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 Recipe: Chocolate Crusted Key Lime Tart from Disney World’s Grand Floridian Cafe

If it were up to me, I’d have a slice of Key Lime Pie Every. Single. Time. I set foot in Florida.

Fortunately, Disney has me covered with lots and lots and LOTS of options for this favorite!

But one of the best comes with a fun twist, thanks to the extra special crust. I’m talking about the Chocolate Crusted Key Lime Tart at the Grand Floridian Cafe in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Big on equal parts richness, sweetness, and sour power, this is a great version of the Sunshine State classic. I’ve always loved lime and chocolate together!

Key Lime Tart at Grand Floridian Cafe

Key Lime Tart at Grand Floridian Cafe

If you need a little sunshine in your life today, how about heading to the market for the ingredients? You’ve just gotta have some key lime pie to bring on the Summer.

Chocolate Crusted Key Lime Tart

Grand Floridian Cafe

Ingredients:

Yield: 10 servings

Crust [Read more…]

Guest Review: Ten Everyday Eats That Just Taste Better At Disney

Welcome guest author Michelle R.! She’s sharing her thoughts on everyday food that’s just better in Walt Disney World.

food tastes better at disney

Anyone who has ever flown long distances is familiar with jet lag. The time zone adjustment can take a few days or even weeks for mind and body to work out. I’ve discovered a little known vacation malady known as food lag. It’s similar to jet lag but normally occurs upon arrival home after a vacation. Days or weeks can go by before normal home food is appealing again.

Ten Normal Foods That Just Taste Better At Disney

While on vacation, meals are enjoyed in nice restaurants under relaxed or exciting circumstances. Throw Disney in the mix and you can get some serious food lag following your trip. The most ordinary foods taste much better when prepared and served at Disney parks and hotels.

I’ve listed 10 and all of them were so delicious, I couldn’t eat them for weeks after coming home.

Hot Dogs

While waiting for a parade to start, we grabbed a hot dog at Casey’s Corner on Main Street USA and split it. It was the best half hot dog I’ve ever eaten. The cheese, deep orange and flavorful, was in the middle of the meat and the bun soft and fresh. It was hot without burning and frankly, the most delicious hot dog I’ve ever had before or since.

Hot Dog and Fries from Casey’s!

Turkey Legs

If you’ve ever had to fight relatives at Thanksgiving for the turkey leg, go ahead and give it up now. Head to Disney and grab a turkey leg. Serving over 1.6 million drumsticks a year, there is plenty to go around and are they ever delicious!

Turkey Leg at Disney

Waffles

With a plethora of Waffle Houses and IHOPS in every town across America, you’d think eating waffles at Disney wouldn’t be a big deal.

Is it the extra thickness or the fact they’re shaped like Mickey heads? Is it the generous supply of butter and real maple syrup? I’m not sure, but waffles at Disney absolutely spoiled me for home waffles for several months following our last trip.

Mickey Waffle with Butter!

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are good just about anywhere, especially Grandma’s house. But again, Disney mashed potatoes are extraordinary.

Whether you’re at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma, Disney chefs seem to bring a little extra fluff and flavor to this ordinary food.

Mashed Potatoes at Liberty Tree Tavern

Fish and Chips

All kids and many adults like fish sticks; but they love fried fish at Disney. Epcot’s Rose & Crown Pub serves the very best although folks say that Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom is every bit as good.

Again, wherever you are in Disney, the fish and chips are going to be good.

Fish and Chips from Epcot’s Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Pizza

Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios serves a wonderful brick oven baked pizza in a homey atmosphere. Followed by Fantasmic’s display of fireworks, water and music, you’ll be convinced no pizza could ever top the one you had just before the show.

Carne d’Italia Flatbread

Lemon Ice

Disney sells a prepackaged lemon ice that can be bought at almost any convenience store in the country, yet for some mysterious reason, this same lemon ice that quenches thirst and refreshes is 10 times more delicious within the confines of Disney.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

So far I’ve covered six ordinary foods and one refreshing treat, but I’ve saved room for desserts. Dessert at Disney is [Read more…]

Three Must-Try Disney Pies!

GUESS WHAT!!!! It’s NATIONAL PIE DAY!!!!

Today, in honor of this most momentous occasion, we couldn’t resist sharing with you a few of our very favorites. Whether they inspire you to bake a pie of your own, or plan a trip and let Disney do the baking for you — well, you’re welcome.

1. Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie From Boardwalk Bakery

So many truly wonderful things have come out of BoardWalk Bakery since it reopened after a major renovation last year.

While some classics remain, others, like the Cheesecake Brownie, received makeovers as well. But the real story are the amazing newcomers to the menu! One of my favorites, hands down, is the Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie.

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie

The tart starts with a Chocolate Short Dough Crust. Peanut Butter is introduced to the party via the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling, which is pie poetry. Because as much as I love rich peanut butter filling, this lighter approach is killer.

This sweet and salty goodness is wrapped up in a Chocolate Glaze. Add to that a little mound of creamy Banana Topping, and a sprinkling of Candied Bacon, and you’ve got a winner!

peanut butter, banana, and candied bacon pie cross section

peanut butter, banana, and candied bacon pie cross section

Sound awesome? Make a similar version at home with this recipe!

2. Lobster and Scallop Fisherman’s Pie From the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Many of the pies that stand out from the crowd at Disney are savory rather than sweet. Case in point: the beloved Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie from the Ireland Marketplace Booth at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie

Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie

We’ve been enjoying this delicious for the last several years and hope it comes back again this year!

This hearty, casserole-like main course consists of large chunks of [Read more…]

DIY Disney Recipe: Key Lime Pie from Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

DFB guest chef Carol E. returns today with a traditional recipe for the Key Lime Pie from Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Get your baking supplies ready!

Being a Florida native (Yes, native!! I was one of about 7 people actually born here…everyone else is a transplant. Ha!), I was excited to dive into this recipe!

Key Lime pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts! Did you know that Key lime pie is the official pie of the state of Florida? That’s right, not only are we awesome because we have Walt Disney World in our state, but we also have our own official pie! Florida rocks! :-)

Even better, you can get our official state pie at Walt Disney World — and this is one of the best versions of it on property! This Florida tradition is served perfectly chilled every day at Olivia’s Café!

Olivia's Cafe.

Olivia Cafe's Dining Room.

Key Lime Pie Recipe

While there are a lot of different recipes for Key lime pie, the traditional one is the best! It only takes three ingredients to make the pie filling. If you make it right, it will be pale yellow in color and it will have the perfect balance of creamy sweet and tart goodness.

Key Lime Pie at Olivia's Cafe.

I was excited to find the traditional Key lime pie recipe from Olivia’s Café in the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs cookbook to share with you!

While Olivia’s Café has taken the pie to the gourmet side now by making it in an individual “tart” style and adding a meringue topping with dollops of raspberry and mango purees, we’ll be sticking to their original recipe from the cookbook — topped off with whipped cream.

Key Lime Pie Cross-Section.

So let’s get baking! But before we get started, I do want to warn you that this is a plan ahead recipe. You need at least 3-4 hours in the fridge, but better if left in overnight before serving!

It’s actually a super quick and easy recipe to make. It will take you more time to cool and chill the pie than it will to actually make it!

Ingredients.

Ingredients

-5 large egg yolks

-1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

-2/3 cup Key lime [Read more…]

Review: Cap’n Jack’s at Downtown Disney

It’s time to talk about a restaurant that hasn’t yet been on Disney Food Blog! (GASP!!)

Time to try out lunch at a Cap’n Jack’s! I’ve been to this spot twice now, and even though it will likely disappear at some point in the next few years with the Downtown Disney / Disney Springs renovation, I still need to tell you about it so that you can run over and get in a meal before it’s too late! :-)

Looking every inch the waterside Florida seafood restaurant, Cap’n Jack’s is located at Downtown Disney Marketplace and sits right atop a pier overlooking Village Lake. You’re so close to the water that you’ll feel like you’re floating!

Recently, I stopped into Cap’n Jack’s for lunch with a friend. My previous visit wasn’t great, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Will it be hit or miss? Time to find out!

Atmosphere

If you have ever been to a waterside seafood restaurant in your favorite beach resort town, Cap’n Jack’s will at once seem a bit familiar. Housed next to the Downtown Disney Marina, it’s a classic seafood spot!

Captain Jack's Sign

And that sense of history that you feel isn’t purely Disney magic. This restaurant has actually been around since 1975 when Buena Vista Shopping Center — now Downtown Disney Marketplace — originally opened. In Disney terms, that’s a seriously long time!

Within the restaurant, you’ll find fairly standard seating, low ceilings, and wooden floors. This feels like the family-owned seafood restaurant that you’ve been visiting for years.

Wide View of Seating

One thing you typically won’t find at Cap’n Jack’s is [Read more…]

Snack Series: Key Lime Tart at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons

There are plenty of well-loved spots to eat all over Walt Disney World. (Don’t I know it!) But one spot that we love — and you do too, judging from your reviews, emails, and comments — is Sunshine Seasons in Epcot.

So recently, after a trip Soarin’ over California, ;-) I stopped by there for a bite to eat, and found a little snack that I can’t wait to share with you!

If you aren’t familiar with Sunshine Seasons, you need to be! It’s a huge counter service spot located on the first floor within The Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World. Set up as a food court, there are countless freshly made and interesting food options featured everyday at the various stations, plus many more grab n’ go desserts and snacks.

Epcot's Sunshine Seasons

I’d heard a lot from readers about the Key Lime Tart here, and I was looking forward to trying it. Overall, you’ve got a subtantial graham cracker crust filled with key lime filling and topped with toasted meringue.

Key Lime Tart

When I [Read more…]

Review: Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney Orlando

Time to head back to one of my favorite counter service spots in Disney World — Wolfgang Puck Express!

WPE offers consistently delicious food in an atmosphere that may make you think you’ve wandered into a table service restaurant. And with locations in both the Marketplace and West Side ends of Downtown Disney, you’re never far from one of their excellent meals.

Normally, it’s the Marketplace location that we favor as it’s bigger and has much more seating. But today we decided to give the West Side location a try. (If you’d like to see the details of my last Wolfgang Puck Express Marketplace visit, click here.)

Located just next to Wolfgang Puck Cafe and Dining Room, this location offers great eats for everyone. From grab and go, to pizza and more, there are really some incredible options here.

Wolfgang Puck Express West Side Sign

Let’s head in and check it out!

Atmosphere

Wolfgang Puck Express West Side is impossible to miss, situated across from Splitsville and the AMC Theatre. You’ll find the entrance tucked just to the left of the restaurant’s main door.

Wolfgang Puck Express West Side

I enjoy visiting WPE during the day. While the restaurant takes on a chic, modern vibe at night, the sun streaming in during daylight hours makes for a bright, cheerful spot.

Indoor Seating

Of course, there is also outdoor seating and this busy area offers primo people-watching opportunities. The ceiling fans and overhang make it quite comfortable as long as you’re not visiting during the height of summer.

Outdoor Seating

The open kitchen allows you to watch as chefs prepare the goodies — especially pizzas, for which WPE is famous.

On Stage Kitchen and Pizza Oven

Time to Make the Pizzas

Here’s the star of Wolfgang Puck’s — the [Read more…]

Snack Series: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Key Lime Pie at Boardwalk Bakery

I’ve fallen into a bit of a habit when it comes to walking the Boardwalk in Walt Disney World, and it always includes heading into the Boardwalk Bakery to check out what’s new!

This big bakery with a teensy-tiny little sales area for purchasing goodies is a hidden gem and hot-spot when it comes to unique, can’t-get-em-anywhere-else sweets and savories like the Cheesecake Brownie and Mickey Face Cake.

Atmosphere

As I said, while the bakery itself is large (they create baked goods and wedding cakes for the area), the area where guests can actually purchase things is very small. Almost an afterthought.

Boardwalk Bakery Sign

And as much as I love Boardwalk Bakery, the big detractor is the lack of indoor seating. Rain or shine, sweltering or less sweltering, you have to take your purchase outside to eat it. Sure there’s a bit of an overhang, but that hardly constitutes indoor seating.

Bakery Seating

Still, it can be very nice — should the weather cooperate — to sit outside and enjoy the view of Crescent Lake. There’s also great people watching to be had here! (If you see me say Hi — I’ll be the one with the camera who’s super sweaty and probably running late for something…and I’ll likely still have chocolate on my face from something or other.)

Eats

Still, this is a terrific spot to have in your back pocket as you head off to a busy day in the parks. They have a variety of [Read more…]

What’s Your Favorite Disney Pie?

Nobody ever talks enough about pie, right? Raise your hand if you’re with me. So recently, we asked for your favorite pies at Disney World and Disneyland, and we received some awesome recommendations!

DFB readers and Facebook Friends shared their suggestions for this yummy dessert via the Disney Food Blog Facebook page. Now let’s get into those pies!

Yummo Pecan Pie at Boatwright's in Disney World -- review coming soon!

The kinds of pie with the greatest shout-outs from our facebook fans were Key Lime, Mango, and Blueberry. Let’s grab a slice…

Key Lime Pie

Our readers suggest stopping by Sunshine Seasons or Olivia’s Cafe at the Old Key West resort for their Key Lime desserts.

At Olivia’s, the Key Lime Tart is very popular due to the thick graham cracker crust (that goes all the way up the sides of the dessert!), sweet and tart key lime filling, and a sweet and light meringue topping. Facebook fan Crystal N. highly recommends this tart (and so do I!!!)!

Key Lime Tart

Key Lime Tart on the Inside

Allan T., Chris D., and Susan H. are among our readers praising the Key Lime Pie at [Read more…]