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Vintage Walt Disney World: California Grill Through The Years

posted on September 12th, 2013 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Back in 1972, a visit to the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort looked a tad bit different than it does today when dining at the recently re-opened California Grill.
Vintage Walt Disney World: California Grill Through The Years

What we now know as California Grill was originally Top of the World Restaurant and Top of the World Lounge when it opened on October 1, 1971. It was also home to the “Broadway at the Top” dinner show running from June 1981 until September 1993. Then in May of 1995 the space opened as the California Grill.
Vintage Walt Disney World: California Grill Through The Years

And while the space may have evolved over the years, one thing has never changed – the spectacular views of Magic Kingdom Park from the 15th floor. (Of course, the Magic Kingdom Park skyline has changed over the years too.)
Vintage Walt Disney World: California Grill Through The Years

For more about the California Grill, read these posts below:

  • It’s Opening Day for the Re-Imagined California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney Parks Blog Readers Get an Early Taste of the Re-Imagined California Grill
  • New Sweet Endings for Re-Imagined California Grill at Walt Disney World
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    Filed: Disney History, Hotels & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort

    9 Comments 3 Replies

    1

    Robert from PA on September 12th, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Wow what memories. When I was a kid my family stayed at the Polynesian Resort and we went to dinner at the Top of the World Restaurant. At that time (in the 70′s) big named acts performed after dinner. Mel Tormé was the headliner during our stay.

    2

    Anthony on September 12th, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Wow! These are great. One thing I will say is that Disney usually updates things to keep up with the times, and that’s a wonderful thing, but there is also something endearing about looking back at bygone eras.

     

    Nate Rasmussen on September 12th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    The new space is very cool. I think the chandeliers in the restaurant have an updated, retro feel to them too.

    3

    Melanie from Middlesex on September 12th, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Very different from the California Grill as it is now – we can’t wait to see the new California Grill for ourselves in December. We have reservations every trip – a delicious meal, fantastic service, followed by our favourite fireworks – Perfect!

    4

    larry on September 12th, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    My grandparents used to go to the Top Of The Town on every anniversary. My grandmother talked about it and would light up with joy when she talked of these great memories.

    Now , in my 40′s my wife and I take our anniversary here as well..October 8th is our anniversary and we will celebrate our 19th anniversary on October 5th at 6:00pm. Thsi is the exact time that we married..

     

    Nate Rasmussen on September 12th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Very cool. Glad to hear it holds such great memories for your family!

    5

    cathy from PA on September 12th, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Oh I loved the Broadway at the Top dinner show. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary there. We will be going back for our 50th soon and can’t wait to see the changes. It looks beautiful.

     

    Nate Rasmussen on September 12th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I’m jealous! I would have loved to have experienced Broadway at the Top.

    6

    Christopher from CA on September 12th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I would love to see you guys bring back the dinner show, I think it sounds like it would have been fun. I would also love to see some dinner shows out at Disneyland.

    7

    Jud on September 12th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Wow. Never knew that about the early years- that would have been very cool!

    8

    Cheryl on September 12th, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Does anyone other than me remember the fantastic Sunday brunches at the Top of the World. I vividly recall them and the wonderful food. In fact we loved it so much we would attend it our first and last Sunday of every trip. Thanks for the memories and if possible I would love to see the new reimagined California Grill visit the idea of a brunch as well. Looking forward to our ADR in October to try the new menu items.

    9

    Kathy on September 18th, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    My husband and I got to see Della Reese at Top of the World back in the day. I miss the shows there.

    9 Comments