‘Ohana Means Family… And a Ton of Food!

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Photo by Betsy Bates

As that (sorta) lovable alien in Lilo and Stitch taught us, ‘Ohana means family.  It also means a yummy dinner at the restaurant of the same name!  ‘Ohana is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.  Although ‘Ohana hosts character breakfasts each morning, that is another blog post for another time.  Today we will be focusing on dinner at this South Seas-flavored eatery.  The restaurant carries on the Polynesian’s decor with dark woods, palms, and tikis.  Cast members here are called cousins (and they’ll call you cousin, too).  My friends (er, cousins) and I had the chance to enjoy dinner here in July and couldn’t have been more pleased.

While you wait to be seated, you can always grab a drink and relax at the Tambu Lounge.  The lounge is an independent entity, but it also serves ‘Ohana and is located right next to the waiting area.  Here, you’ll find fruity drinks unique to the this location.  The lounge also serves the standard Disney drink menu, but try to find a drink served in a pineapple or tiki shaped glass anywhere else!  My favorite is the lapu lapu, but it sure packs a alcoholic punch so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tambu Lounge by Betsy Bates
'Ohana Tikis by Betsy Bates









Photo by Betsy Bates

Meals here are served family-style, meaning large plates of each menu item are brought to the table, and guests pass them around and take what they’d like.  Things start off with bread service featuring “‘Ohana welcome bread,” which your host or hostess will explain while he/she also introduces the family-style concept and escorts your group to its table.   This pineapple-coconut bread is a bit sweet and delicious!  I’m a fan of all things carbohydrate, so it really hits the spot for me.  However, I have to limit how much of it I eat because there is so much more food coming to the table!

From there we move on to appetizers.  A bowl of mixed greens salad is brought out with honey-lime dressing.  Also served up are honey ginger chicken wings, pork fried dumplings, lo mein noodles, and stir fried broccoli.  I thought all of these options were quite tasty.  I’m not sure what seasoning was used on the broccoli, but I thought it was delightful.  I also enjoyed the noodles and the dumplings, but the most popular item at our table was definitely the chicken wings!  With this course, three sauces are brought to the table: peanut, chimichurri, and sweet and sour.  All of these can be used during the appetizer portion of your meal or during the entree service.

'Ohana grill by Betsy Bates

The main event at ‘Ohana is the meat!  Chicken, pork, beef, shrimp are all grilled over an oak fire and brought to your table on huge skewers.  The pork served is loin with an Asian barbecue sauce.  The steak is marinated and grilled for the enjoyment of beef-eating guests.  The chicken is likewise prepared and was quite tasty on the night of our visit.  I think my favorite of the meats was the shrimp!  They were grilled with their shells on, so they can be a bit messy to eat, but they were completely worth it; they were nicely cooked, and the smoke from the grill gave them great flavor.  Upon request, your server will be happy to keep bringing more skewers to your table to fill up your plate.

Dessert is also served family-style and consists of bread pudding.  But this isn’t just any old bread pudding; it is served warm with vanilla ice cream, bananas, and caramel sauce.  If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to save room for this treat.  However, I have to admit I thought this was better the last time I dined at ‘Ohana.  Keep in mind this was a few years ago, but I remember really, really loving the bread pudding.  This time around I liked it, but it didn’t make me crazy.

An added bonus to enjoying dinner at ‘Ohana is the great view of Cinderella Castle across the lagoon at Magic Kingdom.  The large windows take advantage of this view and allow almost all diners to get a glimpse of the castle in the distance beyond the palm trees.  If you time your meal right, you may even be able to watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show from your table.  The lights are turned down low, and the soundtrack is played throughout the restaurant.  If the view isn’t enough excitement, guests can watch chefs preparing the grilled meats over a an open flame in an open kitchen.  There is also in-house entertainment in the form of strolling singers, complete with ukulele accompaniment.  This is often supplemented by fun events for kids like coconut races.

'Ohana's view of the Magic Kingdom by Betsy Bates

This is a very popular meal among WDW veterans, as well as first-time visitors.  You’ll want to try to make your Advanced Dining Reservations as soon as possible to ensure a time slot here.  ‘Ohana isn’t popular for nothing!  I really enjoyed my dinner here with friends.  Not only was the food great, but the family-style meal feels like you’re at home sitting around the kitchen table.  Since the cast members will bring you as much food as you’d like, you’d better come to dinner hungry!

My friends and I happily stuffed after our dinner

And now for a bit of important information.  Dinner is served daily from 5-10 p.m.   The price (excluding alcoholic beverages) is a flat $32.99 for adults and $15.99 for children (ages 3-9), but Disney usually increases the price by a few dollars during “peak” seasons.  The dining plan is accepted and counts as one table service credit.  The Tables in Wonderland discount card can also be applied at ‘Ohana.

How about you? Do you like ‘Ohana as much as I do?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

22 thoughts on “‘Ohana Means Family… And a Ton of Food!

  • September 14, 2011 at 7:41 am

    ‘Ohana is our family’s favorite table-service restaurant! We will be eating there Christmas Eve this year!

    • September 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      That sounds like a great place for Christmas Eve feast! I hope you have a blast with your family!

  • September 14, 2011 at 8:20 am

    We love ‘Ohana. It has become our traditional dinner on our last night in WDW each year.

    • September 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

      It is our first and last night at Disney tradition!

  • September 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Another vote as the favorite family eating spot at all of Disney. The character breakfast there is equally as good and a lot of fun.

    • September 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      I had fun at the character breakfast when I did it last summer too! I’ll have to write about it some time soon. Thanks, Jon!

  • September 14, 2011 at 9:14 am

    ‘Ohana also does a very nice vegetarian meal. The bread, salad, and lo mein come out for vegetarians just like the regular meal. When we went in early September we also got an enormous platter containing a delicious tofu and mixed vegatable stir fry. The tofu had been grilled over the open fire before being added to the stir fry.

    • September 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      That’s great to hear for our vegetarian readers. It’s pretty cool that they grill the tofu so you get the same experience as your meat eating friends and family. Thanks for the comment!

  • September 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Since the meal is served family style, are small parties seated at large tables with other parties? Or do they bring all that food for just a couple of people?

    • September 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Nope, you won’t be seated with other parties. They will simply bring out portions suitable for your table no matter the size of your group. I’m sure it is a fun place to eat with a smaller group too, but I’ve only done it in a crowd.

  • September 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    My boys love ‘Ohana. It is a meat lovers paradise.

  • September 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Have an ADR for 8:30 on Halloween to watch the fireworks at 9:30. First time ever going to ‘Ohana and really looking forward to it. Going to be 5 adults plus my 3 month old daughter.

    • September 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Have an awesome time, Spencer! The halloween fireworks are some of my favorites.

  • September 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    We ate there during our last trip (a week ago)… and it was possibly the highlight of the entire trip! Cousin “Cliff” was the best server around, and the food was plentiful and delicious! We had 2 “first timers” with us, and I’m sure they were VERY impressed with our dinner at ‘Ohana.

  • September 14, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I agree with you Kristen – good food. My family and I enjoy eating at Ohana. The only downside is that service can be slow…at least it was for us each time we ate there.

    • September 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Service seemed to be just fine the night we went so maybe it was just a bad night for you? I hope you’ll give it another shot.

  • September 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    We agree- LOVED the food. My favorite was the dumplings!! However, the service was very very slow for a pre-set menu. We had a 5:00 ADR (on time) and didn’t get out until after 6:30. There were only 4 of us. If your kids want something different, I would recommend ordering that right away. Ours took 30 min once we ordered it. We also had a table on the side of the restaurant. We could only see the Poly, so I hope people aren’t disappointed if they want to see Wishes from there-not every table has that view. Great food and would return, but will be more prepared next time.

    • September 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Wow! That sounds like a rough night. I hope you give it another shot sometime and see if things go better for you. Thanks for chiming in!

  • November 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Hands down our favorite Disney restaurant! Our first time was right before the fireworks- we finished dinner and sat out on the beach to watch them. The second time was this past June, and it was just as good! And as far as the portions being limitless- my husband and his friend got in an “eating contest”- ate two full skewers of shrimp each (in addition to all the other stuff), and an entire plate of bread pudding between the two of them! They enjoyed it, but needless to say, didn’t feel to hot at the end of the meal.. =) I’ve not had any problems with service- must have just been an off night.

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