California Grill or ‘Ohana?

Bostonjetset

New Member
Original Poster
Hi everyone.
I'm new to the boards and haven’t been to WDW since I was 11 years old in 1993! I have a mother-son trip planned for May with my mum and wanted to schedule a Mother’s Day dinner at one of the nicer restaurants. It will be the week after Mother’s Day but it will be one of my gifts to her. I originally thought about California Grill as they have a great view and hopefully we can time it for the fireworks. But I hear so many raves about ‘Ohana and when I checked the menu it looked pretty delicious. They also have a great atmosphere. We are staying at POP so either place would be the same amount of travel for us and we’d hopefully time it for our MK day.
Do any of you experts and WDW regulars have a preference for one over the other? Thanks in advance.
 

ShookieJones

We need time for things to happen.
Premium Member
Two completely different experiences and I love them both.
Perhaps a Mother's day celebration would warrant California Grill.
Ehhh..I would totally take my Mom to 'Ohana for Mother's day.

Look both are awesome, both are on the monorail loop and both are uniquely WDW in their own way.

Flip a coin, enjoy your meal and have fun on your trip!
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
Not sure if budget is a concern. California Grill is a signature experience and has a prix fixe menu of $89 plus tax and gratuity. 'Ohana is $55 plus tax and gratuity and is all you can eat.

Views from California Grill are spectacular. If your meal is over before the fireworks you can return later and watch from the observation deck.

There are some window tables at 'Ohana that overlook the resort grounds. From a couple you can see fireworks. But you can view them from the Poly beach after dinner.

'Ohana has had less stellar raves since the pandemic, but the same is true for California Grill with the new menu. Make sure you review the current menus for both before booking.

Agree with what @ShookieJones said above!
 

networkpro

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
Yes
My wife and I ate at both in December. If price isn't an issue, I'd recommend California Grill over O'hanna as there's no comparison on the food quality. Both locations have excellent attentive staff.
 

Bostonjetset

New Member
Original Poster
Two completely different experiences and I love them both.
Perhaps a Mother's day celebration would warrant California Grill.
Ehhh..I would totally take my Mom to 'Ohana for Mother's day.

Look both are awesome, both are on the monorail loop and both are uniquely WDW in their own way.

Flip a coin, enjoy your meal and have fun on your trip!

Not sure if budget is a concern. California Grill is a signature experience and has a prix fixe menu of $89 plus tax and gratuity. 'Ohana is $55 plus tax and gratuity and is all you can eat.

Views from California Grill are spectacular. If your meal is over before the fireworks you can return later and watch from the observation deck.

There are some window tables at 'Ohana that overlook the resort grounds. From a couple you can see fireworks. But you can view them from the Poly beach after dinner.

'Ohana has had less stellar raves since the pandemic, but the same is true for California Grill with the new menu. Make sure you review the current menus for both before booking.

Agree with what @ShookieJones said above!

My wife and I ate at both in December. If price isn't an issue, I'd recommend California Grill over O'hanna as there's no comparison on the food quality. Both locations have excellent attentive staff.
Thank you all. I would say price isn’t an issue in this case as the difference for the two of us would be less than $100. That’s not a deal breaker. I didn’t realize you could return for the fireworks at CG! That’s a nice perk which will alleviate some of the stress picking the perfect time. We usually would try for a reservation anytime between 7-8 so will likely be there for them anyway if we are able to get a res but it’s nice to know there are other options.

My parents honeymooned at the Poly in 1980 and neither have been to Disney since. My dad has no interest now and neither does my husband so hence the mother/son trip lol. Though almost everything has changed since 1980 I guess my mom may enjoy experiencing things away from the Poly so CG is probably the route I’ll take. I am sad the luau is no more though. When I went with my grandmother in 93 that is one of the things I remember most fondly.
 

Chi84

Premium Member
From your description of what you're looking for, you should try for California Grill. 'Ohana is a fun group dining experience, but the food quality is not in the same league as Cali Grill and the atmosphere at 'Ohana is much, much more casual. There's no way I would describe 'Ohana as one of "the nicer restaurants," although we did always enjoy it when we went with the whole family and ordered some of the sillier tropical drinks.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
From your description of what you're looking for, you should try for California Grill. 'Ohana is a fun group dining experience, but the food quality is not in the same league as Cali Grill and the atmosphere at 'Ohana is much, much more casual. There's no way I would describe 'Ohana as one of "the nicer restaurants," although we did always enjoy it when we went with the whole family and ordered some of the sillier tropical drinks.
When was the last time you were at California Grill?

California Grill is supposed to be a high-quality, upscale atmosphere, signature restaurant. It is priced accordingly, and the food lives up to the expectation, to be fair. But I absolutely loathe the atmosphere. The most common attire worn to dinner seems to be basketball shorts and Adidas flip-flops. Strollers are parked at the tables with howling children. Low-rent couples eating the same appetizer for three hours because they want a seat by the window for the fireworks but don't want to pay the menu prices to actually eat a real meal there. And the whole place is altogether too bright and loud. California Grill should be excellent, but every time I've been there, the other guests completely ruin it for me.
 

Bostonjetset

New Member
Original Poster
When was the last time you were at California Grill?

California Grill is supposed to be a high-quality, upscale atmosphere, signature restaurant. It is priced accordingly, and the food lives up to the expectation, to be fair. But I absolutely loathe the atmosphere. The most common attire worn to dinner seems to be basketball shorts and Adidas flip-flops. Strollers are parked at the tables with howling children. Low-rent couples eating the same appetizer for three hours because they want a seat by the window for the fireworks but don't want to pay the menu prices to actually eat a real meal there. And the whole place is altogether too bright and loud. California Grill should be excellent, but every time I've been there, the other guests completely ruin it for me.
Yikes that does not sound pleasant. Though CG is now prix fixe so that should alleviate the low rent appetizer-only people as it’s not possible to order a la carte anymore.
 

Chi84

Premium Member
When was the last time you were at California Grill?

California Grill is supposed to be a high-quality, upscale atmosphere, signature restaurant. It is priced accordingly, and the food lives up to the expectation, to be fair. But I absolutely loathe the atmosphere. The most common attire worn to dinner seems to be basketball shorts and Adidas flip-flops. Strollers are parked at the tables with howling children. Low-rent couples eating the same appetizer for three hours because they want a seat by the window for the fireworks but don't want to pay the menu prices to actually eat a real meal there. And the whole place is altogether too bright and loud. California Grill should be excellent, but every time I've been there, the other guests completely ruin it for me.
To be fair, OP was asking for a comparison of Cali Grill and 'Ohana. The atmosphere at 'Ohana is much more casual and the chances of seeing poorly dressed guests and howling children is greater there than at Cali Grill.

I was at Cali Grill in late October for the prix fixe dinner and nearly everyone we saw was nicely dressed - no basketball shorts or flip flops (at least not that I saw). There were no strollers parked at tables and if there were children there, they weren't noticeable. Maybe the fact that it is now prix fixe has made things better; what you call "low rent" people can no longer tie up a table without paying to eat there. Everyone is ordering and paying for a full dinner.

OP, I'm not suggesting that everyone at Cali Grill will be dressed to the nines and that there won't be children there, but my husband and I dine there every trip (usually twice a year); we've been to both brunch and dinner and we've never experienced the type of nightmare scenario described by CaptainAmerica. Not once.
 

MaryJaneP

Well-Known Member
Are there no screaming or howling children at 'Ohana? If so, is that no longer a differing aspect between the two restaurants.
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
When was the last time you were at California Grill?

California Grill is supposed to be a high-quality, upscale atmosphere, signature restaurant. It is priced accordingly, and the food lives up to the expectation, to be fair. But I absolutely loathe the atmosphere. The most common attire worn to dinner seems to be basketball shorts and Adidas flip-flops. Strollers are parked at the tables with howling children. Low-rent couples eating the same appetizer for three hours because they want a seat by the window for the fireworks but don't want to pay the menu prices to actually eat a real meal there. And the whole place is altogether too bright and loud. California Grill should be excellent, but every time I've been there, the other guests completely ruin it for me.

This could be a review of almost every Signature Dining location on property now. They killed the few that used to have a good atmosphere. Artist Pointe jumps to mind. Their food went up and down for a while, but it was always a nice atmosphere. Now it is a character meal.
 

Hockey89

Well-Known Member
This could be a review of almost every Signature Dining location on property now. They killed the few that used to have a good atmosphere. Artist Pointe jumps to mind. Their food went up and down for a while, but it was always a nice atmosphere. Now it is a character meal.
While true, I agree with his post. CG has the worst acting kids and atmosphere at Disney for signature places. I don't know why but it is a gong show in there,
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
While true, I agree with his post. CG has the worst acting kids and atmosphere at Disney for signature places. I don't know why but it is a gong show in there,

I suspect that the combination of "entertainment" in the form of fireworks viewing, the fact it is a short walk from the Magic Kingdom, and the surprisingly nice kids menu they used to have (I don't know what they have anymore, but they had a grilled chicken breast and a small steak - both came with a vegetable and potato. They were well priced and nicely done). Given all of that, I think people are more apt to bring kids there. My kids loved it there, but they were well behaved. Why it attracts poorly behaved kids, I don't know. Maybe it is the law of averages.
 

NelleBelle

Well-Known Member
We took our kids to CG a few times when they were both fairly young, but they also knew how to behave! OP, I'd still opt for CG. I took my mom for her "retirement dinner" when she and went this past April (before the prix fixe menu). All the strollers were parked outside the dining room, from what I recall (didn't notice any in the main dining room). Our dinner did in fact take a couple of hours just from ordering an appetizer, main, and dessert (there weren't fireworks back then, sadly). And for the most part, people were mostly dressed nicely (I didn't see anything nearly as abysmal as I tend to see when we do the cruisline that show up for dinner...just terrible)! But if you're wanting to just head from the MK, I'd opt for Ohana's.
 

TrojanUSC

Well-Known Member
CG grill is good, but a dumbed down version of what it once was. Also the decidedly 90s aesthetic feels a little bit like you're in the dining room of a convention hotel (which you are) but with a great view of the castle. That said, it is a more formal, classy experience than 'Ohana.

'Ohana on the other hand is a lot more casual, but decidedly more Disney. Feels like a truly unique experience.
 

networkpro

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
Yes
'Ohana on the other hand is a lot more casual, but decidedly more Disney. Feels like a truly unique experience.

I wouldn't go that far, while the cast members are great, the food struggles to rise above Meh. The bread-like substance they bring you is quite dry, the salad is just greens, (the chicken wings are the only bright spot), you can drive nails with the dumplings, and the noodles are an absolute horror! For the Beef, you really couldnt tell it was beef as the teryaki sauce was the only flavor that made it through. Not even a few Lapu Lapus would make it enjoyable.
 

TrojanUSC

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't go that far, while the cast members are great, the food struggles to rise above Meh. The bread-like substance they bring you is quite dry, the salad is just greens, (the chicken wings are the only bright spot), you can drive nails with the dumplings, and the noodles are an absolute horror! For the Beef, you really couldnt tell it was beef as the teryaki sauce was the only flavor that made it through. Not even a few Lapu Lapus would make it enjoyable.

Don't really agree, except on the beef. The noodles and potstickers I think continue to be very good. The bread seems to vary by the day. My only gripe lately has been the shrimp is mushy.
 

Bostonjetset

New Member
Original Poster
Thank you all your the comments and opinions! I’m still leaning toward CG if I can get a reservation however the comment about heading right from MK got me thinking as we will likely go right from there. We are staying at POP so it seems silly to go all the way back there just to change and then back to MK area again. I guess it’s possible to wear something “decent” to the park though it won’t be overly formal. Also, is the balcony at CG now only open for customers who buy the dessert and fireworks package and not regular dinner guests? Watching through the windows doesn’t seem like it will be as nice of a view but I could be wrong?
 

Chi84

Premium Member
Thank you all your the comments and opinions! I’m still leaning toward CG if I can get a reservation however the comment about heading right from MK got me thinking as we will likely go right from there. We are staying at POP so it seems silly to go all the way back there just to change and then back to MK area again. I guess it’s possible to wear something “decent” to the park though it won’t be overly formal. Also, is the balcony at CG now only open for customers who buy the dessert and fireworks package and not regular dinner guests? Watching through the windows doesn’t seem like it will be as nice of a view but I could be wrong?
I wouldn't stress about what you're wearing. We went to Cali Grill before going to the Boo Bash in October and wore shorts, nicer shirts (my husband wore a polo shirt) and sneakers and we didn't feel out of place at all. In fact what I just described complies with their signature dress code, which is very lenient.

Balcony viewing is available for regular dining guests. We were just about done with our entrees when the fireworks started, so we headed out and enjoyed the show. When we returned, our server was waiting to remove the domes she had placed over our plates to keep the food warm, which I found very thoughtful especially since there was not much left.

Whatever you choose, I hope you and your mom have a wonderful time!
 

Register on WDWMAGIC. This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.

Top Bottom