I love to update my resort reviews after each visit, and we last stayed at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in January. At the resort entrance you are immediately transported to Polynesia with the lush plantings, tiki torches and waterfalls. The Polynesian is a great choice for deluxe travelers looking for a relaxing and convenient escape from the theme parks, with all of the magic, service and storytelling Disney is known for.
If you remember the old Polynesian resort, I’m sure you’ll recall the huge waterfall that used to be in the center of the Grand Ceremonial House. That is gone now, but I have to say, I do love what they did with the space. It’s open and airy and, quite honestly, felt very familiar to Aulani. I love that this lobby is always a hub of activity and you will find families and friends gathered in the many seating areas no matter the time of day.
The property itself is lush and gorgeous. Every detail is immaculate and you can’t help but treasure even the time spent walking on the many winding paths lit with tiki torches when you’re dog tired at night. The views of Magic Kingdom and the 7 Seas Lagoon are pretty spectacular as well.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Polynesian has both regular hotel rooms and villa studios, as well as the most charming over-water two bedroom bungalows! The regular hotel rooms are some of the most spacious on property, with the Polynesian being one of the original resorts at Walt Disney World on opening day in 1971. Most rooms offer lovely views of the gorgeous property.
The bathrooms are also huge, with double sinks, a toilet and a shower/tub combo in most.
Regular hotel rooms also offer concierge level accommodations. The club level at Polynesian is one (if not the) most highly regarded concierge lounges on property!
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
A couple of the longhouses were converted to Disney Vacation Club studios a few years ago, but can be booked by any guests!
The studio rooms are very spacious compared to any normal hotel room. They have a queen bed, a sleeper sofa, and a twin sized pull down. We love this configuration because our boys don’t have to share a bed (which leads to many problems) and there is so much more floor space in the room when the sleeper sofa is tucked away.
The unit has a split bathroom which was fabulous. “My” bathroom had a luxurious shower and sink, while the “boys” bathroom had a shower/tub combo, sink and potty.
I usually request a ground floor when we are traveling for more than a long weekend because my kids need space to get out and run (while Honey and I need time to just chill and zone out.) You usually do sacrifice a good view (ie. Magic Kingdom in this case) but it’s worth it for us.
Dining at the Polynesian Resort
The Polynesian is one of my favorites for is varied and delicious dining on property.
As far as dining, Captain Cooks is easily in my top 3 quick serve restaurants across the entire Walt Disney World resort. My favorites are the veggie noodle bowl and Thai coconut meatballs. I also love the Tonga Toast at breakfast.
Tambu Lounge is upstairs in the Grand Ceremonial House and has yummy tropical drinks. My fave is the Lapu Lapu served in a pineapple. It is as tasty as it looks!
Trader Sam’s is the infamous Tiki bar that made it’s way to the East coast a few years back. It’s a FUN experience that is not to be missed, especially if you sit at the large table in the middle and order a specialty drink. They open at 4PM each day and start a wait list for tables around 3:30 pm. Kids are allowed in (and there will be a few) from 4-8PM. We went right at 4 one afternoon and had a great time. There is also a terrace off of the back of Trader Sam’s with live music and a wonderful waterfall in the evenings.
O’hana is the family style table service restaurant in the Grand Ceremonial House. We love the food here and have always had a great time at this meal. Our table was right next to the window and was PERFECT!! We just lucked out with it, but I wouldn’t hesitate to ask at check-in for one. We had a spectacular view of the Electric Water Pageant AND during Hallo-Wishes they dimmed the lights and piped in the music.
Stitch’s Best Friends Breakfast at O’hana
We have also done Stitch’s Best Friends Breakfast at O’hana. I’ll be honest in saying that the food was meh for what you pay. Eggs, Mickey + Stitch waffles, biscuits, fruit (mostly melons), bacon and sausage. However, this is the only place to meet Lilo if you are after her.
For a much better (and cheaper) breakfast, do Kona Cafe!! I still remembered the Tonga Toast from when I was little and it is still SO yummy!! We shared a french press pot of Kona Coffee and had a delightful breakfast here.
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
The Spirit of Aloha Show is another family style dinner and luau type show at Polynesian. We all really like the show but don’t love the food. If you DO go, make your reservations 180 days out and pay for the tier 1 seating.
O’hana Twilight Feast
One of the tips I always give my clients is to consider ordering the Twilight Feast from O’hana delivered to your room! It is such a treat and one of our very favorite things about the Polynesian. It serves a ton – this photo was an order for two – so definitely take one or two off of your order depending on how old your family is and how much they eat.
Recreation at the Polynesian Resort
The marina offers boat and small craft rentals, like I’ve previously shared at other resorts. One thing we love about the resorts on the Seven Seas Lagoon is that getting into Magic Kingdom is SO easy. When staying here, it is definitely worth considering a park hopper if just for this reason alone.
Every time we have stayed here (even as kids!), we have enjoyed watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach and pool areas.
And, if you are traveling during July 4th, Halloween or Christmas, the 180 degree fireworks finales from those special presentations can’t be appreciated from inside the park like it can from this viewpoint.
Another favorite childhood memory is the Electric Water Pageant. It still runs today and there is a wonderful view from the Polynesian!
I still remember the Volcano Pool from when I was a kid and my kids thought it was just as fabulous as I did! The water slide is always a huge hit with the kids, and the zero entry is so nice for families with younger kids. No matter how old you are, there is nothing like taking a swim with Cinderella Castle in the background!
This pool has a new splash area, zero entry at one end, waterfall, infinity hot tub overlooking Magic Kingdom, and waterslide. It’s really close to Captain Cooks for food and has it’s own pool bar in the back.
Two of my favorite cocktails in Disney are at the Polynesian pool bar! First is the Pina Co-lava (although it had a new name) and second is the Rose Gold Margarita. When that color trend passes, I sure hope they just rename the cocktail.
The new Oasis Pool is considered the “quiet pool” and was just outside of our room in Tokelau. It also had a zero entry and sizeable hot tob. We love the food at the quick serve restaurant… especially the malasadas that reminded us of Aulani!
The pool was nice during the day but quite enchanting in the evening.
Like other Disney resorts, we also love to leave time in our schedule for the Movies Under the Stars. They pass out bags of popcorn and it is a lovely, low-key evening. Times and movie schedules will be on the resort activity schedule at check-in.
Transportation at the Polynesian Resort
One HUGE benefit of Poly is the incredible access to transportation. The monorail from the Grand Ceremonial House takes you to Magic Kingdom, as does a boat from the marina. You can walk right over to ticketing and transportation and catch the direct Epcot monorail and a bus to pretty much anywhere on property. If you are planning to spend most or all of your days in Magic Kingdom the monorail is a huge asset.
All in all, we absolutely LOVE Polynesian and we keep coming back time and again.
As an independent consultant with Glass Slipper Concierge, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and other delightful destinations.
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