REVIEW: California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

by | Apr 26, 2022 | Walt Disney World Food, Walt Disney World News, WDW Blog

We share our experience and must-try items at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is among the finest dining experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort, perhaps second only to Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Given that the latter has yet to reopen, California Grill, in my opinion, currently holds the number one spot for splurging on dinner.

This posh, yet cozy restaurant offers guests the opportunity to enjoy exquisite cuisine while taking in spectacular views of the Magic Kingdom. As the Walt Disney World website says, it evokes the “spirit of 1971… [celebrating] its past while offering a nod to the incredible future ahead.” 

Prior to 1995, the Top of the World Lounge occupied the space and featured, among other things, a dinner show, “Broadway at the Top”, and an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch (which was also once offered at California Grill).

Love (for Food) in an Elevator

Our dining experience began when we checked in on the second floor of the resort. We soon received a text message to return and stepped into a private elevator that whisked us away to the 15th floor where the restaurant is located. After being greeted at the entrance, a Cast Member escorted us to our table.

Our server welcomed us and invited us to scan the QR code on the table to view the menu — also available on the My Disney Experience app — and took our drink order. We dined there before they launched their 50th Anniversary Celebration menu, so our meal was different from what is currently offered at the restaurant.

Inside California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Inside California Grill. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

How Much Does California Grill Cost?

The current menu at California Grill costs $89 per adult (ages 10 and up), plus tax and gratuity, and $39 per child (ages 3 to 9), plus tax and gratuity. These prices include a selection of one appetizer, one entrée, and one dessert.

When we dined there it was an à la carte menu, so the prices varied. 

California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Dinner Menu

California Grill is currently open from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM, so dinner is the only option. Before the 50th Anniversary Celebration menu premiered, we were able to choose from a number of items, and the menu frequently changes. An extensive wine list is also available.

A sampling of sushi served at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

California Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll, Spicy Kazan Roll. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

We shared a Shrimp Tempura, California, and Spicy Kazan Roll with spicy Fireball sauce along with the Braised Beef Short Rib Wontons. The sushi was fresh, and the wontons were cooked and seasoned to perfection.

Filet of Beef served at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Oak-Fired Filet of Beef. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

For our main course, we ordered the Oak Fired Filet of Beef and requested the Goat Cheese Polenta (normally served with the Pork Tenderloin) at our server’s suggestion. The filet was so tender that we barely needed a knife, and the polenta was creamy and tangy. Our daughter enjoyed her cheese pizza (made off-menu by request).

We also ordered a Blue Glowtini and Ancho Rancho Spicy Margarita, and they brought us two complimentary glasses of champagne for our anniversary.

For dessert we had the Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé topped with peanut butter ice cream. It was surprisingly not too sweet, and the peanut butter ice cream complimented it well. Our daughter’s meal came with a puffed rice sushi dessert.

California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review

I highly recommend splurging to celebrate a special occasion at California Grill. The food and views do not disappoint, and you can always watch Disney Enchantment from the terrace.

Fireworks at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Watch the fireworks from the California Grill. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Given the atmosphere — and price — I recommend dressing up for your dining experience. Disney requires the following attire for dining at the restaurant:

  • Men must wear khakis, slacks or dress shorts and collared shirts. Jeans may be worn if in good condition. Sport coats are optional.
  • Women must wear Capri pants, skirts, dresses, or dress shorts. Jeans may be worn if in good condition.
  • Not permitted are tank tops, flip-flops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, hats for gentlemen, cut-offs, torn clothing, and t-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics.

Our server was mostly attentive; although there were times we waited for refills, and it took longer than expected to prepare our meals. While this usually wouldn’t be an issue, given that California Grill is a fine dining experience, we dined late in the evening after a day in the park, so we had hoped it wouldn’t take as long as it did to get our meals and dessert.

Overall, we enjoyed our evening at the California Grill, and we hope to return to experience the Celebration at the Top: 50th Flavors & Fireworks at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in the near future.

Dining at California Grill: A Few Things to Remember

As you plan your visit to California Grill, here are some helpful tips:

  • Make your reservations early. If you don’t get it on your 60-day ADR session, keep checking the My Disney Experience app in the days and weeks before your visit. I do not recommend trying to get a table without a reservation given the limited hours and popularity.
  • Talk to your server or the chef if you have food allergies/sensitivities. They will gladly discuss the ingredients and offer recommendations for substitutions.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable dining experience, then visit California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Enjoy!

Posts by Eric Freilich

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Eric Freilich is a former Walt Disney World Cast Member and lives in south Florida. As Annual Passholders, he and his family visit the theme parks throughout the year to enjoy all that Disney has to offer. When he’s not soaring over the landscape of Pandora on a Banshee or joining the Resistance to triumph over the First Order, Eric enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family. Check out Eric and his family on the Mousegearz channel.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Eric Freilich

Eric Freilich is a former Walt Disney World Cast Member and lives in south Florida. As Annual Passholders, he and his family visit the theme parks throughout the year to enjoy all that Disney has to offer. When he’s not soaring over the landscape of Pandora on a Banshee or joining the Resistance to triumph over the First Order, Eric enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family. Check out Eric and his family on the Mousegearz channel.
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