California Grill – A Very Special Treat

by on August 17, 2009 15 Comments

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My favorite restaurant in all of Walt Disney World is California Grill.  With its outstanding food and wine selections, unparalleled service, its magnificent views of the Seven Seas Lagoon, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom and the Electrical Water Pageant, California Grill is a jewel in the Disney Crown. 

California Grill is located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary resort .  Check-in is on the 2nd floor.  You are then escorted up a special elevator with a cast member.  The restaurant is decorated with a modern flair: light woods, tall ceilings and open kitchen.  It’s fresh and very inviting  and in my opinion the BEST place to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Reservations are required for dining room seating. 

Because California Grill uses only the freshest ingredients, the menu changes weekly.  The flat breads are wonderful and great for a starter or a meal for a less adventurous eater.  I have always had excellent food at the California Grill whether it be corn bisque, summer salad, or valrhona chocolate cake.  I try to order something different each time I go.  Their sushi is outstanding.  The California Grill introduced us to sushi and the sushi I eat other places pales in comparison.  The Oak Fire Filet of Beef has been offered at most of our visits and is a family favorite.   The California Grill is a little slice of culinary heaven.

An added bonus of the California Grill is the wonderful viewing location for the fireworks show.  The lights are dimmed and the Wishes soundtrack is piped into the restaurant.  I have often had a window table, but my favorite place to view them is from the rooftop deck.  The soundtrack is also piped outside as well.  I promise you, it brings a tear to my eye every time.  It makes me  feel is though all is right with the world.  (Can you tell I’ve swallowed the pixie dust ;).   The cast members go out of their way to time your food with the fireworks.  You will not come back to your table to find cold food waiting for you.

If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, it will require 2 of your Table Service Credits as it is a Signature Dining Restaurant.  The Unofficial Guide does not suggest you use your credits in this manner.   While the atmosphere is upscale, it isn’t stuffy.  This is a special meal.  You may want to lose the regular park touring attire in favor of something a little nicer.  Disney prefers that you dress business casual at all Signature Dining locations.  Tank tops, swimsuits or swimsuit cover-ups, hats for gentlemen, cut-offs or torn clothing of any kind are not permitted.

 Calfornia Grill is an upscale dining experience that thrills all of the senses.  Well worth the cost and the highlight of our trips.  Calfronia Grill is always a special treat.
Posted on August 17, 2009

15 Responses to “California Grill – A Very Special Treat”

  • I agree. We ate there in 2008 and it perfect. Great place to celebrate special happenings (anniversary)

    • by Caroline Baggerly on August 17, 2009, at 7:29 pm EST

      Hi Karen,
      You are so right. We celebrated my son’s birthday and it was awesome. So special. Thanks for reading!! 🙂

  • The best part is sitting at the chefs counter. If you sit there, you will get free food. 😛

    It’s like watching Iron Chef.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on August 17, 2009, at 8:47 pm EST

      Well, that is an awesome tip. Do you need a reservation to sit there?

      • You will need to make a request to sit at the chefs counter. They usually seat very early (say 5:30p) with one other service later. I highly recommend it. It is fun to watch a world class kitchen in action and lots of treats. Good luck.

        • by Caroline Baggerly on August 17, 2009, at 9:52 pm EST

          Hey Sam,
          Do you have to request months in advance? Can you request when you get there?
          By the way, I have enjoyed all of the blog posts you have written and I enjoyed hearing you on WDW Today. 🙂


          • When I went there we had a normal reservation. However, no one was sitting at the counter. I guess a lot of times you can walk in without a reservation IF you ask to sit at the chefs counter. If you don’t mention that the’ll say the are full.

  • I made my reservation for 530p 90 days out (I guess 180 days now right?) and then called the restaurant directly and made the request. I would also suggest getting there earlier than 530p just to be sure. This has worked for the California Grill, Napa Rose, and, I hope, for Jiko in September.

    Although this worked better at Napa Rose than California Grill, you can ask the chef to just make something up for you with your restrictions in mind. If you are daring this is a really fun way to go.

    Thank you for the kind words.


  • We also love California Grill. The atmosphere cannot be beat. We have always had great service, the food is delicious and the view is unbelievable! I connected with your sushi comment. My husband always loved sushi and I never had tried it. On one trip, I finally tried sushi and I was hooked. I loved it! Now, I look forward to Yoshi’s Deluxe Sushi Sampler every trip! 🙂

    • by Caroline Baggerly on August 20, 2009, at 6:04 pm EST

      What a great place to be introduced to sushi!! Have you tried “Crab and Beef Oscar Roll”? So good. My son picked it out. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I did ;D

  • by Kristen Helmstetter on August 18, 2009, at 10:44 pm EST

    I’ve only been once for my friend’s belated birthday dinner but we loved it. It was fun to actually dress up a little and have a special night out. Something to keep in mind I told the server it was her birthday when she was using the lady’s room. He didn’t mention they would provide a complimentary piece of cake so we ordered dessert. So we had a dessert each and then this piece of cake! We brought it back to the room but never ate it. We would have been happy with just that piece if he had said anything. Its certainly a must do for every Disney geek.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on August 19, 2009, at 6:29 pm EST

      Amen!! Every Disney geek must go!!:)
      I, too, have let wonderful cake go to waste because to the exact same situation. Great tip. Caroline

  • We ate at the California Grill on Friday, Aug 14th. What a treat! The meal was delicious, the service attentive, and the view just wonderful. It is expensive but a nice treat!

    • by Caroline Baggerly on August 20, 2009, at 6:10 pm EST

      I agree with you. It seems if you think going in, this is a special treat, it’s a little easier to pay the bill. This isn’t everyday food!! This is celebration food!!

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