It’s been a while since we’ve taken a look at Crystal Palace, the popular character meal hosted by Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet.
Breakfast is served with seating from 8am through 10:45am. Lunch and Dinner are offered from 11:30am through close, which varies given the time of year. The same menu is now served during afternoon and evening meals, which means there’s no lunch discount.
According to Disney, Crystal Palace is “inspired by Victorian greenhouses of the late 1800s.”
And you get a healthy dose of that inside with all of the hanging plants and palm trees.
With windows surrounding the entire seating areas, bright natural light illuminates the space during the day.
Here’s the other side. I particularly like the stained glass up top.
Topiaries at the front of the restaurant foreshadow the characters that typically meet here. We’re actually being photobombed by Eeyore in the back a little bit.
Tigger and piglet on the other side.
This would have worked better a little over to the right…
It’s an interesting atmosphere that might be considered stuffy if it weren’t for the fact that Tigger is going to sneak up and knock you out of your chair in between bites of Winnie the Pooh’s Puffed French Toast.
The buffet area is rather expansive with largely-identical offerings on each side. During breakfast, there’s an omelette station in the center, which converts over to a carving station for lunch and dinner.
I like booking a reservation for as close to 10:45am as possible as it affords an opportunity to hit the buffet for breakfast first. They begin putting out lunch on one side of the buffet around 11:15am, so after nibbling on some breakfast items and meeting a couple characters, you can return to the buffet to either enjoy more of the breakfast items on one side or skip ahead and hit the lunch side.
As you are hopefully aware, Disney lets all guests enter Magic Kingdom well before opening these days with the Welcome Show taking place at the Castle Forecourt Stage in front of Cinderella Castle. That means there is no touring advantage to a pre-opening breakfast. After you exit the restaurant, you’ll join this crowd.
Let’s take a look at breakfast first:
Pooh’s Corner is worth seeking out for the Puffed French Toast.
Which is also where you’ll find the Mickey Waffles.
The dense, fried bread has a crispy exterior with a delightfully sweet cinnamon/sugar coating. Not everyone is in love with it, but that is the joy of buffets – try a piece without committing to a whole entree. The Mickey Waffles are reliably fresh with that wonderful malty flavor to them – nice and light underneath the syrup.
Pastrami Smoked Salmon, Tomatoes, and Cheese. The smoked salmon and cheese were of decent grocery store quality. I’m not getting within ten feet of those tomatoes, though.
Red Onion and Capers down on the left.
Hard-boiled eggs, jam, cream cheese, and butter – ideally not together.
Strawberries, Pineapple, Ambrosia Salad, and Fruit Salad. I liked the ambrosia salad, probably due to the addition of the heavy cream and marshmallows.
Then down to the left we have Strawberry Yogurt, Berry Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese.
Biscuits, Breakfast Potatoes, and Potato Casserole.
The potatoes have multiplied…They were covered in a nice blend of spices and cooked up to the appropriate texture – soft but not at all mushy. I preferred the cheesiness of the casserole, but either works.
Kielbasa with Onions, Breakfast Pizza, and Sausage Gravy.
The sausage had a little bit of a spiciness to it, though I’m not sure these breakfast pizzas ever really work.
If you luck into a slice right after it’s served it might be okay, but the pizzas dry out fast.
It’s always nice when it’s not a choice between one or the other. The bacon was nice and crisp and the sausage had a surprisingly satisfying snap to it. Both good.
Scrambled Eggs and a “Philly Cheese Frittata,” the look of which scared me away from trying it.
Just kidding. You know I don’t have a choice. It actually worked pretty well and I think the cheese did a nice job of insulating everything so it was incredibly hot with a spiciness from the thick slices of green pepper and a surprising amount of lean beef. You might try it even if it initially appears daunting.
A rather sad picture of the pancakes and grits, the latter of which was nice and creamy.
Fresh pancakes are on the way it looks like. This is officially the “omelette station,” but they’ll cook you up eggs in your desired style.
Here are the choices.
My Ham and Cheese was prepared well. It’s nice to have the option of picking something up that’s made seconds before being served.
Oatmeal is available in case you want to go in that direction.
Along with milk.
Bananas, Chocolate Croissants, Carrot Raisin Muffins, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, and Granola.
The Breakfast Lasagna is surprisingly intense and consists of about 40 ingredients meticulously put together. As you might expect, it’s incredibly rich and sweet, but somehow “just works.” There’s a lot going on.
Bread, croissants, or pastries. Choose wisely.
Of course, characters are a big part of why you might want to reserve a meal here. Kim and family were nice enough to invite me along to a second meal, which almost never happens. You might remember my Chef Mickey’s brunch review from around this time last year. At one time not too long ago, the Winnie the Pooh characters were relatively easy to meet as they greeted regularly at Hollywood Studios around the Sorcerer’s Hat, Animal Kingdom at the old boat dock, and Epcot in the UK Pavilion to short or nonexistent waits. Now, they are much rarer and this is the only spot you’ll ordinarily find Eeyore and Piglet. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger meet next to their attraction at Magic Kingdom, but the location is outdoors and waits are typically 20-30 minutes. In other words, Crystal Palace may have more value than it did a few years ago since it’s the only way to get pictures with some of these characters at Walt Disney World.
Character interaction is usually a mixed bag depending on where you’re sitting.
We were apparently seated in an inopportune spot as we had to wait a bit for Tigger and Piglet to finally arrive. Luckily, our server noticed and handed the table a paper FastPass good for any attraction, including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I’d gladly trade an extra 15 minutes in air-conditioning and an unlimited supply of soft serve in order to jump the 90+ minute standby wait at a key attraction.
But Tigger in particular is a lot of fun.
At $34.08 with tax for adults and $20.24 for kids, Crystal Palace pricing is about average for meals in similar settings. ‘Ohana, Cape May Cafe, Garden Grill, Tusker House, and Hollywood & Vine breakfasts are the same price. The iconic Chef Mickey’s is $42.60, while Cinderella’s Royal Table is $62.95 and Akershus is $50.06.
Overall, I was satisfied with the selection of food at Crystal Palace – all of the items were being constantly refreshed and there was plenty of variety. You can do pretty well with a freshly-prepared omelette and a side of the Breakfast Lasagna and Puffed French Toast, in addition to some breakfast meat. I’d recommend the experience if these are the characters you’d like to meet.
Piglet’s delay also afforded an opportunity to take some photos of the spread that’s offered for lunch and dinner. This is the Kids’ station with Chicken Nuggets, Macaroni and Cheese, a combination of peas and carrots, and some good-looking chicken drumsticks.
Caesar Salad, Croutons, Multigrain rolls, Parker House Rolls, Cornbread Muffins.
Oil and Vinegar, Parmesan Cheese, Whipped Butter, and Mixed Greens. (Probably don’t put the butter on the salad but who knows really.)
Ranch, Zinfandel, and Sesame Salad Dressings.
Cucumber and Red Onion Salad, Edamame Salad, Moroccan Couscous Salad, Spinach and Tomato Salad, Beet Salad, Mediterranean Pasta Salad.
I’m routinely impressed by the quality and variety of Crystal Palace’s cold salads – these are really refreshing on hot days.
I was happy to see a big increase in the size of the Peel-and-Eat Shrimp there. Still not as good as fresh cocktail shrimp, of course, but once you peel these, there’s at least something inside. There’s also Carrots, Red Potato Salad, Lemons, Green Apple, and Fruit.
The shrimp used to look like this – so small and slimy.
Sauteed Green Beans, Fire-roasted Corn Spoon Bread, Sauteed Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes.
Oven-roasted Chicken, Steam Rice, “Bangers and Cabbage.”
Jambalaya, Collards and Ham, Honey Glazed Carrots.
Among three other talents, producing unattractive buffet plates is something I have always excelled at. A second talent is ending sentences with prepositions. I was impressed by the jambalaya, which had a nice spicy quality to it and was absolutely packed with shrimp and sausage. The couscous was incredibly light and flavorful and the pasta was prepared well with a lot of vegetables.
Artichoke Cream Pasta and “Cheese Perogies [sic]” with the Jambalaya again.
Herb-crusted Tilapia with Tomato Olive Relish alongside Honey Soy-glazed Salmon. Two more standout dishes.
It looked like clam chowder.
“Grilled Flank Steak – Demi-glazed and Horseradish Whip.”
Roasted Turkey with Turkey Gravy and Cranberry Sauce.
Hazelnut Cream Puffs, Ginger Molasses Cookies, Seasonal Spiced Cannoli, Honey Pot, No Sugar Added Raspberry Tart, S’mores Tart.
Toffee Molten Brownie Bites and Warm Caramel Apple Tartlets.
Ice cream, of course.
Lunch/Dinner pricing is higher. With tax, the cost is $47.93 for anyone 10+ and $28.76 for kids between the ages of three and nine But there is quite a lot of variety and with steak, salmon, and shrimp offered, you can load up on pricier offerings. Non-alcoholic beverages and dessert are also included. If I was going to return, I think it would be for a late afternoon meal. You can get some mileage out of a quick breakfast, a big lunch, and then potentially share something or stop for dessert later in the evening.
Overall, Crystal Palace is probably “worth it” if the character interaction and picture-taking opportunities are an integral part of your vacation. If not, Be Our Guest dinner may be a better choice, which I reviewed positively again last week. Skipper Canteen serves relatively interesting food and is an easier reservation to secure if you want to go in that direction. But I wasn’t mad after leaving Crystal Palace. I think the food will be better than you’re expecting.