A Disney Morning Tip – Walk to the Polynesian

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If you read this site regularly, you’ll know we’re all about the best ways to get in and out of the parks while accomplishing as much as possible.  However, in all my time writing for the site, I’ve never seen my absolute favorite trick mentioned on the site.  It is with great reluctance that I will share it with you, because I love it so much that I am scared to see others using this trick.

All of the Touring Plans for the Magic Kingdom call for you to be at the park between 45 minutes to an hour before the park opens.  If you’re like me and you enjoy a good breakfast while on vacation, that’s a difficult thing to do.  After all, getting up and getting out the door is hard enough, but getting up early and grabbing breakfast is not easy.  However, when it comes to the Magic Kingdom, I have found the perfect solution.

Arrive in the Magic Kingdom parking lot about an hour and a half before the park is set to open.  When you do that, it’s usually wide open in the parking lot.  You can easily park in the first two or three rows of the parking lot, a short walk from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) ticket booths.  With that quick walk, you’ll find yourself at the gateway to the Magic Kingdom in short order.  From there, facing the ticket booths, take a sharp left.

A little hidden gem of Walt Disney World is the fact that there is a nicely manicured path between the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Polynesian Resort.  If you follow all the way to the left, you’ll find it.  From there, it’s a nice, relaxing five minute walk over to the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian.  This is really one of the most enjoyable walks in all of Walt Disney World.  You get to see the grounds of the Poly when few people are actually awake.

If you follow the path through the grounds, past the former Tangaroa Terrace and past the smaller of the two pools, you’ll pass through to the Great Ceremonial House and enter on the ground floor.  If you’re interested in some eggs and bacon or even Tonga Toast then head straight ahead to Captain Cook’s.  If it’s just some great Kona blend coffee and a pastry, then take the stairs up to the Kona Island coffee stand.  Depending on the crowds, you could even try to snag a table at Kona Café and have a full breakfast.

Regardless, if you make it in time, you’ll be able to eat, then hop onto the Monorail on the second floor of the Polynesian.  After a brief stop at the Grand Floridian, you’ll be right there at the Magic Kingdom, with a full stomach and the energy to tackle the day.  There are several advantages to this tactic.  First, you’ve parked right up front near the TTC, so there’s no need to take the tram when you want to leave.  If you stay on property, you could take a midday break by taking the buses from the Magic Kingdom entrance back to your resort, then leave your car parked up front.  That way, you can get out easier at the end of the night.

Second, by walking to the Polynesian, you can get on the Monorail a little quicker than at the TTC, and get to the Magic Kingdom in a shorter time.  And of course, you’ll be able to eat whatever kind of breakfast you want, without having to go through the hassle of stopping at your hotel food court or another restaurant.

This is my favorite little trick at Walt Disney World.  I do it almost every time I go and use the time I save to enjoy Fantasyland attractions early in the morning with my kids or by myself.  The walk through the Polynesian gets me energized for the day, and I love breakfast at that resort.  What tricks do you use first thing in the morning?

24 thoughts on “A Disney Morning Tip – Walk to the Polynesian

  • November 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    We just did this, back in September. It was awesome! We got Tonga Toast for breakfast (cheaper than at Kona Cafe upstairs), and made it to Magic Kingdom rope drop with time to spare.

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Yes! Captain Cook’s is one of my favorite hidden gems, especially for the Tonga Toast.

  • November 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Nice idea! I would like to add my take on this if you will. If you do decide to walk through to the Polynesian during a busy time, the breakfast place can get crowded. If you are not picky for a full sit down breakfast then I do recommend the in and out place on the first floor for something quick or the Starbuck’s like counter upstairs near the entrance to the monorail.
    I think even better with this idea is the return back. Instead of fighting the monorail crowds at the park closing, take hte small boat to the Polynesian which has no lines really and then walk to your car away from the rush.
    I stayed at the Polynesian in October and here was my idea. I ordered room service for breakfast which at the Poly was actually quite reasonable compared to the sit down and reliable on the time to be served. I had it come to the room at like 7:30 AM so the three of us (wife, 5 year old and I) could eat at our leisure and then we caught the boat at like 8:45AM and was at the gate right at the opening at 9 AM. No stress or fuss. The next day we woke up a little later and had to wait on line about 25 minutes to get into the sit down breakfast (not the character one but the regular sit down)
    All in all I have to say i LOVED the Polynesian. A short un crowded boat ride across the lake to Magic Kingdom and the monorail right at the door to take over to the Transportation Center to go to Epcot. The all you can eat grilled meat, chicken and shrimp dinner was pretty good too. Cheaper rates than the Contemporary and Grand Floridian and just as close. Also with a view of hte fireworks at the castle from the balcony or beach.

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      I did something similar when we stayed at the Poly a few years ago. Although we generally ran for the food at Captain Cook’s instead of ordering room service.

  • November 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Ryan, you just wrote about one of my favorite operational tactics. If Captain Cook’s runs out of Tonga Toast, I will blame you!

    If you’re willing to walk to the TTC, the Polynesian also has an advantage over the Grand Floridian and Contemporary in that you can take a monorail to either Magic Kingdom or Epcot without transferring.

    One thing to note is that sometimes the first resort monorail of the day can be aggravatingly slow. I’ve always arrived in time for the Welcome Show, but being trapped (even in a monorail) pains me when I’m ready to tour!

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      I had to serve the readers, man. We give them the best tips and don’t keep any for ourselves.

  • November 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Great tip! I have also walked that lovely route when staying at the Poly. It’s very a pretty and enjoyable walk! Also, I love the pics you shared. Makes me homesick for Disney! (which I am most of the time anyway!)

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks! Glad you like the pics. It’s such a nice walk and gets me excited for the day ahead.

    • August 16, 2013 at 9:24 am

      My thinking exactly. I have reservations at Kona Cafe at 7:30 am on MK Day (MK opens at 9am). I could drive to and park at TTC all day while in MK. Pick up car in evening after MK closes. Only question is — Epcot has EMH that night from 9-11. Could I take monorail to Epcot and leave car at TTC? Obviously, I would take bus back to Poly after Epcot closes then pick up my car.

      • August 16, 2013 at 9:29 am

        I believe when you leave Epcot you can simply jump on the monorail back to TTC and then walk to your car, no need to wait for the bus which could take forever. I believe the monorail keeps running for a period of time after the park closes and just wait for the one that goes to the TTC/Magic Kingdom. When I stayed at the Polynesian the best thing after just crossing the lake to MK, was jumping on the monorail from the lobby of the hotel and connecting at TTC to the monorail to Epcot and doing the same in reverse when the day was done. No cars or parking lot trams to wait for.

  • November 15, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Love that tip! We’ve stayed at the Poly and walked that trail to the TTC. It is a nice walk. We’ll be there next week and we’ll try this route to MK (I’m getting the tonga toast too!). Thanks Ryan! 🙂

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      You’re welcome! And you have to get the Tonga Toast. Always.

  • November 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

    You have now shared one of my most closely guarded secrets. Granted, I only use it when I am staying off-site and hating the thought of driving to the MK. I used to do it when I lived in the Orlando area, so I’ve managed to keep that secret for 30 years. Now that it’s out there, enjoy!

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      I’m so sorry. It’s a great tip for off property. If you don’t have a Disney World pass, it’s hard to get permission to park at the Poly, but this way it’s easy to enjoy without staying there.

      • November 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm

        We are staying off property. Is the main advantage to this tip that we would be able to use the monorail to get to the park before opening? (Since the monorail/boat from the TTC doesn’t run until closer to opening time?) I would love to read a post of tips for those staying off site! Thanks for your entry.

    • August 16, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Growing up we always PARKED at the Polynesian instead of TTC. Not sure they allow that anymore…

  • November 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    We will be staying on property with my MIL who has some trouble walking. Would this 5 minute walk be too much for her? Can we take a bus from our property directly to the Polynesian or would we have to take it to MK and then walk to Polynesian?

    • November 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      If she has trouble walking, I don’t know that this would be the best thing for her. You can’t take a bus straight from your property to the Polynesian. You also cannot walk from Magic Kingdom to the Poly. Your best bet is to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom then ride the resort monorail over to the Poly.

      I’d suggest booking something at the Contemporary, because the resort monorail stops there first. If you take the first bus you can to the Magic Kingdom, you could ride over to the Contemporary and have breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, The Wave or grab something at the Contempo Cafe quick service.

  • November 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

    What a fantastic tip, Ryan! I am kicking myself for not thinking of it! Not only will I get to dine at the Poly ( One helping of Tonga Toast fuels me up for the whole day, and beyond), my Wife can get a decent cup of coffee (the general quality of most WDW coffee being her pet peeve).

    I share your trepidation that by your posting this, it will become a popular tactic that floods the resort with tons of people doing this trick…

  • November 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    This kind of tip is really irritating to me. We have been saving our money for over 2 years to be able to stay at the Polynesian. IN the past, we have stayed at the All Stars, and at the Polynesian. On the last trip to the Poly, we actually overheard a large group talking about their rooms at the All Stars – while taking up several tables at Captain Cooks. My family had nowhere to sit. We also learned about several people who came to use the pools at the Poly, and of course take up the pool chairs, who were staying off property. I was out to dinner recently with a group and one of the men was bragging about his money saving trip. They stayed at All-Star Sports, but were only there to sleep. His family literally swam at the deluxe resorts, and ate at the deluxe counter service restaurants. They would pack their day bags, change of clothes, etc. put their stuff on pool chairs, and enjoy all the “free” benefits of staying deluxe. He said how much more they enjoyed the counter service places at the Poly and Contemporary as opposed to the All Stars counter service. And I’m thinking, yeah you enjoy it more, and my family is having a hard time finding a place to sit! And standing in a lot longer lines to eat, etc. I think it’s different with the sit-down places, as you make a reservation, etc. But when I’m spending the kind of money (crazy!) I am to stay at the Poly, it is VERY frustrating!!!

    • November 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      I understand Dawn’s frustration. In its friendliness towards guests, Disney is often excessively permissive. If you are a rule-follower, it’s no fun to see people who break the rules succeed. And it’s no fun to be on an airplane and find out that the person sitting next to you paid half of what you did for the same experience.

      That said, as far as I know, Disney is currently happy to have anyone visit the Polynesian and other resorts to shop and purchase food, including at counter service locations. In fact, Disney accepts Disney Dining Plan credits and room charges at Captain Cook’s from those staying at other Disney Resorts.

      TouringPlans.com is definitely not encouraging people to break any rules with this article.

      Also, for what it’s worth, this tip is should be of equal benefit to anyone driving to the parks (either from on- or off-property). The idea is that you can have breakfast at the Polynesian (which hopefully is better than the coffee shack at the TTC) before you go to Magic Kingdom. Walking to the Polynesian will not necessarily get you there any faster since the resort monorail stops at the TTC in addition to the resorts.

    • November 16, 2011 at 9:36 pm

      I stay at the Poly a lot and love Captain Cooks. One of it’s perks is that it has fantastic food as you know and many others know. When it gets full, I’ve just taken our breakfast down to the pool or even the beach and had a fabulous morning picnic. Nothing better!

  • November 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Wow Dawn…. I was always under the impression that you could eat ANYWHERE you liked when you stayed at Disney…. If you stay at the Poly can you honestly say you’ve NEVER eaten at ANY of the other hotel restaurants? I think you are a bit oversensitive here. You need to lighten up a bit. I enjoy eating at MANY of the resort restaurants AND counter services regardless of whether I am staying at the Poly, the Grand Floridian, or the Carribean Beach. I’ve stayed at the majority of the hotels at Disney and have never felt I HAD to eat only at the place I was staying.

  • January 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks for the great tip. I was trying to figure my plan for the day that we are doing breakfast at Ohana. We will be driving over from Coronado Springs Resort and I couldn’t figure out how to do the parking. We are coming in March. Typically what time does the parking lot at MK open?

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