News: Disney World’s California Grill to Offer “Brunch at the Top” Starting February 2016

Great news if you’re a fan of California Grill, Sunday Brunch — or both!

Coming on the heels of the announcement that Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian would begin offering a Sunday brunch, now we are hearing that California Grill will do the same.

The popular signature restaurant, which sits atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, has been a dinner-only spot since opening in the 1990s. But as Disney World continues to expand hours in table service restaurants across property, it looks like California Grill will soon join the trend.

The experience promises to be a hybrid of sorts. If you’d like, you can choose to begin your meal with something to drink. Options include both mocktails and cocktails, or indulge in a trip to the Bloody Mary Bar.

Bloody Marys from the Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Marys from the Bloody Mary Bar

Guests begin their meal with house made Breakfast Pastries and Breads. Assortments will include Caramel Apple Monkey Bread, Cranberry Pecan Scones, and Tillamook Cheddar Biscuits, accompanied by Jam made from scratch and Orange Blossom Honey Butter. [Read more…]

Close-Up! The 2015 Disney World Resort Gingerbread Displays

All over the World, it’s GINGERBREAD TIME!!! It’s a wonderful holiday tradition to feast your eyes on the larger-than-life Gingerbread Displays at several Deluxe Disney World Resorts before you feast your tummy on all the festive treats available during your visit!

Disney World Gingerbread House Tour

Disney World Gingerbread House Tour

We’re going to take you on a visit to the major Gingerbread hot spots in Disney World, and we’ll start our Gingerbread tour at the Epcot area resorts…

Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

My  personal favorite is the Gingerbread Carousel found at the Beach Club. I always love to spot the new horses each year making their way on the Merry-Go-Round!

Beach Club Gingerbread Carousel

Beach Club Gingerbread Carousel

We’d love to introduce you to this year’s team of horses… here’s Julia! [Read more…]

25 Must-Do Disney World Holiday Events — and Eats!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Season’s Greetings! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and if you’re bound for Walt Disney World, it’s even better.

25 Must-Do Disney World Holiday Events

That’s because there is no more festive spot on earth to celebrate all of the heartwarming fun of the the season.

And we don’t want you to miss out on any of the top attractions. So let’s take a look our list of the 25 Must-do Disney Holiday Eventsand Eats! — to celebrate this season at Walt Disney World! [Read more…]

Review: Boston Cream Cupcake at Contempo Cafe in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Welcome back to the Contempo Cafe in Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

The last time we paid a visit to Contempo, we checked out a line-up of five new desserts that had hit the almost-famous Contempo Cafe bakery case. At the time, these included the Strawberry Blondie Banana Split, the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich, the Cream Horn, the Swirl Cone Cupcake, and the Peanut Butter Pie.

Yes, that fabulous Peanut Butter Pie is still there (confession: my main motivation for stopping by more recently was to make sure that it indeed was)! In fact, the only one of the five that hasn’t remained on a longer-term basis is the Swirl Cone Cupcake. Of course, that’s not altogether unexpected, seeing as Contempo Cafe has a great reputation for changing up cupcakes quite often. Which is exactly why it’s fun to stop by… you never know what you might find.

This time, my search resulted in finding the Boston Cream Cupcake.

Boston Cream Cupcake

Boston Cream Cupcake

Taking inspiration from the famous Boston Cream Pie (which, in actuality, is a cake as opposed to a traditional pie), this yellow cupcake has a pastry cream filling and is topped with chocolate buttercream icing. The garnish is a chocolate ganache, with an added touch of white and dark chocolate swirls as a bit of decoration. [Read more…]

New Year’s Eve Events at Walt Disney World to Ring in 2016

Have you made your New Year’s Eve plans yet???

New Year's Eve Toast

New Year’s Eve Toast

Yeah, me neither. But believe it or not, it’s not too soon to start making plans… if you’re planning on ringing in 2016 at Walt Disney World, that is!

In addition to regular dining opportunities in the parks and resorts, special dining events will once again be offered for guests looking for some unique ways to celebrate, and the options appear to have expanded from last year’s offerings.

As you might anticipate, Epcot tops the list for most guests hoping to ring in the new year in one of the parks, thanks to extra special entertainment throughout the day as well as an extended version of the Illuminations Nighttime Spectacular, so the bulk of special New Year’s options take place throughout World Showcase.

However, a few of the Resort restaurants are planning celebrations of their own as well. Here’s the festive rundown (so far! It’s always possible that other events may yet be in store…)

New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace

Returning to Epcot this year is the New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace dining event. Once again, the event will feature buffet dining set to classic Disney music, and will also feature vignettes for fun photo opps to remember the celebration. [Read more…]

Found It: Mickey Macadamia Nut Clusters at Bayview Gifts in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

So, I was in Disney’s Contemporary Resort when I stopped by Bayview Gifts to grab a Contemporary Resort mug (and I maaaaay have grabbed another Peanut Butter Pie next door at Contempo Cafe while I was at it).

Bayview Gifts in the Contemporary

Bayview Gifts in the Contemporary

I’ve grown rather fond of several of the resort-specific mugs that hit the scene earlier this year, and I’ve slowly been building up a small collection of a few of my favorites. Since the Contemporary’s mug has a Monorail on it, it was a no-brainer addition. Clearly. [Read more…]

Review: New Bakery Items at Contemporary Resort’s Contempo Cafe (Did Somebody Say “Peanut Butter Pie”?)

In our wanderings in Disney World earlier this month we spotted some new goodies at Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

Contempo Cafe has long impressed with the variety of options available in the ol’ bakery case. The main standouts, though, have typically come in the form of cupcakes. After all, Contempo Cafe has been home to a rotating cast of cupcake greats like the Black Forest Cupcake, the Dulce de Leche Cupcake, the always festive Birthday Cake Cupcake and — my personal favorite — the (deeply missed) Chocolate Covered Coconut Cupcake.

Now, for you diehard cupcake aficionados like myself, rest assured that we’ve got one more of those for you today. But we’re also taking a look at FOUR other new items in that case… and a couple of them may tempt you to veer off the cupcake path, at least for a little bit.

So get your sweet tooth ready for a few new gems! But let’s take a super quick look around first, shall we?

Atmosphere

You’ll find Contempo Cafe on the fourth floor of the Contemporary, right next to Chef Mickey’s. It feels like things are always buzzing right around this area, especially since Chef Mickey and the gang are now hosting brunch as well as breakfast and dinner.

Contempo Café Entrance

Contempo Café Entrance

This Counter Service spot featuring hot meals (they still serve up a mean Pot Roast for dinner), baked goods, and grab-and-go items is perfect for having a quick bite before or after hitting the Magic Kingdom, which is within walking distance of the Contemporary. [Read more…]

News: “Disney Family Culinary Adventure” Cooking Class Now Open to All Disney Guests

We recently told you about new cooking classes at Walt Disney World that take you behind the scenes and into the kitchen with Disney Chefs for a family cooking adventure.

And today, we’re back with tons of details about this hands-on learning experience.

Even Younger Guests Get in on the Action

Even Younger Guests Get in on the Action

The Disney Family Culinary Adventure takes place in the giant catering kitchens of [Read more…]

News: Disney World Testing Free Taxi Service to Signature Restaurants

Disney is currently testing a new transportation method — complimentary direct taxi service — for guests dining at select signature restaurants while staying at Walt Disney World monorail resorts!

Monorail Orange at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Monorail Orange at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Until June 30, 2015, some guests at the monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary) will be selected to participate in this Disney dining test. Those invited to participate will receive complimentary round-trip vouchers delivered to their room.

Participants will have the option of enjoying direct taxi transportation to [Read more…]

Review: California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Time to check in on one of Walt Disney World’s most popular signature dining spots — California Grill.

Located atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Grill has become nearly as well known for its stellar views as its market-inspired food. And those two factors can make this a tough table to book.

My last visit here, however, when the restaurant had just reopened after an in-depth refurbishment, was somewhat disappointing. At the time, I chalked it up to the kitchen having an off night; after all, I had enjoyed incredible dining here many times before.

I decided it was time to check in again. So we booked an early Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) on a recent visit, and up we went.

Atmosphere

If you’ve never visited California Grill, then there’s one thing you should know: you don’t just head to the 15th floor. Your journey actually starts on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary where you check in. Even if you’re just heading to the first-come, first-served Lounge, this is your first stop.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

You’ll then be escorted via a private elevator to the 15th floor. In this way, staff act as gatekeepers for the popular spot. If left unattended, it would get pretty busy up there, especially around Wishes-at-Magic-Kingdom time.

Once you make your way upstairs, a bank of Wine Fridges greets you straight ahead.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Entrance and Wine Fridges

You walk through the Lounge and Bar to get to the restaurant’s main seating area. That sounds as though these are different spaces; they aren’t. Basically, with the exception of a few private dining rooms, the restaurant features an open floor plan, accentuating the sweeping views and retro-meets-modern vibe.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

If you find yourself without an ADR, there’s still hope. You can sit in the Grill’s Lounge and order from the menu, or just enjoy Drinks, Sushi, and Appetizers. Be forewarned, though: it’s not uncommon for this area to reach capacity as the night goes on. Here at 5PM, though, it was pretty bare.

California Grill Lounge

California Grill Lounge

Wrap around to the main seating area, and you see that nearly every table commands an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, including Magic Kingdom and the Resorts situated around Seven Seas Lagoon.

Seating varies here and includes both tables and chairs and booths.

Seating

Seating

There are also a selection of tables that mix banquette and chair seating. Note that white tablecloths and cloth napkins are the norm here, lending to the upscale air of sophistication.

Table for Two

Table for Two

Booths are somewhat unique in that they are located in the middle of the floor. That means that you can enter from either side, and there will be traffic on both sides of your table, similar to what you find at Jiko. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does mean that your booth won’t be as secluded as you might like.

But the view outside of the windows isn’t the only thing you have to look at.

California Grill Kitchen

California Grill Kitchen

The well-orchestrated, professional hustle and bustle that’s happening behind the counter in the on-stage kitchen can be fascinating as well.

Prepping for Dinner Service

Prepping for Dinner Service

Although we will focus today on the food here, the sweeping, panoramic vistas certainly bear mentioning. You can see for miles!

The View

The View

And that’s one of the biggest draws of California Grill — this view, especially when it comes to [Read more…]