Would I Eat There Again
Our three course meal with two glasses of wine set us back just over $200 with tip. So it was definitely a splurge and the most expensive meal of the trip. However, I would definitely go back for another Disney date night or to try their amazing brunch!
I would also love to dine there sometime during the fireworks. While we dont usually eat dinner that late, some people book a late ADR at California Grill and only order dessert and drinks while watching the fireworks light up the sky.
Sounds like a magical way to end a Disney day!Have you eaten at California Grill? Comment on and tell us about your experience.
Ashley Beckwith McKellar
Vegan Disney Food Review: California Grill At The Contemporary Resort
California Grill is one of Walt Disney Worlds Signature Dining locations. Signature dining often times means more money, but does a higher cost translate to a better experience? I think this post may convince you that yes it does. EDITORS NOTE: The Plant Based Unplugged menu is currently unavailable at California Grill. See our most recent post for the current vegan options and newest vegan dessert at California Grill.
Disneys Contemporary Resort is a Magic Kingdom area resort located on the monorail line. The hotel is nestled in between Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
While the exterior of the resort isnt very contemporary, the interior has been refurbished to give it a more modern feel.
When entering the resort from the ground level you will take the escalator up to the second floor check-in area. If arriving via the monorail you will head down the escalator one flight to the second floor.
Check in is required, after which you will be directed to a special elevator with an attendant who will take you up to the restaurant.
As with all signature dining locations across Walt Disney World property there is a dress code. Resort casual attire is required which means no tank tops, swimwear, cut-offs or torn clothing of any kind and gentlemen must remove hats.
Magic Kingdom Fireworks From California Grill
Im probably not great at making it to the nightly fireworks all the time. But I do enjoy them even though they arent a dealbreaker for me. Perhaps, its because Ive been fortunate enough to attend so many fireworks viewings in my lifetime.
With all that said, I have to recommend returning for the evening fireworks at Disneys California Grill. Or schedule a late meal so the fireworks can be part of your dining experience.
All you have to do is return about fifteen minutes before the time for Happily Ever After. Show your receipt, and youll be escorted by elevator back up to the restaurants observation deck.
Theres a large deck on each side of the California Grill. The audio for Happily Ever After is streamed to the area through a speaker system. So you do get a bit of a different viewpoint, but the audio feels like you are standing inside Magic Kingdom park.
You can also watch the fireworks from your table if the timing falls during your meal. The entire experience makes you feel special. Its like you are a part of something distinct and rare.
Happily Ever After Fireworks spectacular is exquisite in its own right, there are so many touching moments, and it can be quite emotional. It can also be very difficult to see from inside the Magic Kingdom front and center due to its popularity. Being able to casually sit at your table and take it in is almost a surreal feeling.
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Th Anniversary Food And Beverage
In honor of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary there are over 150 different specialty drinks, eats, and treats available throughout the resort. Keep an eye out at all quick service and table service locations for the specially designated 50th anniversary items.
One of my favorite 50th anniversary drinks is the Magical Beacon Cocktail made with 1908 Empress Gin. The celebration is just getting started so you’ll have plenty of time to try out the new treats together.
Enjoy Fantastic Food And Views At California Grill
The views of Magic Kingdom and the food at one of Disneys finest restaurants cannot be beat! Check out this review to see if you want to add this unique dining experience to your touring plan on your next Disney trip!
In April, I crossed a big item off my bucket list when I had dinner on top of the Contemporary Resort at California Grill.
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New Special Dining Experience Coming To California Grill Restaurant
Big changes are coming to one of Walt Disney Worlds most popular restaurants as a new special dining experience is coming to the California Grill restaurant at Disneys Contemporary Resort.
One look at The Walt Disney World website shows that bookings are no longer available after October 2:
California Grill is currently unavailable for bookings after October 2 as we create a special dining experience for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort.
Another recent announcement from Disney stated: Upstairs at California Grill, a new dining experience will also be available later this year, featuring a limited-time menu with items inspired by the restaurants history.
Any rumors as to what these new changes will be are only speculation at this time as Disney has not commented any further on the matter. We do like the idea of a limited menu inspired by the restaurants history. Will we get some throwbacks to when it was Top of the World?
At this time we dont know how long the restaurant will be unavailable for, it obviously depends on how extensive the work is.
We also dont know if the restaurant is changing names into a completely new restaurant, or if it will remain the California Grill just with some modifications, perhaps only temporary ones.
Course Prix Fixe Menu For $89 Per Adult And $39 Per Child
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. A mainstay of Walt Disney Worlds dining scene is putting out a special, limited-time menu in celebration of Walt Disney Worlds 50th-anniversary celebration.
California Grill inside Disneys Contemporary Resort is offering a three-course, prix fixe menu for $89 per adult and $39 per child.
Diners will be able to choose a Market Inspirations appetizer, a Chefs Journey entrée and a Sweet Creations dessert.
California Grill opened at the contemporary in 1995, according to Disneys website, and focuses on fresh, seasonal dishes.
In addition to the food, the restaurant also features an impressive wine list showcasing the finest wines from highly allocated California vineyards, according to a news release.
The limited-time menu will be offered beginning on Oct. 3, but the restaurant is accepting reservations starting on Thursday.
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California Grill Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of Walt Disney World Resort With Special Limited
by Karen McClintock, Food & Beverage Content Relations Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
In 1971, Top of the World opened on the 15th floor of Disneys Contemporary Resort, offering two dinner/dancing shows nightly featuring top-name entertainment. In 1981, Broadway at the Top dinner show was introduced with popular catchy show tunes sung by talented performers. In 1995, the space transformed into California Grill with fresh, seasonal dishes prepared in the stunning on-stage kitchen. The impressive wine list showcasing the finest wines from highly allocated California vineyards further elevated the dining experience. California Grill was considered a cutting-edge concept , becoming a sought-after dining destination for our guests as well as catching the culinary worlds attention. And it continues to dazzle and impress all these years later!
Through the years, the menu has evolved but continues the focus on seasonal dining with a creative blending of flavors, textures, and techniques. The stellar award-winning wine list is still as impressive but has made room for craft cocktails and beers. What has remained constant is the stunning views of Magic Kingdom Park and Seven Seas Lagoon.
As part of The Worlds Most Magical Celebration, California Grill will offer a limited-time three-course menu with dishes inspired by past favorites as well as new market-fresh creations. Here are just a few items on this 50th anniversary celebration menu.
Disneys California Grill Atmosphere
California Grill is located on the top floor of Disneys Contemporary Resort. This positioning offers guests magnificent views of the entirety of Walt Disney World Resort.
I have caught many a sunset from the restaurants lounge area which is first-come first-served and offers the full dinner menu. The restaurant has massive windows with sweeping views of the Magic Kingdom. Its possible to see the fireworks over Epcot and then Happily Ever After fireworks over the Magic Kingdom in the same evening.
You can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the comfort of your table as the lights are dimmed and the shows soundtrack is played over the restaurants speakers or you can meander outside onto one of four cat walks on either side of the building for a better view.
Guests who dine at Disneys California Grill early in the evening are welcome to return with their receipt on the same day to watch the fireworks.
As I mentioned before, the restaurant has a full-service bar and lounge which is where I end up dining most often as reservations here can be hard to come by. If youd like to try this tactic for dining at California Grill, be sure to arrive as soon as the restaurant opens. Once the lounge fills to capacity they will not let any guests up without a confirmed dinner reservation.
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Vintage Walt Disney World: The History Of California Grill At Disneys Contemporary Resort
by Nate Rasmussen, Librarian, Walt Disney Archives
Today, back in 1995, the California Grill at Disneys Contemporary Resort opened. This signature restaurant atop the 15th floor was recently reimagined and here is a look at the lobby in 1995 and today.
When Disneys Contemporary Resort opened in 1971, the 15th floor was known as the Top of the World Restaurant and looked quite a bit different than it does today.
In June of 1981, the Broadway at the Top dinner show debuted at the restaurant and ran until September of 1993. Below is a look at the show and its performers in January 1985.
Whats my favorite part of the California Grill? Its a toss up between the delicious food and the amazing view.
California Grill Dress Code
As a signature Disney restaurant, California Grill adheres to the following dress code:
- Men must wear khakis, slacks or dress shorts and collared shirts.
- Women must wear Capri pants, skirts, dresses or dress shorts.
- Jeans may be worn for men or women if in good condition.
- Not permitted are tank tops, flip-flops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, hats for men, cut-offs, torn clothing, and t-shirts with offensive graphics and/or language.
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Would We Return To California Grill
Overall, Maggie and I both agreed this event was outstanding and well worth the cost. It was both of our first time experiencing California Grill. While I enjoyed the freshest sushi ever, Maggie shared that she didnt feel like she lacked non-seafood choices here.
Her favorite dish is the pork bao buns, and she shared that the steamed buns held the pork together perfectly.My favorite was the trio-seafood salad. Partially because it was so delicious, and partly because I wasnt expecting to like it.
Desserts here were light and sweet. Both of us agree that this event is superior to any other fireworks dining or dessert party. Although the price tag is higher by about $30, its worth it for the unlimited drinks, small plates and desserts. Food here was on a higher caliber than other dessert parties.
We thoroughly enjoyed Enchantment from the private balcony and would return to California Grill to experience this or the main dining room again. As part of The Worlds Most Magical Celebration, California Grill also offers a limited-time three-course menu with dishes inspired by past favorites as well as new market-fresh creations. Read all the details on this menu HERE.
Views From California Grill
What makes California Grill really stand out is the view! There are viewing platforms on both sides of the restaurant and we went out several times during our meal to see the view as it changed with the setting sun.
Watching the lights come on in the Magic Kingdom throughout our meal made it extra magical!
In addition to a spectacular Magic Kingdom view, I love how you can see the monorail, the sparkling water and the Wilderness Lodge surrounded by woods.
You can also see the Polynesian and Grand Floridian across the Seven Seas Lagoon!
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Things To Know About California Grill
California Grill is one of the nicest restaurants on property with some of the most amazing culinary experiences. This is definitely a Disney bucket list experience that you have to try out at least once during your Disney vacations. Here are 8 things that you must know about California Grill before you go:
8 There is a brunch option on Sundays.
Editors Note: At this time, brunch is currently not being offered.
On Sunday mornings there is a brunch option that includes sushi and tons of delicious items that are sure to curb your hunger. The food at the restaurant is delicious and brunch is no exception. Not only do you have the delicious food items, but you also have a Bloody Mary bar, craft beers and some of the finest wines at Walt Disney World. It is the perfect start to a Sunday morning and a magical day of enjoying Walt Disney World Resort.
7 There is a dress code.
Editors Note: At this time, Dining Plans are unavailable, but will return.
6 There are amazing views of Magic Kingdom fireworks.
The restaurant is located at the top of Disneys Contemporary Resort, which is located right next to the Magic Kingdom. From the resort, you get an up-close view overlooking the entire park, which means that you have one of the best views of Disney Enchantment fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Not only that, the music is piped into the restaurant and the balcony of the restaurant so that you can enjoy the show with the music, too.
2 The service is impeccable.
Disneys California Grill Review
This original review of California Grill covered a dining experience from the springtime. That meal was so good that I found myself returning in the Fall to see if I would have the same experience.
It was completely for the sake of this website. Thats what I keep telling myself anyway.
So now this review reflects several updates and covers multiple meals at the restaurant. Doing this offers the chance to take a better look at California Grills ever-changing menu. I never want to miss an angle.
If I were to give a rating for California Grill, it would have to come in as a full 10 out of 10. And thats taking into account over five to six dining experiences here within the last few years. The restaurant is considered a signature dining location, or you might call it fine dining.
The food is high quality and prepared in an open-style kitchen. California Grills menu offers many fresh and unique ingredients. The service we have received at every meal has been exceptional. And the fact that the restaurant has nightly fireworks viewing for anyone who has dined there that evening is also a special perk.
Let me explain a bit more in detail.
Disneys California Grill has a muted color palette with bright pops of color. The idea and design of the restaurant are to keep you looking out toward the breathtaking views.
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California Grill: The Fireworks
Just as we finished up our entrees, an announcement came over the intercom in the restaurant that the Magic Kingdom Fireworks would be beginning shortly, and invited guests out the the viewing areas outside. Our table was so perfectly positioned, that my family didnt feel the need to head outside, but plenty of other patrons did. I went out for a few moments to get some better pictures of the show.
The music from the Magic Kingdom was piped in and was perfectly synchronized to make it a lovely display. This experience was so lovely. My kids were thrilled to watch them from a new vantage point and I enjoyed how relaxing the atmosphere was, without the crowds of the Magic Kingdom.
The view from our table wasnt too shabby either, but it just didnt make for good pictures, due to the rain earlier in the day that left the windows a little damp.
Not Enough Cast Members
The only negative was there were only four Cast Members taking care of us during the event. Other Cast Members were working to bring out food but struggled to keep the buffets stocked when food was first brought out. Hopefully, this is due to the even being new, and Disney will add more Cast Members. The Cast Members working the event never stopped, though, and did their best to meet everyones needs.
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Kids Mickey Check Meals
Served with choice of small low-fat milk or small bottled water
Chicken Breast Grilled Chicken Breast with Steamed Green Beans, Crushed Sweet Potatoes, and Seasonal Fruit Kabobs with Freshly Made Yogurt Dip. $15.00
Wild Salmon Seared Wild Salmon with Steamed Green Beans, Brown Basmati Rice, and Seasonal Fruit Kabobs with Freshly Made Yogurt Dip $17.00
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Steamed Green Beans, Crushed Sweet Potatoes, Ketchup Sauce, and Seasonal Fruit Kabobs with Freshly Made Yogurt Dip $19.00
= Meets Disney Nutrition Guidelines for Complete Meals without substitutions.