California Grill at Walt Disney World Review
The California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World is one of the resorts signature restaurants, renowned for its steaks and its unsurpassed views of The Magic Kingdom. The Contemporary Resort is most easily reached via a short monorail ride from either The Magic Kingdom or The Transport and Ticketing Hub. The front desk is located on level 4 and after checking in, you are escorted via a dedicated lift to the 15th floor, which is solely reserved for this restaurant. Our reservation was just before sunset, to allow us time to enjoy the panoramic views of the Magic Kingdom as the sun set but late enough that we would be able to stay and enjoy The Magic Kingdom fireworks at 10pm. We arrived on time for our reservation and after a short wait downstairs at the checkin counter where we were able to view that nights menu (it changes daily to take advantage of the freshest produce available), we were escorted up to the restaurant. Pictures do not do justice to how wonderful it is inside, the massive windows allowing the setting sun to pour in while leaving an unobstructed view across to The Magic Kingdom and The Seven Seas Lagoon.
We requested a window table so we would be able to view the fireworks from our table which our waiter was happy to organise while we had a quick drink at the bar. Once ready, our waiter Taz lead us to our seats and made us feel right at home. His suggestions for appetizers, mains and desserts were spot on and the table in the corner of the restaurant was perfect. It was secluded enough to give our group some privacy while not blocking the glorious view at all.The only thing better then the view was the food. Following Taz's suggestions, for entrees we split a BBQ chicken and steak with onion rings flatbreads and a lobster salad. These would have made a meal by themselves and were divine. For mains, I had an oak fired steak, which really did melt like butter and there was no complaints about the seared chicken with gnocchi or pasta dishes ordered by my companions. I consider myself a steak connoisseur and this steak was on par with any I had eaten in extensive travels around the world, which I was not expecting to find on a Disney property. I finished with Chocolate Volcano cake which was truly special like the rest of the dishes. My companions devoured their chocolate CrÃ¨me Brulee and caramel and bananas.
From our seat we were able to watch the park change from afternoon, to evening, to night.
At 10pm, the lights were dimmed and the music was piped in from The Magic Kingdom as the fireworks started. They were great, watching the fireworks from on high and further away gives a different perspective, but with the music in the background still makes you feel part of the spectacle. If you aren't lucky enough to have windows seats, there are two large balcony's attached to the restaurant where patrons can watch the show with uninterrupted views. As soon as the fireworks finished we bolted for the door and grabbed a monorail back to our hotel, beating the hordes who were pouring out of The Magic Kingdom park.The only downside to the restaurant is the price. Disney will always be considered expensive when it comes to food, catering as it does to a captive audience and this is far beyond normal Disney fare. But the food and ambience at The California Grill are world class and it is without a doubt worth the money. And that is before you take into consideration the view and the fireworks display.