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: Dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

It’s been FOREVER since I enjoyed a fun evening at Whispering Canyon Cafe. So I talked a friend into heading over to this supa fun restaurant for dinner the last time I was in Orlando!

Sitting just off the main lobby of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the moderately priced table service restaurant is a can’t miss for some guests…but nothing special for others.

During our last visit, we took a look at how the lunch and dinner menus had changed drastically from what fans were used to. And guess what? In the middle of writing this review, we get word that it’s changed again!

Git yer ponies saddled up and yer vittles bag tied on! It’s time to ride on in! (Did any of that make sense? No? Hmm.)

Atmosphere

Whispering Canyon Cafe is one of the easiest Disney restaurants to find. Head into Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, hang a left, and you can’t miss it.

Whispering Canyon Sign

Whispering Canyon Sign

There’s even a good chance that you’ll hear it before you see it. That’s because there are bona fide antics going on throughout the meal. The name Whispering Canyon? Definitely tongue-in-cheek.

Warning -- Good Times Ahead -- Click to Enlarge

Warning — Good Times Ahead — Click to Enlarge

Themeing here seems ever so slightly more “cowboy and Indian” than in the rest of the lobby. Whereas the rest of that area has a slightly more elegant Mission style, Whispering Canyon is more whimsical. It reminds me of a playroom off from the rest of the grown ups’ space. :-)

Wood is all around you everywhere, echoing that lodge-y feel. Seating is mixed, with table and chair combos, as well as booths. And check out the super cool Indian chief on the backs of these chairs!

Seating

Seating

Others feature cowboys on bucking broncos.

Cowboys and Indians on the Back of Chairs

Cowboys Detail on the Back of a Chair

The servers can make or break your experience at Whispering Canyon. They have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves, though. So whatever you do, don’t drop your fork! (Unless you really want to know what the giant fork is for.)

Servers

Servers Plot Their Next Move

And speaking of the giant fork, Whispering Canyon is as well known for the crazy [Read more…]

Guest Review: Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in the Magic Kingdom

Join me in welcoming guest author Katie McFarland Roth with a review of Cosmic Ray’s – a futuristic eatery in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. Enjoy!

Atmosphere

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café is a great counter-service option available in the Magic Kingdom. The portions are heaping and the food is pretty good (for quick-service).

In general, Cosmic Ray’s is a pretty chaotic place to eat. There are always people zooming in and out; and trying to get to the toppings bar with your tray of food is sometimes more dangerous than when Simba was running with the wildebeests.

Word of advice: if you’re traveling in a party with more than 1 person, send 1 person off to find a table for everyone!

Cosmic Ray's Sign

It can be nuts trying to find a place to sit during busy mealtime hours. Almost as nuts-y as trying to find the entrance doors to this restaurant!

Cosmic Ray's Seating -- and Sonny Eclipse!

Something new to me was the graffiti wall in the restaurant that patrons liked writing their hometowns on! I wonder if they start fresh every day? Maybe every hour with the traffic this place gets!

Graffiti "Wall" ...with very surprised photo subject!

Eats

There are three different areas, or “bays,” which people can order from; Chicken (#1), Burgers (#2), and Sandwiches (#3).

Ordering Area at Cosmic Rays

There aren’t very many main dish options at each station (4-5), but considering there are [Read more…]

Review: Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney Orlando

We’ve got a review of a slightly under-the-radar spot in Disney World’s Downtown Disney today!

So far, you’ve heard about both breakfast, lunch and fun beverage options at Pollo Campero, but I haven’t ever posted my own personal review! It’s about time, don’t you think?

Join me for a visit to the Latin-inspired chicken restaurant that provides an interesting change of pace for Downtown Disney Guests!

Atmosphere

Located in what used to be the cavernous McDonald’s at the end of Downtown Disney’s Marketplace, counter-service location Pollo Campero shares space with two other foodstops: Bodie’s All-American (formerly Fresh A-Peel) and Babycakes NYC. On this visit, we were in the mood for chicken, so Pollo Campero it was.

Outside Pollo Campero

Once inside, you’ll approach the restaurant like most other counter service stops. Choose your food at the counter, and then proceed to a central bank of registers that’s shared with Bodie’s All-American.

Ordering Area

The general set up here is a bit “food-courtish,” but it does [Read more…]