Thursday, May 26, 2016

Walt Disney World: Dinner at Kona Cafe


Kona Cafe is one of several dining options at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. It's best known for its fantastic breakfast, which I've reviewed not once, but twice. As much as we absolutely love visiting Kona for breakfast, we decided on our most recent trip to try it out for dinner.

The meal begins with their famous Sweet Bread (infused with pineapple juice, of course) served with the best butter on the block: creamy, sweet, macadamia honey butter. This is the same butter that is served in the a.m. with the Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes.

The bread was warm (and coincidentally the size of a human head), and the butter was soft and heavenly. Too much bread and butter was consumed. It was glorious!

We shared an appetizer of Sticky Wings with tangy mustard drizzle and toasted sesame seeds. The portion included 6 wings, and was a nice sharing size. The wings were very good. I'm a wing girl, and I'd happily eat these sweet and tangy wings again in the future.

Sticky Wings $10

We decided to split an entree as well, so we could save room for dessert. We opted for the Pan-Asian Noodles, wok-seared with crisp vegetables and chicken in a ginger garlic sauce. While my sister loved this entree, I felt the dish was too heavily sauced, and that the sauce itself contained too much black pepper. It was okay, but definitely not a dish worth going out of my way to order in the future.

Pan-Asian Noodles with Chicken $19

It was finally time for dessert! So here's a little secret. Although it's not listed on the menu, you can order the famous Pineapple Bread Pudding from 'Ohana if you're dining at Kona Cafe! The bread pudding is also found on the nearby Tambu Lounge menu (for $1 less), so you've definitely got a couple options to enjoy it if you can't snag an advanced dining reservations for the popular 'Ohana. They all share a kitchen, hence the convenience of getting bread pudding at all these locations. Score!

'Ohana Pineapple Bread Pudding $7 (FYI it's $6 if you get it at Tambu Lounge!)

The bread pudding is quite decadent on its own, but is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a small pitcher of Bananas Foster (aka banana-caramel) sauce. Bread pudding has a special place in my heart. I used to host a monthly bread pudding club on my blog, so I definitely have a soft spot for this custardy treat.

So, um, check out this food porn...

Yeah, I know. I needed to take a moment after viewing that to recover. This bread pudding is a Disney institution. Pretty much anyone who has dined at 'Ohana knows and loves this popular dessert. It's pretty exciting that you can order it here! It's an indulgence that is really worth the extra calories.

Kona Cafe is a lovely, open-air restaurant in one of my favorite Disney resorts, but it definitely excels more at breakfast than dinner. Although we both loved the bread/butter, the sticky wings, and the bread pudding, you can pretty much get all of those things at 'Ohana as part of an overall better meal.

In the future, I would stick to breakfast at Kona, not because dinner was poor, but because there really are so many other great dining options at Disney that would win out over a return trip here.

Kona Cafe 
1600 Seven Seas Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Walt Disney World: Polynesian Village Resort


Throughout past trips to Walt Disney World, I have shared several reviews of Disney resorts as well as tons of food reviews from the parks and beyond.

I recently headed to Walt Disney World with my sister, and took advantage of her Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership by staying at a Deluxe Resort that was at the top of my Disney bucket list: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. The DVC portion specifically is referred to as Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, but it's the same property and has access to the same facilities.

View of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort from California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Disney Vacation Club is essentially a Disney timeshare program. You use points to book rooms of various sizes, ranging from Deluxe Studios to 3-Bedroom Grand Villas or even Bungalows (in the case of the Poly), depending on the resort and what kinds or rooms are offered there. The Deluxe Studios feature kitchenettes, while the larger villas boast full kitchens!

The prices/number of points required to book rooms vary throughout the year based on different seasons designated for popularity. Even if you're not a DVC member, there are many websites that will allow you to rent points from a member, or you can even book the suites with cash, but you will definitely save money by renting the points instead!

We spent four fabulous nights at the Poly! It was always a dream to stay at one of the resorts on the Monorail circuit, and the easy access did not disappoint.

View of the Grand Floridian from the beach

The layout of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort features the Great Ceremonial House as the focal point. It contains the lobby (complete with ADORABLE tiki statue), shops (BouTiki and Moana Mercantile), and several dining/bar options ('Ohana, Kona Cafe, Kona Island, Tambu Lounge, Capt. Cook's, Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace, and Pineapple Lanai).

It also includes access to the Monorail, which connects you to Disney's Contemporary Resort, The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Magic Kingdom, and the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) where you can hop on a Monorail to nearby Epcot.

The balcony in our room

The rest of the property is made up of longhouses named after locations in the South Pacific. They include Moorea (DVC), Pago Pago (DVC), Tokelau (DVC), Hawaii (Club Level), Tonga (Club Level), Samoa, Niue, Rarotonga, Fiji, Tuvalu and Aotearoa.

Pago Pago

There are also two pools (the Lava Pool and the new Oasis Pool--each with a hot tub), a really awesome splash area for kids (Kiki Tikis Splash Play), a marina, and a beach, complete with fire pit and view of the Magic Kingdom across Seven Seas Lagoon.

Kiki Tikis Splash Play

Lava Pool

Lava Pool

Lava Pool (without a thunderstorm on the horizon--see above)

Oasis Pool Entrance

Oasis Pool

We requested in advance to stay in a Deluxe Studio room on the 3rd floor of Pago Pago. Although it's technically the furthest from the Great Ceremonial House, it's a quick walk.

The reason we selected this longhouse is because of its proximity to the TTC. We had a very quick walk to the neighboring TTC for purposes of heading to Epcot, but also to the other Monorail resorts and the Magic Kingdom if we didn't feel like walking to the Great Ceremonial House to board the monorail there.

As far as general location is concerned, Disney's Polynesian Resort ranks very high on the list. Personally, I think the location is even preferable to Disney's Contemporary Resort, which has a lot of fans because it's within walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. Personally, I love the view of the MK right across the lake, and having super easy access to both the MK monorail, but also the monorail to Epcot. Double win!

The Magic Kingdom across Seven Seas Lagoon

Seven Seas Marina with a view of the Grand Floridian

The theming is absolutely fantastic! I honestly felt like I was on a tropical island with all the tiki torches, tiki statues, Hawaiian music, and more. The tiki statue in the lobby is my absolute favorite! Its image is used throughout the resort on trash cans, room number signs, and it is even replicated in the adorable lamps found in the DVC rooms.

I was told by a Cast Member that these lamps are only in the DVC rooms and not the standard rooms, but I'm not sure if that's accurate. Also, they JUST started selling these lamps last Friday, May 20th at BouTiki, and my sister was the first person EVER to purchase them! The staff took a photo of us to commemorate the first sale of these popular lamps.

Pago Pago hallway

Tiki hallway light

So a visit to Disney's Polynesian Resort definitely sets the mood for a tropical, island-themed getaway, right in the heart of Disney, but what about the rooms? As I mentioned before, we stayed in one of the Deluxe Studios at Pago Pago. The Deluxe Studios at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are the largest Deluxe Studios on property.

*Note* Most of the room photos were taken the night of our arrival (while everything was still neat and clean), hence the poor lighting quality. I prefer natural lighting when I can get it. Sorry, folks!

The Deluxe Studios feature the following:

  • Both lake view and standard view rooms
  • Sleep up to 5 
  • 1 queen-size bed, 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, 1 pull-down bunk size bed 
  • Kitchenette
    • Paper plates, bowls and plastic utensils 
    • Small refrigerator 
    • Microwave
    • Wet bar 
    • Toaster 
  • 1 1/2 bathrooms
    • One has shower and sink
    • One has toilet, sink and tub/shower 
  • Private porch or balcony

Tiki carpeting

Pull-down bunk size bed

Pull-down bunk size bed features a Lilo and Stitch mural!


Half bath

Gorgeous wooden sliding doors for both bathrooms

Full bath

Here's a video tour of the room!

One thing these Deluxe Studios lack is storage. They include a closet, two drawers under the bed, one on either side, a small drawer in each nightstand, and storage in the coffee table (it opens up like a trunk). For a room that sleeps up to 5 people, there isn't a lot of room for those 5 people to store their things. Just something to keep in mind. It was perfect for the two of us, and we got to spread out with all that extra room!

I had a fantastic time at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. It seriously rivals Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village as my favorite Disney resort I've stayed at so far. There are definitely perks to staying at the Poly, such as location, excellent theming, great dining options (and close access to many others via the Monorail), but it only features two room sizes for DVC (Deluxe Studios and the extremely expensive Bungalows) with nothing in between.

Although a stay at the Poly may be out of many people's budgets, if you visit during an off-season period, and consider renting DVC points, it's not nearly as obscene as one would think. In any case, I'm absolutely in love and can't wait until I have another opportunity to stay here!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more from my recent Walt Disney World trip!

Disney's Polynesian Resort
1600 Seven Seas Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 824-2000


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