Crystal Palace, the popular restaurant located inside Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, recently reopened to Guests after being temporarily closed for months, but with the reopening came a few significant changes.
To start, there is, unfortunately, no more character dining with Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, at least for the time being. In addition, there is no more buffet-style dining to help keep Guests and Cast Members as safe as possible during the ongoing pandemic. Instead, there is a new family-style menu.
So without the characters and buffet-style dining option, is this experience worth it? Well, I had the chance to dine at Crystal Palace, and here are my thoughts.
Honest Review of Reimagined Crystal Palace
When I visited Crystal Palace for lunch, there was hardly anyone else inside dining. It was myself as well as two other parties, but as time passed, more parties began showing up. In the end, there were about 10 different parties seated — socially distanced, of course.
With the new protocols in place, Crystal Palace is using paper drink menus and a QR code for the regular food menu (just like all other restaurants on Disney World property). In regards to the new family-style menu, here’s how it works.
Guests will be served bread and three types of butter and spreads. They can then choose between two salad options, one regular offering, and one plant-based, and then choose one entree. For dessert, Guests will be served a platter of sweets, and if you are plant-based there is an option for you as well! Let’s break it down.
To start, I ordered a white sangria, which was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and pineapple juices — absolutely delicious.
Breads and Spreads
In regards to bread, I received two types — homestyle buttermilk and cheddar bacon biscuits, and regular hard rolls. I am a pescetarian so I did not have the biscuits but I have heard nothing but great things about them. I did, however, have the hard rolls and they were warm and fresh, absolutely delicious.
The rolls came with three different spreads — honey butter, caramelized onion butter, and hot pepper jelly — all of which were delicious. I think the onion butter was my favorite, it was very flavorful and complimented the rolls well. However, both the honey butter and the hot pepper jelly were also very flavorful and went well with the bread. So far, I really enjoyed everything I had tried — and then came the salad.
Crystal Palace just continued to blow me away with the food. My waitress brought out the seasonal salad, which consists of tomato and watermelon, crisp greens, bleu cheese, candied walnuts, and hot pepper jelly vinaigrette. Now, if you aren’t a fan of spice, don’t worry because the vinaigrette really was not spicy at all. Honestly, I didn’t even taste a kick but it was absolutely delicious. I was the only one dining when I visited and I nearly ate the entire plate myself.
The combinations of flavors were on point and I couldn’t get enough of it.
As I previously mentioned, I am a pescetarian so I do not eat meat. Therefore, for the entree, I opted for the plant-based dish which was a southern fried cauliflower with a hot maple drizzle, roasted potatoes, string beans, and collard greens. All I can say is wow!
The cauliflower steak was cooked perfectly, crisp on the outside but soft on the inside. The hot maple drizzle went so well with the cauliflower and the roasted potatoes melted in your mouth. I am not a fan of collard greens, but I did give them a try. Personally, I wasn’t a fan, but again, I just don’t like collard greens overall. As for the string beans, they were also cooked perfectly — bursting with flavors and had a slight crunch, just the way I like them.
Did You Save Room For Dessert?
At this point, I was already so stuffed (probably from all of the bread and salad I ate) but I was still looking forward to dessert. When my waitress brought out the platter, my jaw nearly hit the table. Not only was this more than I was expecting, but they were also just absolutely visually stunning.
There were a total of five desserts — seasonal fritters coated in powdered sugar and chocolate dipping sauce, a honey cupcake which of course represented Winnie the Pooh, a banana cream tart which represented Tigger, and a hummingbird cake which represented Rabbit.
Let’s start with the seasonal fritters, which tasted similar to a munchkin. It paired wonderfully with the chocolate dipping sauce, but I could only have half of one because I wanted to taste everything else.
Next up is the honey cupcake, a raspberry mousse on top of a vanilla cupcake with a slight caramel drizzle inside. Another phenomenal treat, both visually and flavorwise.
If you like banana cream pie, you will love this tart. The icing on top is white and orange with a slight chocolate drizzle, to represent Tigger and his famous stripes, but once you broke it open, a beautiful yellow coloring appeared (the banana cream filling). Very good!
And lastly, my favorite dessert had to be the hummingbird cake. Visually, it looked just like Rabbit’s garden, but flavor-wise, it closely resembled a very moist carrot cake. I couldn’t get enough of this one.
My Overall Thoughts
So, do I miss dining with Pooh and his friends? Yes. Do I miss the buffet-style of all-you-can-eat? Yes.
However, if you go into the Crystal Palace knowing that this is a new experience and try not to compare it to what it used to be, you won’t be disappointed. The service was wonderful, the food was delicious, the drinks were great, and there is plenty of food to go around so you won’t be missing the all-you-can-eat buffet!
Overall, I think it’s a great choice for the price of $39 per adult and $23 per child.
More on Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace restaurant at Magic Kingdom is inspired by Victorian greenhouses of the late 1800s. When you walk into the dining room you will notice beautiful decor and topiaries galore. Families from all around can gather for a delicious meal, no matter what time of day.
Disney’s official website reads:
Inspired by Victorian greenhouses of the late 1800s, The Crystal Palace brims with light, topiaries and tropical palms. It’s an enchanting spot to dine in the heart of Magic Kingdom park with views of Cinderella Castle and Main Street, U.S.A.
Our friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood will be taking a break from greeting Guests, but the restaurant remains a perfect location to celebrate with family and friends.
Lunch and dinner offers a selection of individually-plated entrees and family-style salads and desserts.
Begin with your dining experience with a seasonal salad and homestyle biscuits. Choose your entree from a pre-fixe menu including crispy fried chicken with honey pot drizzle, fire-roasted prime rib of beef or plant-based crispy-fried cauliflower. Top off the experience with a family-style dessert platter including seasonal fritters, humingbird cake, and more.
All menu items are subject to change without notice.
If you want to visit The Crystal Palace on your next family vacation, but are having trouble getting started with the planning, be sure to get in touch with our friends at Academy Travel. Click here for a free, no-obligation quote and start planning your next Disney theme park vacation today!
Have you dined at Crystal Palace since Disney implemented these changes? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: The opinions stated in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall.