Disney Polynesian Deluxe Resort Hotel Review and Information

by josh on April 11, 2010

Wondering how the Polynesian Resort stacks up against the other Disney World Deluxe Resorts? Check out The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts for a comparison of the eight Deluxes in a variety of categories including Best Layout, Best Dining, Best Transportation, Best Location, Best Rooms, Best Pool, and Best Overall Deluxe Resort.

Address:

1600 Seven Seas Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000

Direct Phone: 1- 407-824-2000, Fax:  1-407 407-824-3174, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)

Resort Class: The Polynesian is a Deluxe, Disney’s most expensive resort type.  Rooms start at $365 per night during Value Season and go all the way up to $3,005 per night for the King Kamehameha Suite during Holiday Season.  The Polynesian has 11 different room categories including Concierge level, several suite sizes, and two view upgrades.

Location: Along with the Contemporary, the Polynesian opened in 1971 as one of the original Disney World resorts.  It is one of the three resorts on the monorail line and the only resort in walking distance of the Transit Center with the Express Epcot Monorail station.  The Resort Monorail conveniently connects the Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Magic Kingdom, and Ticket and Transportation Center.  Located in the back of the resort is a dock that offers a free boat ride to the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom.

Size:  The Polynesian is one of the larger Disney Deluxe resorts with 857 rooms and suites.  Each guestroom is located in one of the 11 two or three story buildings called “longhouses.”  The longhouses are scattered throughout the property and each one is completely detached from all other buildings.  Despite its size, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to walk between any two points at the resort.

Room Amenities and Quality: Most of the Standard rooms are about 410 square feet, which is about 100 square feet larger than Moderate rooms and 150 square feet larger than Values.  Standard rooms can accommodate up to five people.  Rooms come with all of the Deluxe amenities including: Two queen-size beds, day bed, small table, two chairs, ceiling fan, high-speed internet access ($10 per 24 hours), LCD television, small safe, telephone, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, alarm clock, coffeemaker, refrigerator, and bathroom with single (or double) sink, shower/bathtub combo, toilet, and mirror.  There are also microwaves available upon request.  Rooms in the Tahiti and Rapa Nui longhouses have two sinks instead of one.  All rooms on the first floor have patios and all rooms on the third floor have balconies.  Rooms on the second floor of Tonga, Tokelau, Tahiti, and Rapa Nui also have balconies.  Rooms on the second floor of the other longhouses do not have balconies.

This is the oldest resort on property.  Although the rooms and buildings are kept in top shape, they remain nearly 40 years old.  The biggest complaint about the rooms is their lack of lighting.  While the dark atmosphere lends itself to the resort’s theme, it isn’t convenient for those wanting to read a book or apply makeup.  I would recommend bringing a lighted makeup mirror.  Other than that minor detraction, the rooms are themed well with gorgeous headboards, marble countertops, and Polynesian themed bedding and artwork.

There are three different view types.  The first and least expensive is the Garden View, which offers a view of the parking lot, garden, monorail, pool, or marina.  Lagoon View rooms have a view of Seven Seas Lagoon, the large man-made body of water the Polynesian shares with the Grand Floridian.  The third and most expensive is the Magic Kingdom View with a view of the Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom out further in the distance.  During Value Season, Garden Views cost $365, Lagoon Views cost $470, and Magic Kingdom Views cost $510 per night.  On a weekend night during Peak season, Garden View rooms cost $520, Lagoon Views cost $650, and Magic Kingdom View rooms cost $705.  I don’t usually recommend view upgrades because the additional cost is so great and the same view is available for free to those who walk down to the Polynesian’s beaches.  A Magic Kingdom View room during Peak Season would cost $925 more than a Garden View room over a five night vacation.  I can’t justify the additional cost, but if watching the fireworks from the comfort of your balcony is worth the cost then by all means, upgrade.  Just be aware that you can sit in a lounge chair on the beach and watch the same fireworks for free.

Theme and Layout: Disney describes the Polynesian as a “relaxing tropical paradise, featuring lush vegetation, thatched roofs, koi ponds and white-sand lakebeaches.”  The Polynesian is one of the most beautifully themed resorts at Disney World.  The “Great Ceremonial House,” which houses the resort’s restaurants, check-in area, and shops, also features more than 75 indigenous species, a two-story waterfall, and plentiful vegetation.  The beaches are gorgeous and the lake is pristine.  The Polynesian is generally considered to be the most “kid-friendly” of the monorail resorts.  The theme appeals to children and the service is especially friendly.

The downside of the Polynesian’s layout is that it can be confusing to walk around.  The walkways are like a maze winding their way around the resort and the longhouses all similar.  While you shouldn’t get lost forever, you may have to pay extra attention to what path and landmarks take you back to your room.  Luckily, there should be plenty of staff around to help you find your way.

Pool: The Polynesian has two pools.  The main pool features a 40 foot tall volcano, waterfall, and 142 foot long waterslide.  It is probably the second or third best themed pool on property.  Unfortunately, the Polynesian’s convenient location near the Magic Kingdom brings in “pool hoppers,” which are guests from other resorts that use the Polynesian pools.  Even though this is against the rules, many people do it anyway and the staff doesn’t always actively remove them.  Since the Polynesian’s feature pool isn’t large to begin with, this can make for some crowded swimming areas.  Luckily, the resort’s quiet pool is usually underappreciated and should be less busy.

Transportation: The Polynesian’s location and access to the resort and express monorail are its biggest assets.  Travel to the Magic Kingdom is available by monorail or boat.  Both are efficient and much more fun than a bus ride.  For travel to Epcot, I would recommend walking over to the Ticket and Transportation Center, which is a 5-15 minute walk away depending on your location.  The Transportation Center has an Express Monorail that will take you directly to Epcot without any stops.  Otherwise, you will have to ride the resort monorail and get off at the Transportation Center and then switch monorails to get on the Express Monorail.  If you see a monorail train go by and it doesn’t stop then it isn’t because it’s full; it means that it’s an Express Monorail train.  Transportation to Disney’s other Parks is via bus, usually shared with the Contemporary and/or Grand Floridian.

The times below are calculated after the bus, monorail, or boat leaves the resort.

Hollywood Studios: about 15 minutes
Epcot via Epcot Monorail from Ticket/Transportation Center: about 15 minutes
Epcot via Resort Monorail and Transfer to Epcot Monorail: about 35 minutes, depending on how long it takes the Epcot monorail to arrive.
Animal Kingdom via Bus: about 20 minutes
Magic Kingdom via Monorail: about 10 minutes
Magic Kingdom via Boat: about 10 minutes

Best Rooms: The resort is small enough that most rooms are within five or so minutes of the main building and either the feature or quiet pool.  The “best” room depends on what you want a view of, whether you want a balcony or a patio, and what you want to be close to.  My favorite rooms are located in the Tokelau longhouse because all rooms on the second and third floors have balconies and the building is centrally located to just about everything, including the Transit Center and Great Ceremonial House.  The rooms have also been recently refurbished.  Since most of the other longhouses do not have balconies on the second floor, Tokelau guarantees some extra space outside as well as the best location at the Polynesian.  Aotearoa, Fiji, and Tuvalu are closest to the main building, but are the furthest away from the Transportation Center.  Samoa, Niue, and Rarotonga are near the main building and about five minutes away from the Transportation Center.  Tahiti and Rapa Nui are closest to the Transportation Center, but farthest from the main building.  Also, remember that the Tahiti and Rapa Nui rooms have two sinks instead of one and balconies on all second floor rooms.  Tonga contains all of the suites and is located right next to the main building, but is a good ten minute walk to the Transit Center.  The concierge rooms, found in the Hawaii building, are also centrally located and about five minutes to either the Transit Center or main building.  In closing, I would request a room on the third floor of Tokelau and if that is not available then I would request a room in either Tahiti or Rapa Nui because of the extra sink and balcony availability.

On-Site Dining Options: The Polynesian has several fantastic dining options, including the Kona Café, ‘Ohana, and the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Luau Cove.  Captain Cook’s, the resort’s counter service, is the only detraction.  Cook’s is small, lines are long, and the food is nothing special.  On the positive side, you can order Tonga Toast from Captain Cook’s at breakfast and it’s cheaper than the Kona Café.  For those unfamiliar, Tonga Toast is a thick French toast stuffed with bananas and topped with cinnamon and sugar.  It’s delicious and a favorite among many Disney vacationers.  Cook’s is also convenient for those wishing to refill their refillable resort mugs.  Considering two Deluxe resorts don’t even have counter services (Yacht Club and BoardWalk Inn), we should be happy that at least something is available.

The Kona Café is one of the most consistent sit-down restaurants on property, both in terms of service and food quality.  It’s a casual restaurant that doesn’t offer much privacy because it’s located along the main building’s concourse.  In addition, the restaurant is “open air,” meaning there are no walls to keep guests that are passing by from overseeing the entire restaurant.  While the atmosphere isn’t particularly intimate, Kona is the perfect spot if you’re not in the mood to travel to the Parks, but want a nicer meal than you would find at a counter service.  Kona serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is moderately priced with lunch entrées in the $12-$15 range and dinner entrées in the $17-$28 range.

‘Ohana serves a family style all-you-care-to-eat buffet for breakfast and dinner.  Breakfast is a character meal featuring Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto with traditional breakfast items.  For dinner, ‘Ohana features a variety of appetizers and entrées, including salad, pork potstickers, chicken wings, grilled turkey, BBQ pork loin, marinated steak, peel and eat shrimp, and bread pudding for dessert.  No characters are present during dinner.  The food is cooked at a grilling station in front of the seating area and servers bring the meats to the table on long skewers.  In addition, there are a number of activities for children that should keep them occupied during the meal.  ‘Ohana has an excellent location with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom.  I would recommend requesting a window table at check-in.  The cost for adults during breakfast is $18.99 and dinner costs $30.99.  While expensive, it isn’t a bad value considering the quality and variety of the food, excellent view, and fun for the kids.

The Spirit of Aloha Polynesian is an all-you-care-to-eat dinner and luau show that is offered at 5:15pm and 8:00pm Tuesday through Saturday.  The Luau is a Signature Dining Experience, so it costs two table service credits per person or a fixed cost between $51-$60 for adults and $26-$31 per child age 3-9 depending on how close you want to be to the stage.  Theoretically, the dinner includes all-you-can-drink Budweiser, Bud Light, and wine, but they have a tendency to “run out” before the show is over, so I wouldn’t go just for the binge drinking (or drink heavily early in the show).  The menu is similar to what you would find at ‘Ohana and includes BBQ ribs, roasted chicken, salad, and delicious pineapple-coconut bread among other entrées and appetizers.  The show follows a story line that is a bit lame, but the food is great and the fire-dancing is fun, especially if you’ve never experienced anything similar.  The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at the Fort Wilderness Cabins is probably the better dinner show, but the Spirit of Aloha is a fun experience to do once, especially if you have some extra Dining Plan credits.

Full reviews coming soon.

Best For: Those who plan to spend considerable time at the Magic Kingdom or at the resort relaxing.  People who will be eating several of their meals at the Polynesian or the other restaurants on the monorail.

Worst For: Those on a budget.  People who spend all of their time at the Parks and don’t plan to spend much time relaxing or eating at the resort.

Summary of Key Points: For many, the Polynesian is the quintessential Disney World resort.  Its beauty, location, dining, and recreation options make it one of the best resorts on property.  The Great Ceremonial House, with its 75 varieties of indigenous plants, is impressive and the rest of the resort is themed just as extravagantly.  In addition, the Polynesian sits right on top of Seven Seas Lagoon, one of the largest and most pristine bodies of water at Disney.  The Polynesian’s location on the monorail is ideal for anyone planning to visit the Magic Kingdom or Epcot often and the most convenient way to move between the Monorail Resorts.  The resort’s feature pool, complete with 40 foot tall volcano, is a fun place to swim and the quiet pool usually has plenty of extra room to swim around.  The resort’s beaches are beautiful and I would recommend grabbing a lounge chair and watching the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from across the lake.

The biggest downside to the Polynesian is its price.  Without a discount, the minimum nightly cost is around $400 a night after taxes.  That’s about 2.5 times more expensive than the Moderate resorts or 4.5 times more expensive than a room at the Values.  That’s simply out of most people’s budgets.  The Polynesian is also the oldest resort at Disney World and even though it’s kept in top form, there’s little that can be done about improving soundproofing in rooms or adding additional pool space.  While the rooms are nicely appointed and relatively large, the furnishings simply aren’t as luxurious as you would find at a $400+ per night hotel outside of Disney World.  When you’re staying at the Polynesian, you’re paying for its fantastic location with monorail and boat service, extra-friendly staff, and excellent recreation options rather than what you’ll find in your guest room.

Overall, the Polynesian is a fantastic resort, especially for families.  Most kids love the theme and it’s one of the most low-key, casual Deluxe resorts available.  Overall, I would recommend the Polynesian to anyone who plans to spend most of their time at the Magic Kingdom or enjoying what the Polynesian has to offer in the way of dining and relaxing.

Overall Rank on The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts: 2nd out of 8

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John Pollack March 29, 2012 at 6:30 am

This information is very helpful. My wife and I are planning a family vacation after Thanksgiving
2012 to Disney World with our 2 sons, their spouses and 3 grandchildren, 7-years-old (2) and a 3-year-old. Twice, when our sons were young, we stayed at the Polynesian and loved it. Four years ago, after Thanksgiving, we all stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, which is lovely too. Yours is a great Disney World resource, and we plan to stay at the Polynesian for the benefits you have mentioned.

John Pollack March 29, 2012 at 6:37 am

This information is very helpful. My wife and I are planning a family vacation after Thanksgiving
2012 to Disney World with our 2 sons, their spouses and 3 grandchildren, 7-years-old (2) and a 3-year-old. Twice, when our sons were young, we stayed at the Polynesian and loved it. Four years ago, after Thanksgiving, we all stayed at the Wilderness Lodge Villas, which is lovely too. Yours is a great Disney World resource, and we plan to stay at the Polynesian for the benefits you have mentioned.

mike June 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I loved My stay here it was my most enjoying Disney world stay. Loved Kona and the large rooms next to the gch!!

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