Casual Dining Options in the Magic Kingdom.
One of my favorite things to do in a Disney park has nothing to do with visiting the attractions or seeing shows. It’s having a table service meal. I love the ability to get out of the elements and relax and turn down the volume for a bit, all while enjoying a good meal. There’s something about a restaurant experience in a Disney park setting that makes it extra special, regardless of what you happen to be eating. Of course, a big part of that is the theming, which continues the story from the attractions right down to something we can all appreciate: The food. Today I’m going to look at the Magic Kingdom’s four and a half casual dining restaurants (which does not include the biggie, Cinderella’s Royal Table). Here they are, in no particular order.
The always-popular Crystal Palace is located just off Main Street as you go to the left woard Adventureland. I’ve made no secret that I’m not a huge fan of buffets, mainly because as a mom I feel I do enough running around at meal times, but I think Disney buffets are a step or two above what you’ll find elsewhere and they warrant a visit. Breakfast here is pretty standard fare, filling and good. You’ll find plenty of high-calories treats (alas, no Mickey waffles) mixed in with healthy options like fruit and cereal. Lunch is varied. You’ll find roasted meats, veggies, pastas, and salads. One thing I liked for picky eaters (my oldest child) was that they had everything you could ask for to make a sandwich, so worst case scenario, they’re going to have something to eat. As it turned out, my kids loved the food there. The desserts also warrant mention; they’re really good, some of them as good as you’d find in a signature restaurant.
In general, everything at Crystal Palace is fresh and the proper temperature and like all Disney buffets, it has a quick turn around. The food is filling and the variety is impressive. For those on special diets, this place is a plus: There’s literally something for everyone and if you need hlep finding something that fits your needs, just ask. This is also one of the best character meals in Disney World, where you’ll find Pooh and friends in attendance. The restaurant is filled with light and can be crowded and loud, but it’s always cool–a nice break on a hot day.
Panna cotta from Tony’s Town Square, courtesy of The Daily Disney.
I’ll be honest, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about Tony’s Town Square and I wholeheartedly agree with one of them: This restaurant should be a showplace. The location, right as you come in the Magic Kingdom, is ideal. There’s even a small amount of seating where you can watch the parades. The food? Well, the food can be hit and miss. If you’re Mom’s Itailian, you might be disappointed. Stick with simple fare like sandwiches and salads and you’ll have a decent meal in one of the oldest restaurants on site.
Plaza photo copyright Solarius.
While the Plaza has a limited menu, the sandwiches and old-fashioned ice cream treats hit the spot. I especially like the Banana Split–I mean, how often do you see a banana split on the menu anymore? There’s also a good vegetarian sandwich. It’s location right off Main Street on your way to Tomorrowland means it stays crowded, but don’t hesitate to try to get a walk-up if you don’t have an ADR; it happens. Prices are just slightly higher than counter service options elsewhere.
Okay, so you’re probably wondering where the “half” comes in. Well wonder no more, my friend. During busier times of the year Disney opens The Diamond Horseshoe, located between Frontierland and Liberty Square, as a table-service restaurant in a space that’s normally used for private functions. The theming is just so-so, but if you’re looking for decent food in a sit-down environment, this buffet featuring home-style, American classics from the same kitchen as Liberty Tree Tavern, will fit the bill. If you want to read more about it, check out this post on The Disney Food Blog. The Diamond Horseshoe does not accept the Disney dining plan.
You can easily get an advanced dining reservation for any of these restaurants at the 180-day mark. The only one you’ll have actual difficulty getting a few months out is Crystal Palace which, because it’s a character meal, fills up very quickly. Holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, will fill up very quickly. This is particularly true at Liberty Tree Tavern. If you want to eat a Christmas eve or day dinner in the Magic Kingdom, make your ADRs when they become available. Finally,all of these restaurants but The Diamond Horseshoe are one table service credit. If you’re paying out of pocket, you’ll find prices similar to an Applebees or Olive Garden.
Good luck and happy eating.