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Disney's Spirit of Aloha

The Polynesian Resort unveils its new Luau Cove show

Tuesday, March 4, 2003
by Mark L. Fendrick, contributing writer

When the Polynesian Resort first opened in Walt Disney World, it was a given that it would have some form of Luau dinner show — and it did. That show, with only small changes over the years, ran until just recently. On February 19, 2003, in what would have been called the beginning of previews, the Polynesian's Luau Cove premiered Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, to replace the one that had run since the beginning. I was lucky enough to have been present at that performance.

The entrance to the new Luau Cove show welcomes guests with a new sign. Photo by Mark Hendrick.

The Luau Cove still looks as it always has; and open air stage with a covered seating and dining area. As before, seating is assigned at the time you make your reservation. When you are seated, your appetizers are waiting for you on your table: pineapple-coconut bread, tropical mixed greens with mango-poppyseed dressing, and a quarter of a fresh cut pineapple. You have an all-you-can-drink choice of Budweiser or Bud Light draft beer, Copper Ridge Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, soda, coffee, tea (hot or iced), and milk. There is also a selection of specialty cocktails and beer at additional charges. Included on this list are concoction for children.

A tropical favorite, the mai tai, is presented in a theme glass (including a fake palm tree). Photo by Mark Fendrick.

The main meal, also all-you-can-eat, consists of Island Barbecued Ribs, Lanai Roasted Chicken, Polynesian Rice, and fresh seasonal vegetables. Dessert is listed as Kilauea Volcano Delight, and looks quite a bit like a chocolate cake and a vanilla/coconut cake. I will admit to enjoying all aspects of this meal. If you are coming with young ones (ages 3 to 11), they have the choice of vacaroni and cheese, hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or chicken nuggets. 

The show itself has been updated and has a somewhat loose storyline that follows through the show. A young Hawaiian lady, who has been living and working in San Francisco, returns home for a visit. Her Polynesian dance teacher, Auntie Winnie, throws her a welcome home party.

Auntie Winnie (center) and her friends throw a big welcome home party. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

She returns in a black suit, looking every bit the mainland businesswoman.  All of her friends are determined to remind her of her Hawaiian roots, and ohana — family. While she claims not to remember the dances, Auntie Winnie is sure it will all come back to her as she participates.

For you traditional luau fans, not to worry — the dances from the Polynesian Islands are still here...

Male performers present a traditional Samoan dance. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

Women dancers perform a Tahitian dance. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

Dancers perform the traditional Maori poi ball dance, in which they must continually twirl balls on a string without losing balance, timing, or getting the strings snarled together. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

A Maori warrior welcomes visitors with a traditional greeting. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

And, of course, the fire dancer is still present. Some people watching this might be reminded of David from Lilo & Stitch, who was also a fire dancer in a luau show. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

In the end, she remembers who she is, and how important her island roots and ohana are to her.

Show performers at the end of the program. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

Having seen the original luau show as well as the character version many times, I was very happy to see a new show with enough of the traditional luau show to satisfy almost everyone. If you or any of your children are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or such, there is even part of the show to recognize these events.

Children celebrating birthdays are brought up to the stage for a special birthday dance. Photo by Mark Fendrick.

The preview period lasts for a week or so until the official opening in March, so there may be some changes and other tweaks in both the show and the menu. But even as it stands now, my wife, daughter and I all had a good time and enjoyed the updated show.

Contact Mark Fendrick at MarkLF@si.rr.com.


Mark is an electronic specialist for IEEE Magazines (formerly a columnist for Computer Shopper (US) and ZX Computing (UK). He lives in Staten Island, New York with his wife, a New York City schoolteacher. They visit WDW three or four times a year. Their two grown children live in Florida.

All photos and text by Mark Fendrick unless otherwise noted.


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