‘Ohana is one of those restaurants that everyone talks about and everyone recommends. I’ve been to Walt Disney World more times than I can count over the past 12 years . . . . and never once had dinner at ‘Ohana. I know, it is almost blasphemy in the Walt Disney World Fan Universe. Honestly, it was the price tag that always scared me off. But, I decide we really needed to try it based on all of the reviews of the excellent food—I had to see what all of the hype was about!
We arrived about 15 minutes early for our reservation and checked in at the podium on the second floor of the Polynesian Village Resort. We were driving so it was easy to access the Polynesian. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort and do not have a car with you the easiest way to get there is to take a bus from your resort to the Magic Kingdom, then take either the resort (not express) monorail or the boat launch over to the Polynesian (I kind-of like the boat launch—nice relaxing ride over to the “islands”). There is plenty of seating upstairs and the Tambu Lounge is right around the corner if you need a drink to tide you over for dinner (highly recommend the Lapu Lapu). We were called back to our table about 10-15 minutes after checking in, so right on time for our reservation.
The cast member walked us through the restaurant showing us the grills where the savory meats are prepared. I noticed that there were a lot of tables close to the entry area that were very dark and almost felt like being in a cave. Luckily, we were seated a row back from the large picture windows and had a perfect view of Cinderella Castle. I think being in this bright area of the restaurant with the excellent view really enhanced the dining experience, I don’t know if I would’ve had quite as good of a time if we were seated in the darker areas. Unfortunately, table location is mostly left up to luck.
Now it was time to eat! I have 3 boys plus my husband and I warned all of them to save their appetite for dinner. There are multiple courses to this all-you-care-to-eat family style meal and I wanted to be sure everyone filled up here. This is a fixed price menu, so it can either be an excellent value if you are a big eater, or not that great if you are a light eater. With a 12 & 17 year old boy I felt pretty sure they would eat enough to make it worth the price!
Our server came around and took drink orders and gave us a run down on how the food would be delivered to us. It was a little like being on Disney Cruise Line because there was a second server who also assisted with delivering the food. I have to say it was a well-timed service for all of the courses. As we arrived they were in the middle of one of the entertainment portions with the coconut races, and as we finished eating they were starting another one.
The first course was delivered with our drinks. There was a salad which was very fresh and good—it was dressed with a Hawaiian/Polynesian style dressing that I enjoyed. We also received the Pineapple Coconut Bread. Oh My. It was really hard not to completely fill up on this fresh, warm and delicious bread with just the right hint of sweetness and fruit flavor.
Next came the Honey Coriander Wings and Pork Dumplings. Again, they were warm, fresh and both very tasty. My favorite was the wings, but we all enjoyed them enough that we asked for second servings of both.
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For our main course we were served the Noodles and Stir Fried Vegetables first. The noodles were my favorite—tossed in a teriyaki sauce and the perfect texture. I almost didn’t need the meat. But then they came around to the table with the massive skewers of freshly grilled steak, chicken and shrimp. And who can pass up skewers of meat? All three were very good. The chicken was probably my favorite of the three, it is described as a sweet and sour chicken and it had a great flavor and was cooked to perfection. The peel and eat shrimp were also good, maybe a little spicy for my personal taste, but they were also perfectly cooked and my husband really enjoyed them. The Szechuan steak which I expected to be my favorite was actually my least favorite. I like my steak cooked medium to medium well and this was just a little too rare for me. But the seasoning was very good.
Throughout the meal the service as spot on, delivering food with perfect timing and keeping our drinks refilled.
Now, when I was beginning to question if I could eat another morsel, the dessert was delivered. Oh. My. Goodness. I would come to ‘Ohana for the bread pudding alone (but luckily it is currently served at Tambu Lounge if I need my bread pudding fix). Served with bananas, vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce this was oh so good. We all enjoyed it & I’m pretty sure we would’ve licked our plates if it was socially acceptable (one of my boys may have done this before I caught him). It was the perfect level of sweet and the textures all worked so well together. It was the perfect complement to the rest of the meal and not too heavy after just consuming mass quantities of meat.
As we were finishing our meal the entertainment started back up. My youngest decided to go race a coconut which was fun for him & fun for us to watch too. I thought they might do the entertainment a little more frequently, but I guess the timing worked well to get him to finish his meal before getting up to go play.
Really the only negative of the meal was when the bill was delivered. Yes, I knew going into it what the fixed price would be times the 5 people in my family, but it just doesn’t always register until you see it in black & white. (Or until your husband who you didn’t warn about the price picks up the check). I have to say that although we all really enjoyed our meal, we all left full, we all had a variety of food, and we had fun too—this will be reserved for a special occasion, once in a while meal rather than a must-do every trip meal for us. With a family of 5 the bill was equivalent to a couple of nights at a value resort (or a moderate with a good discount), but keep in mind that pricing is seasonal so it will be more or less depending on when you visit. If you are on the dining plan ‘Ohana is currently 1 table service credit, so this can be an excellence value on for the dining plan.
So, to sum it all up—this was an excellent dining experience for us. We had a table with a view, a very good server, the food was tasty and we all enjoyed different parts of the meal, and we timed it just right for the entertainment. Would I recommend it? Yes. Would I go every trip? No.
Food: Excellent. A great variety although everything on the regular menu was flavored with a Polynesian and Japanese/Chinese twist. It was freshly prepared, and with the exception of the steak for me, perfectly cooked. Make sure you leave room for the dessert!
Atmosphere: This is hit or miss. As I said, if we were at one of the tables in the back of the restaurant (or the front since it is where you enter) I would not be as pleased with the atmosphere as I was with our seat by the windows. The back is dark and almost cave-like to me, but if you have a view out over Seven Seas Lagoon to Cinderella Castle, it is gorgeous. The atmosphere also conveys a feeling of Polynesia well-fitting to the theme of the resort and restaurant. The coconut races were a definite hit for the kids.
Service: Spot on and well timed for us—no complaints. These servers are busy with the multiple courses for several tables plus keeping drinks refilled. I think having the assistant server helps. For us they didn’t miss a beat or an empty glass.
Tip: If you can time it just right, and you get one of the tables by the windows you could enjoy the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom while eating. Just keep in mind that those fireworks are at different times through the year depending on when the park closes and when it gets dark—in the summer that could make for a really late meal. Tip #2: enjoy Tambu Lounge before you are seated.