South Pacific tropics are re-created at this Deluxe resort. The Polynesian consists of 11 two- and three-story Hawaiian "longhouses" situated around the four-story Great Ceremonial House. Buildings at the Polynesian feature wood tones, with exposed-beam roofs and tribal-inspired geometric inlays in the cornices. The Great Ceremonial House contains restaurants, shops, and a rain-forest atrium lobby with a rocky waterfall and more than 70 species of tropical plants. Spread across 39 acres along Seven Seas Lagoon, the resort has three white-sand beaches, some with volleyball courts. Its pool complex was completely redesigned in 2001. The Polynesian has no on-site fitness center, but its guests are welcome at the Grand Floridian's facility a short quarter-mile walk or 2-minute monorail ride away. Landscaping is superb, with periodic refurbishment, so gardenview rooms are generally superior to garden- or standard-view rooms at other resorts.
Many of the Polynesian's 847 guest rooms offer lagoon views, and many have balconies. Slightly more than half of the Polynesian's rooms measure 415 square feet, a bit more than average for Disney's Deluxe rooms. Of the rest, about 40% (in Tokelau, Rapa Nui, and Tahiti) measure 476 square feet—among the largest standard rooms on Disney property. Most contain two queen-size beds; each has a daybed, a dresser, a table, and one or two chairs. Batik-design bedspreads and curtains continue the island theme and add visual interest.
Although the Polynesian is one of Disney's oldest resorts, periodic refurbishments keep it well maintained. A two-year rehab completed in 2007 brought in new carpet, paint, and soft goods in all rooms. Also added are in-room high-speed Internet access (additional fee), flat-panel televisions, new furniture and beds, and built-in closets. Plus, Disney seems to be updating the television and closet designs in its Deluxe resorts, and the results are quite good. Each dresser includes two horizontal shelves above and below the TV for extra storage capacity—a big improvement in both form and function over previous designs. Similarly, the new closets are spacious, light, and eminently functional. A nice touch on most of the new furniture and woodwork is the addition of textured surfaces (some of them carved). Lighting throughout the rooms, including the desk/work areas and beds, has been greatly improved and is among the best on Disney property.
Bathrooms are well designed, albeit somewhat small. Shelves above and below sinks allow plenty of storage. Outward-curving shower rods were installed during refurbishment, adding substantial elbow room to the shower without increasing its size. New light fixtures in the bathrooms have brought a tremendous improvement in usability.
Easily accessible by monorail are full-service restaurants at the Grand Floridian and Contemporary resorts, as well as restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian has a monorail station on-site and is within easy walking distance of the Transportation and Ticket Center. Bus service is available to other Disney destinations. Walking time to the bus- and monorail-loading areas from the most remote rooms is 8-11 minutes.
Some readers wouldn't stay anywhere else, as these readers attest. First from a Harrisburg, North Carolina, family of four:
The Polynesian Resort was perfect. Would recommend to anyone! Feel like you're in the tropics, not Central Florida. Disney transportation from there was fast, efficient, and easy to use. Monorail perfect for Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian. Also has direct boat to Magic Kingdom with one stop at Grand Floridian. Buses very convenient.
And a family from Summerville, South Carolina, agrees, writing:
Polynesian was WONDERFUL. We were in the Tahiti building and could walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center to get on the buses to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom without getting on the monorail. From now on, we will ONLY stay at the Polynesian. Well worth the extra $. Even had a fridge in the room and got a microwave for free just for asking. Pools were only okay, as they were so crowded midday that there wasn't one empty chair.>
From a Shreveport, Louisiana, mom with three younger children:
We loved our stay at the Polynesian. We were given a room in Fiji overlooking the marina, and it had a lovely view. The room was very quiet, as was the entire resort, in spite of our visiting in late May.
A family of four from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, writes:
Loved the Polynesian. Room was clean, and â€œmousekeepingâ€ was always done before noon. The pool was fun, and having the monorail in the hotel made getting to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot very easy. The bus service to the other parks did seem rather slow, though—we waited 20-25 minutes for buses on at least three occasions, and while returning from Disney's Hollywood Studios we just gave up and took a cab.
From a Cambria, California, mother of three:
Polynesian was great except for the low, low water pressure of the shower. The room was spacious, with two queens and a daybed, but I really wanted a great hot shower after being at the parks all day, and that didn't happen.
A Holliston, Massachusetts, reader advises:
For people who stay at the Polynesian: take your shower in the evening or at night. Early-morning showers were cold, and the water never fully warmed up. Also, the heated pool doesn't feel heated on cool days.
A family of four from Ashburn, Virginia, found the guest-room soundproofing somewhat lacking:
Quiet factor: Polynesian is borderline-unacceptable. You have to hope your neighbors are not noisy. It's good when the air-conditioning fan is on, but you can't set it to stay on.
Likewise from a Maryland family of four:
Connecting rooms at the Polynesian were noisy. We took towels from the pool and stuffed them under the door to deaden the noise coming from the other room.
Blog Posts About Polynesian:
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Polynesian Resort||75% (-7%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||74% (+3%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (+10%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||95% (N/A)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since 2010)|
|Disney's Polynesian Resort||95% + (3%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||90% (+1%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||94% (+5%)|
|Average for vacation homes & condos||100% (N/A)|
Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Disney's Polynesian Resort
The Polynesian's 11 guest-room buildings, called longhouses, are spread over a long strip of land bordered by the monorail on one side and Seven Seas Lagoon on the other. All the buildings, except for the more recently added Tahiti, Rapa Nui, and Tokelau, were part of the original hotel, which opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971. All buildings feature first-floor patios and third-floor balconies. The older buildings, comprising more than half the resort's rooms, have fake balconies on their second floors. (The newer buildings offer full balconies on both the second and third floors, and patios on the first.) A small number of patios in the first-floor rooms have views blocked by mature vegetation, but these patios provide more room than do the balconies on the third floor. If view is important and you're staying in one of the eight older longhouses, ask for a third-floor room.
Within the Great Ceremonial House are most restaurants and shops, as well as the resort lobby, guest services, and bus and monorail stations. Longhouses most convenient to the Great Ceremonial House (Fiji, Tonga suites, Rarotonga, Niue, and Samoa) offer views of the swimming complex, a small marina, or inner gardens. There are no lagoon views except for oblique views from the upper floors of Fiji and Samoa, Aotearoa, and Tokelau, and a tunnel view from Tonga (suites only). Samoa, however, by virtue of its proximity to the main swimming complex, is a good choice for families who plan to spend time at the pool. If your children are under age 8, request a first-floor room on the Nanea Volcano Pool side of Samoa.
You can specifically request a lagoon- or Magic Kingdom-view room at the Polynesian, if you're willing to pay extra. The best of these rooms are on the second and third floors in Tahiti, the third floor in Tuvalu, and, if you're staying in a concierge room, the first and third floors in Hawaii.
One family's experience in a concierge room proved advantageous:
The view was spectacular. Every night the Electrical Water Pageant was pulled across the lake right in front of our room. My kids loved it. Then, after the parade, we had a perfect view of the fireworks over Cinderella Castle.
There are some quirks in the way Disney categorizes room views at the Polynesian, however, and it's possible to get a view of the castle and fireworks while staying in a garden-view room. Those on the second and third floors in Tokelau (Rooms X901-X913 and X939-X948) have the best chance of getting sideways views of the castle and fireworks, although readers say some taller palm trees may block even these upper rooms. First-floor rooms (1901-1913 and 1939-1948) may also have landscaping blocking some of the Magic Kingdom views, but the patio provides more room to move to find a better spot, too.
In addition to second-floor rooms in the older buildings (the buildings with fake balconies), also avoid the monorail-side rooms in Rarotonga and the parking-lot side of Rapa Nui. Garden-view rooms in Aotearoa are especially nice, but the monorail, though quiet, runs within spitting distance.
If you plan to spend a lot of time at Epcot, Tahiti and Rapa Nui are within easy walking distance of the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and the Epcot monorail. Even if you're going to the Magic Kingdom, it's a shorter walk from Tahiti and Rapa Nui to the TTC and Magic Kingdom monorail than to the monorail station at the Great Ceremonial House. Tuvalu, Fiji, and Aotearoa are the most distant accommodations from the Polynesian's bus stop. For large strollers or wheelchair access, take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom.
|Relaxed and casual ambiance||Overly large and confusing layout|
|Ferry service to Magic Kingdom||Walkways exposed to rain|
|Romantic atmosphere||Noise from nearby motor speedway and ferry|
|Exotic theme that children love||Front-desk inefficiency|
|On Magic Kingdom monorail|
|Epcot monorail within walking distance|
|Transportation and Ticket Center adjoins resort|
|Redecorated rooms, among the nicest at WDW|
|Child care, children's programs, and character meals|
|Beach and marina|
|Excellent swimming complex|
Disney's Polynesian Resort Dining
- 'Ohana (Table Service)
- Barefoot Pool Bar (Bar or Lounge)
- Capt. Cook's (Counter Service)
- Kona Cafe (Table Service)
- Kona Island (Counter Service)
- Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Table Service)
- Tambu Lounge (Bar or Lounge)
|Magic Kingdom||12 minutes|
|Animal Kingdom||16 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||13 minutes|
|Quietness of Room||B|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|