Character meals are for the adults, well at least this one adult who is in love with Walt Disney World. But for those of us who have children, watching a child hug a Disney character is wonderful for the kids visiting the parks, but also a gift for parents and grandparents as well. Maybe more than anything, that is why Character meals are so popular. (Check this summary.)
Trip Advisor rates Crystal Palace 16 of 1,220 Restaurants in Orlando
Buffets are a wonderful value at Walt Disney World and over time I’ll get to many of them through stories and pictures, especially one of my favorites, Trails End. But today I want to talk about the first character meal Mary Ann and I attended, and that is at the Crystal Palace Restaurant along with the residents of 100 Acre Wood.
Mary Ann and I attended the breakfast buffet (8:00 – 10:30am) the very first thing in the morning; lunch (11:30am – 3:00pm) and dinner (starting at 4:00pm) is also served. But operating hours do vary, so ask when you are making reservations. This traditional American breakfast buffet features Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore, the only meal with these characters. The building itself is arguably the most beautiful at Walt Disney World. It is located left of the Castle off Main Street and just short of Adventureland. Admission to the park is required no matter what time you arrive.
Were you aware that the Crystal Palace Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom is inspired by the actual Crystal Palace? That was a cast-iron and glass building originally erected in Hyde Park, London, England, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.
At Disney the Victorian design remains, with windows and glass throughout, which does bring in plenty of light. It is a wonderful facility and I highly recommend a visit if only to see the elegant surroundings and take pictures. During the late fall/early winter of 2009/10, the Crystal Palace was undergoing renovations. However I can’t locate any pre-post pictures yet to compare the changes.
You should expect to wait a little bit for a table, even with ADRs. Once you enter, you will see character topiaries of Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger. During the holidays, trees and lights abound, which makes it an even more glorious space.
After being seated, you will soon see Winnie and friends begin to make the rounds of the room. There is seating areas in the center and along the windows, but don’t worry about meeting the characters, they will stop, greet and hug everyone. There is plenty of opportunity for pictures. What is really nice about a character meal, is that you don’t have to wait in line, the entertainment comes right to you.
The breakfast buffet is $21 for adults and $12 for children. This large selection includes traditional favorites such as omelets, which by itself made the breakfast a wonderful meal for Mary Ann; plus cereals and freshly baked pastries, as well as more unique offerings such as breakfast lasagna and cheddar cheese potatoes. Here’s the breakfast menu
from AllEars.Net .
For me the puffed up sugar and cinnamon French Toast, breakfast meats and potatoes filled my plate the first time. And I never leave any breakfast at the World without finding a Mickey Waffle. (Here's a list from the Disney Food Blog as to where to find them.) But the most filling of entrees is the Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna; the Disney Food Blog (the most delicious web site for any Disney fan) did a story and picture feature. (And here's the recipe of the Breakfast Lasagna from AllEars.Net.)
For lunch you will find many different salads, sandwich meat, vegetables, chicken, pork BBQ and Salmon. Lunch is $23 for adults and $13 for children, and here is the lunch menu
from AllEars.Net. I can’t speak from first hand knowledge, only from the reviews and guest comments I’ve seen the shrimp, prime rib, salmon, pork and roasted garlic mashed potatoes seem to be well appreciated.
There is also a "Pooh Corner”, the Crystal Palace's buffet just for kids! Here are the chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and pizza. I’m sure they will like it. The overall meal is also a big buffet with a many choices to make a meal for anyone. But if you are on a special diet, be sure to call in advance. Disney will do anything they can to accommodate your dietary needs.
For dinner, the buffet abounds with American favorites. There are plenty of salads and dressings, peel-your-own shrimp, soups, potatoes, and several vegetable dishes. The main dishes include prime rib, chicken, pork, pasta and a special salmon (see photo below), along with dishes with spice such as curry, cinnamon, mango and papaya.
And remember, take a little, enjoy that, and go back for seconds and thirds or whatever. I always get my money’s worth but to do that, spread it out. Dinner is $33.00 for adults and $16.00 for children. And tax/gratuity is extra for all meals. Here’s the AllEars.Net Dinner Menu
Ancho Chile Rubbed Atlantic Salmon
Desserts change over time, but here are some of the past listed items: cheesecakes, apple cobbler, puddings and gelatins, peanut butter and carrot cakes, various pies, double chocolate brownie, cookies, and coconut flan. And of course, there is the sundae bar. Hungry yet?
Some things to remember about The Crystal Palace:
Back to our breakfast visit; each of the four characters made it around the full room during what appeared to be one full seating. Interesting how that happens. And during our visit as I’m sure many times during the day, Pooh and friends parade all the children around the room twirling napkins, chanting and having fun.
- First, make reservations early. You can do that 180 days in advance and I recommend that you study and plan for all your meals even before you set your visit dates, and then make your reservations the earliest you can. The phone number is (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463.
- Bring your camera and video cam. These are shots you don’t want to miss, not just the characters but the building. And bring your autograph book. During our last trip we bought those new push button Sharpies that work very well and have different colors.
- If this structure were anywhere else, it might be more formal dining, but in the Magic Kingdom its shorts and casual wear. And remember also that meal selections can change from time to time.
- Move around, you’ll see duplicate offerings on different tables; you don’t have to follow a single line. This makes it easier to secure your food quickly. Eat a little, return for more. As with any buffet, getting it all at once is just not best way to sample all the dishes.
A lot of people never make the sit-down restaurants due to the cost, but you need to do at least one Character Meal each visit. It’s a rule I think. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, that’s usually not a problem, but if not and you’re with kids (even adult kids like me) you really do need to do this, if not this Character Meal, one that has your favorite characters. There is so much to eat a buffet, you can skip a meal to make this visit and snack for your next meal.
I can’t stress enough the importance of making advance reservations. There was more than a one hour wait for breakfast on a weekday morning when we were there. Do you believe your kids will enjoy themselves waiting to be called in? I don’t think so. Avoid all of that and make an ADR for this and all table-service meals you really want to do, well in advance to get the best selections.
Making Disney World Dining Reservations
Disney reservations for character meals at the parks or at the resorts can be made at Disney World Dining online or by phone at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. Guests staying at WDW resorts may make dining reservations for their entire length of stay once that window begins, up to 10 additional days.
For more information and pictures, here is another Disney Food Blog story, this one from last year about the Crystal Palace breakfast: A Great Reason to Get up Early. Some other fan web sites and blogs with information on the Crystal Palace include:OnlyWDWorld, DIS Dining; the Trip Advisor ; AllEars.Net Crystal Palace Breakfast, and Lunch/Dinner; and DIS Guest Reviews.
T-T-F-N from A World View - Enjoying Walt Disney World.