Review of the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom
The Crystal Palace is a character dining restaurant in the Magic Kingdom where you get to meet characters from The Hundred Acre Woods (ie, Winnie the Pooh and Friends.)
According to Mickey Wiki, the Crystal Palace is as old as the park itself, but originally was a very different format: cafeteria-style, with no upright-walking bears or donkeys to come along and hug you while you eat. It wasn’t until 1996 that the restaurant changed into the format it is today.
I have fond memories of my mother reading The House at Pooh Corner to me and my brother when I was young, and even as an adult The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is one of my favorite Disney movies. So it’s no surprise that I’m somewhat biased toward Crystal Palace right from the get-go.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where is Crystal Palace in Disney World?
- 2 Crystal Palace Architecture and Inspiration
- 3 What Characters are at Crystal Palace?
- 4 Is Crystal Palace a Buffet?
- 5 Crystal Palace Prices
- 6 Crystal Palace Menu
- 7 Crystal Palace Breakfast Before the Park Opens
- 8 Can you See “Happily Ever After” from the Crystal Palace?
- 9 Crystal Palace vs. Similar Restaurants
- 10 Crystal Palace Recipes
Where is Crystal Palace in Disney World?
The Crystal Palace is located at the end of Main Street, USA, on the left side as you enter the park, on the path toward Adventureland. It is next to/behind Casey’s Corner.
Crystal Palace Architecture and Inspiration
According to WDW News Today, the design of the Crystal Palace is San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, which was completed in 1879.
And what was The Conservatory of Flowers inspired by? The Conservatory in Kew Gardens, England, which was built in a late Victorian style.
Here’s a photo of San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers:
And here’s Disney’s Crystal Palace:
What Characters are at Crystal Palace?
The cast of characters are pretty straightforward and are the same at breakfast, lunch, and dinner: Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh.
Is Crystal Palace a Buffet?
Yes, like most (but not all) character dining, Crystal Palace is a buffet. You do need reservations, and it counts as one Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
Crystal Palace Prices
The prices listed below are from Touring Plans and do not include tax. Lunch begins at 11:30am.
- $38.00 for adults (ages 10 and up)
- $23 for kids (ages 3-9)
Lunch and Dinner Prices
- $52.00 for adults (ages 10 and up)
- $31.00 for kids (ages 3-9)
Crystal Palace Menu
This is your basic basic breakfast buffet. There is a scrambled egg and omelette station, which is a nice touch, and things like:
- Scrambled eggs
- Fresh fruit
- Mickey Waffles
- Puffed French Toast
- Potato Casserole
When we went, I thought the breakfast food was good, but nothing particularly amazing.
Lunch and Dinner Menu
There is a section called “Pooh’s Corner Children’s Buffet” that has things like chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and steamed peas and carrots.
The regular buffet includes things like:
- Rolls with Butter
- Various Salads
- Tomato Basil Soup
- Roasted Striploin of Beef
- Roast Peach BBQ Glazed Pork
- Oak-Grilled Rotisserie Chicken
- Banger Sausage with Collard Greens
- “Hunny” Glazed Carrots
- Vegan Pesto Pasta
- S’mores Tarts
- Hunny Mousse Pot
- Gloomy Blueberry Mousse Dome Cake
- Pink and Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- The California Grill at the Contemporary Resort
- ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort (specifically, going to Sunset Point after dinner)
- The outdoor terrace outside Chef Mickey’s or Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort
The Disney Food Blog lists several desserts, including
Does the Crystal Palace Serve Alcohol?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: Magic Kingdom was “dry” from its opening in 1971 all the way until 2012, when Be Our Guest opened and had alcohol on the menu.
Apparently Disney must have gotten a lot of positive feedback (and made a lot of money?) with that move, because only six years later, in 2018, every table service in the Magic Kingdom (including Crystal Palace) started serving alcohol (and still do).
I have to be honest: I’m not sure that I like that. I’m not a teetotaler, but there’s something incongruent to me about dining with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet while drinking a beer. Silly, I know.
Anyway, regardless of what I think about it, the drink menu includes beer and hard cider, various wines, and mimosa.
Crystal Palace Breakfast Before the Park Opens
One nice possible perk about breakfast at the Crystal Palace is that you can reservations as early as 8:00am, even though the park doesn’t open 9:00am (if you’re lucky enough to be able to get a reservation, which so far I haven’t been).
This has a few advantages:
1) You get to check “Eat breakfast” and “Meet four characters” off your to-do list before the park even opens;
2) You’re already inside the park the second it opens (although, in the case of Crystal Palace, you are behind the Fantasyland Rope Drop, so it’s not as big an advantage;
3) You can enter the park as early as 7:45am, wander around a little, and take some photos.
Note: Some people say that if you get a pre-park opening breakfsat “you get Main Street all to yourself.” However, from what I understand, these people are exaggerating quite a bit. Or, more accurately, that used to be the case, but isn’t anymore.
Can you See “Happily Ever After” from the Crystal Palace?
If you’re not familiar, Happily Ever After is the 18-minute “fireworks extravaganza” in the Magic Kingdom. It replaced Wishes in May 2017 and, unlike Wishes, includes a lot of laser projections in addition to pyrotechnics.
Although having dinner at the Crystal Palace while watching Happily Ever After sounds like a good idea, it doesn’t really work. Because of the projections, you’ll want to get a good view of the Cinderella Castle, and there will probably be people on the porch blocking your view.
According to Disney blogger Tom Bricker, if you want a good view of Happily Ever After from a restaurant, you’ll be better off at:
Narcoossee’s at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Crystal Palace vs. Similar Restaurants
When it comes to finalizing your Advance Dining Reservations, people often have it narrowed down to two somewhat similar choices, as in, “I can’t decide whether we should do This or That.”
Here are a few “thats” that are often considered along with Crystal Palace, with some thoughts on how the two choices compare.
Crystal Palace or Tony’s Town Square
I think of Tony’s Town Square — also located on Main Street, on the opposite side — as “the forgotten Disney World restaurant.” I never hear anyone talk about it. If you had asked me last week to name 7 restaurants at the Magic Kingdom, I’m sure Tony’s Town Square wouldn’t have to come to my mind.
We ate there on our very first trip to Disney. We were trying to save money on our trip and made no dining reservations and knew nothing about any of the restaurants. One day at the Magic Kingdom around lunchtime we said, “We’re hungry, what restaurants are nearby?” looked at a map, and just wandered in to Tony’s. That was the only time we ate on Disney property during the entire trip. It was Fine but Forgettable.
It’s hard to really compare the two, since they have nothing in common other than being sit-down restaurants on Main Street. If you’re looking for good table service at the Magic Kingdom but don’t want a buffet or the noise of a character meal, and you like Italian food, then I would say that Tony’s is a good option choice.
Crystal Palace or Liberty Tree Tavern
Liberty Tree Tavern, located in Liberty Square is another lunch and dinner option at the Magic Kingdom that isn’t a buffet and doesn’t involve either big furry creatures or princesses. It has a colonial-style theme and “New England style fare.”
It’s hard for me to compare the food between the two restaurants since I’ve only had breakfast at the Crystal Palace and lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern. So I went searching for others’ opinions.
Crystal Palace has better food. At the very least you will have far more variety and more choices at CP which includes pretty much the main things you will get at Liberty Tree Tavern anyway (roasted meats, gravy, mashed potatoes) plus so much more to choose from. The Liberty Tree Tavern dinner menu is very limited. Overall the quality itself isn’t any different, but Crystal Palace wins for variety and choice.
and Got15 says:
We love dinner at Crystal Palace! We are not big fans of buffets- but my kiddos love Pooh & crew- its super fun- and has a great selection of fresh items. I can always find a good array of salads and proteins. The deserts at Crystal Palace are meh- better to grab something else in the park.
Liberty Tree Tavern is nice- but bland. I have given Liberty Tree Tavern a go with our family a few times but its always running behind, im not crazy about a heavy meal, but I love that Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake! If I could do desert at LTT and the food at CP- i would be happy!
Crystal Palace or Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest is located in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It is nota character meal, although you might see the Beast at dinner. Like Crystal Palace, you can get pre-park opening reservations for breakfast.
I have never eaten at Be Our Guest, and have no plans to any time soon. It seems to get really mixed reviews: some people rave about it, but many others say it’s the most overrated restaurant in Disney World.
Here are some other opinions I found about which of these two restaurants is best for breakfast:
We’ve done both (Crystal Palace many times), and we would choose Crystal Palace any day over Be Our Guest. We found the breakfast at BOG to be terribly overpriced, and just not good. The pastries were very boring and dry. The main courses were very small, and just not satisfying. We were very disappointed with Be Our Guest.
Now, we’ve always had great breakfasts at Crystal Palace. The buffet always had fresh, hot choices and very good pastries/sweets. Plus, you get the Pooh characters (Eeyore is my favorite), so that’s a great bonus.
I personally prefer Crystal Palace! I was not a huge fan of the breakfast food at Be Our Guest. However it is quicker to do Be Our Guest if you aren’t looking to sit interact with characters. We generally go in and get our first must do rides out of the way and then head to Crystal Palace for a late brunch:) I book all our Fast Passes for the early afternoon when it tends to be super busy.
NancyG56 says your itinerary should be taken into consideration as well:
I would make my choice based on where I wanted to begin touring. We have been choosing Be Our Guest and after we are through we head to Peter Pan. I know a lot of people head to the Mine Train, and next time so will we, but we love the standby queue for Peter Pan. That attraction back up quickly, so we like the short wait.
I also think that if you are not a big breakfast eater, Crystal Palace is an expensive way to get that Main Street picture. I would book Be Our Guest, get to the park early enough to be in front of the line, and order one meal to split. There is enough for two when you consider the pastry plate (which seems to change a bit. One time it is mini pastries that are really lovely, and the next time it is the larger pastries cut in half. Still good but not as good).
And North of Mouse sums it up by saying:
If you’re going for the food – I’d say Crystal Palace, if for the location to start your touring day – then Be Our Guest.
Crystal palace or 1900 Park Fare
1900 Park Fare is located at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I’ll be visiting for my first time (for dinner) on our next trip.
What made me decide on 1900 Park Fare?
1) I’ve already been to Crystal Palace and wanted to try something new;
2) I like the idea of leaving the park and having a more relaxed meal at a resort;
3) Cinderella’s stepsisters are supposedly hilarious.
The characters at 1900 Park Fare are different depending on when you go:
The Supercalifragilistic Breakfast has Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Md Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger.
Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner has Cinderella and Prince Charming, plus Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella (ie, the evil stepmother and stepsisters).
If you’re trying to decide between Crystal Palace or 1900 Park Fare for dinner, here are some comments that might help you decide:
Tough call! Food wise, the food is similar giving a slight edge to Crystal Palace. You can’t really go wrong with the characters at either. Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters are worth the price of admission alone at 1900 Park Fare. As others have said, it really just boils down to which set of characters everyone in the party would get the most out of and enjoy more.
MouseFan73 votes against Crystal Palace:
We found the Crystal Palace just one big mess of little, screaming kids, running about and making messes everywhere. Nothing against kids ( have 2 myself). but I think that by default this place draws families with smaller kids, so almost every table has very young kids, hot and tired by dinner time. . and when you get that many together it’s a mess.
1. It is IN magic kingdom ( parents find it too exhausting to schlept strollers and kids outside of MK and then back in)
2. Winnie Pooh and friends just draws little boy and girls.
But ChicagoDisFan votes for it:
Okay, I will be the lone cheerleader for Crystal Palace! We have gone there on 6 different trips for dinner and always have a wonderful time!
I think the food there is great. They had two types of grilled fish on our last trip along with a carving station and wonderfully creative cold salads that I really enjoy. The restaurant is gorgeous and is light and airy. And the character interaction is excellent! We love the characters and we always get the best pictures there because everyone (them and us) is so happy! And the friendship parade that they do around the restaurant is adorable.
Now that being said, my kids (ages 9 (turned 10 on our trip), 6, and 2) love Pooh and friends. Even the 10 year old loves it. There are a lot of kids but I think that is just part of being a character meal. We did a bunch of character meals on our trip and didn’t find it be nearly as crazy as Minnie’s Dine at Hollywood and Vine and even Tusker House (we love Tusker House too) …
EnchantingOdin thinks the answer rides on two words:
Umm.. does Crystal Palace have Strawberry Soup? I don’t think so. So it’s gotta a be 1900, I mean OBVI.
Seriously though, I think it wins on a few things. First, and most important to me, FOOD. It’s a smaller venue and at a resort. In my experience resort restaurants are just generally better in food quality than park ones.
Second, Character Interaction, unless you have someone in your party who is REALLY into Pooh and the gang, the ‘face’ characters at 1900 offer much more improvised iteration. You can ask them silly questions, and they can joke around with you more. I know Crystal tends to be busier and characters can be rushed. But that can happen anywhere.
Third, ’cause I feel it needs it’s own reason, Strawberry Soup. You can only get it at 1900. Not sure what kind of crack they put in it (this is a joke of course) – but it’s just a-MAZ-ing.
Crystal Palace or Tusker House
ahref=”https://threekidsthreecatsandahusband.com/why-we-love-tusker-house-at-animal-kingdom/” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Tusker House in Animal Kingdom is another great character meal, feature Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald and Daisy Duck.
I’ve been to Tusker House for both breakfast and lunch, and there is no contest: the food is much better and more interesting at Tusker House, especially at breakfast. (Sorry, Pooh!)
I will say, though, that I personally like the atmosphere at Crystal Palace a little bit better. It is brighter and more “fun” than at Tusker House.
Crystal Palace or Chef Mickey
Chef Mickey in the Contemporary Resort is a character buffet that features the “Fab Five” of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto.
For myself, if I had to choose between these two for breakfast, it would be the Crystal Palace. The environment is nicer: more interesting and less noisy.
However, I think breakfast at Chef Mickey could be a better choice for some families. For example, if you’re dining with a 3 or 4 year old boy, they will probably love watching the monorail go by overhead. And most kids just really really (really) want to meet Mickey and the Gang. Also, since Chef Mickey is located in a resort, you can visit on a non-park day.
What about for lunch and dinner? Well, let’s just say that based on what I’ve read, I will never have lunch or dinner at Chef Mickey.
Video — Chef Mickey’s vs. Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace Recipes
It’s always fun to try to replicate your Disney dining favorites when you come back home. As usual, I went digging for some copycat versions of some of the food served at the Crystal Palace.
Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna Recipe
Exclusively at Crystal Palace, this concoction is made with layers of pancakes, waffles, pound cake and fruit. Mmmm … a bit of overkill, if you ask me, but my younger self would have loved it.
Crystal Palace Potato Casserole
Domestic Geek Girl has a recipe that she calls “stupid easy to whip up.” The ingredients are shredded potatoes, sour cream, heavy cream, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. I bet kids would like this, especially my one kid who is a big potato fan. And hey, even though these are called “breakfast potatoes,” I think they would actually work better for dinner.
Genius Kitchen has a copycat recipe that serves 8. It looks very involved (something that you might even want to make over a period of 3 days), but would be very impressive for company or a potluck-style brunch.
This video shows you how to make the French Toast recipe in the Cooking with Mickey Volume Two Cookbook.
Video — Crystal Palace Puffed French Toast Recipe
Now it’s your turn.
What has your experience at the Crystal Palace been like? How does it compare to the other restaurants mentioned above? Have you ever gotten a pre-park opening breakfast reservation, and if so, was Main Street empty?
Let us know below in the comments!