Guest Review: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Join us in welcoming guest author Kevin Carpenter with a dinner review of ‘Ohana. This Polynesian Resort restaurant at Walt Disney World is popular for its all-you-care-to-eat fare served family-style. Aloha!

Dining at ‘Ohana is not an experience entered into without expectation. The restaurant regularly claims a spot among the best table-service venues on Disney property and it enjoys word of mouth that is nothing short of exemplary. As such, reservations go quickly.

After years of close calls and near misses, I finally secured a dinner reservation – for a party of nineteen, no less – and my hopes were sky high for my first visit to ‘Ohana.

The Entrance to ‘Ohana

As we arrived at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a large crowd already milled about outside ‘Ohana’s entrance. Seeing this, I feared our large group would be in for quite a wait. After all, our party – extended family members enjoying a Disney vacation together for the first time in many years – was well used to lengthy waits for tables. And this night looked to be no different.

We checked in and, much to my surprise, were immediately whisked to our table. I should have known that there is very little the Cast Members of Walt Disney World are not prepared to handle.


From my very first steps past the Tiki idols guarding the entranceway, I was impressed by ‘Ohana’s ambiance. In true Disney style, the interior theming strikes a fine balance between subtlety and traditional Hawaiian decor.

Tiki idols stand watch as you enter ‘Ohana

As we reached our long table, one thing became abundantly clear – we had made the perfect choice for our trip’s centerpiece meal. The word ‘Ohana, meaning family, would prove to be more than simply the name of the restaurant. Everything – from the unending salads and appetizers to the main course and dessert – would be served family style. Even the servers are considered honorary “cousins”. What place could be better for a large family meal?!

While we had many cousins gathered around our table, it was our server, “Cousin” Candy, who stood out the most. She may have been a member of the family for just this one evening, but she fit right in with remarkable warmth and attentiveness.

Where all the magic happens – ‘Ohana’s grilling area


We had scarcely taken our seats before the table was filled with the incredibly tasty Welcome Bread and bowls of salad with passion fruit dressing. I could have been quite content to savor the bread’s rich tones of pineapple and coconut all night, but the few ‘Ohana veterans among us had warned not to fill up on the bread.

Welcome Bread

Salad with Passion Fruit Dressing

Next came plates of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork dumplings. These were labeled appetizers, but they could have sufficed as meals unto themselves. Especially as everything was all-you-can-eat!

Tangy and delicious, the trays of wings and dumplings demanded refilling several times. Thankfully, my seat at the end of the table afforded an excellent view of the grilling area, where skewers upon skewers of meat and shrimp delivered a firm reminder that the best was yet to come.

Chicken Wings & Pork Dumplings

Several of us requested drinks from the bar, including one who chose to fully immerse himself in the evening’s Hawaiian spirit by ordering the Lapu Lapu. This blend of rum and fruit juices comes in extravagant style – served inside a hollowed-out pineapple.

Much to the chagrin of the one who ordered it, the Lapu Lapu made its way around the table as everyone wanted a taste. It received high marks from all who sampled it. And, honestly, our meal just felt that much more traditionally Hawaiian for having the Lapu Lapu on the table!

Lapu Lapu

One important consideration to note is that it was not only the size of our party that posed a challenge, but that we were a motley crew of adventurous and picky eaters, with a dietary restriction thrown into the mix as well. One family member suffers from gluten intolerance and required special dietary accommodation. The chef came out to speak with her before any food arrived on the table, and he promised to keep her well-stocked with an assortment of gluten-free alternatives (including gluten-free bread, noodles, and dessert).

The ‘Ohana chefs worked hard to ensure that she did not miss out on any aspect of the meal and she could not have been happier with the results.

Gluten-Free Bread

Gluten-Free Dessert

“Cousin” Candy soon delivered [Read more…]

News! Changes to Disney World Tables in Wonderland Dining Discounts for 2014

We’ve got some news about one of Disney World’s popular dining discounts!

Tables in Wonderland, Walt Disney World’s fee-based dining discount program offered to Florida residents, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club members, is a great way to save money if you are a frequent diner at Walt Disney World.

The program offers 20% savings on food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, at more than 100 Walt Disney World restaurants.

Today, we’re getting news of an update to restaurants that will either stop offering the Tables in Wonderland discount in the near future, or will be subject to more blackout dates when using the card.

Victoria and Albert’s to Discontinue Offering Tables in Wonderland Discount

According to the Tables in Wonderland website, Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa will continue to honor the Tables in Wonderland discount through July 14, 2014. However, as of August 1, 2014, the ultra-luxurious dining spot will no longer accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Currently, Tables in Wonderland members may still [Read more…]

What Disney Restaurant Do You Want In Your Kitchen?

Who’s up for a little kitchen reno? My brain’s clearly going a little haywire today, and I was thinking: if I could choose one Disney restaurant to remodel my kitchen after, which spot would it be?

So my fun question to you today is: Which Disney restaurant would inspire your dream kitchen makeover? I’m always happy to kick off the discussion, so I’ll share a few of mine, too!

50s Prime Time Cafe: Mom’s Kitchen!

Nostalgia abounds in what would be my “modern kitchen with a nod to the past!”

One of the 50s Prime Time Cafe Dining Rooms

While I might not go full-on formica, I’d definitely have some fun, retro elements in there like a 50s style fridge (with all the bells and whistles of today!).

Add in a couple of awesome garage sale finds as decor, and some killer wallpaper, and you’re all set!

Cinderella’s Royal Table: Medieval Castle with a View, Please

Looking to get your prince or princess on? For sheer grandeur, Disney-style, how about a kitchen based upon our favorite fortress, Cinderella Castle?

The dining room at Cinderella’s Royal Table offers plenty of inspiration: suits of armor, intricate tapestries, and family crests adorn the space.

Dining Room Windows at Cinderella's Royal Table

Fancy a kitchen with a gothic arch or two? How about mullioned windows? Check out this awesomeness!

Gothic-y Castle Kitchen!

Book a table during your next visit to get lots of ideas.

‘Ohana: Unlimited Meat, Bread Pudding, and a Killer Fire Pit

Why not build a Polynesian hideaway in your house? ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a perfect inspiration, and this kitchen would involve tradewinds, lava rock, and a fire pit! [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: May 19, 2013

Woo!! We’re starting to get real details about this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

The Brazil Booth Returns for the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

First, we have the full line-up of Eat to the Beat Concerts (new this year — The Go-Go’s, Manhattan Transfer, Spin Doctors, and more!); AND we also know that the Scotland booth will be a new addition to the festival!

Finally, we’ve got details on a few returning Epcot Food and Wine Festival booths, like Brazil!

Here’s more news!

Disney Food News

Here’s the Disney Food News this week…

Of course, there’s more! Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including End Zone Food Court Refurbishment at All-Star Sports, the return of ‘Ohana’s sweet and sour dipping sauce at the Polynesian Resort, and Woody’s All-American Roundup at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch.

Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

This week we’re featuring the iconic Mickey! Like this Mickey Ice Cream Bar antenna topper we got from Stacie via Instagram.

Mickey Ice Cream Bar Antenna Topper!

And Stephanie tweeted “Just tried the chocolate ganache at our hotel! Soo rich and creamy! Thx for the tip, AJ :).” You are welcome!!

Mickey Ganache Tart!

Thanks for sharing these Mickey goodies with us!

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On to the Round-Up!

Mickey Fix celebrates summer with a Disney California Adventure candy and cookie jar.

Cake Wrecks shares some fun sweets with characters from The Lion King, Monsters, Inc., and more!

Studios Central re-visits the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups reviews Disney’s Magical Star cocktail.

disZine features new Vinylmation including the beloved Orange Bird!

Main Street Gazette leads us to a great cup of Kasbah coffee at the Tangierine Cafe in Epcot.

All Ears features Disney World Publishing Worldwide’s announcement for a diabetes-focused series for children. Hooray Mickey!

Disney Parks Blog highlights Woody’s All-American Roundup at Disneyland.

The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (and Alternatives When They’re Full)

Many Disney guests agree that the most important Disney Dining Tips lists include one specific piece of advice:

Making Advance Dining Reservations is an absolute must when it comes to planning.

While many seasoned Disney travelers are aware of this, there are lots of folks who visit the parks and are stunned to find no tables available at their top restaurant choices. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at one time or another…and we’ve got solutions for you!

Today, we’ve updated our list of the most popular Disney restaurants, and terrific alternatives if you can’t score a table at your coveted spot!

Let’s take a look at the most elusive restaurants to book these days…

Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Scoring an advance dining reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant for their table service dinner can be a daunting task.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom Dining Room

From the time that they first announced the restaurant’s soft opening until now, we have heard from many readers who haven’t been able to secure a spot at Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Newness: The biggest reason for this remains the novelty of the place. Be Our Guest and all of New Fantasyland is still the hottest ticket in Walt Disney World since its grand opening in December 2012.

Incredible, Immersive Themeing: The impeccable themeing means that stepping into Beast’s Castle is truly like climbing through a portal into Beauty and the Beast. You almost expect to look down and find your food animated!

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Novelty: The French-inspired cuisine that’s served at Be Our Guest is unlike anything else available in all of Magic Kingdom. In addition, there is huge novelty surrounding the fact that you can now order beer and wine in the formerly dry Magic Kingdom (for dinner only).

So, what to do if you can’t [Read more…]

What’s Your Disney “First Day Tradition?”

It’s time to talk Disney trip traditions!!! Over the years, my “first day at Disney” traditions have changed and evolved. But there’s nothing like looking forward to that thing you love to do first when you get to Disney World or Disneyland.

So my question for you today is this: Do you have a favorite “Welcome to Disney” tradition that you always look forward to? Let us know in the comments below — I might just have to change mine once I get inspired by a few of yours!

In the interest of fairness, I’ll share one of mine, too… :-)

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy the View

One of my favorite “first night traditions” in Disney World is shaking off the stress of travel with a deep breath and a relaxing view. The best place to do this in my opinion? Disney’s Polynesian Resort!

I usually choose one of two options once I get there: Either lounge in a comfy, wicker chair at the Tambu Lounge, or head to ‘Ohana for a sunset dinner! (And sometimes I do both!)

Tambu Sign

“The Poly” offers lots of choices for [Read more…]

Top 5 Disney Dessert Recipes!

I know you’ve got a big event planned soon and you’re looking for the perfect recipe to try out…right?

OK, even if you’re not, I think today’s post might inspire you to start planning a dinner party! Let’s check out my top 5 favorite Disney dessert recipes! Which ones have you sampled in the parks?

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at ‘Ohana

Alrighty — it’s time to start out with a BANG! There are few things that I love to eat in all of Disney World more than the Bread Pudding at ‘Ohana.

This Polynesia-meets-churrascaria restaurant can be somewhat unpredictable in terms of quality. But one thing is always certain: the dessert is PERFECT. Seriously…every single time!

The bread pudding is served warm with a heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, and the most incredible sauce ever. I could easily eat a bowl full of it.

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at 'Ohana

It was a happy day when I discovered the ‘Ohana bread pudding recipe, and with it, the power to make this one at home!

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake at Liberty Tree Tavern

Say what you will about Liberty Tree Tavern, the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is a must-order!

While Liberty Tree Tavern dinner is served family style and consists of roasted meats and traditional sides, lunch features an a la carte menu…and it’s awesome. There are many dishes on the menu that I look forward to having when I visit, but I never leave without ordering dessert, and it’s always Ooey-Gooey Toffee Cake!

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

Less a cake and more like a rich, shallow, muffin-shaped chocolate chip cookie, I fell in love with this treat the first time I tasted it! And I could have kicked myself for having passed on it before then. The flavor combo of [Read more…]

Best Disney World Restaurants for First Time Disney Visitors

Everyday we receive lots of mail from you, our awesome DFB readers, asking for restaurant suggestions and recommendations. And while we certainly have our favorites, we know that you do, too!

So when a Disney first-time visitor recently asked what restaurants we would recommend for their upcoming trip, we couldn’t think of a better panel of experts to ask than YOU!

When I put the question out on the Disney Food Blog Facebook page, I was overwhelmed by the huge and immediate response that I got!

Let’s take a look at your recommendations for the restaurants first timers must experience on that inaugural Walt Disney World trip!

If you have other thoughts or ideas — or, better yet, stories of your favorite restaurants during a first-time visit — please share them with all of us in the comments section! More suggestions are always better!

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

When it comes to first time Disney dining, the winning restaurant recommendation is, hands down, Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Many of you agree that anyone visiting the Happiest Place on Earth for the very first time MUST experience a buffet that includes lots of character interaction.

Chef Mickey's is highly recommended by our DFB Readers!

But the suggestion is practical, too. Readers pointed out that a character dining experience offers terrific value for your Disney dollar, with an all-you-care-to-eat option.

A View of the Castle from Chef Mickey's

And with the addition of characters, you have a less rushed (and air conditioned!) meet and greet opportunity that guarantees you’ll see lots of characters without waiting in long lines in the parks.

Also, don’t forget that Chef Mickey’s is walking distance from the Magic Kingdom. This is a great
place to start or end your Magic Kingdom day!

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland

Judging from the reader response, we’d say that Disney definitely hit the mark with one of its newest restaurants, Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Bridge Entrance

Set in Beast’s Castle (from Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast), the huge eatery is a counter service location for lunch and table service location for dinner (see our “Everything on the Menu!!” Review Here!).

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom

The menu has a French flair — and chefs worked hard to create tasty, interesting meals for the younger set as well.

Be Our Guest Restaurant also has the distinction of being the only spot within Magic Kingdom where guests can order beer and wine. While it broke with tradition when Disney announced the decision to offer adult drinks in the otherwise dry park, they felt it was necessary in keeping with the French-inspired menu.

The Beast occasionally greets visitors in his study during dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Many guests celebrate special occasions at Be Our Guest Restaurant, and if that’s you, be sure to mention it to your server. He may actually bring you a celebratory taste of “The Grey Stuff” — mentioned by Lumiere in the film!

This cookies and cream panna cotta truly is “delicious!”

The Grey Stuff -- It's Delicious!

Guests seem to be loving this spot for many reasons, and Advanced Dining Reservations for dinner remain hard to come by.

While we’ve tasted just about everything here and agree that the food’s quite good, most of you especially love it for the incredible, immersive themeing. So, remember that even if you can’t get a reservation for dinner, you can still enjoy the restaurant itself — including getting a peek at all three dining rooms — if you dine here for a counter-service lunch!

braised pork -- coq au vin at Be Our Guest Restaurant -- for LUNCH!

Here’s a TIP: if at all possible, snag a table in the West Wing and keep an eye on the [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: February 17, 2013

It’s busy, busy in Disney World this weekend! Lots of vacationers, competitors, and more are making it very crowded; but I’m here and looking forward to sharing all of the awesome new eats and sights I’m gathering on my camera with you over the next few weeks!!

Cinderella Castle on a NOT so busy weekend! :-)

Stay tuned for more fun and tempting updates…like a gorgeous new “gourmet” caramel apple in the Magic Kingdom’s Confectionery! But first, the NEWS!

Disney Dining News

Check out new menus…

  • Disney World’s Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has an updated menu!
  • New menu updates have debuted at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

We’ve got additional food news, including restaurant closures, Tower of Terror 10-Miler tickets on sale, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend tickets on sale March 12, Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop accepts Disney Dining Plan snack credits, and LOTS more, on our Disney Food News Pin Board! Head over and check it out!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book Review

Thanks to Running at Disney for a wonderful review of our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book.

Pick up your copy today at — and don’t forget to use code 2013 at check-out to get your discount for a limited time!!

Running at Disney shares this tip:

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In-depth information on planning your meals AND money saving tips! Read the full review here.

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Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

AlisonD64 tweeted “Pumpkin soup, ham & cheese croissant, and duo aux chocolat at Les Halles Bakery–all great!”

Pumpkin Soup with Ham and Cheese Croissant at Les Halles Bakery

Reader Wendy Hofmann sent us a yummy treat — by picture! Check out the new Cappuccino Cupcake at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot’s The Land pavilion.

Cappuccino Cupcake

On to the Round-Up!

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups heads to the Polynesian Resort for a stop at the Kona Island Sushi Bar.

Daveland enjoys the Chef’s Table at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.

Eating (and Drinking) Around the World sips a Perfectly Proportioned Margarita during a seminar aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Yesterland visits the former Candy Shoppe at Disney California Adventure.

AllEars has a quiet lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe.

Main Street Gazette has a quick service lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

Disney by Mark shares the Italian Food and Wine Pairing Luncheon event at Epcot’s Via Napoli during the Food and Wine Festival.


News! Menu Changes at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Editor’s Note: In addition to the peanut dipping sauce, sweet and sour sauce is now being offered again. Thanks to Disney Mom Leslie for this update!

Thanks to Disney Mom’s Panelist and DFB Friend Leslie Krzan for reporting on menu changes at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

We’ve got some interesting news about a few menu updates at guest favorite restaurant, ‘Ohana.

According to a server, changes were made to the menu here about a month ago with the posted menu outside of the restaurant still showing the old menu items. Let’s take a look at what’s been updated with this menu-go-round.

‘Ohana Salad Dressing Update

The fan-favorite honey lime dressing has been a stand-out at ‘Ohana as well as a much requested recipe, however it did not make the latest menu cut. Here’s Leslie’s take:

The new salad features a passion fruit vinaigrette with chunks of passion fruit and mandarin oranges. I don’t eat salad, but my husband said the salad was just OK. He really liked the old honey lime dressing. In fact, he usually eats the whole bowl of salad himself, but left about half of it this time.

New Salad at 'Ohana

DFB reader Anne T. also wrote to let us know about the change. She feels similarly about the new dressing: “The new dressing is still good, but not as good as the honey lime,” she says.

‘Ohana Stir-Fried Veggie Update

The vegetable dish has changed as well with this recent menu update. Here’s what Leslie discovered: [Read more…]