Polynesian Resort Great Room

Episode 29 – Polynesian Resort 101: Tips & Impressions

Disney’s Polynesian Resort stands as one of the first two on site hotels ever built at Walt Disney World. With its great location on the monorail, a tropical theme that makes you feel like you’re in paradise, and plenty of unique dining options, the Polynesian Resort often is viewed as one of the gold standards of Disney hotels. But having been around so long, has this resort started showing its age? Does it justify its high price point? We give our impressions of the Polynesian in 2018 and share our pros and cons for staying there.

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Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - Review and tips for staying at the Polynesian, a deluxe resort on the Disney World monorail loop. Tips for dining at 'Ohana, Trader Sam's, Kona Cafe, and more. Plus a look at the rooms, pool, and other activities on-site. #DisneyWorld #Polynesian #Disney #DisneyHotel

Polynesian Resort Basics

The Polynesian Resort is one of the original two on site hotels at Walt Disney World. This deluxe resort opened in 1971 and has been a favorite of Disney World guests for decades. The resort sits on Seven Seas Lagoon and on the monorail loop.

Related: Deluxe, Moderate or Value – An Overview of Disney World Hotel Types

The resort has many different buildings and room types, from standard rooms to deluxe overwater bungalows – the most expensive rooms on property! The resort also has DVC rooms and studios.

Polynesian Resort Great Room
The Polynesian Resort is one of the most relaxing hotels on Disney property

What makes the Polynesian Resort Special

The Polynesian Resort has some of the best theming among all the Disney on site hotels. Like Animal Kingdom lodge, the Polynesian can serve as a destination in and of itself. (In fact, it did for us!) The Polynesian channels a tropical theme reminiscent of the name. Each of the buildings is named after a different tropical island.

The theme extends to the amenities around the resort. The Great Lodge functions as a lobby, a place to relax, a venue for free performances from various island dance groups, and hosts some of the best restaurants on property. There is a lovely beachfront where you can roast marshmallows for free and the great lawn offers free movies most nights. The Polynesian also has one of our favorite pools on Disney property.

The tropical island feel serves to make the Polynesian feel like a true resort. Disney World can be a hectic place, but everything about the Polynesian feels designed to help you relax. It will give you a small taste of Hawaii without the long flight, as Disney obviously has learned a lot from its success at Aulani. (Do note, however, that Florida’s humidity remains ridiculously oppressive compared to Hawaii!)

Polynesian resort beach fireworks
It’s great to watch the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian

Polynesian Resort Location & Transportation

The Polynesian Resort occupies one of the best locations on Walt Disney World property. It’s both on the monorail loop and within walking distance to the Transportation and Ticketing Center. The Magic Kingdom sits a monorail or ferry ride away. To get to Epcot, you can walk to the TTC or take the monorail there. Either way, getting to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot is straightforward and quick.

Unfortunately, the Polynesian suffers from some of the same ills other Deluxe resorts suffer from when it comes to bus transportation. Buses sometimes are shared with the Grand Floridian and we often had to wait twenty minutes for a bus. Compared to the shorter waits for value resorts, the deluxe resort bus experience just doesn’t stack up in our opinion. That means if you plan on going to the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, you need to build in extra time. The bus wait times on the app help on the outbound but we still had to wait a long time to get back from Hollywood Studios.

Polynesian Resort Monorail early morning
Watching the sunrise from the first monorail of the day

Still, overall we love the location of the Polynesian. Of special note is the fact that you can watch Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach. Disney pumps in the music and you can have a great experience watching the night show without even having a park ticket!

Polynesian Resort Rooms

For a top notch hotel like the Polynesian, the rooms disappoint to some extent. Although refurbished a few years ago, we noticed faded carpet. The rooms just don’t feel and look like a 5 star hotel. But you pay 5 star hotel prices to stay at the Poly.

Polynesian Resort room
The rooms can use a bit of an update

On the positive side, the rooms are spacious. Many rooms have two queen beds and a sofa bed, so they sleep a family of five comfortably. The bathrooms are also spacious and have a separate door which can be useful for families with young kids. The DVC studios also provide a nice option.

Of course, we can’t mention the Polynesian without discussing their overwater bungalows – which go for $2000+ a night. While they look nice and offer a nice view of the Magic Kingdom, personally we’d save our money and fly to actual French Polynesia to stay in overwater suites.

Polynesian Resort Restaurants

The restaurants at the Polynesian Resort are definitely a highlight. Captain Cook’s, the quick service restaurant, has tasty Polynesian inspired food, including the well liked pulled pork nachos. (One of us may or may not have eaten a whole order by themselves). Captain Cook’s also offers healthier options which can be useful if you’re trying to get some vegetables.

Kona Cafe is a slightly overpriced table service restaurant that serves great food. We love the sushi there, though everything on the menu is pretty good.

Polynesian Ohana Breakfast Character
Meet laid back Mickey at Ohana

Ohana, the Poly’s “all you care to eat” restaurant, is one of the most popular restaurants on Disney property. Unlike other popular restaurants, it’s reputation is mostly deserved. For brunch, Ohana serves a standard skillet breakfast but features great character meets. Dinner is where Ohana really shines – it’s island inspired cuisine is sure to be a hit with most families.

The Polynesian also offers a luau, the Spirit of Aloha. Frankly, the quality has dropped of late, but if you’re not going to Hawaii anytime soon you still might want to check it out.

Finally, the Polynesian features our absolute favorite bar at Disney: Trader Sam’s. It’s an experience you have to see to believe, but essentially, every drink you order gets delivered in a unique, fun, and hilarious way. Seats are tough to find, but well worth the wait! And hey, the drinks and food are pretty good, too.


Tips and tricks for a stay at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Reviews of the location, rooms, pools, amenities, and dining - including 'Ohana, Trader Sam's and many other favorites. #DisneyWorld #Polynesian #Disney #DisneyHotel #DisneySMMC #DisneyDeciphered

Episode Description

Leslie and Joe give their impressions of the Polynesian Resort. They’re on record saying it’s one of their favorite resorts, but does it live up to its big price tag? What are the resorts strengths and weaknesses, what special features does it offer, and how useful is it to be on the monorail loop? As we do with all hotels, we end with why you should and why you should not stay at the Poly, plus a Polynesian centered Disney dos and don’ts!

If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunesStitcherSpotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!

You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.

Episode Notes

1:37 – Leslie’s background with the Polynesian

3:08 – Polynesian Resort location and transportation

5:28 – Theming and what makes the Polynesian unique

8:07 – Polynesian rooms

11:41 – Polynesian Resort restaurants

17:56 – Polynesian amenities

19:53 – Why you should and why you should not stay at the Polynesian

21:00 – Disney dos and don’ts


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4 thoughts on “Episode 29 – Polynesian Resort 101: Tips & Impressions”

  1. Just a note about the bus system. I’ve stayed at all levels of Disney resorts & don’t really see that the Deluxe buses have a longer wait time than the values and moderates.

    When waiting for a bus at Epcot for Coronado Springs, we waited well over a half an hour. We spent the time counting all the buses that came from Animal Kingdom Lodge. Six to our one. Port Orleans French Quarter & Riverside share a bus except during opening & closing hours. I watched a lady almost in tears because she got to the Riverside bus stop an hour and a half before her dinner reservation at Animal Kingdom and had to call because she was going to be late.

    All three of the value All Star resorts share a bus except at opening and closing times. But even with a dedicated bus, they’re often so crowded you have to wait for the next one or the one after that.

    So don’t be too quick to put a check mark in the ‘Con’ box for transportation at the Polynesian. And the park visited the most is the Magic Kingdom. You’re just a monorail ride away. You’re a 20-25 minute bus trip from the values and some of the moderates. That can more than make up for bus issues, especially since you don’t need the bus for Epcot, either. And the Deluxe resorts have the closest bus stops to all of the parks, which is super nice when your legs are worn out from all the walking!

    1. Great data points! We probably should caveat more but obviously we can only speak from our personal experience. I do agree AKL busses were good when I stayed there. We both love the poly but had to find something negative to say 🙂

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