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Review: Lilo and Stitch Best Friends Breakfast at Disney's Polynesian

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One of the highlights during my family's stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort this week was the Lilo and Stitch Best Friends Character Breakfast. My son was really looking forward to this experience -- which we had never done before -- because he would get to meet with his two favorite characters, Mickey Mouse and Stitch. I was looking forward to sharing the experience with my family and good friends. Plus, I was eager to enjoy my favorite Mickey waffles, too.

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The Best Friends breakfast is served from 7:30 to 11 a.m. daily at 'Ohana on the second floor of the resort’s Great Ceremonial House. Our reservation was for 10:30 a.m., and even with the holiday crowds, we were seated on time. Entering the restaurant, the host explained that the word " 'Ohana" means "family" in Hawaiian, and the meal would be served family-style. That started as we passed a kitchen counter and my daughter was asked to carry a basket of sweet breads to the table. She was happy to help, given how delicious the bread appeared.

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A good number of tables at 'Ohana are situated near large picture windows that offer views of the grounds and Bay Lake. (If you're having dinner at 'Ohana close to the time of the fireworks, you may want to request a table near the windows. There is no guarantee that the request will be granted, but the cast members do try to accommodate as many diners as possible.)

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Soon after being seated, our server arrived with a fruit platter and we were offered our choice of coffee, milk and juice. The juice is a smooth blend of passion fruit, orange and guava that is delicious. Then she brought a huge bowl that contained scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, biscuits, breakfast sausage and smoked bacon for us to share. There was plenty for the six of us, though our server told us she would bring more of any foods we requested. And then she returned with what I had been waiting for -- a bowl of Mickey waffles. (See prices and more photos of the breakfast on the AllEars.Net menu page.)

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The food, the service and the setting for tropical-themed breakfast were all excellent. But the character meet-and-greet segment of our morning was very much like an Experiment 626 adventure gone wrong.

We had just about finished eating before we saw the first of four characters: Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto. At first, we thought the timing was perfect. My husband and I have been to plenty of character meals at other Walt Disney World sites where we were getting up and down so frequently as the characters arrived at our table that we rarely ate much of the meal as we tried to take photos and arrange autographs.

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It quickly became apparent, however, that this morning's schedule wasn't well-paced, either. All four characters arrived in our corner of the restaurant in quick succession, which meant that guests at most nearby tables were up and trying to take photos at the same time. As anyone who has been to a character meal knows, there is no designed place for taking those photos -- you have to pose in small spaces on the fly. Still, the individual attention diners usually receive at character meals makes them a worthwhile experience for many.

Unfortunately, the character appearances at our Lilo and Stitch Best Friends Breakfast were chaotic, at best. There was only one handler for all four characters -- which a cast member told us is the new Disney World policy -- and that clearly wasn't working well on the day of our meal.

For example, characters appeared confused about where they were supposed to go. At one point, we had two characters at our table at the same time, and neither stayed long enough for me to get photos of both children with each of them. We also saw a character ignore another waiting family, which certainly was not the type of memory Disney strives to create. Having a dedicated handler for each character would have prevented these unfortunate situations.

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Before we left, we spoke to a manager about our experience, and she did bring one of the characters back to our table so we could get the photos we missed. That went a long way toward smoothing things over for my kids, who were at first upset over missed opportunities to meet certain characters or get coveted autographs. (Another downside to the new character handling policy is that often the characters need help signing autograph books. Without a handler nearby to help position books and pens, they sometimes don’t pull it off well – such as this particular morning when one character signed his name over the autograph page signed by another character. The mistake left my son in tears until the manager could correct the mistake with a second signing.)

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One aspect of the character experience that did work well was the short parade through the restaurant. Kids were given maracas to shake to the beat of a Lilo and Stitch surfing song as they marched along with the characters, and they all seemed to enjoy the activity.

If 'Ohana means family, then – like in any family -- you often overlook the small things and focus on the positives. Though the character-greeting aspect was disconcerting for the adults at the table, my kids left the restaurant talking about how great it was to see their favorite characters at breakfast. In their eyes, they were still enjoying a tropical South Seas paradise just as they expected.

The previous post in this blog was Places for Disney fans to celebrate Fourth of July outside the theme parks.

The next post in this blog is Auntie Kau'i at Disney's Polynesian Resort teaches guests to hula dance and make leis.

Comments (18)

Karen Jacobi:

At the Norway Princess Breakfast, each Princess visits EACH table and poses for pictures. Altho it can be tight in the aisles at times, it has worked very well for the several times we've been there. If I recall, at Chef Mickey's...Minnie, Mickey, Chip & Dale and perhaps even Goofy also came around to each table. Maybe times have changed THIS at Disney as well as so many other endearing memories now just that--memories.

Jen S.:

Thanks for this review!! I am going to the Ohana Breakfast on my trip in August. I hope things go a little more smoothly but it looks like its a nice meal and experience!!

Chris Kelly:

Hi Kristin,

The last time we stayed at the Poly we also did the best friends breakfast. We also had dinner at Ohana. Both meals were excellent, but the breakfast was especially good because of the character interaction. My 10 y/o forgot her Stitch doll, and I ran to the room to get it, but when I returned stitch had already been to the table. My daughter was so worried because stitch didn't get to see the stuffed animal. The handler seeing me return sweating and out of breath made sure stitch came back and signed the doll for my daughter. She was thrilled and it is one of her "Disney moment" memories from her first trip. Having a handler for each character allows them to notice little details like that and provide that little bit of "Disney magic" when possible. I hope they reconsider that decision. Thank you for a great blog and review.

Chris

Amy Crabill McCullough:

We did this breakfast in May 2013 and had much the same experience. Our table was skipped by Mickey and LILO didn't stay long enough to even get a picture with my daughter. Our server tried to make things right and Mickey quickly came, but LILO never returned. Several years ago we did this breakfast and had a much better experience. We also like to do dinner at Ohana but at our last visit for dinner we were rushed and had very poor service. Things at Ohana seem to be slipping in regards to customer service. Hope things improve but not sure if we will return to find out.

Pam:

Hi Kristin! I am very sorry about your first experience at Ohana breakfast. This is our family's favorite breakfast (especially for the POG juice)and never miss it! I am curious to see what lies in store for us this year cause we go on 9/26 right before we renew our wedding vows that day. We set this breakfast up specifically for that day. I hope Disney changes the one cast member policy by the time we go. Thanks for the report.

jessica strohl:

My family loves Ohana's for breakfast this is a must on every Disney Vacation. We have never had any problems with character interaction. But we also do one of the first morning breakfast times. The food is always yummy and plentiful.

jen:

I also had the same experience at the O'hana breakfast back in 2006. Unlike you, though, when I informed management that Stitch never made it to see my daughter, I was told it was busy and we can find Stitch in the park near the Buzz Lightyear ride. So we had an upset daughter till we found Stitch and stood in line to finally get a signature and a photo.

Margie Delp:

Hello, we have done Ohana many times in the last 10 years. Breakfast that is. It has definitely changed, not as great with the service and characters, but I honestly never saw cast members walk with the characters. We skipped doing it the last two years, but decided to give it another try when we go this August...hoping it will be ok...10:05 reservation....My kids love Ohana!!!!

Marlana Phillabaum:

My family and I love visiting 'Ohana for breakfast and dinner. There are not many places that you can see Lilo and Stitch and their food is delicious! We always prefer the sit-down restaurant character experiences if we can. Not only do you not have to wait in line but you also get a little extra time with the characters. It does seem however that the characters are more rushed these days. Our family still loves it though.

Jeremy Belanger:

My absolute favorite meal at WDW is the Best Friends breakfast. I last ate there Jan 2nd this year after having a less than stellar day on Jan 1. My Disney vacations started when we were seated. I got my girls pics taken with all 4 characters without an issue, and an added bonus was when the chef learned my wife and yourngest have garlic allergies, made them a complete skillet of potatoes without garlic and brought it fresh.
I have done the meal 5 times, and each experience has been nothing less than exceptional. I far prefer this to Chef Mickeys (even though the characters at Chef Mickey's are the fab five)

A final note and correction, POG juice is Orange, Guava and Passion Fruit, not Pineapple. I only know this because ever since my fist breakfast there my wife and I mix Disneys POG juice poolside with Malibu Rum. (num num!)

KRISTIN: Thanks, Jeremy, for the POG info. It's been corrected in the review.

Nichole:

I don't recall ever seeing each character at the character dining appearing with their own handler, but we've never been missed by one or needed help so maybe I've just never noticed. The only time I saw any handlers interacting with the characters at all last weekend (we went to 1900 Park Fare, Garden Grill, Donald's Safari breakfast, and Crystal Palace) was to check and see if they needed a break, or to occasionally ask if they'd seen this or that table.

Our servers were very intent on making sure we'd seen all of the characters before we finished.

Howard Eddings:

We ate at 'Ohana for dinner July 3. The food and service was outstanding. My SIL has food allergies that I failed to mention when making the reservation. The chef came to our table and disussed her allergies then sent out specially prepared food that my SIL loved. We love 'Ohana and will be eating there again in October.

Elizabeth:

My husband and I just ate at 'Ohana on July 1st and it was awesome. We were seated earlier than our reservation and by a window that had a view of the Grand Floridian. We enjoyed our breakfast and were visited by all the characters even though we were just 2 adults. We got all the pictures we wanted and it didn't seem like the characters were rushed...they took lots of pictures with a birthday boy who sat near us. This has become a favorite character meal for us since the food is served family style. We enjoy not having to get up and down to fix our plate and the servers are great at getting you more drinks and Mickey waffles whenever ask!

Christine:

So sorry that the character portion of the meal was less than wonderful for you guys. We have done this breakfast on several of our vacations and have always had excellent experiences. One thing I have learned on our trip is that Mom always sets up the character autographs. Even with a handler, we have had characters sign upside down or not on the right side of the book. Now we have it down to a science :)

Bob:

Sorry it didn't go as smooth as y'all would've liked, but at least it worked out in the end.
As "Character Warriors", we've seen every type of situation imaginable, some not imaginable. But we have to do them for our son. They comprise the majority of his favorite WDW memories. Ohana is one of two Character Meals that we've yet to do, but may try to work it in on our next trip.

Carmen Robles:

I went to Ohana on May 2013 never been for breakfast, but dinner was great i had a lovely time and the food was very good, and good service . Definitely I will return and even for breakfast

shirley lesky:

i have been several times for breakfast, always
very friendly servers & food always comes out of the kitchen & never cold, (like some places)

Christopher Tingle:

We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast at Ohana last May. The characters spent a good amount of time at our table and my four-year-old loved every second. My son accidentally bumped his head on the table and when he started crying Pluto came over and scooped him up and made it all better. We really appreciated that. Thanks for all the good info on this site!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 6, 2013 9:32 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Places for Disney fans to celebrate Fourth of July outside the theme parks.

The next post in this blog is Auntie Kau'i at Disney's Polynesian Resort teaches guests to hula dance and make leis.

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