The Magic Kingdom has a plethora of options when you start to feel that rumbly in your tumbly. There is so much to do in the park, though, that most of those options are based more on speed and convenience than on sitting down and relaxing. There are a few hidden gems, and the shining star for some time in the Magic Kingdom is a beautiful building right near the middle of the park: The Crystal Palace.
Of course, buffets are prevalent on Disney property. Every corner has one, but few do it this well. It doesn’t matter if you are visiting for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The options are vast and they are all delicious. Get to the park early in the morning, and start your day with a breakfast with every option you can imagine. Lunch and dinner, similarly, bring even more mouth-watering options to fill your honey pot. Carved meat stations, a children’s station, and even healthy options as far as the eye can see.
The first time a friend of mine visited this restaurant with me, she went for her first course and came back with nothing but a plateful of desserts. She had planned to grab something from the main section of the buffet, but was too distracted by the huge section of tantalizing desserts to just walk by. Sweet tooth heaven awaits: warm bread pudding, key lime pie, coconut flan, brownies, cookies and fruit cobbler are just a few of the delectable treats on display. Should these not appeal to the kids or kids-at-heart, never fear – there’s also a self-serve soft ice cream station with all the fixings.
There is arguably no better spot in all of Walt Disney World than the area just in front of Cinderella Castle. It is the most open, iconic area in the Magic Kingdom and just across from the castle is a beautiful, almost crystalline-looking building (it literally does sparkle on a sunny day). This is the location of the Crystal Palace. With plenty of room out front for waiting guests, stroller parking and even photo opportunities, it’s one of the most easily accessible restaurants as well. You don’t have to fight through big crowds because there are multiple access points. A hint to folks trying to get to a reservation while the parade is going on: either approach the building from Adventureland or cut through the shops on the left side of Main Street and come out through the backside of Casey’s Corner.
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Location brings us very nicely into our next point about the Crystal Palace. I don’t think there are many restaurants on property that you can find a view from your table quite like this. If you are lucky enough to get a seat near the windows you can see lots of things. During the day you’ll have a view of the castle and see the tops of certain floats in the parade. But it’s at dinner that the main act comes into view. If you can secure yourself a seat by the window at the right time you can enjoy your meal on a hot summer day while watching the castle change colors. Additionally, if you have timed your meal well you will be able to dine while watching fireworks, an experience you’ll never forget.
Like so many others, I grew up on the stories of Christopher Robin and his friends. The Hundred Acre Wood was somewhere I wished I could visit. And every time I visit Walt Disney World, I do. Normally if you wanted to a photo opportunity or an autograph from your favorite Disney character, you need to stand in a line for up to an hour, unless you’re lucky enough to snag a FastPass + for the encounter. At the Crystal Palace, you don’t get just one character – you get four of your favorite characters that call the Hundred Acre Wood their home, all without having to stand in a single line and from the comfort of your own table. While you eat, you will receive visits from Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet as they wander the floor, taking photos with guests and signing autographs. Children are also invited to celebrate with their Disney pals by participating in a character parade every half hour or so. Character experiences are just one of the many things that Disney does better than anyone else. Take your time with your meal here, and make sure that you and your children linger to enjoy the surroundings, the food and the once-in-a-lifetime encounter with your favorite characters.