Over the next week, my friend Darin will be doing a ‘takeover’ of Wandering in Disney. The both of us and our wives recently went to Walt Disney World and he’ll be here offering his thoughts. Darin and I do a podcast called The RoseBuds that you can check out here. I’ll be around with a post or two but it’s mostly going to be Darin. Leave any questions or thoughts in the comments and I will still get to them.
When I was younger and I got to pick the place to eat on account it was my birthday I would usually pick some sort of buffet setting. The idea of an “all you can eat” was astonishing to me. I’m still in the mindset that this concept is right up my alley, but the food at the majority of buffet chains is lack luster at best. I never really found a decent place to eat and eventually stopped picking that setting. There was food at Disneyland being the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ that was really good and an all you can eat breakfast that was decent enough. The Big Thunder Ranch was the clear winner for best buffet I ever had. That was until this trip when we went to Ohana located at the Polynesian resort. This restaurant does accept the Disney Dining Plan as well as AP discounts and Tables in Wonderland. Ohana features an array of delicious Hawaiian food, a good wait staff, a wonderful setting and unique live entertainment.
I did not know quite what to expect from this place. They never brought menus out but instead started with a salad. It tasted fine, as did the bread they gave us. People say it is hard to mess up certain foods and with these two this was no exception. The con with that statement is that it is also hard to have it be above and beyond. Fortunately, the bread and salad being merely good is the most negative this review will say. After a bit they brought out a giant platter filled with food, it was basically an appetizer platter, only bigger than most. This heavenly platter included noodles, pork dumplings, veggies and chicken wings. Everything in this platter was awesome and there was so much it felt difficult to get enough of each because you wanted more of something else. I did eat quite a bit of wings here, due to the fact that those are probably my favorite food. At this point all four of us were almost getting full. And of course that is when they bring out giant kabobs stacked with either steak, shrimp or chicken. The first serving they brought out they just plop it on your plate, assuming you would want it. Later on they started asking what you wanted more of, but first they wanted you to eat at last a few of everything. They gave off the impression that they were proud of the food and knew you were most likely to enjoy it and want more. Unfortunately, because of the loads of food I already ate I never made it to the shrimp, but I heard good things. The chicken was nice, not my favorite part of the meal and the steak rivaled others for best steak I had on the trip. That, besides the wings, was the food I kept coming back to. (Editors note – the dessert was incredible, as well.)
As for the atmosphere of the place, it was nice. The place had a homey and simple look to it. Everything was set up well, the tables had enough room. That is totally a pet peeve of mine, when I get up and cannot move very well because of lack of space. It did help that there was a walkway around the restaurant. Besides the simple parts the restaurant was decorated with Hawaiian themed decorations, mostly in the entrance. I loved this set up. The decorations were never overdone, it was perfectly laid out. Now I know not everyone will get the experience we got, but we were there as the fireworks for the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party went off. They played the soundtrack that went along with fireworks as if you were at Magic Kingdom. It was cool of them do that with our perfect view of the show, especially if you have a slight fear of being close to fireworks, like I do.
The food was top-notch like I said, but a clear second that makes this an essential experience was the live entertainment. Usually you would have a band play a song on their stage and say thank you after some claps. Here we got a guy walking around playing his ukulele and singing. When he wasn’t singing he was telling us, and making us say, some words in Hawaiian. A few times he made a certain group of people get up from their meal and participate in something. The first for us, was he called all the kids to participate in a race where they pushed a coconut with a broom. That was a lot of fun. He then called people who were celebrating anniversaries and then later the people whose birthday it was. He did this to embarrass people mostly like asking how old they turned and having us clap for it. He was very entertaining. The wait staff was pretty nice too, always coming by with food and being pretty funny as well. They say Ohana means “family” and the staff, cooks and live entertainment really made you feel like part of the family there. Ohana was a near perfect dining experience, the only real down side was I got full and yet still wanted to eat.