Two years ago on a cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas, we spent a one day stop in Orlando at Disney World. No lie – we had about 4 hours to spend at Magic Kingdom before racing back to the cruise ship before she set sail. We refer to that visit as our Disney-Drive-By-Visit. We spent 1.5 hours of that precious 4 hour trip standing in line so that then 18 month old Lily Bean could meet the only licensed characters that she really knew at that point – Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore. The meeting was adorable and heartwarming and we weren’t bitter than we dumped half our time at the park waiting in line. BUT – that’s when we also vowed to drop some dough on character meals on subsequent Disney ventures… no more waiting in lines to meet characters, with the bonus of getting to stuff our faces with food while the characters came to US.
Lunch at Crystal Palace Restaurant
Note: Admission to this restaurant requires an admission ticket to Magic Kingdom
Location: Magic Kingdom (off of Main Street USA)
Meals served: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Reservations: Reservations are highly recommended and it is not uncommon for the restaurant to be fully booked – so reserve your spot early. We booked our meal around 3 months before our trip.
Price Range: Kids under 3 are FREE. Adults: $23-$40; Children (ages 3-9): $13-$20. Soft drinks are included (kids can also choose from water, juice or milk). Gratuity is extra.
Characters: Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger
Character Meet and Greet: The 4 characters take a a little over at hour to get through the entire dining room – and they have to take breaks every so often. Timing is everything at this meal – if you arrive at just the right time, you’ll see all of the characters one after another as you eat with no waiting. This is rare though – more often than not, you will have to wait over an hour for all of the characters to get to your table.
We arrived and had been seated, drinks served and were well into our meal (buffet style, so no waiting) before the first character, Tigger, got to our table. Piglet and Eeyore followed right after Tigger, but Pooh was nowhere to be seen. Just as Pooh rounded the corner and came into our line of sight (though he was still about 20 tables away), it was time for the characters to take their break.
We had our dessert and even got some coffee because we weren’t going to leave without seeing Pooh. Pooh finally made it to us and we left the restaurant as soon as he left our table.
Meal Style: Buffet Style – your waiter will bring drinks and refills while the rest of the food is self-serve. There is a kids’ section to the buffet, featuring things like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. The rest of the buffet offers typical American fare – lots of choices including pastas, chicken, seafood, beef dishes. There is a salad bar and also a dessert bar.
Conclusion: There were several things that we really enjoyed about this character meal. We arrived a bit early for our reservation and even so, we were seated in a timely fashion – with maybe a ten minute wait or so. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful. The characters were certainly the highlight of our meal and Lily thoroughly enjoyed herself.
That being said, this meal is very pricey. For more than $100 with tip for the three of us to eat a mediocre buffet lunch was a bit much. The food was hot and decent with many choices, but it was by no means amazing.
Sitting in a nice, air conditioned restaurant enjoying lunch while characters came right to our table still beat waiting in line in the sun for an hour and a half to meet Pooh.
After our lunch, we walked out of the restaurant JUST in time for the princess show at the castle. Even though by this point we had seen the same show at least four times, it just never gets old. Lily was only too happy to sit on Dad’s shoulders to get a prime view of her favorite princesses as they danced all over the stage.
I realize this has absolutely nothing to do with our lunch, but couldn’t resist including the pics!