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Guest Review: Spirit of Aloha Luau Dinner Show

Thanks to Jo at Magical Kingdoms for putting together this review of the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Disney World’s Polynesian Resort!

Having experienced the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Disney’s Polynesian Resort on our honeymoon trip a few years back, when we got the free Disney dining plan for our October/November trip, we knew that we had to revisit. The dinner show takes 2 table service credits, so we skipped a TS dinner one day, which really wasn’t a problem on an 18 day trip!

Staying at a Disney Resort meant we could make our ADRs at the 180 day mark plus another 10 days from our check-in date. I was online as soon as the reservations opened and booked category 2 seating, 5:15 pm show, for myself, husband, 3 year old and 18-month old. The dining plan allows you to book either Category 2 or 3 seatings for dinner shows.

Weather Concerns
After really looking forward to the show we were worried when it started to rain. Not just a few spit spots, but serious Florida rain. Surprisingly, the show hadn’t been canceled. The Cast Member explained that it was unlikely that the show would be fully canceled as they would have been preparing the food all day. If it carried on raining as it was it would more likely be just the show element that would be canceled, with dinner served as normal (and only one TS credit taken). She advised us to go. (It’s worth noting that the show does get cancled in cold weather, and although you’d get a refund, you’d be left without a show and a meal, so it might be better to opt for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at this time of year.)

Check-In
As luck would have it, by the time we left our room the rain had stopped. On arrival at the Polynesian, the check-in for the dinner show was next to the Boutiki store on the ground floor of the resort. We handed our tickets (already picked up from Resort concierge) to a CM and were each given a yellow lei. Usually this happens at Luau Cove, and after photos everyone is herded into a holding area before being seated. They’d moved it inside on this evening due to the bad weather.

Once checked in, each group had their photograph taken in front of the Polynesian statue. The photos were taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer, but sadly you couldn’t get the photo put on your PhotoPass. During dinner the photo was brought to our table and we were given the option to part with $29.95 in exchange for the photo. I refuse to pay so much for a photograph, which is a shame as it was a good photo of us all.

Atmosphere
When we arrived at Luau Cove there were CMs giving out leis to anyone who hadn’t yet got one, and also taking photos at the usual photo spot.

Polynesian Luau Welcome Leis

It was 5:15 pm by the time we got there, and we were seated immediately. It was a surprise to find out we had a front row table, albeit towards the side of the stage. Despite having a post in front of the table we had a great view of the stage, only having to lean slightly to see when the action was at the front of the stage. I’m not sure how they allocate the tables, but I presume the earlier you book the better chance you have of a good table.

View of Polynesian Luau Tables

View of the Polynesian Luau Stage From Our Category 2 Table

Eats and Show
The platter of salad and bread were already waiting for us; and we somehow ended up with another one, too, but no complaints there!

Polynesian Luau Salad and Bread

This platter had mixed greens with mandarin orange segments in mango-poppy seed dressing alongside fresh pineapple and pineapple-coconut bread. I could just keep eating from this platter — it’s so delicious, although the bread has quite a strong taste and I gave up after eating half of it! My three year old wouldn’t eat the bread without butter and the server kindly obliged by bringing her some.

Polynesian Luau Salad and Bread Platter

I asked for a kid’s meal for our daughter and the server eventually brought her a PB&J Uncrustables, which she wouldn’t even touch, having tasted one previously and declaring she didn’t like it.

Complimentary drinks included are sodas, tea, coffee, milk, iced tea, beer and wine. It took a while for these to arrive after ordering and we were never offered refills. There’s also a selection of specialty beverages and cocktails that cost extra. A pitcher of water is already on each table when you arrive.

The first part of the show begins after the appetizer, with the basic storyline being a young girl called Leilani returning home to her native people and traditions. Music comes from a live band and includes the familiar Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride. I’m not a fan of this part of the show; it’s one of those stories that Disney makes up as part of a show that isn’t really needed and doesn’t entertain well.

First Part of Polynesian Luau Show

The main course is roast chicken (I think we had breast and thighs), barbecue pork ribs, Polynesian rice and vegetables, served family style. The server left us one of the appetizer platters so we could still keep working on the salad, pineapple and bread. The chicken and ribs were moist, hot and tasty. Nothing special about the rice, and the carrots and broccoli were cooked just right, not too crunchy but not soft. We were never asked if we wanted more food at any stage.

Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show Main Course Offerings -- Chicken, Ribs, Rice, Vegetables

Personally, I think that the gap between the show parts is too long. Our kids, and many others there, got antsy and ended up running around.

After the main course the initial show continues with more music, and kids are invited up in front of the stage to dance with the performers for a brief time. Anyone celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday or honeymoon, is acknowledged and invited up to dance to a slow tune.

Kids Dancing at Polynesian Luau

Last, and least in this case, is the dessert – Kilauea Volcano Delight – paraded out by the servers with smoke coming from them. This is a small pyramid, which I can best describe as similar to chocolate mousse, on an exotic fruit puree and drizzled with raspberry sauce. Now, I have a sweet tooth and normally go mad for chocolate, but I don’t think I finished my “volcano;” it certainly wasn’t the best part of the meal.

Smoking Volcano Desserts at Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Volcano Dessert at Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Once dessert has been served, the show really gets started. Different groups of dancers take turns on stage where they showcase authentic dances from the South Pacific nations, including those of Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Hawaii. It’s a nice show to see, especially for those who are never likely to visit those areas and experience the real thing, but it drags on a touch too long, especially for the kids.

Native Dancing at Polynesian Luau

The highlight of the evening is the fire-knife dancer, similar to the fire dance from Animal Kingdom’s Festival of the Lion King Show.

Knife-Fire Dancer at Polynesian Luau

Overall
You don’t see much of your server here, which is probably why they include gratuity in the cost, otherwise I doubt many guests would leave a tip! We saw ours briefly when we arrived and ordered drinks and a kids meal (which she was slow to bring). So don’t go expecting great personal service!

Seating Area for Polynesian Dinner Show

We enjoy the food here, although the dessert could do with some improvements, and the show is good the first time you see it. Having seen it twice now, we probably won’t rush back, especially while the kids are so young.

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12 Comments

  1. Alan says:

    A nice, comprehensive review by Jo. This seems to be a Disney experience that is a bit disappointing. 2 TS credits or the cash equivalent should get you a little more. It seems like a luau type meal as compared to a real luau. From the review it seeems this needs tweaking to live up to what I expect from Disney.

  2. John Grigas says:

    I have an awesome slide of me, my sister, and my brother at the Luau in 1974. Of course, we all have tear in our eyes from a day of Commando Touring being generally bored! (We also weren’t fans of the food they served us, if I remember correctly – but when you are 8,6, and 4 years old, that makes sense.)

    Your review tells me that things are, generally, unchanged from those days!

    Thanks for the details and the informative photos!

  3. Amy says:

    My sister and I attended this show as a GNO this past September and our service experience was the total opposite of yours- Our server was great! Our drinks never ran dry and she brought out more of that yummy pineapple bread, in addition to offering more of anything else we needed. And we also had more variety in the veggies served as well- we had carrots, snow peas, broccoli, and mushrooms.

  4. Shayne says:

    Very thorough review! I continue to be one of the only people on the planet who seems to really like Spirit of Aloha. Like Jo, we went on our honeymoon (in 1999), then returned 10 years later on a trip with my parents and our children.

    While the kids (then ages 5 and 7) weren’t overly excited about any of the food other than the chicken, they did enjoy the show. I think the food here is delicious — but our server did a good job of keeping our trays and drinks replenished. My parents, who hadn’t been to Disney World in probably 15 years, really enjoyed the entire experience and were so pleased we had done it.

    It’s certainly not something I’d do on every trip, but it’s a fun thing to do every now and again.

  5. Shayne says:

    Oh, and great photos! Because of the lighting conditions in the seating area, I really had difficulty getting good pictures!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Just experienced Spirit of Aloha the 8pm showing on Christmas eve, and I have to say we had a wonderful time other than the cold (low 40s). Our server, Tomas, was wonderful, we sat in the very front, and he was ontop of refills and bring us more food before the plates were empty. He brought my sister in law loafs and loafs of bread (she was in love) and even brought her the recipe after making a comment about how much she loved it. The beginning of the show, I agree, is a bit un-needed. It felt like the hawaiian version of a Save by the Bell episode, which dragged a bit long. The food was delishous but I do agree the dessert was a bit pitiful to say the least. For the price you pay they should definatly offer a bit more. The fire dancer really was all in all though we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the experience!

  7. Josh says:

    Interesting review Jo.

    From the food that was showed, there really is no uniqueness in it at all. The only real thing that you can’t get elsewhere is the Volcano, and telling from the way you described it wasn’t all that great anyways.

    Service really should have been better as I can’t imagine what else the servers could possibly be doing. I highly doubt they’d want to watch the show again…

  8. Kendra says:

    We had our first Spirit of Aloha experience in September. Our server, Joe was great. The food was tasty and plentiful (we did get asked if we wanted another platter). I agree about dessert, I never turn down chocolate anything and I didn’t finish mine. The show was ok, I enjoyed the polynesian dances at the end, the rest was eh.

  9. Dale says:

    Did this once years ago, thought the food was terrible. O’hana is a way better experience!

  10. Kori Dorn says:

    We went to the Spirit of Aloha dinner on 12/18/2010 at the 8:00 pm show. Our server checked in multiple times to see if we needed anything more, get drink refills, etc, it sounds like the reviewer just had a bad server. We thought the pineapple bread was delicious! I especially enjoyed the BBQ ribs. I do agree, that volcano dessert is something I’d never voluntarily eat again in my life, but the presentation was entertaining! The day we went it was very cold, the heat lamps were such a necessity. I wished the traditional dancing portion was longer and the back-story play had been shorter.

  11. Christopherjeffery says:

    We were really looking forward to the Aolha as when on the monarail you are always told how wonderful it is. So on our dining plan used 4 tickets for the 2 0f us and waited. The table we had ok as it was by a pillar then the food started to come………… pineapple and bread to start which was not bad but the main was meat lots of it no choice which for me was not good as I dont eat meat for my wife was not keen but she did eat. It seemed an age before our server came back and I asked if there was an alternative. Only to be told they could but it would take time. I did and and a fish meal was brought out but after 15 minutes and by that time I was off the whole meal.
    The area of Polynesia is very fish based but here it was no were to be seen we both felt that we had wasted our tickets and we will not be back. If you want to a know a few days after we went to the Brown Derby a Disney restaurant that would get 10/10 Every time.

  12. Julie Muniz says:

    We went in 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience…the food, the show and the service! Our waiter was awesome and kept the food and drinks coming…we were having a race with the next table to see who could eat the most! :) Our Grandson enjoyed getting to be part of the show when they invited the kids onstage! We are going again this September and taking some of our kids who haven’t been yet and are looking forward too seeing them enjoy this show as much as we do! :)

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