Disney’s California Grill at the Contemporary Resort: Is it Worth the Big Buck$?

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Every photo has a story.

High atop the iconic Contemporary Resort sits a Signature dining restaurant that rates among the best Disney has to offer. It’s also one of the most expensive restaurants on the Disney property. If you are looking for a fantastic Walt Disney World location that would be memorable for a special occasions or fine vacation-dining, the California Grill may be your place to start. Here are three reasons why, if you have it, dining here just may be worth the Big Buck$.

1) Let’s start with The View

A Signature Dining restaurant with award-winning dishes prepared in an on-stage kitchen, the California Grill is located on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  Take your pick of two spectacular views, the Seven Seas Lagoon or the Magic Kingdom.

You are right in the heart of Disney’s Magic Kingdom resort area, with amazing 14th floor views of 3 Disney Resorts, 4 including the Contemporary, Disney monorails and ferry boats, and if you dine at night, neon lights and the “Wishes” fireworks spectacular.  The lights are dimmed during the Magic Kingdom fireworks, and they pipe in the accompanying music. While the food is marvelous, you are paying $$$ for location, location, location…

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California Grill photo from wdwinfo.com

2) The Food!

The California Grill’s menu is inspired by classic cuisine from around the world that also reflects the very best in California Fusion cooking.  The menu changes frequently to make the best use of fresh seasonal produce, but there are many standard dishes to look for on the menu as well. Here are some the dining selections that caught my eye with prices:

  • Brick oven-baked flat breads, $12 to $13
  • Handmade Sonoma goat cheese ravioli, $14
  • Oak-fired filet of beef with Teriyaki barbeque sauce, $47
  • Sushi, $23 to $28
  • Grilled pork tenderloin, $37
  • Hawaiian Monchong, $39
  • Cast-iron seared Bison, $47
  • Many excellent vegetarian options.

For the wine connoisseurs, the California Grill offers outstanding wine selections from California’s finest estates. Wine sold by the glass runs from $13 to $15 a glass. Disneyworld.com reports that the wines are updated each day to complement the food, and that “You’ll relish living in a Golden State of mind!”

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For dessert, here’s a sampling of three yummy items with prices.

  • A California Grill specialty is the Valrhona Cake, which is a warm chocolate cake with a molten center, served with the California Grill’s own White Coffee ice cream.  $13
  • Bananas and Caramel, which is crispy baked Phyllo squares layered with banana, Mascarpone mousse, and caramelized banana. $12
  • Pear and Almond Cobbler, with vanilla bean ice cream and candies almonds. $12
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Photo of the California Grill bar by the DisneyFoodBlog.com

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World  gave the California Grill 4 and 1/2 stars, which was one of their highest ratings for expensive level restaurants on the Disney property.  They warn that the atmosphere can be a little noisy, but point out the show kitchen is the certer-piece of the open dining room.  They rate the California Grill as one of Disney’s top dining experiences.

Can’t stand the thought of leaving the kids behind? The California Grill offers a children’s menu for the  9 and under crowd.

  • House-made Macaroni and Cheese, $9
  • Roasted Salon, $12
  • Oak-fried Steak, $13
  • Grilled Chicken Breast, $10
  • House-made whole-wheat pizza, $9

3) Super Star Treatment and A Fancy Dress Code

This is definitely no ordinary counter-service location. Restaurant guests will check in on the Contemporary Resort’s second floor, and when your table is ready, you will travel up to the 15th floor in a special express elevator.  Starting with this V.I.P treatment, you’ll feel like a celebrity.

California Grill Magic Kingdom view, California Grill fireworks, california grill wine, california grill tip, California grill reservation number, While you can wear your comfy Mickey t-shirt into the parks, the California Grill does have a specific dress code.  Men are expected to wear khakis pants, dress slacks, jeans, dress shorts, and a collared-shirt. Sport coats are optional, but hey, this is a special occasion, right? Ladies are expected to dress in capris, skirts, dresses, jeans, or dress shorts. This means you need to leave your tank tops, swimwear, hats, cut offs, or torn clothing for the theme parks or the resort pools.

You will be dining in a beautiful restaurant, spectacular views on every side, succulent worldly cuisine, and the crowd here will be dressed to impress. That’s pretty Hollywood for Florida.

What could be holding you back?

The price, for starters. With items ranging from $36 to $54 for each entree without wine or your tip factored in, this will be an expensive meal. If a $10 hamburger, eaten in a cut off t-shirt is your usual dining experience, this may be out of your vacation price range.   And many people on vacation don;t bring along fancy clothes, because they want a break from their normal work attire. And there’s no breakfast or lunch menu, so this could cut into your evening theme park time.

Or perhaps, just what you need may be a day by the pool and a late meal by the light of the Magic Kingdom fireworks?!

Other info you may need to know.

  • The Disney Dining Plan is accepted, using 2 dining credits per person,per meal
  • The Contemporary Grill is smoke-free, and guests must be 21 years of age or older to purchase alcoholic beverages
  • To make reservations for the California Grill, you can book online with Disney’s Contemporary Resort or call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463 up to180 days prior to your visit.  There is a cancellation policy, but Cast Members will cover all the specifics when you make your reservations.
  • Celebration cakes are available for special occasions for an additional charge. You should order those 48 hours in advance by calling (407) 827-2253.

Is the California Grill worth the Big Buck$?  It’s going to be a very expensive meal. But if you have the $$$ it takes,  for a special meal, anniversary dinner, proposal spot, or even just a family dinner with a once-in-a-lifetime view, the California Grill has the best to offer in fine Disney dining.

Thanks for stopping by for a Disney photographical ride, and hopefully, we’ll see you in the special elevator to the 15th floor!

Amanda

Visit Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest. 

See ya soon!

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