My husband and I took a “grown ups only” trip to Walt Disney World this past June to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. During this trip we decided to explore more of the pricey restaurants that we dare not take our 8 and 4 year old picky eaters to.
My favorite? The California Grill on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort.
My former student (and friend) Daniel had raved to me about the Grill and absolutely insisted my husband and I secure a reservation there. Being the Disney nerds we are, we booked our reservation as soon as we could, 180 days in advance of our trip, at the sacred hour that would allow us to stand atop the Contemporary and enjoy the view of the fireworks in Magic Kingdom.
We arrived and checked in at the California Grill’s reservation desk on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary as dressed up as we have ever been at Disney World. The California Grill DOES have a dress code which includes for Men: Khakis, slacks, jeans, dress shorts, collared shirts. Sport coats are optional. And for Ladies: Capris, skirts, dresses, jeans, dress shorts. However, you are sure to see people far more dressed up than even what is suggested. We even saw women in cocktail gowns. My husband had a visor on (I can’t remember why honestly) which he was quickly told by our “reservation escort” to remove once in the elevator.
We rode to the top floor and were deposited at the bar while we waited for our table to come open. The bar itself is beautiful with an easy, yet metropolitan feel. The outside walls? All glass. Providing a beautiful view of the lagoon and the Magic Kingdom!
I kept holding my breath and hoping that we would be seated right beside one of the windows to have a full view of the illuminated castle, but were put closer to the middle. We still had a view, just not as good of a one as the tables closer to the window did.
I’m not much of a wine consumer, don’t care much for the aftertaste myself, but from what I understand there is a dizzying array of California wines for people to try. I was after something even better, the Cheese Plate. I’m planning on writing about California Grill’s Cheese Plate for my Favorite Things article on Disneydispatch.com this Saturday so I wont go tooo far into it except to say that they brilliantly match imported cheeses with different food accents (nuts, berries, etc) that bring the cheese to life. I am seriously in love with their cheese plate and no other cheese plate at Disney can compare. MAKE SURE YOU ORDER IT!!
For Dinner? Oak-fired Filet of Beef, Dauphinoise Potatoes with Smoked Bacon, Ginger-Scented Carrots, and Teriyaki Barbecue. Which equates to heaven on a plate my friends for those of us who are steak lovers. You can find a current menu at THIS LINK. My husband had the Grilled Pork Tenderloin and enjoyed it as well. I can remember telling myself to eat slowly (not only because my main course was a whopping $44.00) but because the food was literally dancing across my taste buds. It was almost sensory overload between the wine, the food, and the view (and I don’t just mean my husband, though he’s pretty cute).
The fireworks were schedule at 9:00 that evening and so around 8:55 our waiter told us the fireworks would begin shortly and the lights blinked signaling to everyone there that the show was going to begin. We took our glasses of wine with us and went out onto patio on top of the contemporary to watch.
As we settled in to soak up some magic, the music that accompanies the fireworks began playing just above our heads, thus making it possible for us to get the “storyline” of the fireworks in real time.
It was delightful!
While perhaps not as overwhelming as the view of the fireworks are from Main Street can be (I can’t watch Wishes from Main Street without crying) it was beautiful!!
After the fireworks concluded we returned to our table to enjoy some desert and coffee.
It was a lovely evening and every time we go now I beg my husband to let me return, if only to get the cheese plate. I even thought about sneaking off on our last family vacation after everyone else went to bed just to enjoy it all over again.
I hope you will consider the California Grill on your next trip. It is expensive, but if you use the meal plan it makes it much easier to swallow. Don’t forget to make your dining reservations early, as the Grill fills up quickly!
Not sure you can get away? Have you considered Babysitting Services at Disney World? They’re pretty great!! You can read about our experience with Babysitting HERE.