Disney’s Iconic Breakfast Recipe Loved by Elvis

Walt Disney World might be an amusement park, but when it comes to food, it offers far more than just hot dogs and popcorn. And while breakfast might not be top of mind on a busy day with the mouse, there’s a special morning dish you don’t want to miss—Tonga Toast.

What Is Tonga Toast?

Tonga Toast is a deep-fried, banana-stuffed French toast dish available only at Disney’s  Polynesian Village Resort at Disney World. Debuting on the menu in 1971, this fan favorite has been fueling Disney goers for more than 50 years. Peter Daledda, executive chef at Polynesian Village, says that the dish has its roots in the Kingdom of Tonga and its people. “Their diet consists of many food items, but for sure bananas are one of their mainstays,” Daledda says. “They serve boiled sweet dough flavored with syrup and coconut milk, a fried Tonga-style donut called keki isite, and also a deep-fried pancake named panikeke.” Those traditional Tonga sweets, Daledda says, formed the inspiration for Tonga Toast. 

While Tonga Toast isn’t a complicated dish, it does have some pretty specific ingredients, starting with thick-cut sourdough bread. The generous slices are stuffed with a mix of mashed ripe bananas and cinnamon sugar and then the whole thing is dipped in an egg wash and deep-fried until crispy on the outside. Once it’s out of the fryer, the stuffed bread is sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with a side of strawberry compote or maple syrup. On the plate, Tonga Toast looks more like a personal-sized cake than a breakfast dish, but that’s all part of its appeal.

Beyond its decadent taste, the fact that Tonga Toast can be tough to find likely contributes to its popularity. Officially, you can find the dish at two spots at the Polynesian: Kona Café and Captain Cook’s. Kona Café is a sit-down restaurant that requires reservations while Capt. Cook’s is a quick service (a.k.a. counter service) option. The dish is similar at both restaurants, but fans differ on which spot is better. Some prefer Kona Café’s Tonga Toast thanks to the restaurant’s ambiance (and the side of strawberry compote). Others prefer to save a few dollars and dig in at the more casual Capt. Cook’s. And while there’s a Tonga Toast listed on the menu at the Rainforest Café near Animal Kingdom, diehard fans will note that this version isn’t stuffed or deep-fried. 

Allrecipes/Suzanne Clements

The Enduring Popularity of Disney’s Tonga Toast 

Perhaps it’s the combination of crunchy, creamy, sweet, and savory that satisfies all the senses. Or maybe it’s the tropical flavors that put you in vacation mode. Whatever its appeal, fans know you can only get it at Disney World. Daledda thinks the dish’s longevity plays a part in its popularity. He says, “I believe Tonga Toast is so popular because it is part of Disney’s food culture, as it’s been on the menu at the Polynesian since 1971 and is more than likely the longest-standing menu item in all of Disney World.” And according to Disney lore, even the King of Rock and Roll was a fan. Legend has it that Elvis Presley loved Tonga Toast so much that he sent his personal chef to the resort to learn how to make it. Everyone knows Elvis was a peanut butter and banana sandwich fan, so it makes sense that this banana-stuffed version would catch his eye.

Whether you love it for its nostalgia or flavor combinations, Tonga Toast is a must-try when visiting Disney World. But if your travel plans don’t include a trip to Orlando any time soon, you can attempt to recreate the iconic dish at home. In 2020, Disney released an at-home version of the Tonga Toast recipe so fans everywhere could get their fix. While nothing beats the experience of digging into Tonga Toast surrounded by the sights and sounds of Polynesian Village, the DIY version makes a good backup plan. Just ask Elvis.