The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom is often the table service restaurant many families with young children turn to to meet their character dining needs. With Winnie the Pooh and Friends all together in one place, you can enjoy a pretty budget-friendly meal and snap out a few memorable photos as well. Still, to be honest, some people hate this restaurant…while others love it. Here’s why we could go either way, and what you should consider if booking The Crystal Palace on your next Disney vacation.
We’ll be frank. There are a lot of variables that go into restaurant reviews. Walt Disney World restaurants offer even more variables! If you’ve been researching The Crystal Palace chances are you’ve seen it on the Best list and on the Worst list.
But here’s the thing.
The Crystal Palace isn’t in the business of fine dining to appease the Disney foodies. If you want that, go ahead and book California Grill. The Crystal Palace is a budget-friendly, buffet style, family sit down restaurant with characters that visit your table throughout your meal. Consider it the equivalent of dinner theater dining. You’re eating, but really – you’re just there for the show.
The Crystal Palace is aimed at young families so expect the highchairs with children who love pooh, expect little kids jumping around the place and joining in on the parade. If you have toddlers, this is your restaurant. If you’re a grown up looking for a haute couture Winnie the Pooh experience, or extremely high quality food for 35 dollars, this is not it.
The Pros and Cons of Breakfast at The Crystal Palace.
- The littles are everywhere! Get ready for cuteness overload with little ones dressed up in princess gear or pooh shirts. Its a super fun, lively atmosphere.
- Buffet style food. No matter what picky eaters you’re bringing here, there is surely something they will like to eat.
- Cost. At 35 bucks a plate, 55 at dinner this character dining restaurant falls in line with Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios and the Garden Grill in Epcot. Good for your budget.
- Location: We’ll go into this more later. But the ability to position yourself in the most desired location in Magic Kingdom makes this restaurant a nice option if you want to get ahead of the crowds for castle shows, parades, and fireworks.
- The littles are everywhere. If you are a more grown up family or have teens, get ready for scowls and eye rolling. No one should be this joyful.
- Buffet style food. Honestly we don’t love buffet style food. We don’t love the warmers, we don’t love the weird salads, and the fact that at the end of it, your plate isn’t really themed to any one set of flavors. You can easily combine hawaiian pork with a mexican omelet and some apple french toast and call it a meal.
- It’s Basic. This is your typical American fare. You won’t really find new flavors here, or special drinks. You won’t find a to-die-for dessert. But it meets the “we gotta eat” need.
What Time is Best for Breakfast Reservations at Crystal Palace?
There is a strategy for booking breakfast at The Crystal Palace. Not because its difficult to get reservations ( that would be Be Our Guest). But because you’re going to want to be aware of the time.
The Crystal Palace sits catty corner from Cinderella’s Castle, making it the most strategic location for practically any parade, castle show, or fireworks display. To take the best advantage of early morning emptiness at WDW now that you’re up against the new rope drop ceremony we’d recommend a breakfast reservation pretty close to 8am here at The Crystal Palace or at Be Our Guest. You could also book a later breakfast around 11 am to act as your breakfast/lunch for the day if you’re watching costs and still want to be close to the Friendship Faire Show at 12 noon at the Castle.
The Characters at The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace is a buffet restaurant where the characters make the rounds while you’re eating. We have a love/hate relationship with character dining because you never really know when they’re going to pop by your table. And they will, regardless of whether or not you have spinach in your teeth or a coffee stain down your shirt, hug you like crazy while someone takes pictures of the whole ordeal.
It is however a small price to pay for a little extra character magic in the morning, and Crystal Palace is the ONLY place on park property where you’ll find Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eyeore together, with the exception of the Halloween and Christmas parties.
Crystal Palace Breakfast Buffet Menu Options
Your meal will start with beverages. Our waiter Ariel was wonderful. He brought waters, and juice and coffee. And you don’t actually need to “order” the coffee… if you’re a grown up they’ll assume you need it and bring it by anyway. Obviously a major plus.
The buffet at Crystal Palace is a double aisle with the same things on both sides, and an omelet station at the center. A selection of eggs, veggies, hash browns, fruit, salmon, pastries and ice cream await you. And as an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet, you can go back for as many servings as you like.
Pooh Bear and Friends at Crystal Palace Restaurant
Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by Eyeore in the foyer. Pictures are taken here before being seated. The hostess will share where the characters are in the rotation and when your table may be visited. As with any buffet restaurant, involving characters we would recommend visiting the buffet in shifts. While seated you’ll be visited by Pooh, Piglet and Tigger.
Crystal Palace Buffet Breakfast Food
The food at Crystal Palace is your basic buffet fare at the price of around 35 a person. The Puffed French Toast is the “reason” most people book this breakfast. While it’s legacy is not as well known as the Kona Tonga Toast, it is just as lovely and more kid-friendly. It’s a puffed up dutch baby type French dough with cinnamon and sugar, and definitely worth a try.
For the grown ups you can visit the Omelet station where an extremely experienced chef will add whatever you want to the omelet they cook fresh on the grill. It makes for an extra healthy, protein-rich breakfast to start your busy Disney day. The food quality is pretty decent considering this is one of the cheapest table service options available.
Crystal Palace Atmosphere
Dinner is definitely more harried than breakfast. Especially if you’re aiming for an earlier reservation you will not be rushed in and out as you would during the dinner time meals. We’ve been here for dinner before and actually left before ever getting a chance to see the characters. At breakfast you can expect a calmer crowd. People are still cheery this time of day and don’t rush you out to fit other guests in. If we had to pick which meal is best at this restaurant it would be breakfast.
Some Reasons to Try The Crystal Palace for Breakfast
- Characters: You won’t be seeing the Hundred Acre gang all together in one place anywhere else. Consider this your one stop shop to get in some wonderful character pics, without waiting in line for an hour. These are also the most top-notch characters! They have major interaction skills and love playing around. Getting the characters all in one place saved us hours waiting in lines. We use character dining as the same strategy at Trattoria al Forno and Akershus for the princesses as well.
- Food: As budget friendly as buffets are we don’t necessarily love the food-sitting-under-a-warmer feel of the typical buffet restaurant. Crystal Palace however seems to take a lot of care with the food here and an early breakfast reservation will get you fresher food. Frankly it probably moves so fast out of the buffet dishes that it doesn’t really have a chance to cool down to “warm” anyway. The food is fresh, the pastries light, and there is ice cream if you want a morning treat.
- Cost: At about 35 dollars a plate this restaurant is the bottom rung of the budget restaurant options. Your other options are quick service ( which are sometimes just as good, food wise).
- Location: We can’t stress enough how important the location, location, location is here. An early reservation gets you front row access to the New Rope Drop Ceremony, the castle show, the main street dancers, and every other thing that goes up and down Main Street. Being this close to the action this early in the day without fighting the crowds could get you closer to the rides you want and closer to the castle.
- Atmosphere: You can show up somewhat casual to the Crystal Palace. Flip flops are fine, and mickey ears are expected. The cast members are super friendly and will offer lemon water while you wait for your table and you can relax and eat for as long as needed. The whole atmosphere is cheery and fun and you even get to see a Celebration parade through the restaurant every half hour or so.
Hopefully you get a chance to try this easy going breakfast at Magic Kingdom. It truly is a fun experience, and if you want to see Pooh and Friends, this is the best place to get that chance. Let us know what you think of your next meal here! We here such polar opposite reviews we’d love to get a consensus going!