Review: Dinner at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

We’re at ‘Ohana!!  And ‘Ohana means FAMILY.

From the moment you enter ‘Ohana, you’re informed (or reminded, for returning guests) of the meaning of the restaurant’s name. This family-friendly spot is perched atop the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian Village Resort, and it’s become a must-dine for guests of all ages — including Disney World first timers!

The warmth of the atmosphere at ‘Ohana really makes you feel like you’re part of a massive extended family (where your server is your cousin), and that’s a really good thing.

‘Ohana has two dining experiences. Breakfast features characters with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto, and the Main Mouse himself. Dinner, on the other hand, is not a character meal, but still includes entertainment (which I’ll show you in this post). In either case, meals are all-you-care-to-enjoy. And while I really do love breakfast here, my most recent visit was for dinner.

'Ohana

‘Ohana

You are very welcome here at ‘Ohana!

Atmosphere

‘Ohana echoes the Polynesian’s rich design, from fabrics to artwork to wood details. Tiki idols set the mood as soon as you enter the restaurant.

Tiki idols stand watch as you enter 'Ohana

Tiki idols stand watch as you enter ‘Ohana

The center of the large dining room has a grand raised ceiling complete with thatched roof elements, and dimmed lighting throughout provides a cozy feel.

'Ohana Dining Room

‘Ohana Dining Room

During dinner service, an enormous open grill sizzles with skewered meats emitting spellbinding aromas. (These skewers are brought around to your table throughout your meal.)

'Ohana Grill -- where the magic happens!

‘Ohana Grill — where the magic happens!

Entertainment during the evening might include Coconut Races, which allow kids to get up and get moving around and around the restaurant!

Coconut Races

Coconut Races

And it pretty much always includes a singer armed with a ukelele, which adds to that relaxed Hawaiian island feel.

Even better: if you time your meal just right, you’ll have a long distance (and unique) view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, Happily Ever After.

And this is where I have to share a story… on my most recent visit, our server was exceptionally awesome throughout the meal. And at the end? Even after I settled the bill, he noticed the table next to us — located directly in front of the window offering prime Castle viewing — had been vacated. He cleaned it off in case my friends and I wanted to move to that table for the evening’s fireworks. This was simply above and beyond, and just downright nice.

Yep, ‘Ohana means family.

So! Now that you’ve gotten into the island vibe and put on your Hawaiian shirt, it’s time to eat! And along with that shirt, may I suggest some stretchy pants? You’re about to see why…

Eats

We’ve mentioned that the meal here is all-you-care-to-enjoy, and that’s the truth. But I often find that I don’t have a ton of stomach space for those seconds and thirds. That’s because dinner at ‘Ohana has several components. (Plus, you’re going to want to save at least a little room for dessert. Trust me.)

It all starts with ‘Ohana’s signature Pineapple Bread, which travels to your table with you as your seating host picks it up on the way to your table. It’s got a subtle sweetness paired with a toasted, golden brown exterior. You’ll find some coconut incorporated throughout as well.

Pineapple Bread

Pineapple Bread

Head’s up, though. No butter is served here — it’s just the bread.

Arriving shortly is a crunchy, fresh, veggie-packed salad. This part of the meal has seen a lot of iterations over the years (the current Lilikoi Dressing replaced the much-beloved Honey-Lime Dressing that used to be used).

Salad

Salad

But as salads go, it really is a good one. There are a lot of fresh and colorful vegetables in it, as well as some crispy wonton strips. (One of my friends couldn’t resist seconds, but I knew better in regards to saving prime stomach real estate ;-D ).

The next wave of food features two sauces meant for pairing with the appetizers and main course meats: Peanut and Sweet and Sour. (These were delivered to the table in this state….I promise we’re not THIS messy with our eating.)

Sauces

Sauces

The appetizer platter is up next! The Honey-Coriander Wings (which you can also order up at Kona Cafe) are always a messy highlight. The Pork Dumplings are tossed in Ginger-Garlic Sauce, but you’ll still want to dunk these in the dipping sauces.

Sides -- Wontons, Lo Mein, Stir Fried Vegetables, Chicken Wings

Sides — Wontons, Lo Mein, Stir Fried Vegetables, Chicken Wings

Lo Mein takes up the center of the platter. The noodles are tossed in a teriyaki sauce without a whole lot of wow. They’re not terrible, but you likely won’t want to spend too much time on them.

Sides -- Wontons, Lo Mein, Stir Fried Vegetables, Chicken Wings

Sides — Wontons, Lo Mein, Stir Fried Vegetables, Chicken Wings

The same could be said for the Stir-Fried Vegetables, except that you might want to balance out some of the heavier components of the meal with the veggies.

The appetizers are pretty great, but don’t forget the entree round is next. You’ll likely smell the huge skewers before you see them! Servers carry the skewers ’round and ’round the restaurant, sliding generous portions directly onto your plate per your preferences.

Now let’s stop a minute here to reflect on our previous ‘Ohana experiences. My elevator speech on ‘Ohana until this meal has always been “great apps, horribly over-cooked meat, great dessert.” So I wasn’t expecting much when it came to the meats. They’ve always been super over-done…to the point of being rubbery and difficult to chew…in my experience.

BUT, ‘Ohana, you proved me wrong on this visit!

The Sweet-and-Sour Chicken, which is grilled over an oak wood fire, arrived first. 

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

I’m happy to report that on this visit the chicken was nice and juicy, and surprisingly flavorful.

Next was the Szechuan Sirloin Steak! It’s grilled over that same oak fire and coated with a bit of sauce.

Grilled Steak

Grilled Steak

Not only was it tender and juicy, but it was also nicely medium pink inside. It. was. DELICIOUS. (OH, and FYI, don’t stress out about the sauces on the meats here. They’re very mild and you’ll barely notice them when it comes to flavors.)

The final skewer option is Spicy Grilled Peel-and-Eat Shrimp. While this is a slightly messy option as far as those peels are concerned, they retain a good amount of flavor from a salty (wouldn’t exactly call it spicy, though) glaze.

Grilled Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp

If you’re looking for a lighter protein option, the shrimp is for you! (But remember, you aren’t at all limited, so try it ALL!)

If you’ve been a DFB reader for any length of time, you’ll recognize this next beauty right away. Dessert at ‘Ohana is its very own legend: it’s ‘Ohana Bread Pudding with Caramel and Banana Sauce.

Bread Pudding Begins

Bread Pudding Begins

The bread pudding arrives with a huge scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and a pot of warm bananas foster sauce on the side.

It may not look like much at first. But when you pour that warm sauce over the cold ice cream and it all melds together… it’s my favorite dessert in Disney World. Has been for years and years.

'Ohana Bread Pudding

‘Ohana Bread Pudding

DFB tip: If you’re not up for the whole shebang at ‘Ohana (or can’t land a coveted Advance Dining Reservation), you can also get the ‘Ohana Bread Pudding at the Tambu Lounge, adjacent to ‘Ohana! It’s not available all day (typically you can get it after 4:00 pm), but if the timing works for you, the ‘Ohana Bread Pudding is well worth a Monorail ride over from the Magic Kingdom.

Nosh or Not

You’ll want to grab your hula skirt and make your way to ‘Ohana for dinner if:

  • You love the island vibe of the Polynesian Village Resort and want to indulge all your senses.
  • You love meat!
  • You want to make terrific use of a Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
  • You want a unique view of the fireworks.

Make your way to a different food island if:

  • You and your party aren’t big meat eaters and fear this huge meal will be lost on you.
  • You aren’t planning to spend any time at the Monorail Resorts.

Overall

Like many of the most popular restaurants in Disney World, ‘Ohana can be hit or miss. Though the setting is always great (especially when you can time things right with fireworks viewing), I’ve had my nights when the skewers were slow to show up and, once they did, the meat wasn’t very impressive.

What I can tell you with certainty, though, is that on this particular visit, ‘Ohana was COMPLETELY firing on all cylinders from the atmosphere, to the stellar service, to the well-executed food. It easily earned its way back to the top of my list, and I am already looking forward to my next visit.

Don’t Miss Out on Any Disney Fun!

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Are you an ‘Ohana fan, cousin? Let us know in the comments! 

Comments

  1. says

    We didn’t eat there on our last trip, and my kids were sorely disappointed! They love those wings, but my favorite is that Bread Pudding! Yum!

  2. Essie says

    This could be hit or miss, but I think it can be a nice alternative if someone wants a tropical treat meal, but can’t do the big luau.

  3. Jean says

    Dinner at ‘Ohana was by far my favorite meal during our spring break trip to Fort Wilderness. My husband wasn’t as impressed (for some insane reason), and I almost gasped when he told me that he thought it was “pretty good.” Hahaha! I absolutely loved every component of the meal. It was fantastic.

  4. Dave says

    Absolutely my fav meal in Disney and again will be our first meal on extended family trip in early Jan. Totally agree on pacing yourself, don’t overindulge in any one course as you need to save room for the best parts. The wings are amazing along with the bread. I bypass the noodles and maybe try a dumpling or 2 and enjoy every meat and shrimp. And of course, room for the infamous dessert. We saw the fireworks once as it timed right, but I prefer eating earlier to walk it all off and help it digest. Everyone I talk to or recommended to O’hana has stated it was the highlight meal of their trip. And its a single dining credit on the meal plan! Amazing bang for the buck when used as a table service.

  5. Chriis says

    ‘Ohana is pretty much my favorite restaurant not just at Disney World but overall. I think we’ve been about 6 times in th3 last year! While items can be hit or mis# on a given trip, it’s a meal that’s hard to beat.

    Oh, and by the way, they have been serving butter with the bread the last several times we’ve gone. They put it on the plate when they get the bread on the way to the table. Prior to that we always had to ask.

  6. Elizabeth says

    ‘Ohana has been one of my long time favorite dinner spots. Since I’m the one in our family who plans all the meals, my vegetarian sister usually smiles & finds a salad or something wherever I decide we want to go. On our last visit to ‘Ohana, we were delightfully surprised when our server brought out a giant platter of all sorts of veggie options. I’ve never seen it on the menu, but he said they always have it, just ask for it. It was so good, the rest of us meat eaters couldn’t resist helping her finish it.

  7. Lori says

    The last time I was at ‘Ohana with a vegan, they were served the regular bread, salad, noodles, and veggies plus the following course substitutes:

    Appetizer- 2 different flavors of Hummus with House-made Pita Chips in place of the dumplings and wings

    Entree-Tofu and vegetable stir fry in place of the meat and shrimp skewers

    Dessert-Vegan ice cream (probably Tofutti but I didn’t ask), vegan spice cookies, and berries instead of the bread pudding and ice cream

  8. Lori says

    I forgot to add that I think that while the vegetarians do get Lo-mein noodles and veggies, their’s are different from the regular ones. I think the regular ones have fish sauce and hers were kept separate from ours and just had straight teriyaki sauce on them.

  9. DFB Sarah says

    Hi, Pat! Disney’s table service restaurants are typically really great about ensuring food safety for guests with gluten allergies/intolerance. Be sure to let your server know as soon as you’re seated. Usually a chef will come to your table to review your food sensitivities and to let you know what foods are safe to eat (or what substitutions might be available). In the past, guests have received gluten free rolls in place of the coconut bread, white rice, salad, sauteed vegetables, and chicken wings. In the past, we’ve been told that the sauces and meats are all gluten free as well. But things do change from time to time, so talking to the chef is your best bet. Enjoy!

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