The Crystal Palace, inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, is one of the most beloved and beautiful character dining experiences at Walt Disney World.
Capping out the very end of Main Street, U.S.A. and facing Cinderella’s castle, this unique restaurant was designed after the Crystal Palace originally built in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in London.
Colorful floral arrangements hang from the iron work and the carpet is an ornate pattern with soft pastels. Intricate ceiling domes, large white arches, a plate glass atrium and commanding windows create a beautiful setting for a picture perfect character meal. It is a gorgeous restaurant.
Most guests visit The Crystal Palace not for its beauty, but for the character interaction. Friends from the Hundred Acre Wood draw in the crowds and the sweet characters never disappoint.
My family and I have eaten at The Crystal Palace countless times and each visit, we interact with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. (Though remember, characters are always subject to change.)
Eeyore is my favorite. Obviously.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are traditional American-style buffet character meals. The characters have always been Pooh and friends.
Breakfast hours are 8:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Dinner hours are 3:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The all-you-can-eat buffet price ($35-$59.99) varies according to season and crowd levels. The menu offerings change and rotate often.
Breakfast is the expected American fare like pancakes and waffles, seasonal fruit, pastries, cereals and an omelet station.
Lunch and dinner are very similar and offer traditional items such as salads, soups, carved meats, breads, fish, chicken, vegetables and desserts. There are always kid options like pizza, chicken fingers, French fries and mac-n-cheese.
The large buffet makes this a good option for those with dietary restrictions, limited palates and allergies.
Occasionally near the entrance, there are beautiful floral statues made with the most interesting flowers–in the form of the characters, of course!
The tables in the dining room are placed very close together and because this is a popular character meal, it can be crowded and chaotic at times. The children are often invited to participate in an impromptu parade around the dining room, which is fun and hectic all at once.
As with all character dining experiences, advanced dining reservations are necessary.
Even with advanced dining reservations, check in with the hostess desk and expect to wait outside to be called for your table. On multiple occasions, we have waited well past our reservation time.
Historically, the service has been very, very slow. Consider this dining experience a chance to rest and relax.
The adorable characters help make the excessive waiting worthwhile.
Quick family review for The Crystal Palace:
If you or your kiddos love The Hundred Acre Wood characters, this is a must-do during a day at Magic Kingdom. It is the perfect opportunity to get some cute pictures, coveted autographs and snuggly character hugs.
The food is mediocre and takes a backseat to the character interactions. Don’t book this restaurant if you are in a hurry.
It is an unanimous vote from my family: The Crystal Palace is a must-do if you love Pooh and his cuddly friends, but the food is not the reason to visit.
Final Family Crystal Palace Suggestion:
My daughters suggest this restaurant for Pooh loving guests and families with young children. It is fun!
My husband suggests you skip this character meal. The Crystal Palace is his least favorite Disney restaurant. It is too crowded, too loud and the food is not worth the money.
I suggest you give The Crystal Palace a chance and try it at least once if you love Winnie the Pooh and friends.
Friend-to-Friend, I want you to know:
I highly, highly, highly recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR). Yes, booking meals 180 days before you plan to eat is crazy, but do it. Just. Do. It.
Traveling to The Crystal Palace is pretty straight forward. It is inside the Magic Kingdom, so use whatever mode of transportation gets you to the front gates. If you are staying on property, Disney transportation to the Magic Kingdom can be by bus, boat or monorail, depending on your resort location. If you are not sure of the best route, ask the front desk or concierge.
If you are traveling to the Magic Kingdom from another theme park, take a bus to any of the monorail resorts (The Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, or Contemporary) and then ride the monorail over to Magic Kingdom.
Parking is available at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and the monorail travels from there to the Magic Kingdom. Parking is free if you are staying at a Disney resort. Otherwise, parking is $20 per day.
Because The Crystal Palace is inside the Magic Kingdom, a theme park ticket is required.
Remember: Character meals ALWAYS cost more than regular table service meals. You are paying for the time and interactions with the characters. If you have children or if you love Disney like we do, book character dining! It is soooooo much better than waiting in lines at the theme parks to meet your favorite movie figures and the character interactions aren’t as rushed.
Extra hint: While dining at character meals, the characters COME TO YOU. There is a pattern all characters follow, visiting tables in a certain order. Your party is free to enjoy the meal, as the characters make their way around the restaurant. Every character will eventually get to your table.
If you have a concern, ask the wait-staff for assistance. It is very much so frowned upon if you send your child over to a character during a character’s interaction with another table. Wait your turn, my friend. That is just good character dining etiquette.
Character dining takes time. Schedule at least 1 hour for travel to a character meal and at least 1.5-2.5 hours for dining. If you are in a hurry to use a Fast Pass or to catch an airplane, I do not recommend a character meal.