Review: Hawaiian Shaved Ice at Kona Island in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Even if you’ve paid a visit to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you may not be familiar with Kona Island.

This pleasant little stop upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House sits directly next to a much larger restaurant: Kona Cafe. So it can be pretty easy to pass by — unless you are in the know of its reputation for being one of the places on property where you can enjoy some sushi, or even a press pot of Kona Coffee, brewed to order.

Kona Island was closed for a while in the late summer to accommodate some of the construction going on at the Polynesian (among those changes, the eagerly-anticipated addition of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto to the resort).

Kona Island sign

Kona Island sign

But it reopened by the end of September, and more recently I finally had a chance to stop by and sample something I’d been curious about.

Kona Island

Kona Island

Kona Island

Kona Island

Hawaiian Shaved Ice is now part of the offerings. You can get all one flavor (“Kumau”) for $3.99, or a combo of two flavors (“Haukalima”) for $4.99.

Koan Island Hawaiian Shaved ice sign

Koan Island Hawaiian Shaved ice sign

While flavors may vary due to available syrups, I was able to choose from eight on the day of my visit: orange, passion mango, cherry, coconut, blue raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, and pina colada. I could’ve happily tried all eight flavors (and many thanks to the extremely patient Cast Member who waited while I took a crazy long time to decide!). But I ultimately chose a combo of pina colada and cherry.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice, cherry and pina colada

Hawaiian Shaved Ice, cherry and pina colada

The swirl of white (you can see it much better on the red cherry side) is the cream that was poured on top of the creation once it was flavored (“a me waiu,” or “with milk”).

Swirl of cream

Swirl of cream

I abandoned my search for a spoon once I realized that the straw that comes with the ice is one of those handy straw/spoon combos.

Spoon straw!

Spoon straw!

I’ve had Shaved Ice previously at Prince Eric’s Village Market in New Fantasyland. But that was almost exactly the same as the Snow Cone at Dino Diner in consistency, with larger granules of ice throughout the cup.

The Hawaiian Shave Ice at Kona Island is quite a bit different.  While the basic gist is the same (ice with flavored syrup), it’s the consistency of the ice that differs. The very fine granules of the Hawaiian Shaved Ice reminded me more of snow than bits of ice. I know that as a Floridian I can’t claim much “snow cred.” But I spent a good chunk of my life in the northern midwest, so I’ve seen (a little more than ;) ) my fair share.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice consistency

Hawaiian Shaved Ice consistency

Hawaiian Shaved Ice consistency

Hawaiian Shaved Ice consistency

I guess this bit of “magic” comes from the specific machine it’s made with.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice machine

Hawaiian Shaved Ice machine

The fine shave held the cherry and pina colada syrups much better than larger chunks, so the flavors were consistent throughout, rather than ending up as a pool of syrup at the bottom of the container. It really helped the flavors “pop”.

I also loved the addition of the sweet cream against the bright flavors of the syrup — especially with the cherry. It just gave the whole snack a little something more.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice, pina colada and cherry

Hawaiian Shaved Ice, pina colada and cherry

I like my regular old snow cones just fine — when you’re wandering the parks and it’s a bajillion degrees outside, they do the trick when you’re in need of a cold, icy treat to cool down. But that’s about it.  I don’t know if I like the Hawaiian Shaved Ice so much better because of the texture, the sweet cream, the more unique and tropical flavors, or the fun presentation… maybe it’s a combo of all of those things. Whatever it is, this treat is something a little more special that I’ll specifically return for. After all, I’ve got at least six more flavors to try!

Have you tried the Hawaiian Shaved Ice at Kona Island? Please let us know what you thought with a comment!

 

Comments

  1. Shelley says

    OMG! I wish I this review had come a week earlier! We were just at WDW and even had breakfast at Kona Cafe one day. It’s almost impossible to find REAL Shave Ice anywhere except on the Hawaiian islands. The difference between Shave Ice & a snow cone is that they actually SHAVE the ice of a huge block with a blade, the ice isn’t crushed/ground like it is for snow cones. That’s what gives it the amazing consistency.

    Thanks for the review! Now I know to put Kona Island on my WDW list of must-dos. I only have to wait for May 2015.

    Thanks again for the great blog! Love it!
    –Shelley

  2. Essie says

    I’m due for a visit to the Poly soon and this is something that I’d like to try, especially if they had a good lime flavor (the orange will keep me happy if not). It’s looks like a fun treat.

  3. Brian says

    Is the “cream” sweetened condensed milk, or some other type of sweet cream? Just curious…

  4. says

    Looks great! Will have to try that in January. Question though, when did they start making sushi at Kona Island again? I thought all that was moved into Kona Cafe? I know you could still sit there and order from Kona’s menu, but it was no longer a sushi bar.

  5. Nell says

    If only it came served on top of a scoop of Mac-nut ice cream–then it would be just like in Hawaii! With lillikoi powder to boot!

  6. Jill D says

    Epcot has not been the same for us since the real kaki gori was discontinued. This seems like a closer version then the “snowcone” they are serving in Japan now.

    Excited to try it in a few weeks!

  7. David says

    They need to name that treat correctly. Its referred to as “shave ice” in Hawaii. Never “shaved ice”. Regardless, that is a fantastic addition.

  8. Elle says

    We were just at WDW last week. Wish I had read this, because I would have definitely wanted to go and try the shaved ice. Our daughter and son in law just bought into the Disney Vacation Club and their home resort is the Polynesian, so I am definitely looking forward to vacationing there once everything is done and visiting the new Trader Joe’s and sampling the shaved ice.

  9. Steve says

    It was terrible. I think the girl who made mine didn’t know what she was doing. When I saw her throw ice cubes into machine I knew something was wrong. It came out like a cheap snow cone with little chunks of ice. The flavoring was poor as well. Total fail.

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