Resorts Unwrapped: Polynesian Village Resorts

Resort: Polynesian Village Resort

Level: Deluxe

Rooms: 847

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is located on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, directly across from the Magic Kingdom. As one of the original resorts at Walt Disney World, opening on October 1, 1979, The Polynesian is one of the more popular resorts on property. The South Pacific tropics are re-created at the Polynesian Resort, with a Ceremonial House that acts as the lobby and Hawaiian “longhouses” which lodge the accommodations.

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View of the Polynesian Resort from the marina dock.

Theming: 10/10

The Polynesian is about as “on point” as it gets. It has that perfect Disney flair, accompanied by transporting guests to another place. The landscaping is superb and the dark interiors feature exposed-beam roofs. The Ceremonial House feels a lot like an atrium. Open and airy, the lobby features slate floors, dark wood tones, tropical plants and tons of natural light.

Outside is a lot of the same. Walking around the outdoor area, it truly feels like you’re on vacation in Polynesia or Hawaii. The pool complex, open to guests only, further pushes the Polynesian theme, while the white sand beaches and new bungalows further the feeling of being miles away from the mainland. In my opinion, it’s one of the best themed resorts on property. With a view of Magic Kingdom and the other two monorail resorts, the Polynesian gives guests just enough Disney, without compromising its own theme.

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View of the Lava pool from the Marina at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Christmas Decorations & Theming: 4/10

The Polynesian is the least decorated of all the Deluxe Resorts. The resort is a must-stop on the monorail tour, but really lacks any great, or good for that matter, decor. It does have a tall Christmas tree which is decorated to the theme of the resort. The lobby has a few decorated gingerbread houses throughout, but if you’re stopping at the resort during a monorail tour, you’re going for the overall ambiance, the food or the drinks.

Size: 8/10

I know “size” pertains more to the size of the resort, but the real winner here is the room size. At 415 square feet, the rooms at the Polynesian are the some of the largest in all of Disney.

The overall size of the resort is large. Each longhouse has its own advantage, but none are at too large of a disadvantage. For example, the Tahiti is a bit of a walk to the Ceremonial House, but the closest building to the Ticket and Transportation Center. The best is probably the Tokelau, as it’s centrally located to about everything.

The resort could also be confusing. While we’ve never stayed at the resort, we once had to make the walk from the TTC, as we were running late for an ‘Ohana reservation and the monorail was being held. It was incredibly confusing and we were not able to find the Ceremonial House until a CM fortunately pulled up with his cart and drove us there.

Transportation: 8/10

There’s a plethora of transportation options at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Guests can board the bus to Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs. The monorail runs right outside the Ceremonial House, then makes stops at the Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, The Contemporary and the TTC before returning to the Polynesian. Guests may transfer monorails at the TTC toward EPCOT or to save time, take a short walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center and board the EPCOT monorail directly.

Guests wishing to go to Magic Kingdom have the option of hopping on the monorail for two stops, taking the boat across Seven Seas Lagoon, or going on the ferry from the TTC.

Food: 9/10

The Polynesian is probably my favorite resort for food. It’s home to ‘Ohana, one of the most popular restaurants on property. It also houses Kona, an open-air restaurant with views of the lobby. Kona is most popular for its breakfast, but it also serves lunch and dinner, which features scaled-down offerings similar to ‘Ohana.

Its Quick Service Restaurant is Capt. Cook’s. The restaurant has undergone a few menu changes over the past few years, but they’ve all been positive. Once known for its now defunct self-serve Dole Whip station, the Quick Service spot boasts a slightly upscale fast food menu. With offerings like Pan Asian Noodles, Pulled Pork Nachos and Thai Coconut Meatballs, the Quick Service Spot features cultural dishes in a casual setting.

The beloved high value self-serve Dole Whip is gone from Capt. Cook’s and the vanilla float and twist is no longer available at Magic Kingdom, however, you can find the popular treat at Pineapple Lanai. The treat is located right outside the Ceremonial House by the pool.

If the Dole Whip doesn’t get you to visit the resort, the drinks will. The famous Tambu Lounge is located right outside ‘Ohana. It serves up the famous Lapu Lapu, a rum-infused drink served inside a frozen carved-out pineapple. But while the Lapu Lapu has been around seemingly forever, it’s the drinks at Trader Sam’s that get all the attention. The lounge opened back in 2015 to amazing fanfare. The small lounge features an indoor and outdoor area. The indoor area features the famous antics, while the outdoor is more of a chill vibe sans performances. Many of the drinks come with souvenir glasses which are collectable.

Overall:

Whenever I think of Disney, I think of the Polynesian. It’s on our bucket list of resorts we want to stay at and as one of Disney’s original resorts, it exemplifies everything Disney represents. Disney used to do an awesome job at fully immersing you in the experience. It still does it at The  Polynesian. While Walt Disney World has lost some of that “Disney Magic” in the parks and at some of the other resorts, it still maintains it at the Polynesian. You truly feel like you’ve been transported someplace else. While the Grand Floridian is gorgeous decorated and wonderfully themed, it just feels like a very nice, upscale hotel. Whereas the Values and Moderates have fun themes, many of them fail to transport you someplace else, the way the Polynesian does. It’s easy to forget that you’re still at Disney, let a lone Florida while roaming the grounds. It’s not until you catch a glimpse of Magic Kingdom from across Seven Seas Lagoon that you remember where you are.

That’s not to say that other Disney resorts don’t do a fantastic job of immersing guests in the theme. In fact, I’d rate Wilderness Lodge in the same category as The Polynesian and would go as far as saying that Coronado Springs does a great job as well. However, the Polynesian just knocks it out of the park and truly feels like a destination within a destination.

Coupled with the close proximity to the parks, ample transportation and delicious food options, the Polynesian Resort is a must-stay if your budget could afford it. The only downfall is its Christmas decorations and amenities (like a fitness center,) which could easily be supplemented by a short ride on the monorail to the Grand Floridian.

Tips & Tricks:

  • The Polynesian does not have a fitness center, but guests are invited to use the one at Grand Floridian.
  • While Tonga Toast is immensely popular and a huge draw at Kona Cafe, it is also available at Capt. Cook’s. It’s slightly different, as the Capt. Cook’s version doesn’t include the strawberry sauce, but it’s cheaper and counts as a Quick Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
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One of my favorite photos from the trip—hard to tell I’m at Disney, right?

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