At the Polynesian Village Resort you will find two popular dinner options that attempt to take you to the islands of the South Pacific through both the flavors and atmosphere of the dining experience. Both have their merits which I will highlight here, but which one comes out as the top pick for Polynesian dining experiences? You be the judge Spirit of Aloha or ‘Ohana?
‘Ohana is located on the upper level of the Great Ceremonial House. The floor to ceiling windows offer outstanding views of the Polynesian resort grounds and landscaping as well as the Magic Kingdom in the distance . . . if you are seated in that portion of the restaurant. Other areas are a bit darker without a view but offer Polynesian details through tikis positioned around the restaurant. If there is bad weather outside you are sheltered at ‘Ohana.
The Spirit of Aloha dinner show takes place at the Luau Cove, situated outside just past the last resort longhouse. Inside the theater you are surrounded by lush greenery and it feels almost like you could be in the South Pacific. The dinner seating area is covered, but the theater stage is not, so your meal could be affected by weather—extreme heat or cold would play into your dining experience and severe weather could cancel the show altogether.
Both of these venues shine in this category, but my personal vote gives the upper hand to ‘Ohana. At ‘Ohana you are served family style all-you-care-to-eat. Starters include the Pineapple Coconut bread (don’t fill up on this—it is tempting), Honey Coriander Wings, Mixed Greens Salad, and Pork Dumplings. I could totally make a meal out of these delicious offerings. The main course includes Noodles and Stir Fried Vegetables for your side and your choice of any or all of the meats including Spicy Grilled Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Szechuan Sirloin Steak. And dessert, ‘Ohana Bread Pudding. The price of your dinner includes a non-alcoholic beverage. The food is always fresh and warm, especially the meats as they are prepared as they are served. The preparation is very good with a nice amount of flavor and spice to each dish.
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At the Spirit of Aloha you will experience some of the same items offered at ‘Ohana. It is once again served family style and all-you-care-to-eat. Starters here include the same Pineapple Coconut bread as ‘Ohana (here you can fill up a little more because I don’t feel the other starters are on the same level as ‘Ohana), Mixed Green Salad, Honey-Lime Slaw, Soba Noodle Slaw/Salad (served cold), Fresh Pineapple. Next your server brings platters of Aloha Pulled Pork, Polynesian Pork Ribs, and Roasted Chicken with vegetable medley and Ginger Rice for sides. The entrée menu certainly holds to the tradition of a roasted pig at a luau. For dessert—luckily it is the same yummy bread pudding as ‘Ohana. For this meal, like other Disney dinner shows, both select alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included. The cold starters are ready for you when you arrive at the table. And nearly everyone in the theater is served their entrees and then desserts at the same time to keep the show timing on track—this sometimes means that the food is not as fresh as it possibly could be.
At ‘Ohana part of the entertainment value is the preparation of the food. The huge grills with the flames shooting up are pointed out to guests as they enter the restaurant. Some of the table locations allow you to watch the food being prepared on the grills. Even the service of the grilled meats is entertaining, being brought around to the tables on the gigantic skewers to serve. Other entertainment is limited to a performer who comes out periodically to address the diners in Hawaiian, a short serenade and overseeing the coconut races for the kids.
Entertainment is where the Spirit of Aloha Dinner show shines—as it should. Admittedly, the scripted show that takes place while you are eating is not the best Disney dinner show. It is good, but it is hard to reach Hoop Dee Doo caliber and here the storyline is a little forced. The dancers after dinner, however, are excellent. The Spirit of Aloha show attempts to incorporate the native dances of islands throughout the South Pacific and to educate the audience on what they are seeing. The flame dancer at the end is a highlight (no pun intended) for everyone.
The Bottom Line
‘Ohana currently ranges in price from $38-$45 per adult depending on the season. Spirit of Aloha pricing is based not only on the season but on the location of your seats (Tier 1, 2 or 3) so it can range anywhere from $61-$74 for adults. A dining experience at ‘Ohana can take as little as an hour maybe up to 90 minutes. The Spirit of Aloha Show is 2 hours.
Now it’s your turn to be the judge. Based on the food, atmosphere and entertainment for each dining venue and taking into consideration the cost and value of each, which one is the winner for your family’s vacation?
Is either one a must-do for your family? Tell us why!