Last summer, we shared our review of Brunch at the Top over at Walt Disney World’s California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort. We had a great time in June and returned for a pre-birthday brunch celebration in early 2019. For the most part, the overall experience was the same with some slight menu changes. However, we felt it was worth posting an update on the experience because there was a significant change that was not posted or reported since the time we booked.
I am not going to post a new review of the brunch, but below is a look at some photos from our latest brunch, I encourage you to read our original, June 2018, review of the brunch experience as the food and service was still excellent. However, this post will include our latest opinion based on the changes.
The Shakshuka is a Tunisian-style stewed Piquillo pepper and tomato sauce dish of deliciousness. The house-made “meatballs” are vegan, but the dish is instantly non-vegan with the addition of the egg with two pitas on the side. We were blown away by the flavor of the first bite. This dish rivals the flavors of Jiko and Sanaa. There is some spiciness, but still very approachable for most palates.
Like I said, the overall experience was the same, if not better than our Father’s Day visit last summer. Service was spectacular and we were never encouraged to leave like some restaurants that are frequently checking on you in a passive aggressive way of saying we want to turn this table. We did miss the Asian soba noodle dish, but enjoy the other options offered. Rest assured, we did not take up a table from another group as there wasn’t enough time to turn the table based on our reservation time and the brunch hours.
The change that caught us off guard was the increased cost of the brunch is up $10 per adult to $90 for adults and up $6 for kids (3-11) to $54. I will say it is awesome that California Grill does not price gouge families with kids starting at 9 years of age. Seriously, as a parent, this is extremely important. However, a $26 difference was a bit of a surprise.
Granted, we still were able to use our 20% off Tables in Wonderland discount. Side note, if you are a regular Walt Disney World visitor and eat and drink on property, the Tables in Wonderland card is worth consideration, especially considering it includes 20% off alcohol. Isabelle is about to turn 12 which would move her into adult pricing. While Isabelle eats from regular adult menus and adult areas on buffets, she does not eat or indulge enough to make it worth a $90 brunch for a 12 year old. From 11 to 12 years old that is a $36 difference! This alone makes practically every other brunch in Orlando a better option.
As for adults who find value in the bottomless mimosas, the California Grill brunch is still somewhat worth the splurge. However, it is really on the line of being not worth it at Disney prices. Most area brunches add bottomless mimosas on at $15-$20. That would make the price of the brunch $70 with the add-on of mimosas $20 totaling $90.
California Grill Brunch at the Top is offered every Sunday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Based on our experience and spot checking availability, I’d recommend making a reservation in advance. In fact, we had a tough time getting reservations for this weekend, but the reservation finder over at TouringPlans.com alerted us to an opening that we quickly snagged! The TouringPlans.com Reservation Finder can help you locate a hard-to-get dining reservation at Walt Disney World. We’ve used it a few times when we wanted a reservation for a specific date and it has not let us down! The Reservation Finder service will notify you when a reservation you want is available. The only caveat is once you are receive the alert you need to attempt to book the reservation as soon as possible as the service just alerts you to an opening, it does not actually book it for you.
Looking back at our June review, we were impressed by California Grill’s Brunch at the Top and felt the overall experience was superior to Palo. However, now I sit here typing this update, I no longer feel were are in the same boat, The main differences between the two brunches is Palo has a bigger raw seafood spread comparared to California Grill’s sushi offerings and California Grill includes bottomless mimosas where Palo is limited to the one complimentary adult beverage.
I guess it comes down to, will we go back? As of today, the answer is yes, but it may be brunch date with Emily instead of a Sunday family brunch.