REVIEW: Do Characters Justify the HUGE Price Increase at Crystal Palace in Disney World? We Found Out.

One Magic Kingdom restaurant just got BETTER.

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Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom reopened in 2020 as a family-style meal, and the buffet returned in late 2021. However, this whole time there’s been one very important element that’s MISSING from this table service restaurant: the characters! Winnie the Pooh and his friends used to be a staple at the Palace, but they’ve been MIA for the past couple of years. Now we’re happy to say that they’re BACK. However, with the return of the characters came a major price INCREASE. Is this meal worth the hefty cost? Let’s find out.

The Crystal Palace is located at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., and has some stunning views of Cinderella Castle if you can get a good seat by the windows. It was built to resemble England’s own Crystal Palace, which was built in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building’s English roots are likely why this is where you’ll find Winnie the Pooh and friends.

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Hi Pooh!

Currently, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger are joining guests for lunch and dinner as part of the “Friendship Day Celebrashun.” They’ll be returning for breakfast on October 25th, so mark your calendars for that day if you want to say hello to them in the morning.

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Crystal Palace

Unfortunately, with the return of characters also came a pretty major price increase. Before the characters returned, lunch and dinner both cost $39 per adult and $23 per child. Now, however, those meals both cost $59 per adult and $38 per child. That’s an increase of $20 per adult and $15 per child.

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We’re visiting today to find out if this meal is worth the price.

Atmosphere

Reservations are recommended for Crystal Palace, and with characters back, you’ll want to be sure to get your reservations early. You can check in out front at the host desk, or use Mobile Check-In.

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Out front

We mentioned before that the Crystal Palace is designed to look like the real thing that was built in England. It has lots of big windows, so you’ll see plenty of natural light inside.

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Stunning

There’s one large dining room, with tables and chairs.

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Tables and Chairs

The decor makes it look like a large greenhouse, with lots of greenery and plants around.

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Entrance area

The buffet is on one end of the room, with separate stations for the kids’ buffet, appetizers/salad bar, entrées, and desserts.

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To the buffet!

Now that you’ve got your bearings, let’s say hello to some friends!

Characters

During our meal, we spotted Winnie the Pooh

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Pooh!

Tigger

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Tigger

Eeyore

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Hi Eeyore!

…and Piglet walking around the dining room.

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Piglet

They stopped at tables to say hello to guests, take pictures, and give out hugs and autographs.

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Eeyore visiting with guests

The characters are back for lunch and dinner, and starting on October 25th, they’ll also return for breakfast.

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Piglet

Reservations are open now for the return of characters to breakfast at Crystal Palace! Be sure to book your spot soon.

Buffet

Menu

On the menu at Crystal Palace are mostly American-style foods. You can find things like salad, pasta, mashed potatoes, seafood, and carved meats on the buffet line.

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To drink, you can choose between soda, iced tea, hot tea, milk, or Joffrey’s coffee. These drinks are included in the price of the buffet.

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Since this is a sit-down restaurant in Magic Kingdom, there are some alcoholic options for the 21+ crowd. These drinks will cost extra (they’re not included in the price of the buffet.) There are several options for beer, hard cider, wine

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…and a couple of specialty cocktails (including Mimosas and Sangria).

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Let’s take a trip down the buffet line to see everything that’s available. After we show you all the food, we’ll get into how it tastes and which things you should definitely not miss.

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Let’s grab some grub

Some of the items are marked as “Walt’s Favorite,” so you can create a whole meal based on Walt Disney’s preferences. You can start your meal off with some Parker House Rolls, Pretzel Rolls, and Black Pepper and Parmesan Lavash. There’s Whipped Butter, Honey Butter, and House-made Sweet-Hot Mustard for your rolls.

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Bread Rolls

Up here is also where you’ll find some condiments, like Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce, and Honey Mustard.

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Condiments

Next, you can create your own salad. There’s Romaine, Crisp Mixed Greens, and all kinds of toppings. Choose from Shredded Carrots, Shaved Onion, Eggs, Tomato, Cucumbers, Croutons, Ranch Dressing, Caesar Dressing, and Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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Salad Bar

For more appetizers, you can grab some Fresh Seasonal Fruit, Waldorf Salad, Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp (served with cocktail sauce), and Artisanal Meats and Cheeses.

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Fruit Salad, Meats, and Cheeses

Unfortunately, those crab claws that we saw last time were nowhere to be found this time around. The only option was the Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp.

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Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp

For the main course, there was Country Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Gravy and Honey-Tabasco Sauce

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Country Fried Chicken

Walt’s Mashed Potatoes

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Walt’s Mashed Potatoes

…and Green Beans with Bacon and Onions.

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Green Beans

You could also get some Cheesy Broccoli

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Cheesy Broccoli

Roasted Marble Potatoes

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Rainbow Baby Potatoes

Glazed Rainbow Carrots

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Rainbow Glazed Carrots

Smoked Cheddar Grits

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Grits

…and Shrimp Creole.

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Shrimp Creole

We found Basmati Rice

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Basmati Rice

Vegetable Chana Masala (a plant-based dish)…

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Chana Masala

Seared Mahi-Mahi with Romesco Sauce

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Mahi-Mahi

Spinach Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette and Honey-Roasted Pistachios

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Ravioli

Oven-Roasted Chicken with Fresh Herbs

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Oven-Roasted Chicken

…and Italian Sausage with Roasted Peppers and Onions.

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Italian Sausage

We can’t forget about the Fire-Roasted Prime Rib and Fire-Roasted Pork Loin.

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Prime Rib

Those meats are served with Horseradish Cream Sauce, Savory Peach Chutney, or Red Wine Au Jus.

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Complementary Sauces

At the end of the buffet line, there was Walt’s Beef Chili. You could add on some Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Scallions, and Sour Cream if you want.

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Walt’s Chili

For the kiddos, there are some more familiar options available at their own buffet.

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Kids’ Buffet

There are chicken tenders, quesadillas, pizza bread, and mac ‘n’ cheese.

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Kids’ Buffet Options

And now we’ll finish with dessert! You can find self-serve soft-serve ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, or chocolate-vanilla swirl.

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Soft-Serve Ice Cream

There’s also Apple Cobbler, Fresh-baked Cookies

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Cookies and Apple Cobbler

French Silk Cupcakes

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French Silk Cupcakes

Butterscotch Pudding

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Butterscotch Pudding

S’mores Tarts

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S’mores Tarts

Strawberry Shortcake

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Strawberry Shortcake

…and Blueberry Domes.

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Blueberry Domes

So what did we think of all the eats here? There were some big wins and a few disappointments.

Eats

We thought the bread options at the beginning were pretty good! The rolls were fairly standard, although the pretzel roll was a bit more exciting. However, both rolls were a little bit dry, and we wished they were served warm instead of room temperature. The saving grace was the honey butter! It was creamy, sweet, and delicious. That butter elevated the rolls to a new level. When we were there, our server told us that they do have vegan butter options available as well, so if you’re a plant-based eater, ask your server for some vegan butter to add a bit more flavor to the bread.

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Appetizers

The salad bar was pretty good, but very basic. It gave us grocery store salad bar vibes, and we weren’t super impressed. However, all of the ingredients tasted fresh and crisp, and the balsamic vinaigrette had a great tang to it.

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Salad

We were a little confused by the “artisinal selection of meats and cheeses.” There were 2 options for meat and 2 options for cheese, which we guess technically qualifies as a selection. The blue cheese was VERY strong. We’re fans of the flavor, but this was one of the strongest blue cheeses we’ve ever had. The cheddar was very smokey and pretty good. The meat options included a pretty greasy salami that we didn’t love and what appeared to be bologna with nuts in it. (Yes, bologna now qualifies as “artisinal” — who’d’ve thought?)

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Artisanal meats and cheeses

The Waldorf Salad was fairly basic, with celery, grapes, walnuts, mayo, the whole works. The veggies and fruit tasted crisp and fresh, and we enjoyed this!

Our favorite option at the kids’ bar was that pizza bread! It was a super fun option that we haven’t seen anywhere else. The bread was very butter (almost like garlic toast), and it was covered in cheese and pepperoni. We thought this was a great option for kids, but even the adults should try one when they visit!

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So tasty!

Back to the adults’ buffet, we tried out the green beans and mashed potatoes next. The green beans were a little off texturally (they were a bit too fibrous), but they were seasoned well with black pepper and garlic. The mashed potatoes were VERY salty and buttery — they were almost yellow because of how much butter was in them. Of course, that made them creamy and delicious as well!

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Our plate

One of our favorite things that we tried was the Country Fried Chicken. The breading was very flavorful, and the chicken was cooked well. The sauce brought even more flavor, and you could definitely taste the pepper. Although we enjoyed this chicken a lot, we have to admit that it doesn’t really hold a candle to the chicken at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ or 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Still, we went back for seconds!

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Very tasty!

The roasted baby potatoes were cooked well with good seasoning, but the cheesy broccoli was very disappointing. If you know us, you know that one of our favorite things ever is CHEESE. So imagine our disappointment when that cheesy broccoli was missing most of the cheese flavor! The broccoli was also a bit undercooked for our taste.

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Not so “cheesy” broccoli

However, the roasted carrots were amazing! They had a sticky honey glaze on them, which created a sweet-savory mix that we loved. They were perfectly cooked — just a little bit snappy without being undercooked. This surprised us by being one of the best things we ate today.

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YUM

Another win was the Cheddar Grits. These were well-cooked and had a great cheese flavor, but they were even better when you mixed them with the Shrimp Creole. That shrimp has a strong shellfish flavor, but when mixed with the creole sauce and the cheesy grits, the flavors all balanced out pretty well.

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Shrimp

We thought the spinach ravioli was pretty good — it was a little basic, but the noodles were cooked well and the spinach filling was very flavorful. The Italian sausage was a little bit too greasy for our taste. The peppers were surprisingly good, though, but they weren’t quite enough to redeem this dish in our opinion. By contrast, we loved Walt’s Chili! It’s the same as the chili you can get around the parks for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. There are lots of beans in it, and it has a great, mild flavor.

The Mahi-Mahi was very good as well, with a super flavorful romesco sauce. The fish holds up well to the sauce, and it almost reminded us of chicken because of how thick it was.

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Mahi-Mahi

The carved meat — roasted chicken, pork loin, and prime rib — provided a mixed bag. The roasted chicken was very plain and a little too greasy. We’d definitely recommend the country fried chicken over that option. The pork was very chewy, and sadly the peach chutney didn’t do much to redeem this meat. However, we really enjoyed the prime rib. You can choose how you want it cooked, and the horseradish sauce served with it was mild but still had enough flavor to complement the meat.

The basmati rice and vegetable chana masala were the only plant-based entrée options in the buffet. The flavors were pretty typical of what you would expect from Indian food — the chickpeas were the most traditional element, but the zucchini and squash were a pleasant surprise. They added a little bit of crispness and a fresh flavor even though they were cooked alongside the other ingredients. The chana masala was light and flavorful, and we went back to get seconds!

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Chana Masala

The fruit salad was the only plant-based dessert option. It had grapes, honeydew, and cantaloupe. The salad was pretty basic — the only thing that was different about this was that there was some finely chopped basil sprinkled on top. That added a little bit of interest and brought in an almost savory flavor.

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Fruit Salad

So if you’re a plant-based eater, you’ll probably want to skip this one — it’s really only worth it if you LOVE Winnie the Pooh and want to have a meal with him and his friends.

The other desserts were the French Silk Cupcake, Butterscotch Pudding, Strawberry Shortcake, S’mores Tart, Cookies, Apple Crumble, and soft-serve ice cream. We thought the cupcake was very good! It was chocolate-y and rich, although it didn’t really taste like a French Silk Pie (which is what we think they were going for).

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Desserts

The blueberry mousse dome was pretty good. It was just a little bit tart, and it tasted like it was made with fresh blueberries. The crunchy pearls on top added a great texture.

The pudding was one of our favorite treats. It was rich and sweet, and the caramel corn on top added a great crunch. The strawberry shortcake, however, wasn’t great. It was a very dense cake with a little bit of whipped cream and one strawberry slice on top. We really needed more strawberry flavor for this to be a true strawberry shortcake.

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Yum!

We thought the apple crumble was delicious. There was a great crunch with the topping, and the apples inside were perfectly soft and cinnamon-y. We highly recommend topping it with some of that soft-serve vanilla ice cream.

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Apple Crumble

We really enjoyed the s’mores tart! There was a great crunch from the graham cracker tart shell, and the marshmallow on top was perfectly toasted. The cookies were fairly basic. One sugar cookie had 50th anniversary sprinkles on top, but there wasn’t anything super special about these treats. However, if you wanted to get really creative, you could make a cookie ice cream sandwich with the unlimited soft-serve — no one is stopping you!

Nosh or Not

Visit Crystal Palace to celebrate with Pooh and friends if you:

  • Love Winnie the Pooh and want to meet him and other friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. This is the only character dining that features the Hundred Acre Wood gang, and it’s tricky to find them all together anywhere else in Disney World. You can find Winnie the Pooh and Tigger near The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, and Pooh can also be found in EPCOT with his butterfly net sometimes.
  • Enjoy classic comfort food and want a large, filling meal. There were a lot of classic dishes on the buffet here, from mashed potatoes to chili, fried chicken to fruit salad. If you’re looking to get a big meal that fills you up for the rest of the day, this is a good option!
  • Are (or are traveling with) a picky eater. Most of the food was very familiar and pretty basic at this spot. Even most of the adult food seems like something that kids would be happy to try since there are very few things that stretch outside of a comfort zone.

Skip this spot and try a different restaurant instead if you:

  • Want more adventurous eats. Although we enjoyed the comfort food at Crystal Palace, there really weren’t many options for more people with more adventurous palates. If you’re looking for some more interesting food, head over to Skipper Canteen in Adventureland instead!
  • Are a plant-based eater. As we mentioned in our review, there were not many options for plant-based eaters at this buffet. Basically, the only options were salad, basmati rice and chana masala, and fruit salad. For $59 a person, it’s tough to justify with so few choices. You can find plant-based options at some quick service spots (like Friar’s Nook, Casey’s Corner, and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café), and Skipper Canteen is another table service restaurant with more options.
  • Are on a budget. The returning characters also meant a HEFTY price increase, and it just might not be feasible to spend $59 per person for one meal. To save some cash during your trip, try out some of Magic Kingdom’s quick service options instead. We really like the eats at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments and Columbia Harbour House.

Overall

In general, we enjoyed our meal at Crystal Palace, but nothing really wowed us. It was solid comfort food with a couple of big winners (the shrimp and grits and those rainbow carrots were stand-outs), but it’s not the most unique or impressive food in Disney World. In addition, this buffet seems to have fewer, less-varied options than most Disney World buffets.

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Buffet line

Especially if you’re a plant-based eater, we don’t think the increased price is really worth it for what you get in terms of the buffet options. However, if you really love Winnie the Pooh, then this meal might be worth it just to see all the characters. But just know that what you’re paying for is a special meet-and-greet with a fairly basic meal — if that’s OK with you, then we say go for it!

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Tigger

If you’re looking for other sit-down meal options in Disney World, one of our favorites is Skipper Canteen (for some more unique, adventurous food). And if you’re willing to leave Magic Kingdom and make the 5-minute walk over to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Steakhouse 71 is a GREAT place to get lunch. Do NOT sleep on the French Onion Soup or the Steakhouse 71 Stack Burger there.

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort

With DOZENS of places to eat at Disney World, we know it can be tough to plan your meals. That’s why we wrote the DFB Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World.

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Have you dined at the Crystal Palace in Disney World? Tell us what you thought in the comments!

The post REVIEW: Do Characters Justify the HUGE Price Increase at Crystal Palace in Disney World? We Found Out. first appeared on the disney food blog.

source https://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2022/09/22/review-do-characters-justify-the-huge-price-increase-at-crystal-palace-in-disney-world-we-found-out/

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