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…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Ice Cream Sandwiches!

It’s no secret — we are BIG fans of Disney Ice Cream Sammies around here! And judging from some of the supercalifragilistic — well, you get my drift — pics that YOU have posted on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, you are, too! There are so many kinds of ice cream sandwiches to choose from!

Today, we’re sharing some of your crave-inducing photos as a thank you! for all of our readers who continue to share your great Disney food experiences on our Flickr page, Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza. Let’s see what’s new!

Pistachio Pressed Brioche Ice Cream Sandwich

Photographer: KMFarmer

In short order, L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France Pavilion has become one of our favorite snack spots. It’s only been open since last year, but we can’t make it around World Showcase Lagoon without some of their ice cream, churned from scratch right on the premises!

Their custom made Pressed Brioche Ice Cream Sandwiches are some of our favorite hot-meets-cold treats!

Pistachio Pressed Brioche  Ice Cream Sandwich

Pistachio Pressed Brioche Ice Cream Sandwich

Mickey Premium Ice Cream Sandwich

Photographer: JLovely

Fancy, new options are always awesome. But I love to throw in a classic item, too, while I’m snacking my way through the parks. And some days, you just can’t beat a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Sandwich!

One of my favorite things about these treats? You can find them almost anywhere at Disney. Whether you’re in the parks or resorts…Disney World or Disneyland…you can always find this deliciously simple treat.

Mickey Premium Ice Cream Sandwich

Mickey Premium Ice Cream Sandwich

Hand Made Ice Cream Sandwich

Photographer: ButRfly512

But then, how can you improve upon perfection? Because IMO, that’s what [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Holiday Treats!

We are back with another fun post featuring YOUR Disney Food Pics of the Week! That’s right — this is the post that we turn over to you guys to showcase all of the amazing food photos that you share on the Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza!

If you’d like to get in on the fun, head over to Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza on Flickr and join the group. We’d love to see even more of your great food shots!

Today, I thought it would be fun to share with you some Holiday Treats that the group has captured on film. Let’s hit it!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Goodies

You just know it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas when Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party gets underway at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom! Festive decorations, that beautiful castle, snow on Main Street USA — and complimentary Hot Cocoa and Cookies! Sign me up!

Photographer: Hilary White

Hot Cocoa and Cookies at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats are pretty darn irresistible anyway. But make them into [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Treats at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree

Looking for some fun holiday treats? Look no further, Big Thunder Ranch is currently hosting the Jingle Jangle Jamboree; a one stop shop for fun games, cookie decorating, special snacks & SANTA!

Jingle Jangle Jamboree at Big Thunder Ranch

The menu here is simple, Hot Dogs, Corn on the Cob, “Candy Cane” Cotton Candy, Apple Burritos, Cookie Decorating Kits and various beverages.

Jingle Jamboree Menu

Our visit included the “Candy Cane” Cotton Candy & some Cookie Decorating. Let me break the sad news to you first. The cotton candy here DOES NOT taste like candy canes, it’s just “candy cane striped.” Even the cast member that I bought it from thought that it was peppermint flavored, but alas, that is a rumor. It’s still pretty though!

Candy Cane Cotton Candy on Display

It’s dark and light pink swirled and still

(null)

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Cookies!

We are back with another fun series of food photos, courtesy of YOU!

That’s right, we love to show off the talents of our DFB readers who post their gorgeous photos on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group! And today we’re back to one of my favorite topics: Disney Cookies!!!

Let’s take a look at some of the yummo — and beautiful — Cookie Creations that you’ve captured on film at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Macarons from Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles

If you haven’t stopped into the new Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles to check out all of the délicieux eats there, you’ve got to get it onto your schedule. When I saw this little box of beautiful Macarons, I knew I knew I had to try them!

Photographer: Hilary_JW

Macarons at Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles

Mickey Cookie at Disney California Adventure

I love that you can get this cute little Mickey Cookie on both coasts! But it’s pretty spectacular to be chomping off his little ears with a view of Carthay Circle behind you! Gorgeous pic!

Photographer: PadresFan619

Mickey Cookie and Carthay Circle!

Mickey Mousse!

Sometimes, the kiddos get the best desserts, you know? For example, this little guy, known as Mickey Mousse at Epcot’s Garden Grill, is the sweet ending on the menu for the younger set.

But Angela thinks it was just as good, if not better, than the grown ups’ dessert! Cookies and cream mousse, topped with not one but two Oreo Mickey ears? I’d have to [Read more…]

Review: 1900 Park Fare Dinner at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Today, we’re back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa to take in dinner at 1900 Park Fare!

You  may remember that the last time we were here, we were…nonplussed…unimpressed…frustrated…should I go on? Basically, we really didn’t have a great experience. But, as I always say, the only consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re inconsistent. And some guests think this restaurant is fantastic — a great alternative to hard-to-get advance dining reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.

So we’re back at this character buffet for another try… . While breakfast at 1900 Park Fare left us flat, this time around we’re checking out the dinner spread and hoping for the best!

Atmosphere

You’ll find 1900 Park Fare off of the ground floor lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort. As you walk in the hotel’s front doors, the restaurant is located to your left, just past the Concierge desk.

1900 Park Fare Sign

The antique carousel decor flows with the Victorian feel that you encounter throughout the resort. While you can’t see the individual items on this menu board that’s displayed out front of the restaurant, you can definitely see the attention to detail when it comes to theme.

Menu Board Outside of 1900 Park Fare

When you first arrive and check in for your reservation (you DID make a reservation, right?), you’ll be given a pager and told to wait in the Grand Floridian lobby to be called when your table is ready. Note: this often takes A. LONG. TIME. In my experience, I’ve never been seated at this restaurant within 10 minutes of my reservation time. I’m always waiting quite a while to be called to the table. So if you’ve got little ones who are starving, bring some snacks to tide them over just in case.

Once you’re called, you’ll be told to get in line to have your picture taken with this mural. No…you’re not getting your photo taken with a character. Just with the mural. This can be a fun memory for families, but you might want to skip the pic and head straight in for your meal. Be persistent and make sure they know you don’t want to take the photo. They’re pretty serious about getting you into that line.

Trompe l'Oeil Mural Outside of 1900 Park Fare

Once you head into the massive dining room, you’re greeted with more Victorian charm in pastel shades. Even without windows, the sheer size of the dining room makes it feel airy.

There is a main area with high ceilings in front of the buffet, and some smaller dining rooms surrounding it with lower ceilings. I prefer these areas for seating, since they tend to be slightly quieter.

Dining Area

Seating itself is fairly standard, with cushioned chairs and nondescript tables.

Seating

The main dining room makes the best use of the carousel theme. There are several large statues of fantasy carousel animals situated atop half walls and surrounded by plants. You should take a moment to look at these, because they’re really beautiful.

Calliope in the Background and Carousel Horse Statue

The wall overtop the entrance to the restaurant plays host to an enormous calliope, reminiscent of the intricate musical instruments that you find on antique carousels. This [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma…Flavors of Africa is a tried-and-true Disney fan destination.

Many guests number it among their must-have advance dining reservations for it’s fun atmosphere, unique menu, and cult favorite dishes.

On a recent visit to Walt Disney World, we had the pleasure of eating at Boma not once — but twice…in the SAME DAY! Yep — we had breakfast and Boma AND dinner at Boma!

While I’ll be sharing the details of our Boma breakfast in a later post, today we’re taking a look at the rockin’ spread available for dinner.

Atmosphere

Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma is just one of three incredible restaurants at this resort — it’s a true food-lovers haven here.

Boma Sign

You’ll find Boma on the ground floor beneath the lobby level, adjacent to both The Mara and Jiko. (Sanaa is located in nearby Kidani Village.) And while The Mara is the resort’s counter service location, Jiko is a signature restaurant, and Sanaa features a table service fusion of flavors, Boma serves as the resort’s buffet offering.

But while many Disney buffets are more about character interaction than cuisine, a trip to Boma is all about the food. A sign in Animal Kingdom’s lobby provides a little background on the meaning of the restaurant’s name — and encourages you to make your ADR for Boma well in advance!

Boma Background Information

The term boma loosely refers to a fence fashioned of sticks, and you’ll see this motif throughout the restaurant’s interior. A wrought-iron version of a boma borders either side of the wide, winding path into the restaurant.

Walkway into Boma

Here, the fence borders a low wall separating the seating area from the [Read more…]

Sneak Peek! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Eats

This time of year, there’s one Magic Kingdom event that’s a must-do — Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This super-fun Disney World hoopla is held on select evenings now through December 21st.

In between enjoying the shows, attractions, Holiday Wishes fireworks, and Once Upon a Christmastime parade, we know you’ll be hungry!

Snow on Main Street at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Remember, we’ve included all of our tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in our new DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World® Holidays 2012 e-Book!

Along with party eats, you’ll find the information that you need on shows, character greetings, and more! Plus, it’s jam-packed with all of our holiday tips on visiting the gingerbread displays, and other holiday events at Walt Disney World.

But now, to whet your appetite, here’s a quick look at a few specialty goodies you’ll find at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to nosh on this year!

Sneak Peek! Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Specialty Eats

From complimentary treats to fun quick-service additions, there are plenty of ways to quell your hunger at MVMCP!

Complimentary Holiday Treats

We love the seasonal, complimentary treats at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! They are delicious and FREE (with admission, of course)! Be sure to look for these balloons that mark treat locations!

Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party Treat Location Balloon

Fill up on cookies and hot chocolate, or healthier options like apple slices and apple juice. The cookies – usually snickerdoodles – are big and chewy! And the packaged apple slices are crisp and refreshing.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Snickerdoodles and Apple Slices

Beverages are conveniently served in to-go cups allowing for [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Review of 1901 Lounge in Disney California Adventure

When standing in front of Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure, you will notice three entrance doors. The two on the left lead you into the restaurant while the one on the right takes you somewhere very, very special.

Carthay Circle Restaurant Marquee

Atmosphere

1901, a private lounge reserved for Club 33 Platinum Members and their guests, is perhaps one of the most tranquil spots in all of Disney California Adventure. A variety of eats and treats are served here, which are also served at Carthay Circle Lounge (a spot that all park guests can access — no membership needed there).

With a simple 1901 plaque at its entrance, behind the door is a spectacular space filled with historic mementos that Walt himself would’ve probably chosen to put on display.

1901 Entrance Plaque

As with Carthay Circle Restaurant, when you walk into 1901, you are immediately taken back to the 1930’s. The colors, decor and furniture are inviting, almost as if you are walking into someone’s home. 

The lounge is divided into two areas.

The hallway that divides the room in two.

On one side of the room you’ll find comfy couches surrounded by some chairs, loveseats, and a few little [Read more…]

Snack Series: Pocky in Epcot’s Japan Pavilion

OK, so while this isn’t technically a “Disney-made” snack (I’ve even found it in my local grocery store recently), many of us have our first experience with Pocky in Mitsukoshi Department Store in Epcot’s Japan pavilion. I know I did! Just in case you haven’t experienced Pocky yet, let me introduce you!

These slender, crisp cookies coated in chocolate (and occasionally other flavors) are one of my favorite snacks available in Epcot’s World Showcase. You’ll find the tasty sweets way in the back of the fabled department store — near the indoor sake bar.

There Are Many Flavors of Pocky Available

There’s a Pocky for every flavor preference, from the purist approach of milk chocolate to fruit-flavored options. You can also find chocolate and nut combinations.

And, of course, there’s “Men’s Pocky.” No, I’m not kidding. Men’s Pocky is a dark chocolate version of the snack. :-)

Front of Pocky Box

The cookies come in a range of quantities as well, from little pocky boxes to GIANT POCKY BOXES. Just in case you need to share (yeah, right).

On this visit, I went for the classic: “chocolate cream covered biscuit sticks.”

Back of Pocky Box - Nutritional Information and Ingredients

While I’m displaying my Pocky on a plate, one of the great traits of this snack is that you can definitely stroll and [Read more…]