Join us in welcoming guest author Katie McFarland with a guest review of the Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!
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The Crystal Palace is a restaurant that holds a special place in many Disney fans’ hearts.
For me, it was where I discovered Breakfast Lasagna, had dinner with my husband right before he proposed, and where we ate the very first night of our honeymoon.
For many people this is where they first met Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet.
The décor is Victorian elegance with a 1904 World’s Fair-feel. It’s “old fashioned” without feeling stuffy, which is probably in direct relation to the enormous amount of windows in this restaurant.
They offer wonderful views of Cinderella Castle, Main Street USA, and the entrance to Adventureland (and also lots of ducks if that’s your thing).
In addition to the soaring windows, there are stained glass windows all around the restaurant, most notably in the buffet area. And be sure to check out the bathroom – it’s very fancy (much better than the Cinderella’s Royal Table bathroom!).
During the meal, everyone is treated to a meet and greet with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. Periodically, the restaurant will host a kid’s parade during which all of the children in the restaurant are encouraged to go on a jolly walk — set to a lively Winnie tune — with the characters around the tables.
The Crystal Palace is great because it offers so many different options, so there is bound to be something on the line that even the pickiest of eaters is sure to enjoy. My dining partner and I, however, are not picky; so we tried nearly everything on the buffet line.
There were some familiar favorites as well as new items on the menu.
The famous and well-received Ancho Chili rubbed Salmon is no more! (I know – hold back your gasps… .) Instead there was a Mango Black Bean Salsa Salmon, which was very disappointing. The fish was a little dry, and there was not enough of the salsa to make it flavorful.
It really felt like it was just a piece of fish with some beans thrown on top. If I have to chew salmon as many times as I do pork – not good. (Picture note: the salmon is the flaky looking meat at the top right corner behind the mound of turkey and cranberry sauce.)
Speaking of turkey and cranberry sauce… this was delicious! The turkey was moist and so flavorful (like what every Thanksgiving turkey should be), and the cranberry sauce was super chunky and tangy.
The Broccoli with Key Lime Ponzu was tasty as always — not overcooked and had a delightful, yet surprising lime flavor that you wouldn’t expect to taste good when paired with broccoli.
The yellow pile in the bottom right corner of the picture was a sweet potato/butternut squash and bacon ragout. It was …meh; nothing to write home about.
The chicken tenders that I snagged were so delicious! Not at all like a deep fried pre-formed patty! They were all crispy with a juicy center. (Yes, I had to try multiples to make sure I didn’t get lucky with the first few).
And the mashed potatoes …OH MY the mashed potatoes! My dining partner and I agreed that these were the best mashed potatoes that we had ever eaten. They were creamy with some lumps and had a buttery delicious garlic taste.
In addition to the entrees and sides offered, there is a wonderful salad bar. (I probably should have talked about this first, but I was too excited about the mashed potatoes and had to address those right away. ;-))
The edamame salad was cool, crunchy, and refreshing. It was kind of like a healthy cole slaw (with big green pod beans in it)!
There was a cold pasta there that I had never seen before: chipotle pasta. It was packed with flavor but wasn’t overly spicy. The spinach and other veggies made it very tasty and healthy (ya right).
The cucumber salad was boring — it just tasted like a pile of cucumbers with a vinegar dressing, which is great if you’re into that kind of thing. I went back for more edamame salad instead of cucumber salad, though!
The couscous salad had a Mediterranean flavor to it, and was a delightful side to my plate of meat and potatoes.
The baked chicken was also expertly prepared — seasoned to perfection and baked until juicy (and not dry!).
The roast beef was tasty but chewy.
Not pictured is the Pork Marsala. This was absolutely delicious! It had huge pieces of pork and fresh mushrooms, and had a delightful savory flavor. It was to-die-for when spooned on top of the mashed potatoes.
Did I mention the perfect dipping sauce for the Crystal Palace chicken tenders? You guessed it: mashed potatoes.
In addition to the entrée, salad, and side buffet there is a dessert buffet. And in the good name of science and discovery, we tried nearly everything.
My favorite dessert was a new one to me: honey peach cheesecake. It was sweet with a good cream cheese flavor, firm texture, and the honey and peach flavors added a nice tang. Unlike the usual buffet cheesecake, I wanted more…lots more…of this bite-sized cheesecake!
The key lime tart was very creamy, tart (duh), had a thicker graham cracker crust than expected, and was very delicious.
The fancy looking raspberry cake with coconut shavings was good, but tasted like it was just an ordinary cake with a pudding filling. It had a nice raspberry flavor, but there was nothing “WOW-y” about this cake. Pass the honey peach cheesecake, please.
The cannoli tasted like a burnt ice cream cone stuffed with store-bought chocolate icing.
The banana tart had tasty, thick banana custard on top of a tender crust with chocolate bits. It was a very flavorful, bite-sized treat, but nothing that I would repeat (aka — eat more than 1…or 2…of).
We also tried the bread pudding (meh – stick to ‘Ohana’s) and the apple cobbler.
The cobbler consisted of hard apples, was bland, and didn’t have enough filler — pizazz — whatever you want to call it. The only redeeming grace for this cobbler would be if it was covered in yummy ice cream and then topped with a better-tasting cobbler.
Crystal Palace is a great dining spot in the Magic Kingdom and has probably one of, if not THE, most kid/picky-eater friendly buffet menu in the “World”.
I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to dine in Magic Kingdom, looking for a great offering of American & slightly-ethnically themed cuisine, and that is a Winnie the Pooh fan!
Also, this is one of those restaurants that will do something special for you if you are celebrating a special occasion! When my husband and I got engaged they sprinkled little foil Mickeys and glitter all over our table! AND we got a signed Congratulations card from the Pooh characters!
(Editor’s Note: pixie-dusted moments are not guaranteed, however you should note your special occasion on your reservation as well as mention when you check in, and mention it to your server.)
What’s your opinion of the Crystal Palace Restaurant? Is it just for families with kids? Do you recommend this buffet often? Let us know in the comments!