Say Aloha to Disney’s Polynesian Resort!
What’s your favorite Walt Disney World Resort? When you visit as much as we do, this becomes a pretty standard question from our friends planning their next trip. I don’t have to hesitate to say it’s Disney’s Polynesian Resort for me! It has been a staple at Walt Disney World since 1971, and immediately transports you to the South Pacific Islands. I’d even bottle the smell of the resort if I could!
Representing the South Pacific Islands, Disney’s Polynesian Resort has two main sections which share a common main house, with some of the best dining on property (more of that to come later!) and a great pool. The two sections include:
- Disney’s Polynesian Village – Polynesian Village include resort rooms on the left side of the property in 8 long houses.
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows – Part of the Disney Vacation Club, the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are located on the right side of the resort in Tokelau, Morea, and Pago Pago long houses and the on-water bungalows. This puts them lost to the Ticket and Travel Center monorail to Epcot.
Great Ceremonial House
You are welcomed with a tradition lei when you check into the Great Ceremonial House of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The sights, sounds, and even smells make you feel like you are traveling in the South Pacific. You will find both Quick-Service and Table Service restaurants along with two stores. One of our favorite stops in the Great Ceremonial House is to visit Auntie Kau’i. She makes beautiful paper flowers, and these make a great gift or souvenir of your time at the Polynesian.
You can get the in mood for a stay or carry on the theme with some fun Lilo and Stitch or Moana inspired travel accessories.
Polynesian Village Resort
The rooms in the Polynesian Village Resort come with four different view options and club level options. You can have a Standard/Garden, Theme Park, Lagoon, or Pool/Marina view room. All rooms come with two queen beds and one day bed, with the exception of the Standard view which does have a King she bed option with one day bed.
Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Two bathrooms. That’s all that needs to be said.
The Studio at the Polynesian Villas comes with two bathrooms, one with a full-size tube/shower combo and one with a walk-in shower complete with a rain shower head. This saved us so much time during our trip with our family of four.
The rooms are very spacious and include a queen size bed, sleeper sofa and a murphy bed. We had the pull-out bed extended for the entire trip and still had tons of room to spare for our family of 4.
The kids may fight over who gets to sleep with Lilo and Stitch every night!
The bungalows are one of those “bucket list” stays. Perched over the Lagoon, the bungalows really bring up visions of Bora Bora and easily sleep up to 8 people with 1 King Bed, 1 Queen Bed, 1 Queen-Size Sleeper Sofa and 2 Bunk-Size Pull-Down Beds. Each bungalow has it’s own splash pool built in to the back deck. They also come with a full kitchen and full-size dining room table seating 8.
Renting DVC Points
As part of Disney’s Vacation Club, you can actually stay at the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows section of Disney’s Polynesian Resort by renting DVC points. We took this approach during our last trip and saved about 15% off the list price. This does come with a few drawbacks like less frequent room cleaning but also brings perks like free parking. They do empty trash every day, but you will only get new towels or linens every three days. You can still use the dining plan and book your FastPass+ selection 60 days out. For more about both of these options, check out The Ins and Outs of the Disney Dining Plan and Disney FastPass+ : Skip the Lines!.
If you think renting DVC points might be for you, I highly recommend David’s Vacation Club Rental’s. I have personally used them and had a wonderful, seamless experience. Another great DVC property is Disney’s Boardwalk Villas. You can get some ideas if this might be a great resort for you here : The BoardWalk Villas and Disney Outside the Parks.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort is one of three monorail properties, along with Contemporary and Grand Floridian. So, why is this important? For all other resorts, you have to wait for a bus or boat to transport you to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Parks. The buses run every 15 minutes on average, and could even cover more than 1 Resort. They are also subject to traffic so the times to parks could vary. The Monorail runs on average every 10 minutes. It also only makes 5 stops along it’s path, which is less than some buses make inside of a single resort. Caribbean Beach for example makes 7 stops before you even head to the Park.
Overall, being on the monorail brings you closer to the parks and can save upwards of 15-25 minutes in travel time. Another huge benefit is that you go through the metal detectors before boarding the monorail, which means your line is WAY shorter than it is for everyone else showing up at the parks.
Polynesian has an extra bonus in that it is within walking distance of the Ticket and Travel Center Monorail. This monorail delivers you to Epcot directly (no stops). Guest staying at Contemporary and Grand Floridian have to ride the Magic Kingdom monorail, disembark, and reborn the Epcot monorail. At Polynesian, you can walk right over to the Ticket and Travel Center.
Excluding Wait-Time for the Monorail, your travel times are
- Magic Kingdom Via Monorail – 10 minutes
- Epcot – 15 minutes
You are limited to bus transportation to Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, and the Water Parks. Polynesian only has a single bus stop inside the resort. As a Deluxe Resort, you get the perk of it being smaller than some of the Moderates which can have up to 7 bus stops just inside the Resort itself. You will share a bus with Grand Floridian at times, but it doesn’t add a lot to your travel time since it has a single bus stop as well. Your travel times should be around the following with a 15-20 minute wait for the bus to arrive:
- Animal Kingdom – 20 minutes
- Hollywood Studios – 15 minutes
You have the option of Boat transportation to Magic Kingdom. We love taking the boat back from the parks as the lines are usually shorter than the monorail at closing time! You will share with the Grand Floridian, and we found most trips took about 15 minutes. Knowing your transportation options helps ensure the quickest trip back! If you are leaving Magic Kingdom and see a boat pulling up, hop on!
- Magic Kingdom Via Monorail – 15 minutes
This is one of the BIG reasons we love the Deluxe Resorts. You get amazing Table Service restaurants as well as Quick Service. If you compare to a Value Resort, where you usually only have a single dining hall, the options at Polynesian can almost seem overwhelming!
We stopped at the Pineapple Lanai several times on our trip to snag the signature Dole Whip. This is an excellent use of a Snack Credit if you are on the Disney Dining Plan. I recommend you get a Dole Whip Float with Pineapple juice!!
Captain Cook’s is the favorite for Quick Service. It has several island inspired options, and serves a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other options her include:
- Barefoot Pool Bar
- Oasis Bar and Grill
- On the Green Grill
- Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – The cocktails are the big draw here! With limited seating, it is an exclusive experience to dine and grab cocktail at Trader Sam’s. For more info, check out Gal Disney’s experience at Trader Sam’s!
Polynesian serves up two of my all-time favorite Table Service Restaurants : Kona and ‘Ohana.
Kona Cafe: If you are visiting, you have to try to Tonga Toast at Kona. It’s legendary!
‘Ohana : ‘Ohana is one of the top family meals at Walt Disney World Resorts. It boasts a Best Friend Breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto. For Lunch and Dinner, you get to enjoy one of the best meals at Disney World! It is served family-style and comes with dumplings, stir-fried vegetables, lo-mein noodles, salad, grilled chicken, shrimp, steak, bread and the most amazing dessert. You have to try the bread pudding!
There are a lot of mixed reviews about this dinner show. It feature dances from Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Hawaii with an all-you can eat luau feast. If you are on the Dining Plan, I’d recommend paying out of pocket since it takes 2 Table Service Credits. Find out more ways to hack your Disney Dining Plan for the most value in My Favorite Disney Dining Plan Hacks.
Rarely does Room Service rank on my list of dining options at a Resort. BUT….you can order the ‘Ohana dinner for your room for nearly 1/5 of the price when staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It’s called the Polynesian Feast and a single adult order is enough for two people to share. When we stayed last, we ordered in for our first night since we arrived later in the day. One adult portion and one kids portion cost $60 and fed our entire family of 4 with left-overs. This is the most overlooked perk at Polynesian!
You aren’t supposed to pool-hop at Disney (meaning you are stuck with your resort’s pool), but if I could, you woudl find me at the Lava Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The pool boasts a water slide inside a volcano, waterfall, low-entry pool section, kids’ splash pad area, and a hot tub. Like other Disney Resorts, life jackets are available which means all the kiddos can enjoy the fun of the water slide.
Some of the fun extras available at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort include hula dancing lessons, bon-fires at night on the beach, and enjoying movies on a big screen down by the pool.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort brings so much to the table for your next resort stay. There are four big reasons that you have to make this part of your Walt Disney World trip!
- Location : It’s the only resort with walking access to both Monorails. You can be in Magic Kingdom or Epcot in 15 minutes.
- Dining : Whether you take advantage of the ‘Ohana Room Service dinner or dine in the restaurant itself, the food options at Disney’s Polynesian Resort are amazing. There are multiple Quick Service and Table Service options.
- Pool : The Lava Pool with water slide is fun for the whole family. The toddler’s splash pad is one of the best of the Walt Disney World Resorts.
- Deluxe Villa Studio Room – If you go the DVC rental route, you can enjoy an incredibly spacious room with two bathrooms. I can’t over-emphasis the huge increase in convenience this was for our family of four.