Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is arguably the most beautiful and wonderfully-themed resort on Walt Disney World property. The “Poly,” as it is often called, is conveniently located near the Magic Kingdom®, offers a great atmosphere, has good dining options, and has sizable rooms.
Location and History
The Polynesian is one of the two original resorts that opened at Walt Disney World® Resort in 1971 (the other being Disney’s Contemporary Resort). Its theme of the southern Pacific islands and celebration of tiki culture is found throughout. It has been refurbished several times, the last major face lift occurring in 2015. It is one of three resorts on the Magic Kingdom® monorail line (the others are Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort) and is also next to the Transportation and Ticket Center (the parking lot and hub for transportation to Magic Kingdom® and Epcot®). In 2015, Disney Vacation Club Villas and Bungalows were also added to the property, and the name of the resort was also restored to it’s original name, which includes the word Village.
Size and Layout
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has a sprawling layout that separates its rooms into 11 buildings, or “longhouses” as they are called. There are also 20 bungalows along the Seven Seas Lagoon that are part of the resort. The walk from the furthest room to the Great Ceremonial House (which houses the check-in and concierge desk, most dining options, and the shops) is less than 10 minutes. The longhouses have three floors each. There are two other structures at the resort: the building that houses laundry facilities and Lilo’s Playhouse (an evening child care center) and the structure that houses Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (the Luau Cove).
Rooms sleep up to 5 guests and are in configurations of two queen beds or one king bed, plus a day bed that opens from the sofa. There is a chair with ottoman, a dresser with six drawers, a desk with chair, and large flat-screen TV. Two closets sit on either side of a small counter near the entrance. The theme is not particularly bold, but rather subdued greens, browns, and blacks with white bedding. You will find a mini-refrigerator below the counter, and a hairdryer is available in the bathroom. Third-floor rooms have balconies with a table and two chairs, and the first-floor rooms have a patio with a table and two chairs. Second floor rooms do not have outside access.
There are two pools at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the feature Lava Pool by the Great Ceremonial House, and the quiet Oasis Pool between the Samoa and Tokelau buildings. Both pools have zero entry. The Lava pool features a water slide, waterfall, and afternoon activities for kids. It is very well-done and has high kid appeal. There is also a Kiki Tiki’s Splash Play area for those 48 inches and under. A hot tub looks out onto the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Lava pool. The quiet pool is an oval-shaped pool that has the Oasis Bar & Grill (where you can fill your resort refillable mugs) and three rent-able cabanas. The quiet pool is definitely more relaxing than the Lava pool, which can often get so crowded you don’t have much room to swim. But those with kids will want to visit both.
Like all the deluxe resorts, there are multiple options for dining at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. There is no “signature” restaurant, which might disappoint some guests, though you can easily hop on the monorail to get to the signature restaurants at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. For quick service, there is Capt. Cooks, which serves some unique options (the pulled pork nachos are particularly good!) as well as kid-friendly favorites like burgers and chicken nuggets. They are open 24 hours a day (though the late-night menu is limited). The space in the ordering area is very tight, so visiting during busy meal times might cause some claustrophobia.
For table service, there is Kona Café on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, which features notable items like Tonga Toast and pressed-pot coffee at breakfast and sushi at dinner.
‘Ohana is a table service experience for the whole family. For breakfast, the characters of Stitch, Lilo, Mickey, and Pluto visit the tables and the meal consists of pineapple bread, fresh fruit, a skillet of breakfast favorites (Mickey and Stitch waffles, eggs, ham, biscuits, potatoes, and sausage), and juices and coffee. There are no characters at dinner, but the menu features skewers of beef, chicken, and shrimp, along with pineapple-coconut bread, salad, pork dumplings, chicken wings, noodles, vegetables, and bread pudding. Both meals at ‘Ohana feature activities for kids, including a parade through the restaurant. For those dining around the time of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom®, the tables near the windows provide a nice view (and the music is played throughout the restaurant).
The Disney-favorite “Dole Whip” ice cream is served at the Pineapple Lanai outside, near the main pool. There are two lounge options as well, the headliner being Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which features elaborate drinks in souvenir containers as well as an entertaining experience for those ordering said drinks. Trader Sam’s has extremely limited seating, so arrive early and prepare to wait. Tambu Lounge is next door to ‘Ohana and serves as a good waiting area for ‘Ohana, as well as a relaxing area for a drink.
The Oasis Bar & Grill by the Oasis pool has a food menu in addition to the drink list.
The final dining option at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. This is an all-you-can eat meal with a Hawaiian luau. Reviews for this show are mixed, but having never attended it, I can’t offer judgment.
There are two shops in the Great Ceremonial House. On the ground floor is Bou-Tiki, featuring some unique resort merchandise, clothing, and household items. On the second floor is Moana Mercantile that has a kid’s section (think plush and toys) and a grocery section (catering to those who need a few groceries or other supplies).
Recreation, Activities, and Entertainment
There is so much to do at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, some of it free and some of it with a cost.
- Movies under the stars are played most nights near the Lava pool
- Campfire with marshmallow toasting available on the beach select nights (s’more kits available for purchase or bring your own)
- Hula dancing in the Great Ceremonial House most afternoons
- Torch lighting ceremony each evening
- The Electrical Water Pageant floats by on Seven Seas Lagoon before the Magic Kingdom® fireworks each night.
- You can watch the Magic Kingdom® fireworks show from the beach each night; music is played from speakers near the beach.
- Marked jogging trail through the resort (and to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa)
- Volleyball net on the beach
- Boating and fishing: Go to the marina between the Lava Pool and the Fiji building for boating recreation on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.
- Lilo’s Playhouse is open from 4:30 p.m. to midnight each day for ages 3-12 for a flat fee, which includes dinner and activities. Parents can leave their kids there and enjoy a night out alone.
Like most of the deluxe resorts, there are multiple transportation options:
- Magic Kingdom®: You can take the resort monorail or a boat; both run frequently from at least an hour before park open until an hour after park close.
- Epcot®: Traveling to Epcot® requires you to either walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) – there is a walking path from the resort – which could take up to 10-15 minutes from the furthest building, then take the Epcot® monorail; or, you could take the Magic Kingdom®/Resort monorail to the TTC (which will make 3 stops before the TTC). I’d budget 30-45 minutes from your room to Epcot®.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom®/Disney’s Hollywood Studios®/Disney Springs®: The only transportation is by bus; they are supposed to run every 20 minutes, but in our experience, they can run less frequently. We decided to use one of the ridesharing services to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom® when the display board at the bus depot showed a bus arrival time more than 30 minutes away.
- Water Parks: Hop on the Disney’s Animal Kingdom® (for Disney’s Blizzard Beach) or Disney Springs® (for Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon) bus at Disney’s Polynesian Village, then transfer to the water park bus. I recommend a ridesharing service or taxi if your time is tight, as you could be facing travel time of an hour or more.
- Other Hotels/Resorts: To get to other resorts (other than Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, which are both on the resort monorail loop), I recommend using a ridesharing service or taxi. Otherwise, you must take a bus or monorail to a theme park or Disney Springs®, then transfer to another bus to the resort. You can also take a boat to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground via the Magic Kingdom®.
One other note about the bus service: often, you will share a bus with Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, thereby increasing travel times from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (since you will often stop at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa if your bus is not full).
You can have a wonderful time at any of the Disney resorts, but Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is something special. It is one of the most expensive on Walt Disney World® property, but it is tough to beat its location, dining, and vibe, and appeal to both kids and adults. Aloha!
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