Even if you’ve paid a visit to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you may not be familiar with Kona Island.
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This pleasant little stop upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House sits directly next to a much larger restaurant: Kona Cafe. So it can be pretty easy to pass by — unless you are in the know of its reputation for being one of the places on property where you can enjoy some sushi, or even a press pot of Kona Coffee, brewed to order.
Kona Island was closed for a while in the late summer to accommodate some of the construction going on at the Polynesian (among those changes, the eagerly-anticipated addition of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto to the resort).
But it reopened by the end of September, and more recently I finally had a chance to stop by and sample something I’d been curious about.
Hawaiian Shaved Ice is now part of the offerings. You can get all one flavor (“Kumau”) for $3.99, or a combo of two flavors (“Haukalima”) for $4.99.
While flavors may vary due to available syrups, I was able to choose from eight on the day of my visit: orange, passion mango, cherry, coconut, blue raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, and pina colada. I could’ve happily tried all eight flavors (and many thanks to the extremely patient Cast Member who waited while I took a crazy long time to decide!). But I ultimately chose a combo of pina colada and cherry.
The swirl of white (you can see it much better on the red cherry side) is the cream that was poured on top of the creation once it was flavored (“a me waiu,” or “with milk”).
I abandoned my search for a spoon once I realized that the straw that comes with the ice is one of those handy straw/spoon combos.
I’ve had Shaved Ice previously at Prince Eric’s Village Market in New Fantasyland. But that was almost exactly the same as the Snow Cone at Dino Diner in consistency, with larger granules of ice throughout the cup.
The Hawaiian Shave Ice at Kona Island is quite a bit different. While the basic gist is the same (ice with flavored syrup), it’s the consistency of the ice that differs. The very fine granules of the Hawaiian Shaved Ice reminded me more of snow than bits of ice. I know that as a Floridian I can’t claim much “snow cred.” But I spent a good chunk of my life in the northern midwest, so I’ve seen (a little more than 😉 ) my fair share.
I guess this bit of “magic” comes from the specific machine it’s made with.
The fine shave held the cherry and pina colada syrups much better than larger chunks, so the flavors were consistent throughout, rather than ending up as a pool of syrup at the bottom of the container. It really helped the flavors “pop”.
I also loved the addition of the sweet cream against the bright flavors of the syrup — especially with the cherry. It just gave the whole snack a little something more.
I like my regular old snow cones just fine — when you’re wandering the parks and it’s a bajillion degrees outside, they do the trick when you’re in need of a cold, icy treat to cool down. But that’s about it. I don’t know if I like the Hawaiian Shaved Ice so much better because of the texture, the sweet cream, the more unique and tropical flavors, or the fun presentation… maybe it’s a combo of all of those things. Whatever it is, this treat is something a little more special that I’ll specifically return for. After all, I’ve got at least six more flavors to try!
Have you tried the Hawaiian Shaved Ice at Kona Island? Please let us know what you thought with a comment!