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.
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.
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.
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.
Along with the Tambu Lounge, the Polynesian offers a few other restaurant options. Last week I wrote about how much I love the Kona Cafe. O’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!