But, slowly buffets have started to return to Disney World. Buffets are back at Biergarten in EPCOT, and now you can enjoy ALL of your favorites at Crystal Palace buffet-style once again! We stopped by this spot recently for lunch and now we’re bringing you a full review. Should you try the buffet at Crystal Palace? Here are our thoughts.
The Crystal Palace is located at the very end of Main Street, U.S.A, right near Adventureland. The building is done in a Victorian style and is quite striking. Look for the big, window filled creamy white building nestled just off the hub.
You can check-in at the podium outside or online using online check-in.
While you wait, you can take a seat on the benches nearby.
Or you can enjoy those gorgeous Castle views.
When your table is ready, a Cast Member will take you to your table inside.
There are a pretty large number of tables available.
As you’re walking in, be sure to look at the center planter. There, you’ll find some GORGEOUS topiaries of Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, and some of their friends.
This restaurant is always celebrating friendship day, so it’s a great place to bring some friends of your own!
The restaurant itself has lots of high ceilings and windows, providing a lot of natural light.
There’s fairly simple decor throughout the spot, including some flower pots and other items.
The Crystal Palace is traditionally a character buffet where you can meet Winnie the Pooh and friends. Right now, however, the characters are not making an appearance in the restaurant. (But Pooh and co. do explain that Friendship “Celebrashun!”)
As we mentioned, Crystal Palace was serving a family-style/a la carte combo meal previously, but it is now back to serving up a full buffet. Let’s see what’s on the menu.
Lunch and Dinner are the same at Crystal Palace and both are priced at $39 per adult and $23 per child (3-9), plus tax and gratuity. Note that breakfast has not returned to Crystal Palace quite yet.
The lunch menu is served buffet-style once again and includes a variety of different items.
Join us for a walk around the buffet! To start your meal, you can grab some different bread options. There are Parker House rolls…
…Lavosh, and Cheddar-Bacon Cornbread.
You’ll also find whipped butter, honey butter…
…house-made sweet-hot mustard, and other items.
If you want a salad, you’ll be able to create your own unique dish at the salad bar.
There is a good variety of toppings to pick from including tomatoes, cucumbers, and more.
There are fruits available as well…
…along with some meats and cheeses…
…and a Waldorf Salad.
For the seafood lovers, there are little bowls of seafood featuring shrimp and a crab claw with cocktail sauce. Important note: if you want to crack open your crab, you’ll need to ask your server for a cracker.
Also, pro tip: get a kids’ plate with your seafood bowl so you can place your food on the plate and the shells in the bowl as you eat.
Elsewhere on the buffet line you’ll find English pea risotto with pea puree and pea tendril salad…
…Basmati Rice with Crispy Shallots…
…Wood Grilled Mahi Mahi with Romesco Sauce…
…Roasted Wild Mushrooms…
…Seared Pork Tenderloin with Light Stone Ground Mustard Cream…
…Herb-Buttered Corn with Parmesan…
…Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cabernet Reduction, Caramelized Shallots, and Roasted Baby Peppers…
…Green Beans with Bacon and Onions…
…Walt’s Mashed Potatoes…
…Country Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Gravy and Honey-Tabasco Sauce…
…a loaded tater tots station…
…with various options to place on the tater tots. We repeat: A LOADED TOT STATION. DIY TOTCHOS!
There’s also pork belly…
…Winter Squash Ravioli with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette and Honey-roasted pistachios…
…and at the carving station there was prime rib…
…as well as some red wine au jus and a horseradish sauce.
Also, Walt’s Chili is a part of the buffet offerings!
Of course, you can load up your chili with all the fixin’s!
Looking for a kids section? They’ve got that here too! At the kids buffet area you’ll find mini pizzas…
…crispy chicken breast strips…
…creamy macaroni & cheese…
…and miniature beef quesadillas.
You’ll also find condiments in the buffet area. We were able to ask for a ramekin to place our condiments in, and they brought some out.
In terms of desserts, you’ll find a few different options. There’s a soft-serve ice cream station…
…with some sprinkles nearby…
…as well as cookies…
…French Silk Cupcakes…
…and Strawberry Shortcake.
Keep in mind that masks are required indoors right now, including in restaurants except when stationary and actively eating or drinking. So, as you serve yourself at the buffet, you must keep your mask on.
Also, Disney has a sign at the buffet noting that buffets may be susceptible to cross-contact because of the self-service approach.
The sign also notes that guests can consult with a chef or special diets trained Cast Member if they have special dietary needs.
There are also some specialty drinks available if you want any of those. But note that they are an additional charge. Basic tea, soft drinks, or other common non-alcoholic beverage is included with your meal.
Alright, so we’ve shown you everything on the buffet (note that buffet offerings can differ and vary). Now, let’s talk about what we ate and what we thought!
Overall, in terms of food, Crystal Palace was awesome! We were pretty impressed.
Everything we ate was fresh, and all of the team members seemed to be excited that there was a buffet offering available again.
We’ll start with the breads. We liked that there were multiple types of breads available, meaning you have more to pick from and more to try. We have a feeling the cornbread would have been great with Walt’s Chili, so that’s something you might want to consider trying.
We also really liked that we could have the pretzel roll (or other bread) with the cheese and charcuterie offerings, rather than just with butter. Because when have you known us to turn down carbs and charcuterie?
The Parker Rolls were a good offering to combine with your salad as they are not overpowering in terms of flavor, and they’re a nice, safe choice for kiddos or picky eaters.
We also enjoyed our creation from the salad bar (isn’t she pretty??).
There was a nice selection in terms of toppings. Our reporter who ate at Crystal Palace shared that they felt like they were the ones they’d naturally gravitate toward in terms of what they’d typically like to add to their salads.
We liked how customizable these are. That’s one of the true benefits of a buffet.
It was also nice having those charcuterie-style meats and cheeses available to add another layer of flavor to the overall meal. Again, it allowed us to eat the breads with something more than butter (not that there’s anything wrong with butter at all), but it’s nice to have a balance of sweet and salty with the cheeses, breads, and meats.
If you’re a seafood fan, the little seafood bowls are something we think you’ll really enjoy!
What’s really great is that since this is a buffet, you could just keep going back and getting as many of those as you’d like. Former buffet Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort used to boast unlimited buffet crab legs but, since reopening, they switched to a family-style meal and now those crab legs come with a hefty upcharge. It’s nice to find unlimited crab on a Disney buffet again (even though these are just claws).
Next up, you KNOW we snagged a bowl of Walt’s Chili. After all, this is a pretty famous dish! Now, this is certainly a hearty dish but you might find it a little less flavorful compared to other chilis.
It’s well-seasoned, but it certainly isn’t spicy. Look, Walt was a midwestern man with midwestern tastes and this chili definitely reflects that! Still, if you’re a chili fan, you can’t pass up a chance to try Walt’s recipe during one of your trips to the buffet.
In terms of the other items on the buffet, we felt like the mashed potatoes were stellar! Seriously, can those just get their own dedicated little section on the buffet?! If you’re throwing the term “Walt’s Mashed Potatoes” around, they BETTER be good and these did NOT disappoint. The mashed potatoes were whipped perfectly and were wonderfully buttery, light, and well seasoned. We could have used a little bit more salt maybe, but they were good enough on their own and absolutely loaded with buttery deliciousness.
The pork tenderloin with the light stone ground mustard cream was alright. It was a little bit dry, which made the sauce a critical element here. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t our favorite from the buffet selections.
The Country Fried Chicken was also pretty good. It wasn’t one of those out-of-this-world food items (i.e. we were not going back to the buffet stations to get 5 more pieces of it), but it was a solid choice for fried chicken if you like that!
The green beans were very yummy! They were a bit thinner than the ones we had recently at The Diamond Horseshoe and had some great flavoring. The onions incorporated into the dish really provided a great layer of flavor. Also: bacon. Thanks, bacon, for being you.
The cheesy broccoli was also a fun offering and was good! We liked that it wasn’t just broccoli with a cheese sauce. Instead, it actually had cheese melted on top, which was a nice touch.
But, one of our very FAVORITE things at the buffet was the prime rib. Seriously, if you like prime rib, we have a feeling you’re gonna be making a few return trips for this one.
We were pleasantly surprised to find the prime rib available during lunch, as opposed to being reserved for dinner, so that was really nice.
The prime rib itself was fantastically delicious. It was juicy, full of flavor, and had just the right amount of seasoning and saltiness.
Another one of our favorite things at the buffet was the kids section! Our reporter said that the kids’ offerings were things they’d totally eat again and again. Welcome to our world, folks. We go to the “adult” buffet but deep down, we just really want some mini pizzas and chicky tendys.
The mac & cheese was delicious and VERY creamy, just the way a mac & cheese should be! Adults, do your self a favor and swing by the kids’ station for a scoop of this.
The beef quesadillas had a great flavor. If you’re concerned about these being spicy, don’t be. We really didn’t get any heat from these at all, so they’ll be safe for all those kiddos (and adults) who prefer to have their quesadillas without them being spicy (in terms of heat).
The mini pizzas were…in a word, AWESOME! We won’t lie, they’ve got quite a bit of greasiness to them. We could see that being a turn-off for some people, but if you like your pizzas with a bit of grease, then this is the option for you! They’re very simple with just some sauce and cheese, but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with simple. They also had a nice crunch to them, which we really enjoyed.
Last but not least, the kids’ section had chicken breast strips. Really, there’s not much to say except, who doesn’t love a good chicken strip?! (Unless you don’t eat meat or hate chicken strips, in which case there are lots of other options on the buffet line!)
Overall, the kids’ section is perfect for kids or kids at heart. 💖
Finally, we get to some people’s favorite part of any meal…dessert!! All of the desserts were pretty good. Many of them were served in bite-sized portions which is nice because it allows you to try as many of them as you want, without having to commit to a big serving of one or the other.
None of the desserts were total standouts, but all were good and cater to different palates. You could grab one of each, share them with your family and friends, and then go back for seconds of the ones you really loved.
The little s’mores bites were probably our reporter’s favorite out of the available options.
If you love soft serve, the fact that this buffet has a soft serve station could be a big bonus!
We especially liked that you have the soft serve, plus the sprinkles nearby, and cookies too, which can help you make a custom, delicious creation!
Soft serve is particularly good for guests of all ages.
And that’s a FULL look at the buffet and our thoughts on the food.
Nosh or Not
You should celebrate Friendship Day and eat at Crystal Palace if…
- You’re a fan of buffets — There are a number of benefits to buffets including the wide variety of options generally available, the ability to pick and choose what items you want, the ability to customize your meal, and more. If you love buffets for all of those reasons or any reasons of your own, then you might want to consider stopping by The Crystal Palace.
- You want to eat a big meal — Because this meal is now being served buffet-style, you do have the ability to serve yourself as much as you want. If you’re the type of person who maybe likes to eat a BIG lunch and then opt for a smaller snack for dinner, or have a smaller lunch and then enjoy a big meal at dinner, Crystal Palace will give you the chance to fill up on as many treats as your heart desires.
- You’ve got picky eaters in the group — First, the menu at The Crystal Palace is pretty friendly to picky eaters with some solid, standard offerings that won’t scare anyone including all of the items at the kids’ section, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, bread, and salad. Second, the fact that this is a buffet makes it great for families where there might be just 1 or 2 picky eaters. The adventurous eaters in the group can grab their seafood bowls, prime rib, and other more unique items, while the pickier eaters only get what interests them and everyone’s happy!
You should consider eating elsewhere in Magic Kingdom if…
- You aren’t a fan of buffets — While buffets have benefits, they also have downsides. You may not feel comfortable visiting a buffet given the situation with COVID-19 and the fact that this buffet is self-serve. You may also just not like the idea of serving yourself food that isn’t prepared just for you, or you might just not be a fan of buffets in general. If that’s the case, then there are other options in Disney World that might suit you better.
- You’re dining on a smaller budget — The Crystal Palace is priced at $39 per adult and $23 per child, plus tax and gratuity, at both lunch and dinner. That is by no means the most expensive meal you’ll have in Disney World, but it’s also not the cheapest. If you’re sticking to a smaller budget for dining, then opting for a quick service meal or something else might be a better bet.
- You want more unique items — While we did have some items that were full of flavor at The Crystal Palace, there really weren’t too many unique items here. The food is fairly standard buffet/American food. If you’re looking for more unique options you could stop by places like Boma (still a buffet but offers more unique eats) or Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen (in Magic Kingdom and not a buffet, but has more unique selections).
Overall, we thought Crystal Palace was actually surprisingly great quality. We were honestly impressed by the quality of the food, especially some of the REALLY tasty items like the prime rib and the uniqueness of the seafood bowl (peel and eat shrimp was on the buffet previously, but it was nice to have the addition of the crab).
We do miss the characters, as they add an extra touch of magic to the meal. But, we were happy that they were still in the restaurant in topiary form. It was actually really sweet because we saw a number of guests going to the topiaries to take photos with that set-up.
Crystal Palace is actually one of the better buffets we’ve been to in a while. It had a decent number of choices for a variety of palates. The staff were also wonderful and seemed very excited to be offering a buffet once again.
So, is Crystal Palace better as a buffet? Well, that depends. We did really like the food overall that was served in the family-style/a la carte combo menu that was offered when this spot first reopened and thought some of it was an improvement on items we had on the buffet of yore. But, the selection was much more limited.
For the same price as the current buffet — $39 for adults — the family style/a la carte menu offered appetizers and desserts that were shared family-style, but guests had to pick a single entree. Now, for the same price you can get as MUCH of any item as you want, making this spot a much better deal.
Truthfully, we did like a good amount of the items on the buffet. Many were good, not great. But some were really unique or very tasty and impressed us. Whether this spot as a buffet is better than its previous meal service is something that will likely depend on you and how you like to dine, what food you like to eat, and how much you want to eat.
What do you think? Would you want to try Crystal Palace as a buffet or do you wish that it had stayed as a family style/a la carte combo meal? Tell us in the comments!
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Tell us your thoughts about this buffet in the comments below!