A classic Disney dinner show is closing at the Polynesian Village Resort. Find out the top five things I will miss about this show and why its permanent closure is disappointing.
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show Closing
News broke recently that the classic Disney dinner show Spirit of Aloha will be closing permanently. Disney shared that the show’s closure is due to a planned Disney Vacation Club expansion at the resort, in the form of a DVC building featuring villas.
Since Disney World reopened after the Covid-19 pandemic, entertainment acts have been one of the major pieces missing from resorts. It has been great to see some of those acts returning recently throughout Disney World. Entertainers are part of what sets Disney Parks apart from other theme parks, whether it be in a show, street performance, or other experience.
At the Polynesian Village Resort, the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show had not returned since the Covid-19 closure. Often referred to as the “Polynesian Luau,” the show features traditional Polynesian dances, live music, and an all-you-can eat tropical feast. Originally expected to just be a temporary closure, the performance on March 14th, 2020 ended up being the final Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.
Change is always a part of Disney World, but here are the five things I will miss most about the show which makes this closure disappointing.
Setting and Atmosphere
The Spirit of Aloha Dinner show took place in Luau Cove at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The scenic walkways leading to the cove set the stage perfectly. The open-air structure was usually comfortable (except on the hottest of evenings), and its decorations fit the theming of the rest of the Polynesian.
The seating arrangement really offered great views of the center stage no matter where you were located. In my opinion, there was not much difference between the main floor and upper floor seating. This added to the intimacy of the show. Depending on the time of year and which show you choose, you may even catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the theatre or your walk back from the cove.
As one of the two original opening day resorts, the Polynesian has featured a luau since 1971. Originally named the Polynesian Revue, the luau took place on the beach by Seven Seas Lagoon. After a few years, a covered area was built for the dinner show, Luau Cove. I will miss this historical piece to the show and the connection to the original Disney World. A luau is something distinctive, and shows like it are what set Disney apart.
Rumors of another DVC building somewhere on Polynesian property had been around for about a decade. I do understand the need for villas at the resort instead of just studios. I also understand the rationale of Disney to be able to put more guests in a smaller area with the building. That is cost-effective. However, I don’t think it should be at the expense of Luau Cove. You are removing something that is uniquely Disney and replacing it with something that seems like any other nice hotel.
While I seem negative, I will of course wait and see what the finished product looks like. I’m sure it will be top-notch, and details so far are very limited. I have to be careful to no overreact. The announcement from Disney about the project mentioned that Imagineers are inspired by original plans and concept art from the Polynesian.
It is possible that the cove area was the only feasible spot to add villas. I just hope it doesn’t look like a hotel added next to a themed resort like some recent projects.
Maybe the show or some other entertainment will come back in some form? I guess we will see. Either way, I will miss the history involved with the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show! I’m all for making changes, but I’m hesitant on removing distinctive Disney classics.
The show has changed multiple times over the years (the most recent version has a storyline to follow), but the heart of the show has always been the amazing performers.
While the storyline probably needed revision, the main feature was always the traditional Polynesian dances including drummers and hula dancers. The highlight of the show was always the fire-knife performer. There were also some opportunities for interaction with the audience.
The performers were another unique connection that the Polynesian offers. The cast members are the most important part of the Polynesian Resort experience, just like any other place across the Disney World Resort.
The all-you-can eat tropical feast is definitely something that most guests will miss. This meal was on par with what guests expect in a quality Disney meal. In addition, the food was unique and played a role in the show’s atmosphere and setting. The unlimited drinks included beer and wine for those over 21. There were specialty cocktails that could be purchased as well.
The meal did include some traditional favorites if you had children that might not be thrilled with the tropical feast. The dinner show’s menu was comprehensive enough to meet most guest needs. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this was a unique meal that complemented a stay or visit to the Polynesian Resort.
Change of Pace
For most visitors, a Disney World vacation is a nonstop whirlwind event. A dinner show or some other special activity offers a change of pace and can often add a nice break to a trip. It can be a nice change of pace. The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show offered this unique change of pace for your vacation experience.
While not required, many guests chose to dress up a little for the show. This was another unique opportunity that often gave families a different photo opportunity and memories. Again, depending on your situation this might not be feasible with packing or fitting a dinner show in a short trip. If your schedule allows, the dinner show can be a great change of pace and different perspective on your day in Disney.
Spirit Of Aloha Dinner Show
The show might not have been reaching the profit goals for the company. To me, it feels like several decisions made recently have been about the profit margin of a specific experience without regard for how it fits into the whole vacation experience.
Some experiences will not generate huge profits, but do add value to the whole vacation experience due to their uniqueness. The fact that some of the live entertainment has not come back around the parks and resorts makes me wonder if they were truly a product of the Covid pandemic or a leadership strategy. Likely it was some of both.
Maybe it was time for the show to be replaced? I will certainly miss the show, but to be honest I am outnumbered on that in my own household! The rest of my family liked the show and would see it again, but they are ok with it going away.
Overall, I certainly acknowledge the need (and bottom-line budget considerations) for this new DVC building at the Polynesian Village Resort. However, I will miss this uniquely Disney dinner show. The show was an example of what sets Disney apart from other theme parks, from the setting to the food to the entertainment.
Will you miss the Spirit Of Aloha Dinner Show? Do you have any thoughts on the decision to close the show? What are your thoughts on the planned DVC expansion? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!