Beyond the food, the atmosphere is certainly one of a kind. The dining area and exterior of the establishment features a certain Victorian elegance designed to help develop a simple, yet subtle, transition from Main Street U.S.A to neighboring Adventureland. Many believe that this day-one experience of Walt Disney World drew design elements from the Crystal Palace of Hyde Park London built for a great gathering, but which was later unfortunately destroyed. Of course, as with many day one Magic Kingdom experiences, the restaurant isn’t quite the same as it was originally. From the early days until the mid 90’s the location featured a simpler counter service-esque dining concept which later develop into the reservation only experience we have today. Over the years the location even featured a corporate sponsor, Colombian Coffee Growers. Considering I’ve never been a huge fan of corporate sponsors, I’m happy that changed over the years, but either way, the Crystal Palace has been a staple of the Magic Kingdom in dining, as well as theming, for many years!
As an added bonus to this all around great experience, we’ve figured out through personal experience that if you schedule a late breakfast slot (10:30 or so), not only will the restaurant be far less crowded as they clear out and reset the dining room for lunch, but you may just catch a taste of lunch along the way! During our last trip we did just that (Early July 2017). As the breakfast slowly draws to a close, half of the buffet (it’s typically doubled with the same offerings to support two lines) closes to put out lunch offerings. As they do so, simply ask nicely and they’ll gladly let you have a taste of lunch as well before seating for that meal even begins. While you may not get a “full” lunch (considering you just ate breakfast), you’ll certainly get a taste of lunch and a little extra for your money out of the meal. As an added bonus, breakfast is the most budget friendly meal of the day at The Crystal Palace and one of the more cost effective buffet options across property.