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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.