Disney Dining Review: Kona Cafe

Although we have never stayed at the Polynesian Resort, we have visited a few times. Our first trip we did the Spirit of Aloha Luau, which was a lot of fun. We have taken the boat over from Magic Kingdom and walked along the beach. We have gotten off the monorail just to look at the lobby with its beautiful greenery and waterfalls and check out the Wyland Gallery. But after reading an article on the Disney Food Blog, I found another reason to visit – the banana-stuffed-sourdough-bread-rolled-in-cinnamon-sugar Tonga Toast at the Kona Café.

We had 8:45 am reservations, plenty of time to get from All Star Music to Magic Kingdom to ride the monorail over. Kona Café is on the left on the same level as the entrance from the monorail. We were seated right away and immediately ordered the French press of Kona coffee for two. If you like strong coffee, it doesn’t get any better than this, especially at (typically Nescafe saturated) Disney World. My heart, or I should say stomach, was set on the Tonga Toast, but I was very tempted by a few other things on the menu too. I was pretty pleased when Dave ordered the Pineapple Macadamia Pancakes because that was my second choice!

The wait for the food was a little long, but not unreasonable. For a Saturday morning, the restaurant was busy, but not packed. I would imagine, since the entire eating area was open to the hotel lobby, that it could get pretty loud in there during the peak season.

When our meals came, the waitress also brought one pitcher of maple syrup and one of strawberry syrup. The strawberry syrup was wonderful, tasting of really fresh, ripe strawberries and nothing artificial. It was a perfect compliment to the Tonga Toast. I must admit, I had a slight concern with ordering Tonga Toast because I had read one review where the writer had thought that it was too sticky sweet for their tastes and especially for breakfast. Now I like sweet, but I can’t handle sticky sweet and the Tonga Toast has made my list of one of the best things I have had at Disney. All the flavors, the cinnamon and the banana and the sourdough French toast, were all so good together. And it was sweet, yes, but definitely not overwhelming. I really wanted to try those pancakes too, but I hated having to share! But I’m glad I did because the pancakes were fantastic! The pineapple and toasted macadamias were actually mixed in with the batter and they didn’t skimp on the amount they put in there. They were a bit more filling than the Tonga Toast, but they were just delicious. Dave had also ordered ham on the side and that was a perfect compliment.

Kona café is an excellent choice for breakfast (I’ll admit we couldn’t finish all of the pancakes, but I think I picked every last macadamia I could find out of them) and definitely a good start to a busy day. Next time we go we’ll have to bring the kids, I need someone to order The Samoan so I can try that too!

For more info about dining, including food allergies and the Disney Dining Plan, check out our Dining at the World page.

All Four Disney World Parks in One Day

I once read an article about the challenge of riding 10 Magic Kingdom rides/attractions before 10am. It can be done according to the person who wrote it, and I don’t doubt for a moment that it’s true. The majority of our trips to Disney have been somewhat commando-style, with detailed plans organized by extra magic hours and park layout. So our last trip we challenged ourselves to do all 4 parks in one day. (So you don’t think we are totally crazy, we did not have the kids with us on this trip.) Our idea wasn’t to do as much as possible at each park, but just to do our favorites and enjoy a few special things that each park has to offer.

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Disney Dining Review: Kimonos

Kimonos is a sushi and karaoke bar located in the Swan side of the Swan and Dolphin resort in the Boardwalk area of Disney property. Kimonos is open for dinner at 5pm and karaoke starts at 9pm. I called prior to our trip to Disney, but was told that reservations are not taken. Note that Kimonos does not accept Disney room charges, the Disney Dining Plan, or Disney Gift Cards.

Warm wood tones, dark furniture and hanging paper lanterns invite you into what at first looks like a small restaurant. There is a sushi bar to your left with a few chairs and the modest karaoke stage is to the right. Tables in the center of the room can be pushed together for larger parties and smaller tables line the inner walls. Once you are inside the restaurant you notice there is also seating along the outer walls, an area separated from the center of the room by colorful Kimonos hung from the ceiling. This outer area has more tables and some comfortable couch seating. The bar is at the very back of the restaurant.

We asked our server, Megan, for recommendations for dinner and she didn’t steer us wrong. We started with the Filled Eggplant appetizer, a crab and chicken combination rolled in thinly sliced eggplant and tempura-fried. Very yummy! She also suggested the Lobster Salad Roll, a tasty mix of lobster, fried grouper and wasabi caviar and the Bonzai roll with spicy tuna, avocado and topped with eel. The flavors in this were wonderful, but unfortunately there were some bones in the eel. We also had a couple of pieces of yellowtail nigiri, because well, it’s my favorite and always just melts in your mouth.

Another great thing about this restaurant was the drink menu. Being the martini-lover that I am, I had to try the Cool Cucumber Saketini, a delicious mix of vanilla vodka, sake, a hint of rock candy syrup, and fresh muddled cucumber. I wasn’t sure exactly what that last ingredient meant, but I never thought that a cucumber martini could taste so good. But, here is the best thing about their wine list – they actually carried a wine from the New York Finger Lakes! We live in the Finger Lakes region and are big supporters of NY State wine, so to find one on a menu out of New York State is a wonderful thing. If you try Kimonos, I highly recommend a glass of Heron Hill Semi Dry Riesling, it would be a perfect complement to their food.

It didn’t seem like it would be a lot of food, but we were quite full. (The rolls were pretty big.) Megan tried to persuade us to have a few more drinks and stick around for the karaoke, but we politely declined. We thanked her for her humorous and attentive service and thanked the sushi chefs for a delightful meal on our way out. Since this was the first night of our vacation, my fortune cookie fortune was pretty appropriate: “Happier days are definitely ahead for you.”

Character Dining at Disney World

Donald's Safari Breakfast

Donald's Safari Breakfast

Character Dining at Walt Disney World is one of the best ways to get the most memorable pictures and a full autograph book. Dining with the Disney Characters doesn’t mean that they literally sit down at the table with you and eat, (kinda tough in some of those costumes!) but that they come out during your meal to greet you and have their picture taken and generally entertain you. It is also never guaranteed that a certain character will be in attendance, Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a high probability, but don’t have your heart set on seeing Jasmine too, she may not show.

There are a couple of factors that will determine where you want to do your character meal. [Read more…]

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Train Station

Magic Kingdom Train Station

Magic Kingdom is the only of the four Disney World Parks served by all three Disney transportation options: bus, monorail, and boat. These methods of transportation deliver you to the front gates below the Walt Disney World Railroad Station, which alone is majestic and grand. But to walk under the railroad to the top of the Main Street, U.S.A. and gaze past the shops and restaurants, you behold the epitome of magic, Cinderella’s Castle. Magic Kingdom may not hold my interest like Epcot or Animal Kingdom does, but my heart skips a beat every time I first lay eyes on the castle. [Read more…]

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously Disney-MGM Studios) is home to two of the biggest thrill rides in the World, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Being a more daring person, I figured those two rides would be the only highlights for me in this park. But with every Disney trip we take, I am finding more and more to like about Hollywood Studios. [Read more…]

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Of the four parks in the World, I would have to say that Animal Kingdom is my favorite. A true animal lover at heart, I could spend all day just wandering the Pangani Forest. Ok, maybe not all day, especially not when Expedition Everest looms in the distance. Every time we have been to AK, we have meandered down a path we hadn’t seen before. [Read more…]

Saving Money Before your Disney Trip

So, you really want to go to Disney. If you are like us, you want to go “all out”, as many days as possible, the best resort you can get, the most diverse restaurants and of course spending money! But times are tough and trips like Disney are a special treat, one that takes a true commitment to saving. I’m one of those people who can save if I have to, but I also have a bit of “shopaholic” in me, which, when it came to saving for Disney, actually helped. [Read more…]

Disney Dining with a Food Allergy

One concern we had when we first decided to go to Disney or with any outing where we will be dining away from home, is my son’s food allergies. We are fortunate that his are relatively easy to avoid, but still require reading every label and analyzing every menu. He is allergic to tree nuts (thankfully not peanuts which are technically not a nut, but a legume) and shellfish. We are also fortunate that he has never had a severe anaphylactic reaction but that doesn’t mean that we can ever be unprepared. [Read more…]

Saving Money by Bringing Food and Drinks to Disney

In all the Disney research we did for our first trip, we decided it would be smart to somehow bring some food and drink items with us so we wouldn’t be tempted to spend so much at the parks. The plan was simple: eat healthier and save time and money by having cereal in the room for breakfast, and carrying our own snacks and drinks with us in the parks. For a seven night, eight day trip it seemed we would need a lot of cereal, snacks, and drinks. I went to BJ’s and bought economy size boxes of granola bars, fruit gummies, single serving cereal boxes and a case of Powerade. We were able to pack some in our luggage, but the majority we had shipped to our resort. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work out as well as we had hoped…

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