Ohana Breakfast Review – What You Need to Know
Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind…or forgotten. These magical words from this scene in Lilo & Stitch have had a profound impact on Disney fans over the past 15 years. Coincidentally, the word ‘Ohana is also the name of one of the most famous restaurants at Walt Disney World. My family recently had the opportunity to eat a meal here, and I want to share my thoughts. Here’s a review of the Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch.
The History of ‘Ohana
Believe it or not, this restaurant opened its doors long before Lilo & Stitch became a movie. This beloved establishment has anchored the second floor of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for decades now. Originally, the Papeete Bay Verandah opened with Walt Disney World. Yes, this restaurant has existed in some form since 1971!
The classic version of the restaurant was upscale in nature. During the early years of Walt Disney World, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and the Poly were the only two monorail resorts and shared a certain status among the vacation elite. The Poly was where Disney executives took the VIPs that they wanted to impress. And the restaurant was their pride and joy during those first shaky days for Disney’s East Coast venture.
Yes, ‘Ohana the restaurant is seven years older than Lilo & Stitch, the movie that popularized the term. At this point, ‘Ohana is exactly the same age that Papeete Bay Verandah was when it closed…but let’s be clear. ‘Ohana isn’t going anywhere. It’s one of the most crowded eateries on the Disney campus.
The Character Breakfast
‘Ohana features two phases. From 3:30 p.m. until closing, it’s an All-You-Care-to-Enjoy (AYCE) dinner served over several courses. You don’t get to pick the contents of your meal, but your plate is bottomless. You can ask for more as long as your belt has the tensile strength needed to remain in place.
Breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. and lasts until noon. It’s also AYCE, and it has an additional benefit. ‘Ohana in the morning is a character breakfast entitled Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch. Mickey Mouse and his dog, Pluto, appear at this meal, too. So, you’ll interact with four different characters before/during your meal.
The current process deviates a bit from the way ‘Ohana worked just a couple of years ago. You check in on the second floor of the Polynesian’s lobby aka the Great Ceremonial House. Then, you get a pager and await an open table. Breakfast is almost as crowded as dinner at ‘Ohana, and so you will wait.
To mitigate the delay, Disney’s introduced a line to meet Pluto. It’s a character greeting featuring a PhotoPass photographer. The pictures that you take here will get uploaded to your My Disney Experience account, usually within minutes. Since there’s a small line to interact with Pluto, most of your restaurant wait-time will go toward this character meeting. It’s a clever way to pass the time and get you in the mood for the real stars of the show.
Yes, while Mickey Mouse makes an appearance, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt no less, he’s not the star here. That honor belongs to Lilo & Stitch, the imaginative girl and her dog-like alien pet. To Lilo, Stitch is the best two dollars that she ever borrowed and then spent on anything.
The two of them hold court in their restaurant, walking from table to table and introducing themselves to their guests. Since Mickey, Lilo, and Stitch all interact with guests, the spacing between character greetings is impeccably timed. During a 30-minute meal, you should meet all three of them and experience the one other special part of the Best Friends Breakfast.
At regular intervals, generally about every 20 minutes, the cousins who serve you will ask your children to join the Disney characters in a parade. As Hawaiian Roller Coaster plays, kids shake maracas and walk through the restaurant. It looks a little something like this, and it’s one of the most joyous things that you’ll see during a Walt Disney World visit. The kids have such a great time making noise and playing with Mickey Mouse, Lilo, and Stitch.
Our most recent visit to ‘Ohana was neither the best nor the worst one that we’ve had. We’re in a rare position to judge what qualifies as a great ‘Ohana character breakfast, as we usually eat here at least twice per vacation. It’s my wife’s favorite breakfast at Walt Disney World, maybe even on the planet.
This particular meal started poorly due to transportation issues and confusion with the party we were supposed to meet. They arrived so much ahead of us that they were done eating by the time that we checked in. That’s Disney’s bus system for you. But I digress. This review combines our experience with their comments about what they liked and didn’t like about the meal. In total, it was a party of five spread across two breakfasts.
Our Pluto meeting went smoothly, taking less than five minutes from start to finish. By this point, our table was ready. We were rushed to our seats due to the snafu with the other party. The cast member (at the Polynesian, they’re called cousins) hadn’t meant to split up our reservation and made up for it by giving us the first available table.
The next cousin was one of the two “negatives” we experienced during the meal. Our server worked hard and was kind, but she messed up our check in fairly epic fashion. My wife and I were using the Disney Dining Plan. After we left that day, we realized that we had been charged seven (!) Table Service credits for our meal.
Our belief is that a different table left without paying their bill, as she seemed to chase someone at some point. Unable to stop them from the old dine and dash, she probably just stuck their dining credits on our bill, knowing that we could sort it out later…which we did, albeit after a fair amount of aggravation. I mention all of this mainly to state that when you eat on the Disney Dining Plan, you should always monitor your entitlements. Mistakes happen. Disney’s customer service is phenomenal and will fix the issue. You have to make them aware of it, though.
The food at the ‘Ohana breakfast isn’t for everyone, by which I mean that vegans will feel lonely and go hungry here. The Best Friend Breakfast is a carnivore’s dream come true. The meal includes three different kinds of meats. Historically, those have been some combination of bacon, sausage, and ham. I favor the bacon, but ham was on the menu during this trip, the other disappointment for me. Like all sane people, I’m devoted to bacon as a breakfast food.
There are other, non-meat foods on the menu, too. Mickey-shaped Waffles, fried potatoes, and scrambled eggs are all available. Your cousin will bring you a gigantic skillet filled with all of the foods that I’ve mentioned. Like the dinner version of ‘Ohana, you can ask for as many refills as you want. And I do! The succulent meats here are a dream come true for this particular carnivore. It’s like hog heaven…almost literally.
The disappointment of the ham did bother me a bit. It’s akin to when ‘Ohana isn’t serving pork at dinner (which they currently aren’t). There’s still plenty of food, all of which is delicious, but I spend a disproportionate amount of time lamenting what’s not there when I should be appreciating what I have.
Everyone else in our party loved the food, especially the syrup used with waffles and the magnificent fried potatoes. A couple of them commented on the quality of the fruit which caused me to think, “There was fruit on that plate?” What can I say? I’m a protein guy.
On the whole, the feedback on this particular ‘Ohana visit was glowingly positive. My wife befriended one of our neighbors, as she is wont to do, and our character meeting pictures turned out phenomenally well. Our friends decided that breakfast at ‘Ohana would become a permanent part of their Disney vacation itinerary.
All in all, this breakfast was a wonderful way to recover from Disney transportation woes and fuel ourselves for a busy morning at the parks. As always, I highly recommend the Best Friends Breakfast as one of the most satisfying meals at Walt Disney World. Even when it’s imperfect, it’s still a nine out of ten for me.