Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is one of the most desirable deluxe resorts in the entirety of Walt Disney World. The resort is calming and provides a unique tropical location to spend a week while on vacation. As a result, this Disney’s Polynesian Resort review is slightly different from most of my resort reviews.
We’ll start with an important update. I will then share a piece that I wrote one day while visiting the Polynesian as a guest. It seemed to be a good way to describe the kind of casual vibe you get at the Polynesian. After that, we’ll get into all the details you’ll want to know for planning a Disney vacation here.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort is re-opening on July 19, 2021 and room reservations are now available. Touches of Moana have been added to the standard rooms.
The Disney World monorail is still not servicing the Polynesian upon the resort’s re-opening. The entrance of the Polynesian is completely closed off and receiving a major facelift. It is anticipated to re-open ahead of Disney World’s 50th anniversary beginning October 1, 2021.
It’s actually quite startling to see. This photo was taken in early March of 2021.
Here is a look at those new Moana rooms at the Polynesian.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort Review
Currently, I am sitting on the 2nd floor of Disney’s Polynesian Resort’s Great Ceremonial House. I am just off the way a bit from Tambu Lounge. The view in front of me is the large wall of windows facing Cinderella Castle. It is pouring down rain, and I hope that it will soon clear so that I might step outside and enjoy the pool for a bit.
When I arrived at Disney’s Polynesian Resort this week, temperatures were stifling, and the sun was shining. That tends to be the weather on these hot summer days in Orlando. Somewhere between morning and lunch, our daily thunderstorm arrives to cool us off for a brief few moments.
With no other plans for the day other than to scroll social media, delete bad photos stored on my electronic devices, and maybe cool off at the pool, I decided to grab a drink and reflect at Tambu Lounge. You see, that is just the kind of place that Disney’s Polynesian Resort emblematizes. A place where you can stop for a minute, rest, and take a few deep breaths.
Here you can sip on a tropical drink that has a little umbrella in it or pick up a creamy (low calorie) Dole Whip. You can even drink directly out of a pineapple core with a lei wrapped around your neck. Whatever you decide, I can only imagine you will enjoy it.
With that being said, this Polynesian Resort Review will take a look at what all you can expect from a visit here. The Polynesian is one of the original resorts that opened in 1971 with the rest of Walt Disney World.
To this day, it has remained a favorite among many guests. The tropical landscape that meets you as soon as you step foot on the property transports you immediately to the look and feel of a real Polynesian village.
I love Disney’s Polynesian Resort and find minimal fault with staying here other than the high price tag. However, as with most of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, you pay for the location and amenity offered at this resort.
If you read all that above, you might have placed yourself here in your mind already. The Polynesian is a great place to get lost on vacation for a few days if it fits your budget.
Here is a quick overview of the topics we will cover in this Polynesian Resort Review.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort Location
The Polynesian Resort is classified as a Disney deluxe resort and is located in the Magic Kingdom Resorts area. The resort is centered directly on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon, directly between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Polynesian Resort Address: 1600 Seven Seas Drive, Orlando, FL 32830
Glimpses of Cinderella Castle can be seen from various viewpoints of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s white-sand beaches. You can also see Disney’s Contemporary Resort from the beach. It’s toward the right-hand corner of the image below.
Due to the Polynesian’s location, guests can easily walk over to the Grand Floridian Resort next door. And the most popular theme park in the entire world is only a short walk, monorail ride, or boat ride away.
As far as theming goes, Disney’s Polynesian Resort has a South Pacific Hawaiian vibe. As a result, many people refer to the Polynesian as the Hawaiian Resort at Disney World.
The resort feels like you stepped into a tropical paradise of sorts offering palm trees, florals, and that island getaway feel.
The Polynesian is made up of different buildings scattered across the property. These buildings are called longhouses. If you are staying here for your Disney vacation, your room assignment will have the name of the longhouse and room number.
Each longhouse provides interior hallways with room access while maintaining the traditional feel of a Polynesian-style village.
Here are the names of the different longhouses at Disney’s Polynesian Resort:
- Pago Pago
Additionally, there are longhouses for Lua Cove, the Great Ceremonial House, and Lilo’s Playhouse.
The longhouses that make up the Disney Vacation Club at Disney’s Polynesian are Pago Pago, Tokelau, Moorea, and the Bora Bora Bungalows. These are also known as Disney’s Polynesian Villas.
Room types in the Disney’s Polynesian Villas include:
- Deluxe Studio Villa with Standard View or Water View
The deluxe studio villa is commonly called a DVC studio.
There King Kamehameha Club is the name of the club level offering at Disney’s Polynesian Village. Below is a picture of the club-level building. The backside of the Hawaii longhouse faces the Bora Bora bungalows and lagoon.
The Bora Bora Bungalows are located out on the water. Staying in a Polynesian bungalow is probably one of those bucket list items for most.
A Bora Bora Bungalow is quite sizable and features a sunken hot tub on the back deck that faces out to Cinderella Castle.
Additionally, you’ll find a variety of different room types between all the villages at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
The regular Polynesian Resort room types are as follows:
- Standard View
- Lagoon View
- Theme Park View
- Pool or Marina View
- Club Level (with various room view options)
- 1 Bedroom Suite
- Ambassador Vice Presidential Suite
- King Kamehameha Suite
You can preview the different room types here on Disney’s site if you like.
Guests will probably want different locations due to their interests. Previously, I was fortunate enough to stay in Rarotonga. Our room was the second in the main hall on the first floor.
We really enjoyed this location because we had prime monorail access and were close to the bus stop. It was also less than two minutes to walk out our door and into the Great Ceremonial House.
Those were perks for us in a time where we were hitting the parks pretty hard while on vacation. But these days, I prefer the serenity of the Polynesian Villages and its Hawaii-like feel. So you might be interested in selecting a different guest room category depending on your wants or needs.
Polynesian Resort Lobby
The Great Ceremonial House is the main building on the Polynesian’s property and where the lobby of the resort is located. Within this large two-story building, you will find many amenities like dining, recreation, and transportation.
Since the Polynesian is laid out in village-like settings there are plenty of signs on the grounds to point you in the right direction.
The lobby is large and offers a variety of family-style seating. If you visited the Polynesian before 2016-ish, you might remember the old interior had a waterfall feature. These days the lobby features one main Tiki statue in the center of the 1st floor.
Downstairs you will also find check-in, concierge, and bell services. If you are fortunate enough to spend some vacation time here, these services might come in handy. Mostly though, we find ourselves over-riding these types of services with the straight-to-room option Disney now offers guests.
You might also like to take a step outside the resort’s main entrance at some point during your visit. It is a delightful setting, as you can see below.
Unfortunately, this entire area has been gutted during the construction process. Time will tell if the new entrance will be as enchanting as the old one.
The Polynesian resort lobby has two merchandise locations. The first of these is Boutiki. Kind of like a Boutique, but the Tiki took over, as the sign below reflects.
This store is on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House lobby. It’s a rather large store that takes up nearly the entire left wing of the lobby.
The store has special favorites like chocolate, tikis, clothing, and more. If you are looking for a few higher-end tropical clothing items this might be a good place to browse. I always enjoy stopping in here for a look at all the pretty things.
On the second floor of the resort, you will find Moana Mercantile.
It is a little more of an odds-and-ends store. Moana Mercantile has a good selection of sundries, snacks, and whatnots. Below are a few updated photos (2021) of the items available.
There are plenty of cold items. You’ll see more items like this when staying at a resort that has a secondary Disney Villas Resort like the Polynesian.
Microwaves are available in the villas resorts, but they are not available in standard rooms.
Plenty of sundries.
Behind the counter there was a selection of liquor and cigars.
The other portion of the store has more Disney youth-focused merchandise. It’s a good place to find Moana or Lilo & Stitch items.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort offers several dining options. There is everything from pool bars with full menus to one of Disney’s better counter service options. The hotel has a variety of Asian, Hawaiian, and American cuisine.
One of my favorite resort quick service options at Disney is The Mara. You can read more about it in the Animal Kingdom Lodge review. But we also really enjoy eating at Capt. Cook’s, Poly’s main counter service option.
Capt. Cook’s is located off the lobby area of the Great Ceremonial House.
The restaurant has indoor seating but also shares an outdoor seating area with Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. At Captain Cooks, you’ll find burgers, chicken nuggets, plant-based items, salads, and more. In fact, the plant-based burger at Capt. Cook’s is worth trying if you are vegan.
Related: Captain Cooks Review
This location participates in mobile orders. You can order food from your room or the pool and then walk over and pick it up.
Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace has one of my favorite outdoor sitting areas at Walt Disney World. At this time the outdoor restaurant and bar have not reopened, but we should see it return in the near future.
The mood at the Tiki Terrace is laid back, as with the rest of the Polynesian vibe. In the evening, a musician comes out from time to time and plays a few tunes.
As one can probably expect, there is a fun variety of drink offerings on the menu. Some of them even come in souvenir mugs when available. If you are looking for a true tropical hideaway, you will enjoy it here.
Inside the Great Ceremonial House, there is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. It is a separate location from the Tiki Terrace we just discussed.
Kona Cafe is another fabulous offering at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Prices are moderate here, and they offer an American along with Polynesian style menu.
Related: Kona Cafe Review
‘Ohana is also off the second floor of the lobby and normally offers two services per day. The first is the Polynesian’s character breakfast in the morning that’s an all-you-care-to-enjoy skillet meal. Stitch, Lilo, Pluto, and Mickey Mouse are present for this breakfast meal.
Related: Disney World Character Dining
Dinner service is also available and potentially a harder-to-book reservation due to its popularity. This is where different offerings of meat are served to the tables on skewers, among other things.
Tambu Lounge is also on the second floor and offers a bar and lounge-style seating. The lounge actually extends over to the seating area in the far distance. There is, on occasion, a server waiting on these areas, particularly when it’s busy.
Furthermore, this is a nice stop while waiting on that dining reservation text from Kona Cafe or ‘Ohana. This is also where you pick up that drink that comes in a pineapple. Lapu Lapu is the formal name.
Check-in for Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner show is in the Polynesian lobby. The show is actually outside and toward the left side of the resort. (Reminder that ‘Ohana, Spirit of Aloha, Trader Sams, and Tiki Terrace might not be available until after refurbishment.)
The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Luau Cove offers hula dancing, fire dancing, and more entertainment. This is one of the few places I have yet to attend, but you can check out all the details here on Disney’s site.
Now for the most important questions of all in this review of Disney’s Polynesian. Can you get a Dole Whip at the Polynesian Resort? Yes, yes, you can!
The Pineapple Lanai is a fun walk-up window for the famous soft serve. You will find it when you walk out the back doors of the Great Ceremonial House to the immediate left.
Right behind the Great Ceremonial House, you will find the Polynesian’s famous Lava Pool. Therefore, on the backside of the pool is the popular Barefoot Pool Bar.
Do you have to be a guest to use the Polynesian’s Barefoot Pool Bar? No, they have a separate area within the pool fencing for guests. Down on the marina side, you will find a large open window that serves anyone visiting Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
If you are a guest, the pool area has a nice seating area with a beautiful lagoon view.
For those wanting to pick up a sweet treat, the Kona Island stand is something you’ll want to look into a little further on your vacation.
Kona Island is your last call for carbs, pre-made sushi, and more while headed out of the Polynesian toward the monorail stop. Here is a look at a few items in the case.
Additionally, Disney’s Polynesian secondary pool, the Oasis, has its own pool bar and grill. This location is a little off the beaten path and is primarily for guests staying at the resort.
On a side note, I wanted to mention that the Disney Dining Plan is not available at this time. Since there are so many dining options, I put together an entire Polynesian restaurant guide if you would like to learn more.
As far as our Polynesian Resort review goes, the resort gets high metrics for its pools and recreation activities. The Poly boasts one of the most fun-themed swimming areas on Disney property, a volcano pool.
The Lava Pool is the Polynesian’s feature pool area. It’s located directly behind the Great Ceremonial House lobby and is only a few steps away from the resort’s white sand beach.
Additionally, the Lava Pool has a zero-entry on one side, a waterfall feature, and a 142 ft long waterslide. (Make sure to check out its ranking on our best Disney World pools list.)
The waterslide is a lot of fun. It even goes under this little walkway before dumping you out at the bottom.
At the top, there is a traffic style light that turns green when it’s the next person’s turn. This day there was a long line of kids, but they kindly obliged to stop for a moment and let me take a picture.
Underneath the slide area, there is a walkway through a cave. Toward the center of the cave, you will find the restrooms and changing areas.
Note that there are no storage lockers at this pool. You are on your own with valuables if you bring any out.
There is, however, plenty of fresh towels in the restrooms and toiletries. If you desire, you can take a shower and leave from the pool area before heading to the airport or out for the evening.
You’ll even find a waterfall that pours out over the area. You can easily walk through here to access both sides of the pool without joining the pool party.
Aside from the Lava Pool, there is a large children’s water play area.
The Lava Pool also features a hot tube with a view. This is probably exactly where you want to be when it’s time for the nightly fireworks. Trust me!
Back behind the pool, there is a walkway along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon. This is one of my favorite places to spend time at Walt Disney World.
You will also find a volleyball net along with hammocks out on the beach area.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort has one of the most beautiful beaches to watch fireworks from or spend time taking in the views. Head out here on an evening visit to the resort to enjoy the sunset.
One of the great things about watching fireworks from the beach is that a speaker system is installed. This allows you to hear the music and narration of the nightly fireworks spectacular. It’s also quite pleasant because you won’t find yourself in the same kind of crowd as you would in the Magic Kingdom.
Speaking of avoiding crowds, the Polynesian doesn’t have a quiet pool. However, there is a second feature pool, the Oasis. The Oasis pool will typically be the one with fewer crowds.
Additionally, the Polynesian has Movies Under the Stars nightly, like many other Walt Disney World Resorts. Make sure to pick up a resort map upon check-in. The back of the map has the Polynesian’s recreation calendar. It will list any special events or entertainment being offered during your stay.
Related: Pools at Disney’s Polynesian
Touring the Polynesian
Touring Disney’s Polynesian Resort is an enjoyable experience. I have spent a lot more time here than I ever thought these past few years. It’s kind of funny how you tend to be into certain things more than others in life. I guess lately, I’ve been in tropical mode.
But what’s not to like with these kinds of views? Am I really even in Florida?
It really feels like Hawaii to me. Or at least how I somewhat imagine it. I haven’t actually been to Aulani, I mean Hawaii, yet.
Oh yes, it’s Florida. That’s the Grand Floridian Villas with an entirely different vibe in the background. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice there too! Isn’t that one of the best things about Disney? So many different options in one setting.
If I feel a bit like I need a beach vacation (my main mood), you’ll find me over at the Beach Club. I have a full review of Disney’s Beach Club here. And lately, I’ve spent a little time at the villas at Disney’s Boardwalk.
When I’m in the mood for something modern, it’s a toss-up between the Contemporary garden wing or staying DVC like in the Bay Lake Tower review. You can’t beat the proximity to Magic Kingdom from any of these resorts.
As you can see, the list goes on and on. There is a Disney resort for almost every stage of life or mood you are going through.
While you are touring the Polynesian grounds you might run into the Seven Seas marina.
The marina offers a variety of motorized boat rentals, fishing, and more. You can read more about these services here on Disney’s site if you would like to learn more.
Below is a sign indicating some of the fish you might catch while fishing in Bay Lake.
For those wanting to get a little exercise while staying at the Polynesian, you can walk next door and use the gym at Grand Floridian. It’s only a few steps away and one of the first buildings you’ll encounter when you reach the resort.
This Polynesian Resort review would not be complete without a look at the transportation offered at the resort. As mentioned earlier, monorail access is a huge benefit when staying here.
Monorail transportation is provided at Disney’s Polynesian Resort on the second floor of the lobby. Guests can use the resort monorail to transport to Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary, and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Additionally, guests can walk over to the Transportation and Ticket Center to catch a monorail to Epcot. The Epcot monorail has not returned to service but should in the future. At this time, you’ll need to take a bus to access that theme park.
The Polynesian offers boat service to Magic Kingdom. The boat usually travels between Magic Kingdom to Grand Floridian and then on to the Polynesian. After that, it makes its way back to Magic Kingdom, starting the route over.
The bus stop at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is outside and off to the left facing the Great Ceremonial House. It sits almost directly in front of Rarotonga.
Bus service is sometimes shared with the Grand Floridian Resort (review) next door. In addition, the Polynesian bus goes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, and the two water parks.
Lastly, guests can use the pathway that stretches from Disney’s Polynesian to Grand Floridian if they would like to take a walk or jog. A new pathway was recently completed, making it possible to walk between the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. Since the Polynesian is next door to the Grand, technically, guests can walk from the Poly to the Magic Kingdom.
Remember, when you stay at Disney’s Polynesian resort or any Walt Disney World resort for that matter, you do incur a parking fee per night of stay. They have a parking lot in front of the lobby and an additional parking lot in front of Pago Pago. That lot is referred to as the DVC parking lot.
Guests with dining reservations are allowed to park at no charge but will need to provide identification at the security gate.
Additionally, Disney’s Magic Express service is coming to an end in late 2021. Therefore, you’ll want to have your travel agent retain a car service if you are traveling between the airport and the Polynesian.
Whether it’s your first visit or 100th, I hope this Polynesian Resort review gave you a fresh perspective on visiting.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a must-visit if you haven’t done so recently. It’s nice to plan a meal here and spend a couple of hours enjoying the resort’s offerings.
And don’t forget about those new rooms when the resort opens in July.
For those on a tighter budget, I recommend a visit to the resort for a casual walk or a Dole Whip during your vacation. Sometimes I go over and jog back and forth between Polynesian and Grand Floridian around sunset.
If you need help planning and booking your next Walt Disney World vacation, contact our friends at Firefly Travels. They offer several different levels of travel service and will take good care of you.
For other Disney deluxe resort information, you might be interested in some of our other Disney World Hotel reviews. We love to stay at Disney’s Yacht Club (review) and make sure to check out the water view room photos.
And Disney’s Swan and Dolphin (full resort review) sits next door. They have been offering some pretty nice discounts lately, but you’ll need to call them to secure one.
If you liked the idea of staying at one of the villa resort, you might be interested in learning more about Disney’s Riviera Resort. The pool and dining options are big pluses at the Riviera.
You can browse my rankings for the best hotels at Disney here for more of a comparative approach. Or, if you are looking for more specific categories, check out the best Disney Moderate Resorts reviews or the best Value Resorts at Disney.
Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts or your own review of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Have you stayed here before?