This past week, a group of us went on vacation to Disney. I've been to Disney in the past, but this was the first time that I ordered food on their meal plan. While the meal plan is a good deal overall, I have a few comments regarding three of the restaurants where we dined.
The California Grill is located on the top floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort. It is billed as a high-end restaurant similar to Boston's "Top of the Hub." When you call to make reservations, they tell you that there is a dress code and no shorts (especially jean shorts!) can be worn--nor tank tops. They suggest a button-down shirt and slacks. Sounds good to me. Our reservation was for 8pm, we dressed according to the dress code. Upon arrival, we were told that the restaurant was running behind by about 20 minutes. That's fine we thought. We went up to the bar, ordered a few drinks (from a very rude bartender whom one waiter told us was always like that) and spent some time on the outside deck watching the Magic Kingdom's firework show. The show was great; the view was too. After the show, we came back inside and waited some more. At this point, I think it's important to mention the clientele of the restaurant. We knew there would be children there...it's Disney after all, but the amount of children running around was pretty incredible. I don't know. I would never take my child to a restaurant that serves $44 steaks. Children aside, the rest of the diners were dressed in t-shirts, shorts, or jeans. We probably were the nicest dressed there. The restaurant décor was out-dated. It was very similar to a California Pizza Kitchen--the only difference was that there was more decorum in a CPK. We were finally seated an hour after our reservation time. The food was decent but not worth the two dining plan dinners we had to use for it. Appetizers were in the teens (Bryan ordered a ravioli dish which came with just one (largish) raviolo for 13 bucks). Entrées were around 30-40 dollars. Our steak was good, but for $44 I've had much better and in a much nicer setting. The waiter was very nice; but, overall, I would tell people to save their money and dine at another restaurant...perhaps in Epcot Center at one of the nicer country restaurants. California Grill is definitely not worth the hype or the price.
If you are on the meal plan, one restaurant that was much more then I expected was Chefs de France in Epcot. Chefs de France is located in the World Showcase in Paris. The décor is very pleasant and resembles a nice bistro. All the waiters and waitresses are from France and speak with a wonderful accent. Their attire is the traditional black and white French waiter outfit and (not that this affects the food) every single waiter and waitress was very good looking. Our reservation was early, 5pm, and they were right on-time seating us. Our waitress was very nice and we enjoyed her immensely. The food is about the same price as the California Grill (maybe a few bucks cheaper) but definitely a better deal. All of our meals were good and we had no complaints. For only one "sit-down" dining point, Chefs de France is a fantastic deal.
The last restaurant we experienced was called Tony's Town Square and it is located in the Magic Kingdom. We were afraid (after the California Grill reservation fiasco) that we would have to wait a long time so we arrived about 40 minutes early, but were still seated for our exact dining time. Fine. No worries there. The atmosphere was fun and lively and still a lot more subdued then the more upscale California Grill. The food is traditional, home-cooked Italian. Spaghetti and meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, etc. The main dishes were all very good, and the dessert was too. We even got to see some of the parade from the porch of the restaurant in between courses. This is a good choice for a sit-down dinner in the Magic Kingdom. Also, our waiter was great and told us which dishes to avoid (the pork).