Polynesian Club Level – Is It Worth The Money?

by on May 6, 2010 35 Comments

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After your responses to my earlier post about Polynesian Club Level ,I knew the Polynesian Chronicles must continue. I think the most burning question I got from your responses is: “Is it worth the extra money?”  The answer: That depends entirely on you.

Staying Club Level will not save you money on food unless you don’t purchase any food, at all, while on vacation. That may even be stretching it. (So if you’re using savings on food as a way to justify the expense, it won’t work.) The rooms are no bigger or better in the Hawaii building. The suites, located in the Tonga longhouse are larger and more expensive.

What are the perks, and do they justify the cost of Club Level? 

Club Level Concierge — The front desk is located on the first floor of the Hawaii building. Open 7 .am. -10:00 p.m. It offers personalized service. This is a more intimate front desk service than the front desk service located in the Great Ceremonial House.  The cast members are very friendly. You know they’re top notch if Disney is allowing them to work the front desk in Hawaii. They’ll make Advanced Dining Reservations and more for you. They’ll offer you tips to make your vacation more enjoyable. While this sounds like a great perk, if you are reading this post, you know it’s imperative you plan before you leave home.

Wildlife Discovery Excursion – $45 per person – Is a small guided behind the scenes tour for up to 14 people.

Turn Down Service – I love it. Cast members place chocolate on your pillow at night. Here’s my complaint: I have had cast members come as early as 4 p.m.  I don’t need my bed turned down at 4 p.m. Disney needs to rethink this. I’m sure there is no perfect answer, but 4 p.m is ridiculously early. Sometimes they won’t return to do it at a later time. Had that happen. This little perk is one I enjoy immensely.  Please, Disney, iron out the details on this.  Assume everyone wants to return to their room at night with chocolate on their pillow and fresh towels.

The Lounge – This is the number one reason I love Club Level.  I love the convenience of being able to eat whenever I want (between the hours of 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.)  24 hours a day coffee is available and coffee beverages.  They have a nifty machine that makes lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate etc. Cans of Coke products are in a refrigerator that you have access to and they usually leave out some water.

The Food in the lounge is delicious.  Breakfast – just what you’d expect, but the convenience of walking down the hall to get a bowl of oatmeal just makes me happy.  It’s the evening offerings that keep me coming back.  On Saturday evenings, the offerings usually include barbecue pulled pork, scallop bacon wraps with O’hana mustard, chilled pineapple vegetable soup. Please see my friend, Steve Seifert’s website Tikimanpages.com for a detailed listing of the culinary offerings.  Wine and beer are offered too.

Is Club Level worth it?  Can you get past the cost and not have buyer’s remorse?  Know you won’t save money on food. The service isn’t always an upgrade either.  It should be. The number one reason to stay Club is the convenience.  If you don’t mind paying a premium for convenience, then by all means stay Club Level.  A luxury once tasted becomes a necessity.   Are you going to take a bite? 

You can follow me on Twitter at Caroline251

Posted on May 6, 2010

35 Responses to “Polynesian Club Level – Is It Worth The Money?”

  • For some reason — I think they were offering 7 nites for the price of 4 — we stayed at the Poly Concierge back in 2003. We had a MKingdom View from Tahiti (because Hawaii was under renovation). After a disappointing visit at the Beach Club, this was one of our best visits to MK.
    Interestingly, we’ve been back to the Poly twice since then (we also go to All Star and stay Off-site), and have chosen the “Club” rooms then as well. For various reasons, these subsequent visits never equaled the first one.
    I agree that there’s no food savings and would note that the treats at the Club Lounge are way TOO much if one has signed up for one of the Dining Plans. The snacks work well if one is buying meals a la carte in the parks, at the resorts or even off-site.
    We did like the concierge services, because even if one “plans” before-hand, last-minute changes and resv.’s are nice to be able to make and these folks are hugely helpful.
    Maybe my only disappointment the 3rd time we stayed there (bringing a 2nd family with us) was that we weren’t recognized or thanked. I stay at nice business hotels frequently and regular visitors are usually noted and thanked. Not necessary, but it would have been nice.
    Poly will always be our favorite because of 1) monorail AND TTC access (try the ferry boat!) access to/from MK; 2) relatively small scale and friendly layout; 3) great diversity of dining and resort offerings. Just not sure if we will layout for the Club service next time.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 6, 2010, at 11:25 am EST

      Hi Doug,
      Our stories are very similar. I stayed Poly club for a week in Aug. and then again March for 4 nights. I love the Poly for all of the same reasons you do. I think Disney sets the standard for service, but they really need a refresher course in Club Level. It’s amazing what makes people feel special: Welcome Back. Thank you. Chocolate. Little things are what make life grand. Thank you for reading and replying, Caroline

  • Concierge at any of the resorts is a perk and you can never see it as anything but that. Sure you can rationalize the cost somewhat with the drinks you’ll get or the meal you can squeeze in there but it’s like designer handbags or the heated leather seats in a car: they’re nice to have but you’re paying extra for it. You don’t NEED it but it sure does feel nice having it!

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 6, 2010, at 11:13 am EST

      Hi Matt,
      I am with you on that. We don’t need any of those perks (sometimes I think I do);) But it sure is nice to have them.
      Thanks for reading and replying. Caroline

  • When I think of a concierge, the first thing that pops into my mind is access to opportunities that I can’t access on my own. I recognize that you have access to the Wildlife Discovery Excursion, but can they get you a reservation to that restaurant or show that is sold out to the general public? I once had a concierge get me a reservation at French Laundry in Napa Valley. No mere mortal could have accomplished this, and I’m sure that it took an incredible amount of string pulling and favor promising. I’ve also been able to get tickets to impossibly sold-out shows in New York and Vegas thanks to the concierge. Can the concierge level staff at the Poly get you that prime Le Cellier reservation that, according to the on-line res. system, is unavailable? Can they get you two center-stage, first 10 row tickets to La Nouba for that night? These are the things I expect when I choose concierge level at a hotel.

    And I agree with Doug, if I stay there 3 times, then I think it is reasonable to expect a “Welcome back Mr. and Mrs. _______. We are so pleased you have chosen to visit us again.” If Disney can track who you are and devise a system to generate personalized special offers with individual pin numbers, I am confident that they can program a reservation system to flag your file as a repeat guest. I would think it would be in their interest to do so.

    For me concierge means service, service above and beyond that which I would receive at the non-concierge level. If I recall properly Caroline, you had some issues with service at check-in and in the lounge. When it comes to money, I’m pretty analytical. If I spend, let’s say…20% more for something, then I expect more than a minor incremental return for my investment. Does that happen at the Poly? I am not convinced. I can think of lots of other ways to spend that extra money at WDW that would be much more satisfying to me in the long run. Of course, that is a personal opinion.

    Thanks for the balanced review Caroline. We have actually been bandying about the idea of trying the Poly concierge (or Wilderness or Animal Kingdom Lodge) level in the near future. I am willing to try it once to see what I think.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 6, 2010, at 11:21 am EST

      Hi Amy,
      I have actually stayed Club Level at the Poly 2 times. Last August for a week. (They had a buy 4 get 3 free special). I didn’t get a welcome back note. My first experience was grand, second time – not as grand. I agree whole heartedly with everything you wrote. Disney needs to get a system for recognizing repeat guests. I go almost every 2 months or more and Disney never recognizes that. (I don’t always stay at the Poly – but always Disney.) I have not had the experience of the concierge getting me into say “LeCellier” at the last minute. I would love to hear if others have had that experience. Thank you for reading and replying, Caroline

  • I can’t wait to try concierge at the Poly! We just returned at the end of April having stayed in Tahiti – MK view. We walked by Hawaii regularly, envying how awesome it looked! The location is so perfect, and the view must be just incredible from those rooms! Also, I would love to watch the fireworks from the lounge, especially after reading that they even pipe in the music. Caroline, you go so often, do you mind giving me your opinion on when is your favorite times to be there? I’ve already decided that winter is out (I don’t want to be staying at the Poly when it is chilly – doesn’t really go with the theme!!! Trying to decide if I can deal with the crowds of March, and get great weather – or go at the beginning of May, when it will probably be really hot. What do you prefer? BTW – love reading your articles!


    • Not to get off concierge subject Dawn, but, did you like Tahiti? We have a lagoon view and I requested Tahiti for Sept.
      Love the input on poly in general thanks Caroline.


      • We liked the Magic Kingdom view a lot. It was so cool to just hang out in the comfort of our room/deck and enjoy the castle and fireworks. Not to mention the beautiful lake with the boats, etc. We have previously stayed in Tokelau, and enjoyed how centrally located it was. The only thing we didn’t like about Tahiti was how far away it seemed from the pools, GCH, Captain Cooks, etc. It’s really close to the TTC, however. We missed being closer to all the other things, though. This is what got me started on wanting to stay in Hawaii!!! It is so ideally located!

        Dawn 🙂

        • Thanks. That’s kind of what I was thinking and have read…that’s it’s far from everything.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 6, 2010, at 9:27 pm EST

      Hi Dawn,
      If it were me, I would go in May. It’s going to be hot, but not horrible. It isn’t like August hot. It won’t be too humid. Because most schools are still in (if you go early May. Schools is the south get out mid may) the crowds will be manageable. I’m going in 2 weeks, I’ll let you know how it is. I hope that helps? Thank you for reading and replying. Caroline 😉

      • Thanks Caroline – I would love to hear about your May trip! Is March just way too crowded?


        • by Caroline Baggerly on May 11, 2010, at 10:57 am EST

          Hey Dawn,
          March is fine. If you can only go in March — by all means go. I will let you know about May.
          Thanks again, Caroline;)

  • We stayed at Poly concierge last August. This was our third visit to the Poly, with another one scheduled in September.
    The convience is great, we had the club concierge change our dinner reservations once during our trip and could see that service being a plus. The breakfast was nice, evening meals were good, and watching wishes from the lounge worked out good, since our 3 year old, doesn’t like the noise from fireworks. The convience of water, milk, and cocktails was nice. We would get a bottle or two of water (big glass bottles) and would fill up some containers with drink mixes to use during the day.
    I don’t know if it is worth the extra money, but it was nice.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 11, 2010, at 10:58 am EST

      Hey Rob,
      That is great to hear! I agree with you, Club Level sure is nice.
      Thanks for reading and replying,

  • BTW – that tikiman website is great. Loved the mini reviews of each lodge.

  • I wouldn’t say that it saves you money, but I think you could roughly break even. If you add up a breakfast for four in the morning, happy hour drinks, plus water to stash and bring with you to the parks, it might be worth it.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 11, 2010, at 11:03 am EST

      Hey Tom,
      I say go for it! See what you think. It’s a nice luxury.
      Thanks for reading and replying,

  • There are many variables that go into answering the question “will it save me money” and I can say that for many it will. We use to speculate that we were not spending as much on food and drinks by having the lounge but once I added up what we used and how much a day it would have cost us to purchase I can say that we more than saved doing club level. I did a breakdown of cost that was very conservative considering what we actually would get from the lounge each day and it came to $158 per day for two adults and a 4 year old. We got a great deal on the club level room so we would have spent much more if we had stayed in a standard room and purchased all the food, drinks and snacks ourselves.
    I will say not all club levels are created equal so being “worth it” may not be the same answer at a different resort. A good example is our stay at the AKL we had a one bedroom suite that was far from the lounge so we did not use it as often as if it were right down the hall.
    Here is a link to my breakdown of a week at the Polynesian club level.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 11, 2010, at 11:01 am EST

      Hey Steve,
      Thanks for your awesome comment!! You are the man on this subject! I so appreciate your wisdom!!Thank you reading and replying!! Caroline

  • Great article.

    I would love to learn more about the other resorts club level ammenities.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 11, 2010, at 10:59 am EST

      He Renee,
      I will be doing a series on Club Level at the other resorts. Thank you for reading and replying,

  • I’m ready to make the change to Club Level, but I’m still not sure. I need something to push me over the hump to change to the Club Level Room.

    I love the idea of not running everywhere for milk or snacks. I’m wondering is there a Garden View Club Level Room that I should ask for. I can always request the upgrade to Lagoon View or Magic Kingdom View at Disney’s cost of course.

    Someone tell me to just do it!!!! A reason or two would help me sleep better too.

    • When it comes to club level rooms at the Polynesian the lounge and food is only part of the appeal. When you book a club level room you know what building you will be in. No requesting a room without a parking lot view and no worrying about being the farthest room from everything. You are right along the beach and pools and you are the closest building to the boat launch to the MK as well as a short walk to the lobby, monorail and bus stop. You have staff located in your building to assist you and you have preplanning help before you even get there.

      The only garden view rooms I would not want to get in club level are the rooms closest to the lounge end. They are next to a service elevator that can get noisy and they look into the side of the Samoa longhouse. Other than that I don’t consider any of them bad rooms.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 12, 2010, at 3:41 pm EST

      Do it. You will love it. I always get a Garden View Room. But if the view is important to you, then by all means go for a Magic Kingdom view. I like having all of the amenities at a less expensive rate. Please let me know what you decide. 🙂

      • Caroline and Steve, You have been a huge help. I did it. I changed Club Level. The best view is in the Lounge in Hawaii isn’t it? Steve, You’re site is awesome. Everyone has been such a big help. Thanks again!!!!

        • Yes, even if you get a garden view room in Hawaii you always have access to the lounge to view the lagoon, castle and fireworks.

          Enjoy your trip.

        • by Caroline Baggerly on May 13, 2010, at 10:10 am EST

          I am so excited for you! I want to hear about your trip. I love the lounge and spending time there. There are 2 floors. The second is quiet and usually has Wall St Journals on the table. I apologize it took me so long to get this post up. I hope you got my email. Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

  • Hello all,

    I don’t have any information to add, because I have yet to stay at the Poly. However, both the Poly and club level have been on my radar. Thank you so much for such objective assessments and relevant information. This article and all of the following comments/discussion/links have been invaluable. Please keep them coming! We all love Disney, but we also know that all Disney is not created equal! Christi

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 13, 2010, at 12:13 pm EST

      Thank you so much for your kind words!! I appreciate it immensely. I am so pleased you found the article informative. Thank you for reading and replying!! 🙂

  • Thank you for publishing this! We will be staying at the Polynesian Club Level for the first time in August (we have stayed at POR, but needed separate beds for our son and daughter now that they are older and too tall for the trundle) – I had been trying to get a reservation for the California Grill for a few days, for any night of our stay – the only times available were at 5:35 and 9:45. I decided to try the concierge service, and Brittany was wonderful! She found us a table at 7:25 on one of our nights! I am very grateful, as that is the one place my DH wanted to go, and I very much wanted to make this work for him. I am so looking forward to our time at the Poly.

    Last, the Club Level will cost us only $84 more a night than a regular room (we have a 40% off pin, and since we are traveling prior to August 15th, this enabled us to bump up to Club Level) – while we know that we will very much appreciate the extra room of the lounge, we are also pretty certain that between breakfast/snacks/appetizers for 4 of us and a beer or two a night for 2 of us (and milk/soda for our teens) along with bottled water, it also makes financial sense.

  • by Caroline Baggerly on July 8, 2010, at 11:56 pm EST

    Hi Cynthia,
    I am so glad that you found this article helpful. How wonderful that you have the 40% off PIN. It makes it so worth it. Enjoy!!!
    Have a great vacation. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. 🙂 Caroline