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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Restaurant Review: Crystal Palace

It's been a while since I've done a restaurant review, so I thought I'd dive back into Disney dining. Up this time is a Magic Kingdom favorite: The Crystal Palace.

The Crystal Palace is located in the Magic Kingdom (as if you hadn't figured that out from the intro) on the west side of the hub on Main Street, just before the entrance to Adventureland.

Quick Facts:
This is a table-service character dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Characters featured usually are Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. The restaurant serves all buffet-style meals. The Crystal Palace participates in the Disney Dining Plan and requires one table-service credit per person. Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR's) are highly recommended as this is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) restaurants in the Magic Kingdom.

The Crystal Palace (as the photo above suggests) is bright and open in it's Victorian design. There are windows everywhere, which afford a nice view of Cinderella's Castle (especially if you're sitting along the windows). There are plenty of flowers and other plants throughout the restaurant. It is generally divided into two segments (left and right) with a dual-line buffet in the middle (similar to the layout at Hollywood & Vine at Disney's Hollywood Studios).

I have had the opportunity to dine at The Crystal Palace for both breakfast and dinner (the lunch and dinner menus are the same). The breakfast menu offers your typical breakfast fare with scrabled eggs, bacon, sausage, sausage gravy, biscuits, pastries, fruit, Mickey waffles and pancakes. The quality of the food is pretty good and the service (as always) is outstanding. My children especially liked the Mickey waffles, while I was a fan of the sausage gravy and eggs.
The dinner buffet features a couple of salad options (including pasta salad), peel-and-eat shrimp, carved roast beef, carved roast turkey, various vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a wide selection of desserts. The buffet also has several children's selections such as cheese pizza, chicken strips (or nuggets), mac-n-cheese, green beans and more.
While I thought the breakfast options were good, they were similar to other offerings in Walt Disney World (see my review of Hollywood & Vine at DHS), I found the dinner menu to be oustanding. The carved roast turkey was amazing. I kept going back for more. We had dinner during MouseFest week (in early December 2008) at around 5, just before Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and it wasn't all that crowded. Guests were able to move through the buffet fairly quickly. And you needed to be able to move through the buffet quickly because you never knew when the characters were coming to your table.
Speaking of characters, The Crystal Palace is a great place to meet some of your favorite friends from The Hundred Acre Wood. Both times I've dined at Crystal Palace, the characters spent a decent amount of time at each table, allowing guests to get autographs and pictures.
This is one of the Disney restaurants I highly recommend for guests with kids. The food is family-friendly and the characters are a delight to see.
So be sure to give The Crystal Palace a try on your next Disney trip.

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