If you’re looking to meet Winnie The Pooh and friends during your upcoming trip to Walt Disney World, then a buffet meal at Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace is a great way to do so. It removes the queue like atmosphere from the meet & greet and instead leaves the characters coming directly to your table in a more relaxing atmosphere.
Winnie The Pooh is a fan favourite of some of the members of our party who we travelled to Walt Disney World with for our wedding in March 2019. That coupled with fussy eaters and a large party meant we decided to use our table service credit from the free dining plan we booked on at The Crystal Palace during our visit to Magic Kingdom.
We reserved our meal at Crystal Palace around 50 days in advance of our visit. While this isn’t always necessary, it’s advised you do so to avoid disappointment. Making this reservation in advance was particularly important to us as we were a large group (12 people) which is a lot harder to accommodate for than just 2 or 3 people. You can reserve any meal at Crystal Palace for free on the My Disney Experience within the Walt Disney World website.
Crystal Palace is situated inside Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park. To gain access to the restaurant you’ll need a ticket to enter the park. If you’re looking for a dining experience outside of the Disney parks but within Walt Disney World for whatever reason here’s a list of places where this is possible.
Once inside Magic Kingdom, you’ll want to head down Main Street USA towards the castle before taking your first left (at Caseys Corner). Just 10m further along on your left you’ll see the giant crystal building set back slightly. If you get lost, then be sure to ask a CM for directions. They are all super friendly and helpful and will help get you from your exact location within the park to Crystal Palace no problem!
As I mentioned during the introduction the major advantage of dining at Crystal Palace during our visit to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World was without a doubt the character interactions. Despite multiple trips to Walt Disney World, this was actually our first character dining meal.
We had the pleasure of meeting Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet over the space of around one to one and a half hours. Characters are spread out to provide you with time to eat as normal between interactions. The characters were fantastic, each interacted with the entire group and took multiple individual and group photos.
One of the things that did put me off booking a character dining experience previously was the amount of background noise within the photo. As you can see the photo below of Frankie with Eeyore is a delight, but you can’t help but look at the crowded background of people, chairs etc. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable and simply the compromise you’ll likely have to make for such an experience.
In some situations, this might be different if you can get photos with the characters near a blank wall or background, but there’s very little manoeuvring space within the restaurant so it’s definitely something difficult to achieve. I’d love to know if you’ve any tips or tricks to minimise the amount of background noise within these character meal photos for future visits.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s no official Disney Photopass photographer on duty within the restaurant so you’ll be required to take all photos from the character interactions yourself. While it’s a shame to miss out on great quality photos with the Memory Maker, it’s hard to see how the restaurant could realistically also have four photographers (one for each character) walking around with them in an already rather condensed area.
Crystal Palace launched with the rest of Magic Kingdom back in 1971 and it’s architecture represents that of a property from the 1800s. While it’s beautiful to look at inside and out, the architecture can now be somewhat impractical.
My reasoning for this is mainly due to the structure and material used (glass) being combined with the majority of highly excited guests which only leads to a very noisy experience. The excitement, character interaction and amount of customer movement due to the meal being a buffet alongside the amount of decor can too become somewhat overwhelming.
As you enter the restaurant you’ll find a small waiting area with chairs along the side. There’s also a patio waiting area outside. Here you’ll also see the topiary character designs. These are amazing quality as you’ve come to expect from Walt Disney World by now no doubt, and a great taste of the excitement that’s yet to come throughout this meal.
The restaurant is split into two halves, each half has a side of the buffet and both sides of the buffet are the same. This quickly reduces the amount of queuing around the buffet serving area. That said, we had very little problem browsing or servicing the food we wanted despite our side of the restaurant being relatively full.
The kids are welcome to choose a plastic plate over porcelain, these are situated next to Pooh’s Corner children buffet section situated towards the edges of the ‘main’ buffet.
As you can see from the photo the food hadn’t been correctly put out during our visit. This is especially worrying being the children’s buffet section. Aside from this, we feel that the range of food designed for children is fantastic. Of course, children are not limited just to the children’s buffet and are welcome to eat from the ‘main’ buffet section, just as adults (like me) can choose items from the children’s buffet section.
Now on to the main section of the buffet. The food here is traditional American cuisine and offers a range of healthy options and vegetarian options. If you have any allergies or intolerances your server will be more than happy to refer you to one of the chef’s who should be able to help you find what foods you can and can not eat from the range on offer.
The quality of the food here isn’t going to win any awards. I mean, what buffet style restaurant is? The food is edible, and reasonable quality, however, there’s no doubt better meals we’ve experienced at Disney resorts at a similar price range – such as Saana at Animal Kingdom Lodge for example.
Finally, desert which includes a range of buns, cakes and sweet treats. As well as a self-serve ice cream dispenser which is as much of a hit with the kids as you might expect. Again there’s a great variety here offering something for everyone regardless of tastes, allergies or intolerances.
Personally, I’d never pay the $59.99 per adult for this buffet. There’s no way the quality of the food is good enough, expansive enough, or that you’ll ever get your money’s worth. Even in the
happiest most expensive place on earth… That said, we all know that at Disney you’re paying for the experience, and an experience is exactly what this meal is.
As always I’d love to know what you think of the lunch buffet at the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. Would you like to see us try other meals there (breakfast and dinner?) let us know down in the comments below.