Saturday, March 26, 2016

Disney Polynesian Village Spirit of Aloha Luau, Orlando Florida

As well as multiple theme parks DisneyWorld has a number of hotels on property ranging from affordable family lodgings to high end resorts. The Polynesian Village is one of the original resorts that opened with DisneyWorld in 1971. 

With no family in tow we were looking for something a little different to do for Christmas dinner and booked the Spirit of Aloha Luau. This is a theatre dinner with tropical food and Polynesian entertainment strung together with a slightly hokey Disney channel style story about a Hawaiian girl leaving her family to make it big in America.

 Truly I was hoping that there would be a Character experience with Lilo and Stitch but instead we got a series of fairly authentic Polynesian dances. Many island cultures were represented including Tonga, Samoa, Maori (New Zealand) and of course Hawaii.

 Costumes were based on real Polynesian national dress and the highlight of the night was an incredible fire dancing display as the finale. Some games and songs appeared during costume changes and of course songs from the soundtrack to Lilo and Stitch were highlighted. 

The dinner is presented in a large tropical bungalow, prices varied based on the view of the stage but even the "cheap seats" had an excellent view. Prices per adult include all you can eat food plus basic beer, wine and sangria $64USD for Category 3 to $74USD for Category 1. 

Tiki style cocktails were available for additional cost like this Pina Colada fit for a Hawaiian King at $14USD

The appetizers were reasonably healthy and included a tangy Coleslaw, Mandarin Salad, Sesame Soba noodles and chunks of sweet Hawaiian pineapple.

The main meal was a hungi / luau style barbecue meat platter including roasted chickens, ribs, pulled pork and an Asian vegetable medley. Gluten free and vegetarian alternatives were available on request.

Further platters were available on request but the servings were generous and we found we were unable to eat the platter presented to us. 

A moist pineapple bread pudding with soft Hawaiian style bread was served for dessert. 

The food was surprisingly good for a family all you can eat dinner and the service and show were Disney quality family entertainment. We had a great time and while it was a little cheesey it was great fun especially for the kids. The dance shows were excellent and the music and comedy were at least Dad Joke funny. 

To top it all off Florida had a heat wave over the holiday break. The heat, food and families dining in tropical Hawaiian clothing made it feel just like Christmas in Australia. We had a great time and would recommend it for someone looking for a different dinner at DisneyWorld. 

Disney's Spirit of Aloha Luau

1600 Seven Seas Drive
Orlando, FL 32830

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: Coral Reef Restaurant, EPCOT at Disney World

We spent two weeks at Disney World Resort in Florida during the end of year holiday period. One of the great advantags of Disney World over Disneyland are the endless seated dining options. Add a Disney Magic Band and set all your reservations before you leave and you can avoid eating hot dogs and churros every day. 

The busy holiday period had upwards of half a million people on the park properties during Christmas and New Year and so booking early is a must. Reservations can be made at all the Disney restaurants months in advance. I'll be posting a number of holiday resort food destinations that we went to so keep an eye out for new posts. The prices are holiday destination pricey but there are some cheaper options particularly for those on a Disney Dining Plan.

The Coral Reef Restaurant is in the Sea section of EPCOT and is designed to invoke memories of Finding Nemo. The star attraction is the huge windows into the Ocean Tank where you can watch clouds of fish serenely float by. Sadly for the kids in the room the fish spotting map was out of date and we couldn't put the breeds to the pictures provided.

The food at Coral Reef is standard steak and seafood formal dining. There are plenty of options including vegetarian and land animals so that if you're not a seafood fan you won't miss out. Kid friendly options like Fish and Chips and Mac and cheese are included as well as "Mickey Check Meals designed to keep kid friendly food healthy.

 Being a Disney destination they're also meticulous about fussy children and food restrictions. You should be able to find gluten free, dairy free, nut free, wheat free, low carb or diabetic friendly options at all of their restaurants. If you don't see what you need on the menu the "cast members" that make up your dining service are more than happy to help you with options or talk to the chef. The service is Disney immaculate, the food was good but not amazing but given this is a theme park really one cannot complain for it not being Michelin level.

Pina CoLAVA $10USD

The menu is filled with sweet and sticky cocktails like you might enjoy at a beachside resort. Have a pina colada or three with your fish, just remember this is a family dining experience and getting giggly should include being careful to keep the language and topics child appropriate. There are mocktails available so your kids can join in on the fun.

Creamy Lobster Soup $9USD

I'm not a big fan of fish but I do love lobster! This is a classique creamy bisque soup with fresh herbs and cream. Note the kid friendly name to avoid putting off fussy diners.

Heirloom Tomatoes $10USD

Heirloom caprese one of my favourite classics. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy and obviously benefit from the Florida sun. 

Shrimp and Grits $30USD

Shrimp and grits is one of those American classic dishes we had to learn about moving to the US. Corn mash is topped with succotash and seafood, this was a nice rendition filled with coastal prawns. 

New York Strip $33USD

This was a decent but not amazing steak, similar to what one might find at a chain restaurant like Cheesecake Factory. Green vegetables and a decent mash are included.

The Chocolate Wave $9USD 

I can't see a lava cake without thinking of the melt down scene from Chef anymore but sticky gooey chocolate concoctions are right up my man's alley.

Seaside Cupcake $9USD

I saw one of the kids desserts go by and couldn't resist. I admitted to the waiter I was hoping there was one for adults and he laughed and told me this request was common. Moist delicious chocolate cake topped with mounds of butter cream and seaside fancies. Be warned though the Brilliant Blue dye gave me an allergy reaction :o(

All in all we had a great experience at the restaurant and it's a welcome piece of peace after walking around EPCOT all night. On a night you're not waiting for fireworks the serenity of the sea this is a great option. Book ahead.

Coral Reef Restaurant EPCOT

1520 Avenue of the Stars
Orlando, FL 32836