REVIEW: Buffet Dining Returns to Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
Buffet dining is slowly making its way back around Walt Disney World. Last month saw the return of the buffet to Biergarten at EPCOT, and today, buffet dining returned to Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom.
The lunch buffet is priced at $39 per adult and $23 per child ages 3-9, plus tax and gratuity.
The Crystal Palace is located at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., facing the hub.
Currently, the restaurant is decorated with autumnal garlands and pumpkins.
Inside, hand sanitizer is available in the very front and on either side of the stations. Mask signs are on either side of the buffet. Both sides of the buffet are the same. There were many very helpful Cast Members available around the restaurant.
A “friendship day celebrashun” banner is hung above the large planter in the center of the room. Pooh & Friends can be found here.
Plates are available at the start of the buffet lines, but they are all hot plates, even at the salad bar and dessert bar. Dishes on the line were refilled before they were emptied — each time we went up, everything was readily available.
Signs along the buffet advise that self-serve buffets may be susceptible to cross-contact, and guests with allergies or dietary needs may consult with a chef or trained Cast Member for assistance. Another sign explains that items marked with the leaf emblem are free of animal meat, dairy, eggs, and honey.
Two selections of mixed greens are available with a selection of options to customize your salad.
The salad bar had a good selection of fresh choices and basic dressings.
The Waldorf salad was nice and crunchy, with a natural sweetness from the apples and grapes. Unfortunately, the hot plates warmed this up a bit by the time we returned to the table to eat.
The Parker House roll was the same standard dinner roll, which is always appreciated. The pretzel role had a slightly crisp outside while the inside was soft. It paired especially well with the sweet-hot mustard sauce.
The cheddar bacon cornbread was dry and crumbly, but the cheddar and salty bacon flavors were good additions.
The honey butter had just the right sweetness, and the whipped butter was basic butter but fluffier in texture. The Lavosh were a great attempt at another accompaniment to the meats and cheeses, but unfortunately, they were stale.
Meats and Sides
The selection of meats included ham, prosciutto, and smoked Gouda, alongside blue cheese and gorgonzola. The ham was your basic deli-style ham. The prosciutto was better. The gouda was creamy with a good consistency (it was very goud-a, if you will). The bleu cheese mixture was a great accompaniment to the breads and other charcuterie options available. The fig jam paired well with the meats and cheeses. It had a lot of texture and flavor, and offered a slight sweetness to contrast the savory charcuterie.
The shrimp and crab claw cocktail had a decent-sized crab claw and three shrimp with cocktail sauce and lemon. We were really impressed by the presentation and taste. It was cooked well, and the claw had a good amount of meat to it. It comes pre-cracked for convenience.
Next up was the classic combination of country fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. These were all done very well. The country-fried chicken had a great crunch, and the meat wasn’t dry. The gravy was a savory complement to the chicken.
The mashed potatoes were fantastic. They were creamy and whipped well. They tasted fresh and were perfectly seasoned without being too salty. We went back for seconds.
The green beans had just enough crunch, and the bacon and onion added a nice salt and flavor.
We moved on to the short ribs, which were tender, and caramelized shallots were the perfect complement.
The corn was a little crispy with a bit of char. It could have used a tad more butter, though.
Face covering signs are in place around the buffet.
The pork tenderloin was perfectly tender. The mustard cream gave a nice, slight spice to the flavor profile.
The mushrooms were flavorful and saucy. They pair well with the other offerings.
The cheesy broccoli would have been good, but the cheddar was grainy.
At the next station, Wood Grilled Mahi Mahi with Olive-Caper Relish and Basmati Rice with Crispy Shallots are available. The Mahi Mahi was decent, with no fishy taste. The capers in the relish were strong. However, the rice was overdone with little flavor.
The canned peas were appropriately soft, and the flavor was there. We didn’t particularly care for it, but fans of the dish will likely enjoy it.
Crystal Palace’s seasonal ravioli is currently winter squash, which sadly, was the only truly terrible thing here. It’s overly sweet and has the rubbery consistency of microwave dinners. We would not get this again.
Next was a loaded tots station with chili and a variety of toppings. It was nothing special, neither good nor bad.
We did not enjoy the overcooked, dry pork belly.
The prime rib was better than we expected for a buffet and paired well with the au jus and horseradish sauce.
A separate kids’ buffet offers traditional childrens’ menu dishes. The chicken fingers, beef quesadilla, and pizza were decent but a little dry from sitting under the heat lamps. We enjoyed the mac & cheese; it was creamy and cheesy!
Standard soft serve is available. However, the chocolate was completely melted and coming out as liquid. The hot plates didn’t help, either.
The s’mores tart is a dark chocolate ganache inside a graham cracker crust, with a toasted marshmallow topping. The slightly sweet topping balanced out the rich center. This was our favorite dessert.
The sweet butterscotch pudding is topped with slightly soft caramel corn.
The French silk cupcakes had a chocolate base, with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. They were a standard, basic cupcakes.
The strawberry shortcake had a moist cake with whipped cream and a strawberry. You get the full flavor profile in each bite.
The apple crumble could have benefited from a crunch; it was on the soggy side. It also needed more spice as the flavor was very flat.
The cookies are standard chocolate chip and sugar. Cookie lovers are sure to be satisfied.
This was a decent mimosa with a nice balance, so it wasn’t overpowered by the orange juice.
Overall, this was a decent, filling meal. It’s not high-end or gourmet, but we knew that going into it. For a theme park buffet, we were surprised by how much we enjoyed it. We do miss seeing the characters, though. We would recommend Crystal Palace for lunch.