Pool bars don’t get a lot of love in the Disney food world, probably because they aren’t really what you’d call “destination dining.”
Obviously, they’re more of a convenience for when you’re… well, by the pool at your Resort! You’re not going to go out of your way to visit one, but you sure are glad that they’re around the pool when you are. Because there’s hungry… and then there’s I’ve-been-swimming-all-day hungry.
But that’s kind of a shame, because some pool bars have some pretty decent food (and great drinks)! The Oasis Bar & Grill Pool Bar at the Polynesian Village Resort really stepped up the game, for example, with items like great Kahlua Pork Sliders. And the Uzima Springs Pool Bar at Animal Kingdom Lodge serves flatbreads (including a unique Braai Chicken Flatbread) that’ll satisfy any sudden carb craving. And then Geyser Point at Wilderness Lodge took “pool bar” to the next level.
Cabana Bar and Beach Club at Disney World’s Dolphin Hotel (it’s convenient to the Swan, too) is one such under-celebrated pool bar. Cabana even made an appearance at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic in October with their Double Fried Chicken! But my WOW here at Cabana was the aioli — there are tons of them and they are amazing. If you’re like me and love your dipping sauces, read on.
Cabana Bar and Beach Club (not to be confused with Banana Cabana at Caribbean Beach Resort or Cabanas on board the Disney Cruise Line ships) boasts a surprisingly huge menu (several pages long!). You’ll want to start with the Cocktails, which are cleverly named… and generously poured. 😉
Not listed on the menus are two frozen wine drinks: Frose (which we tried recently at Muddy Rivers Pool Bar at Port Orleans — Riverside) and Frozen Savignon Blanc (which is confusingly also called Frose). I went with the Frozen Savignon Blanc. It was super flavorful and refreshing. Basically, it tastes like straight up frozen wine.
After getting your hot little hands on a cool little drink, you should peruse all the appetizers here. Then order the Crispy Calamari.
Trust me on this one. Order the Crispy Calamari. It comes on a fabulous bed of Queso Blanco Aioli! And it’s all drizzled with Spicy Lime Buffalo Sauce, because you know I love my Buffalo Sauce! (And yes, I got a little extra on the side because #ialwaysgetmoresauce.)
And how many pool bars can you think of that also have Main Bites AND Sides, to boot?
I went with the Buttermilk-Battered Chicken Crisps and the Seasoned Waffle Fries. The chicken was juicy and crispy — really, really good. And the waffle fries were tasty and a generous serving. The seasoning even had a little kick to it, which I enjoyed.
The Honey Mustard Sauce was also delicious, and after getting two other terrific sauces with the calamari, I wanted to see what else they had. Turns out, Cabana is a mecca for sauce lovers! Who knew?! So I asked for one of each. You know, in the name of research and all.
Below, from left to right are: lime buffalo, chipotle aioli, sriracha aioli, queso blanco aioli, and garlic aioli. The waiter also brought me some ranch dressing.
Lemme tell ya: they’re all terrific. My personal favorites are the spicy lime buffalo sauce mixed with the ranch (kind of a classic combination with a twist — a recommendation from our server!), the chipotle aioli, and the queso blanco aioli (which is especially good with the fries!).
Moral of the story: Explore every eatery in your Resort because there might just be a hidden gem!
Have you made a surprising food discovery at a Disney Resort? Tell us about it in the comments!