on April 18, 2010
It's pouring rain at the Magic Kingdom and everyone has sought shelter on the covered front porch of the Crystal Palace restaurant. Score one for us that 2 months ago I made a reservation for a character dining experience at the Crystal Palace: soon we will be in the comfort of the warm, dry dining room. Although we were told to arrive 15 minutes prior to our reservation start time, we still have to wait while they ready the restaurant. We are directed to store our stroller outside and given a pager while we pass the time. Storing the stroller outdoors in this inclement weather is a bit of a shock to me..esp. since there is a huge foyer in the restaurant where we could easily have parked it but these are the rules of disney. Once the pager goes off seating is swift and I'm once again impressed by the well-oiled machine that is WDW. They have this stuff down to a science. A high chair is quickly secured for the wee-est one in the bunch and we are advised to put both children to the interior of the restaurant with parents on the bench to the wall for better character interaction. Thank you kind waitress for that tip - not sure I would have thought of that one! We are invited to go to the buffet and I pull the toddler along excitedly. I have built up to him that there is a special kids buffet with food just for him. Ugh...wait a second? Is that it? The kids buffet table is the first in a long line of disappointments regarding the food offerings at the Crystal Palace. Its not totally inedible, but considering what the meal costs, its pretty disappointing. The choices were not as plentiful as I had imagined and the quality was pretty poor. Toddler ate hardly anything and one trip up was enough for us adults too. They did have some nice cookies on the dessert table though...So the food is not so great, but let's talk about why you are really here...character interaction. And this part did not disappoint in the least. Tigger, Winnie, Eeyore all stopped by the table...they were patient with everyone I could see in terms of taking photos. They even interacted with the 6 month old in our group, which was fun for mom (snapped numerous photos) even though it was lost on the babe. At the table adjacent to ours the children were pretty reluctant to see the characters and I noticed that the characters were quickly and efficiently diverted away from any scared children. At that table in particular, they hovered in the background for a couple of photos but respected the wishes of the parents not to come near the table. Near the end of the dining experience there is a little dance-y parade that all the kids are invited to join. Loads of kids seemed to love this part, even if mine were a bit reluctant to join in.One other note, the customer service was great. Without going into vivid detail, let's just say there was an "incident" where my overly rambunctious three-year old ended up drawing blood. I could not have been more impressed by how the staff handled this. Other restaurants should patronize Disney establishments to learn these customer service tips.In sum, Crystal Palace is not the greatest food but is a fun little treat if you enjoy seeing the Disney characters. Just remember that you aren't booking this place for the food, but rather the experience, and you'll be much happier for it.
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