Enjoy the Polynesian Resort with Your ‘Ohana

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On my last trip I stayed at the Polynesian Resort.  I’ve written about the Poly before, but I thought I’d share my latest experience with our readers.  This resort is one of my favorites on Disney property so I was really looking forward to my time there.  I checked in on December 1 and headed back home on the 6th so I had five lovely evenings at this island retreat.  Upon my arrival I met several friends who were also staying here.  What better way to start a trip than greeting great friends and hearing “aloha” while being given a pink lei?

Our room was not ready when I arrived since it was fairly early.  However, we found out it would be located in the Rarotonga long house.  Each building of rooms at the Polynesian is called a long house and they area all assigned names to make finding your room easier.  While Rarotonga does not have a great view, it is the closest to the Great Ceremonial House where all of the restaurants, shops, and monorail stop are located.  I really appreciated being in this building since it was often chilly outside and we centrally located to all of the places we needed to be.

Well, let me tell you a little more about this centrally located room.  Since this hotel is one of Disney’s premier properties, it has a price tag to match.  Luckily, vacations become more affordable when sharing the room with friends.

Photo by Betsy Bates

As we learned in Lilo and Stich, “”Ohana means family” and these people are my Disney family.  My wonderful roommates for this trip included, Tom, Caroline, and for a few nights Erin.  Our happy foursome shared a standard room with a standard view.  Our room was on the second floor.  While that may not sound like a particularly interesting detail, keep in mind the rooms on the second floor of the older long houses do not have a balcony.  Like I said, it was cold for a majority of our trip, so the lack of balcony was not the end of the world, but its always nice to have outdoor space to enjoy in deluxe accommodations.

Standard rooms at the Polynesians come equipped with two queen sized beds as well as a pull out day bed.  There is a flat screen TV, a chair with an ottoman, a desk, and a dresser.  The hallway near the front door and bathroom has closets as well as a mini refrigerator.  Some people are put off by the dark colors used in the decor at the Poly, but I rather like it.  I prefer these darker tones to over the top palm tree prints.  The rooms at the Polynesian are some of the largest on property which made it comfortable to share among four adults.

Something that bothers me about the rooms at the Polynesian is the layout of the bathrooms.  In most of the other resorts the sink is outside the room housing the toilet and shower.  However, at the Poly they are all in one space.  While for some people that may not be an issue, but when sharing a room with a few friends it can be problematic.  The convenience of having an area where one friend can brush her teeth, while another one does her hair, while the third takes a quick shower is truly missed at the Polynesian.  We were able to work out the grooming schedule, but the outside sinks were missed.

One of the highlights of staying at the Polynesian resort is easy access to the monorail system.  Guests of this resort can hop on the monorail at the station at the Great Ceremonial House to get to the Magic Kingdom main gate.  Folks will have to change trains at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) in order to reach Epcot.  In the time it takes to reach the TTC via monorail I suggest taking the short walk to the TTC.  Guests can also catch a ferry which stops at the Polynesian and the Grand Flordian as it ushers people to and from the Magic Kingdom.  Unfortunately, the monorail seemed to be having a lot of issues during my vacation.  When the monorail went down the the queues for both the resort ferries and the one going to the TTC were extremely long.  One afternoon I wound up taking the ferry to the TTC and walking back to my room.  Since things were so backed up it took me almost an hour to get back to my room.  There were several other occasions when we waited a long time for the next train.  It is always frustrating when a service you are paying a premium for does not work properly.  I can’t imagine how parents with strollers and kids in tow coped with the monorail issues.

Photo by Ashley Simmons

Something that draws me to the Polynesian is the amenities it offers.  The main pool offers a water slide built out of the side of an active “volcano.”  This pool area over looks the Seven Seas Lagoon with a view of Cinderella’s Castle.  Guests can also lounge on the nearby beach although no swimming is allowed in the lake.  The outdoor bar also makes it easy to grab a fruity cocktail while laying around poolside.  If you love boats as much as I do you can swing by the resort’s marina to rent a vessel for the afternoon.  Some friends and I planned to rent a pontoon boat one morning, but it was very windy and cold so we decided to have breakfast at the Kona Cafe instead.

Photo by Betsy Bates

With all of these activities available to guests staying at the Polynesian, let me tell you about my favorite thing to do here.  I absolutely love taking in the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach at the Poly.  The music is played from several strategically placed speakers allowing guests to enjoy the show without the crowds on Main Street.  If you stick around long enough you can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant, a simple yet charming floating light display.  The best part about hanging out on the Poly beach is that you don’t have to be a guest at the resort!  That’s right anyone can hop on the monorail, grab a drink, and enjoy Wishes! from afar.

This resort really encourages me to take a breather from the usual crazy schedule I keep when I’m in Walt Disney World.  For example, my first night there in December was the perfect Poly night.  Some friends gathered to watch Wishes! from the beach despite the chilly temperature.  Later, there was a gathering at the Tambu Lounge (the fantastic bar at this resort) where old friends were reunited and new friendships were made.  We hugged, caught up, and toasted to the start of another great trip.  And all this without setting foot into a park.

Taking some time to chill at the Poly! Photo by Neil Citro

Along with the Tambu Lounge, the Polynesian offers a few other restaurant options.  Last week I wrote about how much I love the Kona CafeO’hana is also a fun place to dine with a character breakfast every morning and island inspired dinners every evening.  The Spirit of Aloha dinner show is also offered here, allowing guests to eat the cuisine of the south seas as well as enjoy music and dancing native to these islands.  On the ground level of the Great Ceremonial House guests will find a quick service eatery called Captain Cook’s.  This restaurant is the only one of its kind on Disney property to remain open 24 hours a day for folks looking for a quick snack in the wee hours.  It is only the only place outside of the Magic Kingdom treat yourself to one of Disney’s most famous snacks: Dole Whip.

Overall, I enjoy the Polynesian, but with sub-par transportation service on this last trip I am not in a big hurry to stay there again given the cost of their accommodations.  I certainly enjoyed my most recent stay at the Polynesian so this is by no means a bad review.   I would prefer to stay at my favorite resort, the Boardwalk, or to try one of the other Epcot area resorts.  Since Epcot is my most beloved park and where I spend the most time, the benefit of being able to walk there outweighs the appeal of being on the monorail loop.  My time at the Poly just solidified my love of the Epcot resort area.  I’m sure I will stay at the Polynesian again, but I think I’ll try out some of the other Disney hotels in the mean time.

What about you?  Have you stayed at the Poly?  If you enjoyed it (or hated it) I’d love to hear all about your vacation!

Next week I’ll talk more about the upcoming Hall of Presidents meet!

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Posted on February 2, 2011

34 Responses to “Enjoy the Polynesian Resort with Your ‘Ohana”

  • The restaurant (and the word) are Polynesian, not Irish. It’s ‘Ohana, not O’hana.

  • My first stay was this past December during Reunion and really was not impressed with the Poly. Not sure if it had to do with the fact i was hardly in the room and did not take time to enjoy the resort? Also at check in the rug was still really wet after it had been cleaned and the room had a wet musty smell. Also had issues checking in they said i needed to pay full amount when in fact the room was paid for.

    Just think what you get for accommodations and the amount the resort costs per night just was not worth it for me. I did have an awesome roomie to help split the cost but still was not worth the money for me. Also with the monorail issues as of late it was frustrating getting to the MK in a decent amount of time. I love visiting the resort and eating at both Kona & ‘Ohana.

    Don’t think i would stay there again…but never say never?

    • Thanks for the comments, Doug! I think I’m in the same boat. I think I’ll frequently visit the Poly, but not book a stay there any time soon. There are so many other places to try before I return.

  • I too stayed at the Polynesian during Reunion this past December. Our room was on the 2nd floor of the Fiji building overlooking the marina. Our room was clean, but there were a couple of maintenance/upkeep issues. Our room was entirely missing the alarm clock on the night stand and the picture in the bathroom area was falling apart.

    Also, I totally agree with you Kristen about the monorail problems being a major pain. If Disney can’t keep the monorails operating correctly most of the time, then they need to replace the fleet in my opinion. Also, I noticed that frequently there was only 1 monorail operating on the resort line at a time. To me that is unacceptable given the price per night guests at the Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian are paying for the monorail convenience.

    I agree with the overall consensus–I love to visit the Polynesian to enjoy its ambience, great restaurants, and relaxing vibe, but I’d rather stay at a different resort. I’m sure I’ll be back to the Poly eventually, but I’m in no hurry.

    • Thanks for the comments, Elisabeth! It sounds like you had a nice view, but some of the maintenance issues sound sub-par for a deluxe resort.

      The monorail issues were a real bummer. They charge a premium to be on the monorail loop, but it wasn’t delivering the promised easy transportation.

  • I noticed transportation issues in Jan. as well. I was staying at the Contemporary and headed to Hollywood studios our bus filled at the Poly, I noticed a few people left behind.

  • In January I watched Wishes from the Poly beach for the first time. It was my arrival night and a non-park night, but I still wanted some Disney magic. My friend and I decided we much preferred watching the show from outside of the park to inside. Cocktails on the beach, no crowds, no mass exodus after the show, and a comfy beach chair sealed the deal for us!

    • We did it for the first time in August and it was amazing. I’d still like to see it from Main Street from time to time, but for a more relaxing evening the Poly beach is great. I wouldn’t mind doing it on every trip. Thanks for the comments, Betsy!

  • We stayed at the Polynesian a couple of years ago. It was ok but not worth the price. Don’t think we’d stay there again. My boys loved ‘Ohana’s (bring on the meat!).

    • I’m not sure its worth the price for me either at this point. I can stay in the Epcot area for less money and I like it there better. ‘Ohana is a lot of fun and I’m hoping to go back there some time soon. Thanks for reading!

  • I love the Poly! My family has stayed twice and if money was no object, we’d stay there every vacation. Both visits we requested 3rd Floor of the Fiji longhouse and they honored our request both times. There is something special about leaving your room and seeing the Castle no matter which park your going to that day and it always makes you feel like your ‘in the magic’! There are flaws at every resort and the good out-way the bad at the Poly.

    • I’m glad you and your family enjoy it at the Poly! I agree that there are flaws at every resort. For me, there are fewer flaws at the Boardwalk so I favor that resort. But we all have different preferences. I hope you continue to enjoy your time at the Poly when you get to stay there again! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • We were at Contemporary the same time. The cold weather caused an increase in the number of breakdowns for the monorails. When we went resort hopping, we could not help to notice how much more crowded it was to get on the monorail at the GF and poly.

    • I heard it was the cold weather too, but I wasn’t certain so I didn’t say so in the blog post. A couple of times the crowds were really heavy waiting for trains the the Grand Floridian when I passed through there too. I think I’ll stick with walking to Epcot as much as possible. Thanks for reading!

  • by Debbie from Chicago on February 2, 2011, at 1:07 pm EDT

    We stayed for the first time in October. We weren’t overly impressed, but I must say we did have a fantastic view of MK from Tahiti. We found the rooms to be somewhat clean, but a lot of wear and tear…which in my opinion is the case with most of the resorts at Disney. When you pay top dollar for a room one would expect it to be a little nicer. Being in Tahiti made walking to the TTC very easy; however we too had monorail problems a couple of times and one time we actually had to take the bus with our 5 year old from MK back to the poly…the ferrys were too croweded and it took us 1.5 hours to get back. That is really something you don’t want to have happen especially because you pay to stay at the poly to make it easier to get to the Magic Kingdom. As my daughter gets older we will definitely start staying at the Epcot resorts….can’t wait to get back to Boardwalk!

    • It seems like a lot of people are having the same feeling on the Polynesian. Its nice, but should be nicer for the price. The Boardwalk is my favorite so I hope you enjoy it when you stay there! Thanks for reading!

      • by Debbie from Chicago on February 2, 2011, at 2:07 pm EDT

        Oh, I’ve been to the Boardwalk a few times…one being Christmas and loved it…but that was pre-child. Once she gets old enough to enjoy Epcot and HS we will definitely stay there. We mostly stay at Wilderness Lodge and tried Poly just for the easy access to MK.

    • Thanks for the link! Unfortunately, the monorail problems took place throughout my trip which started before that accident. It could have been cause of some of the problems for sure though. Thanks for reading!

    • Believe it or not, I was actually in the Epcot parking lot minutes after that happened! In fact, we were walking right by the accident just as the fire trucks were arriving–fortunately it didn’t seem that anyone was hurt.

      While that did close the monorail temporarily while they checked out the support pylon, the monorail issues were super frequent at times other than during that brief period of time. I too had heard the rumor that the problems are due to the cold, though I don’t know if that’s true or not.

  • I completely agree about the bathroom/sink issue, Kristen! This is especially troubling when you have 3 lovely ladies in the same room. Sorry boys, we don’t look that good without some well spent time primping. Having the sink/mirror separated from the shower/toilet definitely eases the pain of beauty!

    When I stayed at the Poly for reunion it was actually my first time in one of the premier resorts! I didn’t notice as many issues with the monorail as some posters have mentioned, but I was only there for a short time. Unlike Kristen, my favorite park is still the Magic Kingdom – I’m a sucker for the castle, and nostalgic for childhood memories! I loved being only a monorail ride away, especially since I didn’t have a car on property. I was very lucky that one of my friends had a car there so that I could visit Animal Kingdom before I left and experience the park for the first-ish time! (My first time all I saw was First Aid).

    Like Kristen, Doug, and Elisabeth, I can’t say that I would stay at the Poly again. I was barely in the room so the price tag didn’t really fit for me. I think I would much rather stay somewhere where I could save a little more money for souvenirs!! However, maybe if the weather was nicer, I would give it another shot. I still haven’t had the opportunity to use the neat pool or see Wishes! from the Poly Beach. Not to mention, I’m still in need of a Lapu Lapu.

    • Thanks for the comments, Erin! Hopefully you’ll enjoy your next stay at a deluxe resort a big more. Wishes! from the Poly beach is one of my favorite things to do these days so I’m sure you’ll experience it soon enough. And lapu lapus for everyone!

  • In about a week I will stay at the Poly for the first time. Can’t wait! Some people love it, some say it needs some TLC, but I guess I’ll find out for myself. Hopefull I’ll get put in one of the longhouses by the TTC. Transportation is one of the best reasons to stay there — walk to TTC, a monorail station at the GCH, buses, plus the boats. And of course, fantastic on site dining at Kona and ‘Ohana!

    • I hope you enjoy your stay at the Poly, John! The resort certainly has a lot to offer even if there are some short comings. I hope you find it is worth it for you and your family or friends. Let us know what you think about it when you return! Safe travels and thanks for reading!

  • We stayed at the Poly late last August for 2 glorious weeks(with an excellent discount)and we never want to stay anywhere else again! You’re all missing the biggest reason to stay there- the cast members. We were told by several CM’s that most people don’t bother to participate in all the resort has to offer- lobby hula & poi ball lessons, crafts, watching Sat CM hula class, just chatting with the island guides and other CM’s- such wonderful people. And mmm… Kona sushi and deserts. We were blessed from the moment we arrived and were assigned a room with a fantastic “garden” view of the lake& partial castle. The room was in perfect condition and clean, and the sink/toilet configuration didn’t bother us at all(DH,DD15, DD9 &me). The staff noticed and fixed a burnt out light the day it happened and we saw them going around doing other maintenance too. The Monorail worked perfectly the whole visit- hope we never run into those problems, it’s a huge resort perk. I’m sad to hear others didn’t have the same fantasic time- our visit was like a dream. I would say if you don’t have the time to truely experience the resort it would be a waste of $, but for those who do take the time you’ll never regret it. PS. Underwater hula music anyone!? :)

    • Wow! Two weeks! I’m so jealous! I’m glad you enjoyed your time at the Poly. With two weeks it is easier to stop and smell the roses and enjoy what the resort has to offer. Unfortunately, many people don’t really relax on their Disney vacations. The CMs at the Poly are definitely great. I’ve heard they are very happy there and there is very little turn over (but you never know if these things are true). Thanks for reading!

  • I stayed at the Poly once when I was ten years old. I look back on that trip and realize just how lucky I was as a kid to have that experience. I would love to stay there again at some point in time but my husband is a die hard Contemporary fan and since I am happy just to be at Disney, I always allow him to pick our resort.

    I was not aware that you could get a Dole Whip at the Poly!! This is great news to me as I adore those little treats. Now, with just a short monorail trip from my resort I can have one.