A trip to Walt Disney World is fairly expensive if you do nothing but visit the parks. But then there’s meals, special events, tours, and merch, merch, merch! If you’re not careful, your trip can easily break the bank and spill over into excess. Even if you ignore the rest of Central Florida, there’s just a ton to do on Disney property.
We don’t visit all that often, but when we do, we like to try new things. And I usually budget for one splurge event. On our most recent trip, that splurge was the luau at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Officially, it’s called Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, but that’s a mouthful. I’m just going to call it the luau.
I’ve been to a luau in Hawaii, so I knew what to expect, but my wife and kids had never been to one before. And this seemed like something the kids (3 and 5) would really enjoy.
We made a reservation for our last night in Orlando, and I think it was a great way to end the trip. Plus, I sprung for Category 1 seats (the closest to the stage…and most expensive), and we were literally front and center. There are no better seats in the house.
(If you want to skip ahead, I should tell you that there’s video of the fire dance down at the bottom. Go ahead and scroll. It’s okay.)
The venue is named Luau Cove, and it’s an outdoor, partially enclosed space near the beach at the back of the hotel. The focus is obviously the stage, which is nicely themed to feel “Polynesian,” and the dining area consists of long tables radiating out from the stage. Parties are seated together, but there is very little space between tables. Once the show starts, though, you won’t even notice.
Before you even enter the venue, tiki torches light the way from the hotel to a check-in podium where guests are greeted with leis. If you arrive before seating begins, there’s a cash bar available in an outdoor space (near the beach) where everyone gathers.
It should be mentioned that the beach at the Polynesian Village Resort is a fantastic place to see the nightly fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom across the lake. We attended an 8:15 performance on a night when the fireworks were held at 8:00. If the timing works out for you, don’t miss it!
The food is good, but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s served family style, but it’s “all you care to eat.” You just need to flag down your server if you want more of anything. Our server was actually pretty attentive to us, and I have no complaints there.
You start with a tropical salad and pineapple coconut bread (a-ma-zing). Main course includes BBQ pork ribs, roasted chicken, rice, and veggies. Dessert is a chocolate volcano cake. Drinks (including beer, wine, and mimosas!) are also included. Kids could also order off a separate menu, which included fish and mac & cheese.
The show is hosted by Auntie Wini who has invited the entire neighborhood together to celebrate and welcome home a young woman who has been away at school. The show alternates between scenes that propel this storyline forward and dances and songs meant to represent various cultures of the South Pacific (Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, etc.).
The songs and dances are the most entertaining, obviously. If you’ve come to a luau, this is what you’re expecting to see. The character moments and story of two young people falling in love are harmless enough; they just aren’t aren’t the selling points of the show.
There’s a brief intermission halfway through the show so you can eat your dinner and not feel like you’re missing anything. During the second half of the show, kids (and adults) are invited on stage to learn the hula and then everyone with a birthday in the current month is invited up to learn a different dance (and get sung to, obviously). It’s a cute way to get the audience involved, and everyone seemed to really like it.
The music is great. The house band plays on stage during the entire show, and they’re really the unsung stars of the luau. They play all of the traditional music during the various dances, and they play background for the few ballads that are sung during the story portions of the show.
Don’t forget, though, that this is still Disney. You won’t get out of this without hearing something from one of the films, but it at least somewhat fits the theme. During one of the story segments, the characters break into a performance of Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride from Lilo & Stitch.
The fire dance is the finale of the show, and it doesn’t disappoint. This is what most people imagine when they think of a luau, and my guess is that this is what most people want to see when they go to this show. This video I took doesn’t do the performer justice. He was just flat-out awesome.
The kicker here is that it’s expensive. Like, really expensive. Ticket prices vary depending on how close you are to the stage. Currently (prices always subject to change), adult tickets are $72.99/$67.99/$60.99 for Category 1, 2, and 3 seating, respectively. Children (3–9) are $39.99/$36.99/$33.99. That’s a lot no matter how to slice it.
The silver lining is that
- kids 2 and and under are free
- tax and tip are included
- beer and wine are included! (cocktails are extra)
Advance reservations (like most other places at Disney) are highly recommended, if not required. They can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. Check available dates and times here.
The verdict: Would I recommend the luau? If you’re looking for a nice splurge or want to celebrate a special occasion, you won’t be disappointed. I wouldn’t reserve the luau for a random Tuesday night dinner just because you have no other plans, though. It’s a lot of money.
Make an evening out of it. Catch the fireworks, enjoy the show, explore the hotel (which is beautiful). Don’t rush in late and head home early. That would just be a waste.
I’m glad we did it. I doubt we’d do it again, but like I said up top: there’s a ton to do at Walt Disney World. You can never do it all.