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Review: Epic Rooftop Dinner with Fireworks at Disney’s California Grill

Review: Epic Rooftop Dinner with Fireworks at Disney’s California Grill

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There are only a few places at Disney World where you can enjoy rooftop dining with an epic view of fireworks! Check out this review of Disney’s California Grill at the Contemporary.

Contemporary Resort

Credit: Monica

Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened on October 1, 1971 making it one of two Disney World opening day resorts (the other being the Polynesian). It falls into the deluxe resort category and sits right outside Magic Kingdom! You cannot miss it due to its A-frame shape, which was very contemporary in the 1970s.

You can read my (Monica) full guide to this resort along with its DVC section, Bay Lake Tower, to help you gain a better understanding of the resort and all it has to offer!

The Contemporary offers plenty of dining options that are sure to please every palate. Table-service restaurants include Chef Mickey’s, Steakhouse 71, and California Grill (which also offers a fireworks viewing party). There is one quick-service spot called Contempo Cafe. Bars and lounges include Contemporary Cafe, Outer Rim, Cove Bar, and The Sand Bar. Clicking any of those red links will take you to our reviews!

California Grill

Credit: Monica

Head up to the top of Contemporary Resort’s iconic A-frame main building! California Grill is located on the 15th floor with amazing panoramic views of the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon. There are floor to ceiling windows and a large viewing platform.

The restaurant offers a prix fixe 3-course menu for dinner only (5:30 pm to 10:00 pm daily). Pricing is $89/adults and $39/children ages 3-9. Guess over 21 can opt in for a wine pairing which includes 3 selected wines that come with each course. The signature wine pairing is $39/person and the deluxe wine pairing is $69/person.

This restaurant is a Disney Signature Dining experience offering fine dining with a distinctly magical flair. Guests are expected to dress accordingly in attire that respects the restaurant’s sophisticated and upscale aesthetic. Clothing should be clean, neat and in good condition. My travel party and I wore casual dresses, and we noticed others wearing similar outfits. Men could wear nice shorts/pants and a polo or button down.


Credit: Monica

Californian cuisine celebrates fresh, seasonal ingredients and the international, melting-pot culture of the Golden State. The chef de cuisine creatively blends new flavors, textures and techniques, delivered in a 3-course selection menu.


  • Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli Basil-Saffron Pasta, Tomato Broth, Mushroom Ragoût, Fennel
  • Rainbow Roll Tuna, Salmon, Hamachi, Avocado, Mango, Pickled Watermelon Radish
  • Cascade Roll Tuna, Hamachi, Salmon Poke, Mango, Shallot, Yuzu-Avocado Purée, Soy Gel
  • Braised Beef Short Rib Wontons Doenjang-Miso-Cola-Onion Sauce, Radish, Crispy Garlic-Chili Oil, Pickled Lotus Root
  • Black Truffle Pizza Salt-baked Marble Potatoes, Leek Fondue, Crispy Potato Chips, Spicy Honey, Shaved Black Truffle
  • Sashimi and Nigiri Sampler Tuna, Salmon, and Hamachi served with Traditional Garnishes
  • Strawberry and Raspberry Salad Marcona Almond-Cocoa ‘Soil’, Strawberry Variations, Shaved Radish, Whipped Raspberry Vinaigrette (Plant-based)


Credit: Monica
  • Oak-fired Filet of Beef Brown Butter Chateau Potatoes, Braised Carrots, Carrot Romesco, Cabernet Veal Jus
  • Fire-roasted Venison Hasselback Potatoes, Leek Soubise, Artichoke Barigoule, Ramp Pesto
  • Florida Black Grouper Coconut-Ginger Basmati Rice, Cashew-Chili Chutney, Bok Choy, Shiitake Mushrooms, Coconut-Kaffir Lime-Green Curry Nage
  • Cast Iron-grilled Pork Tenderloin Goat Cheese Polenta, Forest Mushrooms, Lacquered Pork Belly, Root Spinach, Corn, Zinfandel Glaze
  • Saffron Risotto Harissa-Honey Nut Squash, Spiced Hummus Chermoula (Plant-based)
  • Pan-seared All-Natural Chicken Sunflower Pea Pesto, Maitake Mushrooms, English Peas, Madeira Wine Jus
  • Black Sea Bass Grilled Petite Squash, Creamy Red Quinoa, Squash-Yogurt Purée, Charred Onion Butter, Citrus Agrodolce
  • Wagyu Strip Loin Kimchi Fried Rice, Steamed Dumplings, Bok Choy, Crispy Lotus Root. Available for additional surcharge of $47


Credit: Monica
  • Valrhona Ganache Torte Coffee Cream, Praline Crunch, Salted Caramel, Cocoa Nibs
  • Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake Chevre Whip, Meringue, Blueberry Foam, Blueberry Gel
  • Peanut and Banana Torte Shortbread, Peanut Ganache, Miso Caramel, Nut Crumble, Caramelized Bananas (Plant-based)
  • Chef’s Selections of California Cheeses Featuring Three Unique Cheeses and House-made Accompaniments
  • Citrus Crème Brûlée Angel Food Cake, White Sangria Sorbet, Ginger Crumble, Mandarin Crémeux, Tangerine, Lychee Gel (Dessert made with or containing alcohol)

Food Review

Credit: Monica

For the purposes of this review, I (Monica) need to let you know that I dined here while the restaurant was still offering the special 50th anniversary menu. Now, California Grill serves up “Market-Inspired” cuisine. However, much of the menu remains the same. There are a few small changes in regards to dishes offered and sides.

For the most part, though, you’ll find that my review is still beneficial even after the 50th anniversary for two reasons. One, we ordered several items that are on both menus. Two, I dined during the final month of the 50th anniversary and it appears that they were in the process of switching a few things over to the new menu. As it turns out, it seems we got a little bit of both.

Bread and Appetizers

Credit: Monica

Dinner starts with bread service which includes butter and oil. I love when Disney offers bread service, and this bread did not disappoint.

For appetizers, my table ordered the strawberry salad, the sushi classics trio (not on the current menu), and the beef wontons. The strawberry salad was fresh and light! I also really loved the beef wontons. They had a nice kick to them. For what it’s worth (though it may not be super beneficial to you), my table also enjoyed the sushi.


Credit: Monica

My table chose the the oak-fired filet, pan-seared chicken, and black sea bass for the main course. This was not my favorite filet on Disney World property (that belongs to Topolino’s Terrace which, coincidentally, also offers rooftop dining for the Epcot fireworks), but it was still an excellent choice. It had a beautiful char.

I preferred it over the pan-seared chicken which I felt like I needed to try in the interest of offering a full review of the food. Unless you don’t love red meat, chicken is almost always the less superior entree choice at Disney World restaurants. It wasn’t dry or tough or anything – I just prefer red meat over chicken. Plus, when you dine at prix fixe restaurants you may as well get the most expensive option on the menu!

Credit: Monica

The black sea bass was the lightest option of the entrees my table ordered. It was well-liked, but since fish tends to be one of those foods you either love or hate I wouldn’t be able to persuade you either way. Just know that if you’re considering the black sea bass you won’t be disappointed.


Credit: Monica

Finally, to complete our meals, we enjoyed the EARidesent creme brûlée, peanut and banana torte, and Five Magical Bites which consisted of honey, lemon, carrot, strawberry and chocolate bites.

The EARidescent creme brûlée is different than what is on the current menu, and the Five Magical Bites are not on the new menu at all (understandably so). The peanut and banana torte is one of the “crossover” dishes in that it was not on the 50th menu, but we were able to enjoy it before it officially debuted in April 2023.

We all loved the peanut and banana torte the best out of all the desserts.

Atmosphere and Fireworks

Credit: Monica

I’ll be honest the menu is not what drew me to book a reservation at California Grill. No, the stunning views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and private fireworks viewing area are what persuaded me! The views from these gorgeous floor to ceiling windows are simply stunning. To the left you can see Disney’s Polynesian Resort, straight ahead is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and to the right is the Magic Kingdom.

If you time your reservation just right, you can begin your meal watching the sun slowly set over the area and conclude it with a showing of Magic Kingdom fireworks. Since I enjoyed California Grill at the end of the 50th anniversary, I booked my dining reservation for 6:15 pm. As you can tell by the photos, the sun was still awake when we entered the restaurant. But, by 7:00 pm it was mostly dark outside.

Credit: Monica

The fireworks began at 8:15 pm that night, and just as finished up our entrees at 8:00 our server recommended that we head outside to the viewing area. By the time we got back inside at 8:35, our desserts were waiting for us at our table.

Pirate tip: If you want to enjoy the fireworks during your meal, we recommend getting a reservation for approximately 2 hours prior to the performance. This should allow you to get through drinks, appetizers, and entrees before the show and desserts after.

Final Thoughts

Credit: Monica

All in all, I (Monica) would definitely consider going back to California Grill in the future. The food was delicious, and the high price was worth it for such a unique way to watch the fireworks. I am always looking to try new things at Disney World, and this epic rooftop dining experience did not disappoint!

I did not dine with children, and as I look back on my experience there, California Grill is not a restaurant I would likely bring my kids to if given the opportunity. This was an excellent Girls Night Out option for a nice dinner, and I could definitely see myself bringing my husband back for a date night.

Have you ever dined at California Grill? Would you consider a reservation here in the future? Let us know in the comments below, and share this post with someone you would like to eat here with!

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Douglas J Seyler

Sunday 30th of April 2023

Love California Grill. Have dined here over 100 times and even enjoyed the Top of the World dinner show spectacular from many years hence. However, I am not a fan of the prix-fare meny being forced upon every guest. Sometimes you would like something lighter while you enjoy the views.

Julie Humes

Saturday 22nd of April 2023

This is my favourite restaurant in the whole of Disney World. Service is impeccable - and is a must for a special evening! Expensive but worth every cent!

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