Dinner at the California Grill

Every Disney Nerd has their favorite “must eat at” restaurants for every trip. Some musts for us include items as simple as beignets from the French Quarter to a signature restaurant and our topic today; the California Grill for dinner and Wishes.

California Grill is located on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort. Just outside the restaurant you will be able to walk out onto runways that face the Magic Kingdom. Any reservation here regardless of the time of day provides amazing views of Cinderella Castle, Tomorrowland, and the Magic Kingdom mountain range.

I have been asked several times about what it takes to plan a dinner like that in order to be there for the fireworks. I don’t think I need to go into specifics, but I will say, the planning starts early…. like, 180 days out, early. Everywhere you read about planning mistakes at Disney world and everyone says that not making advanced dining reservations is always the biggest. They are right… and that is why this reservation is one that I make approximately 180 days out.

It is also important to know the average fireworks schedule. I have never seen Wishes go off earlier than 9pm and later than 10pm. So with that information I typically make my dining reservation between 830 and 9pm (figure about an hour and 30 minutes for appetizer, dinner, and dessert). If you are making reservations during party season (Halloween or Christmas) you must take into consideration that you may not see Wishes but will see the party fireworks instead and some of you may prefer that option. Either way, it is a great location to see the fireworks from outside the Magic Kingdom.

Okay, now to the food and drink. The California Grill is always the best meal I eat while on vacation.

We started with a bottle of wine. As you can see there are PLENTY of options here. I love that they list their “Disney Family of Wines.” It’s really cool to see who has gotten into the wine business (i.e. Kurt Russell, John Lasseter, George Lucas). We went with a bottle of Riff 2015 Pinot Grigio.

I am pretty picky about my food. With that being said this is the only restaurant that I will be adventurous and take the waiter recommendations.

Appetizer: Sonoma Goat Cheese Raviolidnb-california-grill-ravioli

This was amazing and I am not a huge goat cheese fan (who knew???). The broth was very tasty but watery in consistency. The waiter brought over extra bread right after we ordered it and explained that we would want it with our ravioli. He was right.


Angela ordered the Oak-fired Filet of Beef. It was cooked to perfection. The addition of the potatoes, roasted garlic and tomato peperonata added to the flavors of the meat.

I, upon recommendation of the waiter, order the Wagyu Ribeye. Wagyu is considered the finest beef in the world. This was served with pole beans, Potato Mille Fuille, and a Toma Fondue. Upon the chef’s recommendations, this was served medium rare.

In between dinner and dessert we had time to head out onto the rooftop runway and catch Wishes.dnb-california-grill-view

Such an amazing and magical view!!!!

After Wishes we were back at the table for some dessert. Fritters with seasonal dipping sauces (Chai, Cranberry, and Apple-Caramel)dnb-california-grill-dessert

Overall, dinner at the California Grill is always amazing!!! The atmosphere, the views, the food, and the wine are breath-taking. If it is something you have not experienced yet, I highly recommend it. I know I will be heading back for my next trip in February. Another 9pm reservation to enjoy a great meal and one of my all time favorite nighttime shows at Disney World.

Thanks for reading and have a magical day!!!


I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse. – Walt Disney

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Lisa D'Acci

Lisa's first visited Disney World in 1985 but her true passion didn't start until the late 90's and early 00's. After over 30 trips to Walt Disney World, her passion has not faded, in fact it has grown exponentially throughout the years. She shares that passion in her blog posts here at The Disney Nerds Podcast, The Disney Nerds Podcast Live Show (Tuesday Nights at 9pm EST),on the podcast itself, and to anyone who is willing to listen to her talk about the most magical place on Earth.

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