Edit: Disney released some new renderings of the bungalows here: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/12/new-details-announced-for-disneys-polynesian-villas-and-bungalows/
We’ll check in on Polynesian Village Resort construction, check out the holiday decorations, and grab sushi at Kona Cafe.
Progress is being made inside the lobby where the front desk recently reopened with a slightly different layout.
The changes here aren’t exactly night and day and it’s not entirely finished. The blinds are still drawn with construction continuing outside. The rock work behind some of the podiums are new. The desks are shorter and allow for cast to interact more intimately with guests. You may remember Art of Animation resort was the first resort to utilize that setup.
This is what it looked like last year with longer desks, wood paneling, and artwork, but it’s the same general idea.
Simple curtains now surround the center of the lobby, which is expected to open sooner rather than later, despite looking a ways off from completion:
We’re after-hours here, but a lot of work continues throughout the day.
Looking down the hall.
Decorations remain sparse here. The Poly is not historically one of the “must see” resorts for the holidays, though it’s on the monorail, which makes it easy to pop in for a few minutes to check out the little trees and few wreaths:
That’s about it. In unrelated news, there are few better ways to make friends at the Poly than carrying around a Lapu Lapu. Every other person will ask you what it is and where you got it. To which you can reply, “It’s a pineapple…”
Moana Mercantile replaces Trader Jack’s upstairs. Moana is otherwise a Disney animated musical film set for a late 2016 release. #synergy
New beverage coolers look to be installed next door at the snack store.
Drinks (temporarily?) relocated at Moana.
A large assortment of “Hawaiian Host” products available for sale. Considering shipping starts at $11 when purchased directly from their site, there might some value here.
Fetzer Crimson wine-by-the-glass is perhaps a little more classy than those Copa cups. Or at least fewer people might realize that a 750ml bottle runs $8.95.
The resort’s official opening next year will hopefully bring some Polynesian Village Resort merchandise. Until then, it’s the same stuff along with a mixture of Adventureland items from Downtown Disney’s Marketplace Co-Op.
The Pineapple Lanai continues to serve Dole Whips. As far as I know the operating hours remain 12pm to one hour after Wishes.
Same prices as when it debuted.
The Kona Island sushi/coffee bar recently reopened after a brief refurbishment. There’s a surprising number of empty seats at this casual eatery for a Friday at 8:30pm, but the resort remains under heavy construction with hundreds of rooms out of inventory for their DVC conversion.
Who orders an ounce of wine? Kona Island should begin serving sushi and Kona Cafe’s full menu nightly at 5pm.
The website has run a few Kona reviews in the past.
- Potstickers, Polynesian Plate Lunch with Pan-fried Chicken with Coconut and Mango Sauces, Polynesian Plate Lunch- Grilled Teriyaki Steak with Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Sticky Rice, and Pasta Salad, and Kona Surf and Turf Burger Deluxe – Our Grilled Angus Burger topped with Brie, spicy Fried Shrimp, Black Garlic Aioli, and Asian Pear Slaw.
- A review including Tambu Lounge Pulled Pork Nachos and Crisp Bread and Dips, Sticky Wings, Coconut Almond Chicken, and Pan-Asian Noodles.
- This one includes a review of the Volcano Roll.
- Sushi takeout including the Spider Roll.
There are probably a couple more.
Chopped together menu:
The menu has seen an awful lot of changes throughout the various reviews over the last 3+ years, but mainstays like the sticky wings, lump crab cakes, potstickers, Kona salad, Pan-Asian noodles, Kona-coffee rubbed pork chop, pan-seared duck breast, and togarashi spiced ahi tuna endure. Other items like the steak and lamb chops are still available with different sauces and accoutrements. Generally speaking, the items that don’t change are your best bets. Items like the steamed pork buns, sesame seared sea scallops, and oven-roasted taal chicken would be gutsier choices.
Mmmmmmmmmm Kona sweet bread is my second favorite bread service on property, behind only the onion rolls at Yachtsman.
Airy, light, and slightly sweet, it pairs excellently with the macadamia nut butter.
The website will have a full review of the new resort bar menu shortly. This is a Moscow Mule (Russian Standard Vodka, fresh Lime Juice, and Agave Nectar topped with Ginger Beer) in front and a Fireball Cocktail (Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and RumChata Cream Liqueur) behind. The Mule is a refreshing, slightly sweet cocktail, while the Firecracker is reliably creamier with some spice on the back end.
We started with the Lump Crab Cakes with Jalapeño-Lime Cream – $12.49. These are a bit strange – the exterior is pan fried crispy, while the inside is creamy to the point where the cakes might seem mushy and undercooked, even though that is how they are supposed to be prepared. They have more of a potato pancake quality than your typical “lump crab” cake. While they have a seafood quality to them, the batter is blended so thoroughly that there aren’t really any crab chunks to speak of. The jalapeno cream on the side adds some zip if that’s your preference. Overall, I wouldn’t put these into the “must get” category, but they are a nice, shareable appetizer while you wait.
Several of the sushi rolls are on display inside the restaurant where they make the sushi:
Kona sushi is reliably high quality – we’re not talking Jiro Dreams of Sushi here, but it’s on par with any local place Lisa and I tried here in Orlando, including staples like Seito, Kobe, and Nagoya (our favorite). California Grill is going to be a little more innovative for twice as much money. Epcot’s Tokyo Dining quality is similar at slightly higher prices.
Lisa ordered the Caterpillar Roll – Inside out Tuna Roll, Shrimp Salad Tempura Crunch topped with a layer of Avocado – $12.99 which looks sort of creepily like a caterpillar here.
Not much better. This is a proficient roll consisting of ten sizable, fresh pieces of sushi. I’m not sure there’s much more to say – it tastes like it should and is a good value for the quality and amount of food. It would destroy any of the quick service sushi available at Epcot’s Katsura Grill or any of the resort quick services.
I ordered the Beef Tataki – Beef Lightly-seared then Marinated, Thin-sliced, and served with Ginger Dressing and Sesame – $10.99 which is about a third of the cost of the steak for a similar number of bites. The beef arrived rare in a slightly spicy marinade, topped with green onions. The texture of cold, spicy beef may not appeal to everyone, but it’s a lot of beef for the money and comes recommended.
For the sake of snacks-for-later, I ordered the Kona Combo Plate – California Luau Roll, Salmon Sashimi, and Tuna Poke – $13.99. Ordering at sushi restaurants is always difficult for me because everything sounds the same. What is eel sauce? Do I care if it comes with scallions? Are tempura flakes going to make a difference? Do I make Lisa order the Orgasm Roll over the phone? What is the difference between white and red tuna?
The Combo Plate offers some variety. The California Luau Roll sounds a little more promising than what’s delivered – it’s supposed to be jumbo lump crab, pineapple, and avocado, but it’s instead much heavier on the rice portion. There’s a little sweetness from the little pineapple chunk and some flavors of the sea from the crab, but it’s not a particularly intense or flavorful roll and I was glad to have about a third of the regular size.
The flavor profile of the tuna pokes is similar to what’s served at the Hawaii booth at Food and Wine. Only each one of these is about three times as much tuna as you’d get at the booth. The regular $11.99 version comes with one more Poke, so they are worth about $4 each. Anyway, the crisps underneath add a nice crunch to the ahi tuna, which has a bit of a kick from the spicy sauce on top. Very good. The salmon sashimi to the left was fresh and flavorful.
Kona is a nice stop for a casual, relatively inexpensive sushi dinner or you can opt for some of the more expensive entrees. Restaurant menus at WDW have become so homogenized (everybody is serving the same $33 steak, the same $25 pork chop, the same $29 lamb chops, the same $20 chicken breast, etc.) that I’m not sure Kona stands out for its unique variety of dishes anymore. Even the steak loses the teriyaki sauce preparation that it has offered for the last 10+ years. But Kona is relatively convenient to Magic Kingdom and the other resorts on the monorail and is unlikely to disappoint. It will be interesting to see what the landscape looks like once Trader Sam’s opens next year.
Should have Magic Kingdom and Epcot updates on the horizon.