Crystal Palace: Dinner

One of my favorite dining venues would without a doubt be the Crystal Palace. On our September trip, it was raining hard and the porch was a nice place to hang out while waiting for our reservation time.

My rankings for this venue is as follows:

Food: 9 – Price: 7 – Atmosphere: 9

For a buffet, I really enjoyed the food. Of course, buffets almost always have me overeating, which is a downside to the whole affair. But in terms of things, I am always down for some mashed potatoes and gravy as well as a hearty serving of beef.

Of course, this is still Disney World and just at the end of Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom, so there is always going to be a rather hefty price tag for those not on the meal plan. While I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from trying out the Crystal Palace at least once, I do not think I would ever enjoy a meal there unless I have a table service meal on my dining plan.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’d know that I absolutely love character dining. The Crystal Palace offers meet and greets with the wonderful characters of Winnie the Pooh. One of my favorite parts is that every now and then, the characters put on a parade where all the children hop in line and march around, which amps up the atmosphere and give parents a fun photo opportunity.

All in all, the food is pretty great and the characters are always bubbly and keep the place alive. I love the bright lighting and colors of the restaurant and when trying to escape the rain, it’s a perfect place to spend a little extra time (and possibly find some more room to stuff yourself silly). This is why I’ve given the Crystal Palace such a high rating. So if you’re on a meal plan and have some kiddos in tow (adult kiddos count too, of course), I’d suggest planning a meal at the Crystal Palace!

 

 

Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine: Dinner (Early)

Being on the quick service dining plan, we decided we only wanted to shell out money for one table service meal this past trip. After looking into various restaurants, we decided we wanted to try something new and settled on this mainly because it gave us priority seating for Fantasmic, my favorite evening time show.

This is a buffet and if you have small children, I would absolutely recommend hitting this place up for an early dinner because the amount of character time we got was insane. We sat down for our meal a bit before 4PM and all the characters came by at least four times, waving and stopping for photos if we wanted.

With not many people at the restaurant, we watched as families got all kind of time with the characters. Two young girls next to me had such a great time doting on the characters I couldn’t help but smile.

The food itself is quite good, though maybe not on the same quality level as the table service restaurants that are not self serve. I loved the little pastas and probably had more meatballs and shrimp than I needed, but it was a great opportunity to stuff my face. And since we were paying out of pocket, I believe it was very strategic of us to do the early dinner because we didn’t need as much in the morning and after stuffing ourselves silly, we didn’t need much in the evening either.

One thing food wise I really loved was the decorations on the desserts. The little ‘grammy’ statue Minnie was really cute – I think it was white chocolate so I enjoyed it too. My favorite item was the little ‘apple pie’ tasting item. I could’ve eaten quite a few of those had I not already eaten so much. Alec loved the little chocolate peanut butter ball, but I was not as much of a fan because of the texture.

Overall, it was a great restaurant and I loved all the character time we got. My only complaint is that Mickey still seemed to be the star of Minnie’s show because he was the one standing at the entrance where a cast member took PhotoPass photos. I guess I can understand why, as more people seem to want Mickey pictures than Minnie pictures, but I still was not a big fan of that aspect.

As for personal rankings, I would say Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine is:

Atmosphere: 10 – Food: 8 -Price: 7

This was by far the most character time I have gotten at a table service and for that I had a really great time. The food itself was very good, I only wish I had saved more room for the wonderful desserts. Lastly, as this is Disney and nothing comes without a decent price, this place was about in the middle when it comes to table service, but it is definitely a bit hard to swallow when paying out of pocket and seeing the dollar signs versus as credit on your dining plan.

I will absolutely be returning to Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine at Hollywood & Vine in the future. I am excited to take my future children here simply because I see them having a truly magical experience meeting and getting special moments with the characters, which is reason enough to go again and again!

 

T-Rex: Lunch

Alec and I had an opportunity to spend the day exploring Disney Springs on our last trip and I had a blast. I wouldn’t say it was as much fun as the parks, but Disney Springs is a great place to get the Disney feel without paying for it.

While out and about, we decided to enjoy a meal at T-Rex. Neither of us had been but it was on our radar from our previous trip and we both knew we wanted to try it out. When it comes to price, this was the best sit down restaurant that I have found so far. While $15 for a burger sounds fairly steep to those of us in Indiana, it is incredibly reasonable at Disney. We left with our bellies full from a great meal at just over $50 including the tip.

I would not say the atmosphere of the restaurant screams Disney, but it also doesn’t take you out of the Disney feel entirely either. We we seated right by some lovely dinos and the meteor shower every 10 or so minutes was fun. If you have a dinosaur fan in the family (Alec loves dinos), then I would definitely suggest stopping in.

After having some disappointing experiences with guac at many various Disney properties, I am pleased to say that the Guac-asaurus Burger was just the right thing to renew my faith in guac. The burger was quite yummy and I was happy to actually be able to taste the guac. Alec enjoyed the Bronto Burger, which was similar in nature but did not include guac. Of course, the waffle fries were great but I almost always love waffle fries.

Overall, my ratings would go as follows:

Atmosphere: 10 – Food: 9 – Price – 9

The atmosphere was awesome with all the dinosaurs and varying little landscapes/habitats and I very much enjoyed my burger. As for the price, if you’re paying out of pocket, head over to T-Rex. But as a heads up, if you’re on the dining plan this would be a hard place to get your money’s worth as it counts as a table service credit. All in all, I would be happy to dine here again (and I may do so at a different location nearer to my permanent residence)!

 

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: Dinner

One of the most surprising places that I absolutely loved was the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. I am not exactly sure what I was expecting, but this lovely place definitely exceeded all expectations. Of course, it’s hard for me not to love a place where I get a picture with Belle right off the bat. And if that wasn’t great enough, we also got to meet many other princesses including Aurora, Snow White, and Ariel. The only thing that I found to be a bummer was that Anna and Elsa were not able to join the fun.

The food was awesome. My fiance and I were under the impression that Akershus was only a buffet, but were pleasantly surprised to see the buffet portion was only an appetizer. Once I was done stuffing myself with smoked salmon, shrimp, and Norwegian cheeses, I barely had room for an entree!

My mom and brother ordered the Tradisjonell Kjøttkake, my fiance enjoyed the Skalldyrsgryte, and I tried the Kyllingbryst. See the descriptions below taken from Disney’s website.

 

Tradisjonell Kjøttkake

Norwegian Meatballs served with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Lingonberry Sauce

Skalldyrsgryte

Scallops, Mussels, and Shrimp Casserole baked in a Seafood and Herb-Cream Sauce

Kyllingbryst

Slow-roasted Chicken Breast, Applewood-smoked Bacon, Roasted Garden Vegetables, and Red Pepper Purée

After nibbling on all three, I would have to say my favorite was the meatballs hands down. The chicken was good but a little dry (as well as not a full meal if not paired with the buffet). The seafood dish was a tad too fishy for me so I was glad I did not order it for myself.

Another great aspect of this restaurant is that it is the best value table service location of 2016 according to wdwprepschool.com, which is part of the reason we decided to dine here. That and character dining, of course!

My ranking is as follows:

Character Dining: 10 – Appetizer (Buffet): 10 – Entree: 7

This averages out to be a 9/10 on the ‘Belle’ scale of dining. I adored the princesses and the buffet, but the entrees (apart from the meatballs) did not impress.