During our most recent trip, I headed over to the Polynesian for dinner with my mom at Ohana.
Over the past several years, Ohana has become a favorite of ours, earning it a high ranking on our list of the Top 11 Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World Hotels.
The restaurant consistently serves up great food in a really fun atmosphere. We are far from the only ones aware of this however as dinner there is one of the most difficult dining reservations to score on property. We’re not sure how much of this is due to returning customers or first timers booking based on hype, but it seems to have a pretty loyal fan base.
That being said, the experience does not come cheap. Recent price increased raised the cost over 10% and it now cost just over $55 per adult (including tax) for the dinner service. This lead us to rethink our reservation prior to this trip as there has to be some sort of tipping point as to whether the experience is still worth the cost. Obviously money is no object for some guests, an especially likely case for many staying at the Polynesian with rack rates of well over $500 a night for standard view rooms.
For the average guest however, $55 a person is a large chunk of dough to fork out for a meal. Its more expensive than most “signature restaurant” entrees and while it is all you can eat, the quality of the food is not on par with the likes of California Grill or Narcoossee’s. It is however, one of the very best uses of a Disney Dining Plan credit as it still only costs 1 credit despite being more expensive than many signature restaurant meals (which would run you 2 credits each).
In the end, we decided to keep our reservation due to our long lover for the restaurant, but just the fact that we considered cancelling is pretty telling for us. We typically don’t worry TOO much about cost on vacation, but sky high prices around the entire resort are starting to make us think a bit harder about what we do and don’t want to do. Spoiler Alert… I DON’T want to buy a $4.50 bottle of soda inside the parks ever!
Ohana’s popularity is obvious from the moment you reach the 2nd floor of the Polynesian lobby. The line to check in is often quite long and the entire seating area outside the restaurant is always jam packed with people waiting to be seated. It is not uncommon to be seated about 15-30 minutes after your reservation time as the restaurant does tend to get a bit backed up.
If you would like to grab a drink while waiting, the Tambu Lounge is located right at the entrance to the restaurant and has a nice selection of drinks and appetizers. I don’t recommend eating anything before being seated though as you will be getting a TON of food once inside the restaurant! The photo above was taken right around 4 pm. I wouldn’t expect many open seats at the bar later on in the night.
On your way to your table, the hostess will pick up a loaf of this pineapple coconut bread. You can smell this bread as soon as you enter the restaurant and the aroma is intoxicating. Somehow, it tastes even better than it smells. This is my favorite bread service in all of WDW (not counting Sanaa since that is an additional charge).
Here is a view from our table. If you look close you can see Cinderella Castle off in the distance.
Next, your table will receive a salad made up of mixed greens, crispy wonton noodles and some additional veggies thrown in. The salad is typically more vibrant than it appears in the photo above. It is tossed with a fruity tasting vinaigrette which works really well with all the ingredients. I’m not a huge salad person but this is about as good as salad can get for me.
Next up is a wonderful platter of various appetizers and sides. You get a nice selection of sticky chicken wings, pork pot stickers, lo mein noodles and mixed veggies. Everything on this platter is a home run! The wings are crispy on the outside yet moist on the inside and the pot stickers have a nice crunch with tons of flavor inside. The veggies consist of generous sized pieces of fresh broccoli, peppers, onions and mushrooms. The noodles were nice and hot and cooked to the perfect texture.
At some point during your meal you will be brought some hot towels to clean your hands and face with. This is much welcomed as we are dealing with a lot of finger foods and sauces here. It’s a nice touch.
The main entree of the meal consists of all you can eat meats, served to your table right off the skewers they were cooked on. Typically you will get chicken first, followed by steak and then shrimp last. You will also get a sweet and sour sauce, as well as a peanut sauce for dipping.
The “sweet n sour” chicken is very good. Its exceptionally seasoned and had a nice char to it. It was reasonably moist but definitely benefited from the additional of sauces served with the meal.
The “szechuan” sirloin had wonderful flavor, but it was a little on the tough side. This has been the case on our other visits as well. I assume it has something to do with the way its cooked. Its good but the texture keeps it from reaching next level awesomeness. For the price they should probably use a bit better cut of meat.
Last up is the jumbo shrimp.
These are my favorite of the 3 main courses. They are just a little bit spicy and have a nice firm texture. They are peel and eat so you are going to appreciate those towels I mentioned earlier.
Above is a good look at how much food you can expect at this meal. I had been eating fairly non stop for about a half hour at this point and my plate is still full.
Before we get to dessert, lets take a brief walk around the restaurant.
Here, you can see the open fire pit where the chefs prepare the meats.
The restaurant also offers entertainment while dining. This comes in the form of a ukulele player who sings and teaches the hula to kids in the restaurant. The kids will also be able to take place in a coconut broom race from time to time. It all helps make the restaurant more kid friendly. It’s one of my young nieces favorite places as well.
At this point its time to get to the main event.
The Ohana bread pudding w/ banana foster sauce is the best dessert on property in our opinion. There are no words I can say to do it justice, you simply have to try it for yourself. It is truly out of this world.
Just look at it… fantastic!
Unsurprisingly, we loved our dinner at Ohana. Everything from start to finish was delicious and the atmosphere is really pleasant. It was also very expensive. Even with our AP discount, the bill was still over $100 for 2 people. As to the question of whether its still worth it at that price tag, its tough to say. If money is no object, then you should 100% eat there. Its a great dining experience and you wont be disappointed.
Money certainly is an object for us and I’d still lean in the direction of the meal being worth the cost. You are served great amount of food and its all quality stuff. There is still plenty of value to be found here. If you break the meal out based on what you might expect to pay elsewhere, for 2 people you basically get:
- Wings Appetizer ($13)
- Pot Sticker Appetizer ($13)
- (2x) Chicken, Steak and Shrimp Skewers W/ Lo Mein and Veggie Sides: ($30 Each)
- (2x) Bread Pudding Desserts ($12 Each)
- (2x) Soft Drinks ($3.50 Each)
That’s a total of around $125 after tax. That’s not even taking into account the included bread and salad. Also, the meal can somewhat be compared to a “real world” Brazilian steakhouse which typically cost at least as much as Ohana does per person, albeit while serving higher quality meals like filet mignon.
Many will shy away from eating here due to the price and I don’t blame them for doing so. There is no real answer as it will certainly be worth it to some and not worth it to others. For us personally, we already loved the restaurant from previous visits and that was enough to get us to return, and I’m sure we will be back again. Perhaps we’re blinded by the bread pudding, but it still seems worth it for us!