.

Piglet Topiary

Piglet Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

Bouncing Tigger Topiary

And beautiful hanging arrangements of tropical flowers complete the classic conservatory feel.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Seating is standard and fairly comfortable. Heavy, padded chairs share the space with booths, but some tables are situated a bit too closely for our comfort.

Seating for Two

Seating for Two

Seating along windows gives you a glimpse of guests waiting to be seated! But beyond them, you’ll also see a beautiful view of [Read more…]

Review: Shula’s Steak House at the Walt Disney World Dolphin

If you love steak like I love steak, then you are going to enjoy today’s review, my friend.

Today we’re FINALLY headed back for a classic meat-stravaganza at Shula’s Steak House! Seriously, it’s been way too long since I’ve reviewed this place.

Located steps away from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, Shula’s is one of the superb restaurants that call the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort home. To be more specific, you’ll find this fine dining spot in — you guessed it — the Dolphin. (Get it? Don Shula? At the Dolphin? I knew you would.)

Let’s head inside the wood-paneled walls to see if the steaks and sides here are just as good as I remember!

Atmosphere

Step into Shula’s and you’ve entered a decidedly masculine domain. With dark wood walls, rich colors, and very low lighting (no joke; the servers have flashlights for you to read the menu sometimes), you feel as though you’re in an exclusive club dining here.

And just like many other Disney restaurants, Shula’s is “themed!”

Seating Along the Back Wall and Giant Picture of Coach Shula

This place is all about The Miami Dolphins’ 1972 “Perfect Season!” Now those of us who are true Buffalo Bills fans and still, in our (utterly broken) heart of hearts, despise the Dolphins…well, we have to come to a decision on how much we love steak to eat here. Me? I really love steak. I love the Bills. But I love steak.

Anyway, large photos from the 1972 team are lavishly framed throughout the comfortable dining room, so you can’t really escape them.

Two Top Seating

And speaking of steak, another prime decor element in the restaurant is the plaque displaying the proud members of Shula’s 48-Ounce Club. To have your name engraved on the plaque, just finish a 48-Ounce Porterhouse. Are you up for the challenge?

Seating with Steak Club Plaque

While I wasn’t quite sure we were up for making ourselves famous, we were quite hungry… Let’s get to the menu!

Eats

OK, so this kind of cracks me up, but it shows that the restaurant — though very high end — doesn’t take itself too seriously.

While you’ll get an actual menu, too, the main Shula’s cut steaks are hand painted on an official NFL game football. So while it might seem a little, well, odd to be handed a football when you’re preparing to order dinner, it all sort of makes sense. ;-)

Football Menu

Soon after you start looking at your football, it’s time of a bit of Shula’s education. In addition to [Read more…]

News! Menu Changes at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Editor’s Note: In addition to the peanut dipping sauce, sweet and sour sauce is now being offered again. Thanks to Disney Mom Leslie for this update!

Thanks to Disney Mom’s Panelist and DFB Friend Leslie Krzan for reporting on menu changes at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

We’ve got some interesting news about a few menu updates at guest favorite restaurant, ‘Ohana.

According to a server, changes were made to the menu here about a month ago with the posted menu outside of the restaurant still showing the old menu items. Let’s take a look at what’s been updated with this menu-go-round.

‘Ohana Salad Dressing Update

The fan-favorite honey lime dressing has been a stand-out at ‘Ohana as well as a much requested recipe, however it did not make the latest menu cut. Here’s Leslie’s take:

The new salad features a passion fruit vinaigrette with chunks of passion fruit and mandarin oranges. I don’t eat salad, but my husband said the salad was just OK. He really liked the old honey lime dressing. In fact, he usually eats the whole bowl of salad himself, but left about half of it this time.

New Salad at 'Ohana

DFB reader Anne T. also wrote to let us know about the change. She feels similarly about the new dressing: “The new dressing is still good, but not as good as the honey lime,” she says.

‘Ohana Stir-Fried Veggie Update

The vegetable dish has changed as well with this recent menu update. Here’s what Leslie discovered: [Read more…]

Review: New Steak Dinner (and more!) at Liberty Inn in Epcot

Liberty Inn has been an afterthought due to uninspired food for quite some time; but when I started hearing some buzz about a new steak dinner, I knew I needed to get over there ASAP…

This counter service restaurant, located in the American Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase, has always been a reliable stop for “typical” American fare, like hamburgers and french fries.

And because of its large size, it’s a good place to find a spot to eat should you find yourself in Epcot without an Advanced Dining Reservation.

 

Sign

Let’s go check out the latest!!

Atmosphere

“Liberty Inn Publick Dining Room” — known to most of us as Liberty Inn — is located in the large building that serves as the central location when you look at World Showcase. Situated across from the American Gardens Theatre, the building also houses the American Adventure, an animatronic and film attraction; and an American history mini-museum (a great place to get away from the crowds!).

Entrance

Inside, you’ll find ample seating in the atrium-style dining area. Skylights allow for plenty of natural light, and flags from the original colonies line the brick walls.  You can see them up close in this post.

The decor is decidedly colonial, and the surroundings contain many items that look like they came straight from Colonial Williamsburg.

Seating Indoors and Flags

Baker's Rack and other Colonial Decor

Pots, Pans, and Utensils

But if you’d rather [Read more…]