You’ve probably heard that ‘Ohana means family, but to me, it means a happy heart and a full belly. I may still be a newbie at a lot of Disney dining stops, but so far, ‘Ohana takes the cake (or bread pudding). From the service, to the food and the atmosphere, it has become a must-do in the McDonald household. Keep reading to find out why.
A few years ago, on a routine Disney trip with family, we all decided to splurge and have Dinner at ‘Ohana. If you aren’t familiar, ‘Ohana is a sit-down, table service restaurant within Disney’s Polynesian resort. This restaurant has a few different options when it comes to breakfast, lunch, or dinner as well as some character dining. The best way I can describe the type of meal offered at dinner is “family style meets Brazilian steakhouse.” There are items that come family style while your protein options will be presented on skewers (like that scene from Bridesmaids when they all go to that hole-in-the-wall place with the weird meat that got them all sick). Fear not, the only sick you’ll get at ‘Ohana is from eating too much amazing food!
I want to point out that the Polynesian resort has one of my favorite lobbies to walk around at Walt Disney World. While it’s no secret that the summer heat is not my thing, the theming and decor of the Polynesian resort make me long for white sand beaches. I’ve never been to Hawaii or the pacific islands, but if they’re anything like that, let’s go now! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto also happens to be at the “Poly,” as all the cool kids say, and boy do they have some amazing libations. Jen Drennon knows exactly what I’m talking about.
You know who else has great libations? The Tambu Lounge, and it’s a great place to chill out while you await your table for ‘Ohana. I have two words for you — Lapu Lapu. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. After you’ve enjoyed the drink of your pacific dreams, you will be seated for the duration of your meal. This is where the fun continues. Each time we have dined at ‘Ohana, we have had incredible service and sweet entertainment. As your server gets your drink, you can curb your appetite with their incredible warm pineapple-coconut bread. You might think that sounds weird, but if you like coconut at all, you will LOVE this bread. I could make a meal out of it. The next thing will be your mixed greens salad with a lilikoi (passion fruit) dressing. The hardest part is not fill up on these two things because the best is yet to come.
The next course is labeled as “appetizers and accompaniments.” These are the items brought out family style. They include pork dumplings tossed in garlic ginger sauce, honey-coriander chicken wings, noodles tossed in teriyaki sauce, and stir fry veggies. Guys, this is where it’s at! All of this food is incredible. The flavors are bursting and if you run out of something, you can just ask for more! I don’t think we ever get out of there without a second helping brought to the table. If this wasn’t enough to make an entire meal and then some, there’s more.
As you help yourself to these delicious items, multiple servers will come around to your table with large skewers of either sweet-n-sour chicken, spicy grilled peel-n-eat shrimp, or Szechuan sirloin steak. I love all the options you get and, again, you can always ask for more. We are bargain hunters and I have no shame is saying that we love being able to pick our portions of different things. Think about those times when you’re at restaurant and get your plate, but you really wish you had more of something. Sadly, That’s not how the majority of restaurants operate, right? At ‘Ohana, you never have to worry about that and it’s a beautiful thing.
Let’s talk for a moment about entertainment. The few times I have been, the same female singer has come out with her ukulele singing sweet, relaxing little diddies like my all time fav, “Tiny Bubbles.” If you like Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, then you’ll love this. If you can pronounce his name right, I’ll give you a dollar. The atmosphere makes you feel like you’re sitting beachside on the islands enjoying the simple life with the locals. When you’ve had a few crazy days around the parks, this is a great way to kick back and relax for a minute with your family and friends (or without them, if they are extremely annoying you). It’s a great spot to get away for a date night as well, if you are able. If you do happen to be enjoying time with your kids, they have games take place throughout the restaurant to help entertain the little ones. Disney is always thinking of small ways to bring that extra pinch of magic to any experience.
After your belly is full and you’re enjoying your time with your loved ones (or not), the most epic ending to your experience is still to come. Your server will bring out the famous ‘Ohana Bread Pudding A la’ Mode. This is my favorite dessert at WDW. The bread pudding comes out warm with vanilla ice cream, bananas, and a side of caramel sauce topping. You can pour the caramel sauce yourself if you’d like; I think it adds to the experience. I don’t really know what to say about this dessert other than “OH MY STARS!!!” It’s like eating the best pie or brownie sundae mashed together all in one. If you have an open sweet tooth, this is the dessert to try. ‘Ohana also offers a kids rice krispy treat with sprinkles (sorry, it’s just not as epic).
I recommend eating light before you enjoy this amazing dinner. I like to compare it to the times when you know you’re going to a Japanese steakhouse. You eat light because you know it will be a big meal. Same rules apply. I will note that the average price for this experience is $35.00 to $59.99 per adult (totally worth it, though). Some dining plans are also accepted there. All in all, I highly recommend this Disney dining experience. The service is great, the food is phenomenal, and the entertainment and atmosphere are pleasant and relaxing. If you’re an ‘Ohana veteran, let us know what YOU love about it! If you’re sold and want to book your next Disney experience you can reach out to our very own CJ Ayd at CJ.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to @DougDoesDisney for the use of his photos & @DrennonsDoDisney for the use of her delicious photos!