I’d heard a lot of good things about breakfast at Kona Cafe, so I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. Of course the big debate is whether you go for the macadamia nut pancakes or the Tonga Toast, both of which are the stuff of Disney breakfast dreams. Being the undecided types, our large group decided to try both and because we’re extra greedy, we threw in a Big Kahuna Platter for good measure.
Kona Cafe is located on the second floor of the Polynesian Lobby. You’re literally steps away from the monorail, so it’s incredibly convenient to get here. It’s decorated in browns, dark oranges, and yellows that compliment the lobby, which is open to the restaurant. You’ll do well to make a dining reservation here, as at most Disney restaurants, but during less busy times of the year walk-ups are an option. We got our 7:40 reservation about a week in advance, so it’s a much easier location to book than say Ohana, which is also at the Poly.
Kona Cafe’s Tonga Toast has some of the most ardent fans of any dish at Disney World and with good reason. It’s simply delicious. They take sourdough bread and stuff it with bananas and then roll it in cinnamon sugar. It’s then fried and served with a fresh-tasting strawberry compote. You’ll also get your choice of ham, bacon, or sausage. At $12.99, it’s a pretty good deal and filling enough that you’ll happily pass by the snacks in the park later that morning. Trust me, this is a good thing no matter how much you love Mickey bars, considering that Tonga Toast is essentially a large donut filled with bananas! A large, very tasty donut.
By the way, if you’re on a budget or can’t get into Kona Cafe, you can get the same Tonga Toast at Captain Cook’s quick service for $5.99, minus the bacon.
Next up, we tried the Big Kahuna Platter, pictured above. It comes with French toast, pancakes topped with pineapple sauce and macadamia nut butter, two eggs cooked the way you like, home fried potatoes, ham, bacon, and sausage. At $11.99, it’s a huge amount of food, but other than the pancakes, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. It’s basically the same breakfast platter you’d get at Denny’s or Shoney’s and like any of those places, the French toast is dry and a little bland, the eggs and sausage are, well, they’re eggs and sausage. Perfectly acceptable, nothing to write home about. Definitely try it if you have a big appetite or even consider spitting it and adding a side of toast. It’s a lot of food.
The macadamia nut pancakes are a nod to the Hawaiian theme of the resort. They come with a large scoop of macadamia nut butter and a chunky pineapple sauce, as well as your choice of bacon, sausage or ham. At just $9.99, this is a very economical breakfast. The pancakes are light and fluffy, but also somewhat bland. That’s probably forgivable, since pancakes basically exist to support the toppings you put on them, but I was expecting more flavor after all the rave reviews I’d heard. Add the macadamia nut butter and their taste improves, but I would have been hard-pressed to find nuts in with the butter. The pineapple sauce was good and added something to the pancakes, but at this point, I would have preferred maple syrup. Overall, I was not impressed with this dish.
There are a lot of great breakfast locations in Disney World. Sadly, I would probably put Kona at the bottom of my list of table service locations. It’s passable and the price is good, but other than the Tonga Toast, there’s nothing on the menu that really stands out. When you contrast this breakfast with a buffet like Crystal Palace or even some of the more inventive items at Grand Floridian Cafe (lobster eggs Benedict) it falls short. Our server offered the type of Disney service we usually expect, which is to say, she was great. I rarely find Disney servers lacking and she was no exception. Everything we asked for was brought as quickly as possible, our eggs were cooked to our liking, and she was friendly and helpful. If you’re staying in the Poly or you’re on the monorail and want to try something nearby, definitely consider adding it to your reservation list. But don’t go out of your way for Kona.
Kona Cafe is one of the more reasonably priced table-service locations available on property but this also poses a problem for those on the dining plan. By no means should you use a table-service credit here. It’s simply not worth it if you do the math. That’s not to say it’s not a decent breakfast, but for the price, consider paying out of pocket unless you’re on the Deluxe Dining Plan (which gives you three table service credits a day) and you need to burn up credits.
Getting there: Transportation at Disney World can be complicated since there are no resort to resort buses. If you’re driving, it’s simple. Just park at the Poly; the guard at the gate will likely ask for your confirmation number during busier times of the year. If you’re going from your resort by bus, you’ll want to take the bus to the Magic Kingdom and then the monorail (or Poly resort launch) to the resort. If you’re coming from one of the other parks, just take the Poly bus to the resort. You can also catch a Poly bus from Downtown Disney. Cabs are also available at your resort and can be a good solution to early morning dining reservations.