Thursday, October 20, 2011

(It's a Tradition: The Crystal Palace)

Like the title says, the Crystal Palace has been a tradition for my family since 2003. Nestled at the end of Main Street USA, and with one of the best views of Cinderella Castle in the house, this is a must for everyone. I know what you're thinking. You don't have kids, so why do a character meal? At least for me, this place isn't about the characters; though the great photos we always seem to come away with don't hurt!

Dinner with friends, March 2006.

The ambiance of the Crystal Palace is light and airy with a major Victorian influence. The exterior of the building is pure white, and the windows seem to go on for miles. It sort of resembles somewhat of a greenhouse, but with much better surprises inside than just plants. 

The photo above was taken during a dinner that we had in 2006. Notice the amount of windows and the gorgeous Victorian structure. During daylight hours, the atmosphere is warm and open. It's really a beautiful, calming place to be. Check out this shot from our breakfast table in 2010...

It was a beautiful sunny morning, and the sunlight filtered into the dimly-lit restaurant providing just the right amount of natural light. You're sitting at your table, enjoying your coffee and orange juice (that's right, order both), and then....the music starts.

A family dinner in 2007.

It's parade time! Excited children throughout the restaurant jump out of their seats to join the parade with their favorite characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. It's a short parade, but gives parents some great photo opportunities. It can be a tear-jerker, too. We saw a child from the Make a Wish Foundation parade hand-in-hand with Piglet throughout the restaurant, and needless to say, we were dabbing at our eyes a bit. It's really a beautiful thing to see so many excited kids have their moment with characters that they so admire, and to do so in the spotlight with all diners' eyes on them!

Breakfast, 2009.

We have been to the Crystal Palace for dinner twice, but our true tradition is to go for breakfast. Based on my experiences (we've gone 5 times so far), I would recommend the breakfast over dinner. The food is better, and there's something about being in the open and airy setting with the morning sunshine peeking in. Favorites from the breakfast buffet include the fresh fruit (pineapple, grapes and strawberries for me), mickey waffles, puffed french toast (located in the children's buffet), and the tastiest dish of all, breakfast lasagna. Delicious layers of waffle, pancake, poundcake and custard, this is definitely not for someone watching their waistline. If you are, grab a little slice anyways. I promise it's worth it! If you can't make it to the Crystal Palace anytime soon, make the breakfast lasagna at home with this recipe.

A playful breakfast in 2010.

While the dinner does have some choice menu items such as shrimp, rotisserie chicken and salmon, I just don't find it quite as enchanting as breakfast. I much prefer to start my day with Crystal Palace than end it there. Be careful though! - Since everything is so yummy, it's easy to get carried away. There's nothing quite like walking around the park with a ton of breakfast lasagna sitting in your stomach. I learned it the hard way, and now I know to dine with restraint! Just do me a favor and wait a few hours before you ride Space Mountain, OK?

The view from the balcony of the Crystal Palace. Not too shabby, right?

It's quite clear how I feel about this restaurant, since we obviously keep going back. The Crystal Palace is a beautiful and nostalgic place to make some memories with the people that you love. Don't worry too much about the characters if you're not interested in them. When they come by your table, simply wave and say hello, and don't make any movement to take photos or anything. They'll get the hint and move on to the next table. The atmosphere and food is really worth dining here, even if you really don't like character meals. It's because of those characters though, that the dining prices are a bit higher than other restaurants. Currently, it'll cost an adult $28.75 for breakfast, and (gasp!) $43.66 for dinner. See? Another reason to visit for breakfast!

Do you have a favorite memory from the Crystal Palace, or perhaps a different family dining tradition! I'd love to hear all about it - leave it in the comments!

Happy Dining!

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