The California Grill at Walt Disney World boasts an ever-changing menu based on locally available ingredients, wines, views and a hard to get reservation. But, is it worth the cost of the food? At two dining credits on the Disney Dining Plan we had to give this Disney restaurant a try to see what all the fuss was about.
California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
When people think of a fancy, high-end, restaurant at Walt Disney World, they usually think of California Grill. Known for fine wines, great views, and excellent food, this restaurants tops the list for Disney couples, Disney rehearsal dinners, engagements, and Disney girls nights out. Whether you’re heading to the lounge, the brunch or breaking the bank with an extravagant dinner, here’s all the things to consider.
While we have heard that the brunch at California Grill is the best, we instead visited for dinner, with high hopes of seeing the evening fireworks from the balcony. Since this is a super-fancy restaurant there is a dress code, so you can’t just wander in and eat. Given we like living our lives in summer wear and flip flops, especially at Disney, it was helpful to know this ahead of time.
The check-in desk for California Grill is located on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Resort.
The elegance of California Grill makes this a perfect Disney restaurant for an extra special dining experience.
We can share the foods we had during our dinner experience, but keep in mind this menu always changes, depending on whats locally available. So you may not find these options when you visit.
California Grill has artisanal pizzas, sushis and some fancy-as-heck desserts. With an ever-changing menu you can still usually count on steak, chicken and seafood. Entrees run between 48-62 dollars a plate depending on what you order. Really, the food here was fantastic, but you’re sort of paying more for the upscale dining experience in a pretty restaurant than the food.
S’mores Bomboloni- 14
Banana Jam, House-made Graham Crackers, Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream
Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake-16
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate-whipped Panna Cotta, Cashew Clusters
We had also gotten steak, which was on par with other steak options we’ve had at Walt Disney World, and there is a roll basket at the beginning of the meal, which is nice.
Is California Grill Worth 2 Dining Credits?
So after some discussion we had decided that California Grill wasn’t worth 2 dining credits. Much like Cinderella’s Royal Table, while California Grill was a nice dinner, it didn’t necessarily meet our qualifications for a 2 dining credit meal. With proper portion sizes, you actually get less food. The basics, like steak and chicken are comparable to other restaurant options on property. And since you’re not getting a character experience or show, you’re perk is a balcony view. While awesome, you really do have to time this experience to make the most of it.
Is California Grill Good For Kids?
One of the biggest questions we hear is regarding the kiddies. Is the food to fancy? Will they still enjoy it? Is it worth the cost? Much like anywhere, there is a kids menu. You get pizza or mac and cheese. If you’re looking for a fancier kids experience, then try the brunch here instead. We wouldn’t choose to bring younger kids here, when there are so many other restaurants on property that would be better. Tweens and teens may find the atmosphere and food pretty cool, but it’s a little pricey for “cool”.
The Pros and Cons of California Grill
- Balcony Access
- Amazing Views of Seven Seas Lagoon
- World-Class Cuisine
- Wine List
- Hard to Get Reservations
- Ever changing menu
- There’s a Dress Code
Would We Recommend California Grill at Walt Disney World?
By the end of the night we decided that while we wouldn’t use two dining credits to eat at California Grill, we’d definitely be back for some fancy pizza and a glass of wine. And we’ll probably definitely visit for Brunch, since we’ve heard rave reviews of the menu.
Personal Preferences? While not a bad experience it’s void of most Disney things we love. It’s not themed to a fun ride or country. Didn’t offer special themed Disney drinks. And the desserts, though magical, had no sense of “Disney” to them.
It would however be a perfect restaurant for couples, a special occasion or a fancier night out. Or if you’re done with Disney and just need to get away. Even a business meet up would do well here. It’s your call! If you’ve read our review of the Grand Floridian, you know our personal preferences lend to more fun than fancy. So take this review with a grain of salt. Since fun for us usually requires flip flops, and those aren’t allowed on per the dress code, you’ll probably find us at Ohana instead. 🙂
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.