Published on August 29th, 2010 | by Kevin Barron1
Crystal Palace Character
Though it seems like only a few months ago, many years ago we visited Walt Disney World for the first time with our daughter. She was just four years old and many said too young to enjoy and remember all the World had to offer. Whether or not she remembers it all, I can’t say. I can confidently say that she remembers one thing vividly – the day Tigger took my hat.
Our trip that year was filled with Character Dining meals. Truth be told, we enjoyed them as much as she did. From Chef Mickey’s to Liberty Tree Tavern, we met all of the popular characters and many more. On one occasion, a lunchtime as I recall, we went to the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. The Crystal Palace in Walt Disney World is a homage to the original Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, London. That original structure covered 990,000 square feet and was 1,851 feet long and over 128 feet tall. It was commissioned to house the latest in technology for the burgeoning Victorian Age and the architecture matched the grandness and formality of the times.
While significantly smaller, the iron and glass theme of the Disney version of this landmark building is still stunning. On a daily basis it presents A. A. Milne’s timeless menagerie of fluffy friends – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore – to the delight of children everywhere. My brother, when he was a kid in the 1970s, thought Eeyore was absolutely the best. Piglet is still the favorite of Mrs. PDF. I’m partial to Pooh … wait that didn’t come out right, did it? The official Walt Disney World site promotes the Crystal Palace by encouraging guest to “Step into The Hundred Acre Wood as you enter this whimsical restaurant. Marvel at the colorful Character topiary of Winnie the Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger. The light and airy ambiance fits the upbeat blustery mood, surrounded by Victorian elegance.” It’s a buffet, so don’t count on the food to be stellar, but the food isn’t the point when you’re there with your child. The characters are the feature of this restaurant and we were there to savor every course.
We went through the buffet line then sat at our table near the window facing Cinderella Castle. Could it get any better on a beautiful summer day in Orlando? Yes.
Each character visited in turn and we stopped so frequently to take pictures that I cannot recall anythingabout the meal specifically. After Winnie the Pooh, we could see Tigger making his way around the dining room. Tigger was a big clown, dancing and playing at each table stop. While she was excited our daughter was also a bit shy around the characters, especially those she hadn’t seen before. That hesitation was remedied quickly, however, as Tigger caught a glimpse of her and then seized on a feature of my vacation kit that I still carry with me to this day — my hat. Promptly, Tigger grabbed my hat, plopped it on his head and proceeded to make her giggle to no end. Seeing her daddy’s hat on that big orange tiger was just too much for her shyness to oppress. Tigger quickly became one of her favorite characters, needless to say, and remains so today. All in all, our new friend Tigger was probably at our table for less than five minutes, but he’ll be in our fondest memories of the World forever.
They say “one can never go home”, but occasionally (if I could) I would transport my family back to that time at the Crystal Palace when we were at home in Walt Disney World and Tigger became part of our family.