We all have that one place we go to no matter what when we visit Disney World. That place, for me, has been and always will be dining at the Crystal Palace restaurant.
I have dined here since I was a little girl starting at the age of 5 and have continued to make it a staple with my current trips with my own family almost 30 years later.
What is the Crystal Palace?
This restaurant is a character dining, buffet styled meal nestled in the heart of Magic Kingdom. Its look was inspired by Victorian Greenhouses of the late 1800s. It is surrounded by windows to give you that true greenhouse feel and allows you to enjoy the scenery outside. When you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted by lush greens, topiaries and a glass roof in the atrium. There is seating on either side of the restaurant. This helps keep the congestion down going to and from the buffet. Split sides also helps because while the characters are greeting the other side of the restaurant for pictures and autographs, it will give you and your children a chance to settle in and get your food without the children being too distracted by the characters in the immediate area.
One great benefit about character dining is that you get to meet your favorite characters without waiting in a long line or in the heat and…. BONUS….THEY come to you! Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet are here to take pictures, sign autographs, and say hello during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You will at least meet the characters one time while dining, but sometimes you will be able to see them twice. In addition to taking a photo, the characters will gather the children for a fun parade around the restaurant. This happens about once an hour. Not all children want to participate and that is ok, but if they do, you can get fun pictures of them following their favorite characters around!
Tip: When you are sat, if your server doesn’t tell you the direction the characters are coming from and what tables they will be visiting before they get to yours, ask. This is helpful so you have an idea of how much time you have to get to the buffet and back without missing a character greeting.
Tip: When you see the characters coming, have your camera and/or your autograph books ready to go! This makes the meet and greet much smoother and offers less hassle. If you want your entire family to get in on the picture, ask a nearby cast member for help. If one is not available, you can offer to help the family next to you by taking their picture in exchange for them to take a picture of your family.
The location of this restaurant is perfect! Located to your left as you pass Casey’s Corner on Main Street, it has a direct view of Cinderella’s Castle. As you sit inside enjoying your meal, you can see the hustle and bustle of the park, mid-day parades that go by, and in the distance view performances taking place in front of the castle. It is a fun to see the magic around you while you dine!!
Reservations, the Dining Plan, and Price
Reservations: Reservations for this location can be made 180 days in advance and are recommended early to get your most desired time to dine. If you will be dining with someone under the age of 3, ensure they are included in the party size even though they will be sharing your meal.
Check-In: You will check in for your reservation outside the restaurant at a window located next to the main entrance. There is a covered porch for you to wait while your table is prepared. Take this time to park your strollers in the stroller parking directly in front.
Dining Plan: If you are on a dining plan that includes table service, this restaurant will use 1 table service credit per person (the quick service dining plan is not accepted here).
Price: Character dining is traditionally more expensive since you are paying for the experience! If you are paying out of pocket, the price will vary depending on the season you are going and the time of day for the meal. Generally breakfast prices for adults are up to $30/person and dinner prices for adults are up to $60/person for peak seasons, with lunch falling somewhere in the middle of that range. So if you are on the dining plan, this is an especially wise location to use your credits for dinner as you are paying more for this type of experience.
Tips: Your server’s tip is not included in the above price and will need to be paid. Tips are automatically added to the bill for any party with 6 or more people. Tips are not included in the dining plan.
You can eat at this location for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner. One of the most coveted times is the morning breakfast before the park opens to the general public. This is something special for guests who want to take the opportunity to dine at the location and have the chance of walking down Main Street USA with quite possibly no one but you and your friends and family. This is an ideal time to get photos in front of the castle! Dining starts at 8 AM and goes through 9 PM. **Hours for this location are subject to change based on park hours of operation.
Buffets can sometimes make people question the quality of the food and everyone’s judgement is different, but for me personally, I have never had a disappointing meal here. I favor the crisp salads and fruits and the amazing soups they have to offer in the evening hours. From a small kids section with traditional favorites (like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese), to oven roasted chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, to turkey, peel and eat shrimp, and some fun dessert options, there is something for everyone.
Menu options may change without notice, but traditionally here is what is served:
Breakfast: Enjoy traditional pancakes and waffles, seasonal fresh fruit, assorted breakfast cereals, freshly baked pastries, scrambled eggs and omelet station, breakfast meats, and a variety of potatoes and comfort foods.
Lunch: Mid-day you can enjoy a variety of salads, carved meats, seasonal fish and vegetables, soup, freshly baked breads, pastas, and assorted desserts
Dinner: Settle in and enjoy fresh salads, carved meats, pasta, chicken, beef, fish and vegetable creations, spice boiled shrimp, and delicious house-made sweets and ice cream.
No matter what your preference, there is a wide variety for all guests at this location.
Tip: **If you have special dietary needs while vacationing, make sure you let your Me and the Mouse Agent know so it can be noted on your reservation. Also ensure you tell your server upon arrival to the restaurant, as a precaution. Depending on your needs, they may have the chef come out personally to guide you through what will be best for you!
No matter what time of the day you choose to dine at the Crystal Palace, it is sure to be a fun experience for ALL ages! The easy going atmosphere and fun with characters help to keep my boys entertained while my husband and I get a nice bite to eat! But even for couples or adults only, this is a fun experience all around….and what is the best thing…it is located right in the middle of all the fun and excitement at the Magic Kingdom!
Dining Tip: Make sure to bring a light sweater in those warm months! It may be hot outside, but the air conditioning at the dining locations can be very brisk while you eat. It is best to be comfortable!