Disney's Polynesian Resort

A Resort Hotel Review

by Kara Costello, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 03-10-2011

From the minute you set foot in the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, you feel as though you have been transported to a beautiful, tropical island.

You are surrounded by lush foliage, tropical birds, and a stunning waterfall. And you’re still in the lobby! Wait until you explore the rest of the Polynesian Resort.

Polynesian -Theme Pool photo
Polynesian -Theme Pool

The theme pool at the Polynesian Resort.

The Great Ceremonial House is the main building of the Polynesian, and houses all the services a guest could need - check-in, guest services, shopping, and restaurants. There are no guest rooms in the Great Ceremonial House – these are spread out among the 11 longhouses: Tonga (which houses the suites), Aotearoa, Fiji, Tuvalu, Hawaii (the concierge building), Samoa, Niue, Rarotonga, Tokelau, Tahiti, and Rapa Nui. Disney is currently renovating the rooms at the Polynesian, one longhouse at a time, with very little disturbance to guests. The renovations to the guest rooms include the addition of flat-screen TVs and upgraded bedding. The rooms are spacious, with plenty of space in the drawers and closets. Many rooms have balconies or patios. Some even have a direct view of Cinderella Castle.

The location of the Polynesian Resort makes it perfect for Magic Kingdom fans. You can take the small resort launch across the lake, or the monorail, which stops at the Grand Floridian and then the Magic Kingdom. You can also walk from the Polynesian to the Ticket & Transportation Center to catch the Epcot monorail. Buses depart from outside the Great Ceremonial House to the Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, and the water parks.

Say you’re taking a day off from the theme parks and are wondering what there is to do at the Polynesian. Plenty! The Polynesian has two pools - one quiet pool, and the main resort pool, a themed pool located beyond the Great Ceremonial House. The themed pool has a smoking volcano waterslide, and is zero-entry, meaning you can walk right in, just like you would at the beach. No more steps or ladders to climb down. There is a snack bar located just to the side of the volcano pool, for sodas, tropical drinks, and quick snacks.

Speaking of snacks, you have plenty of options for snacking if you can tear yourself away from the pool. Located on the ground floor of the Great Ceremonial House is Captain Cook’s, a quick service location that serves great burgers, chicken strips and more. They also have a fairly new “Grab & Go" section with prepared foods ready to go. Upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House, there is a coffee bar located right near the monorail station, perfect for a quick cup on your way out to the parks. 'Ohana and the Kona Café are the table service restaurants of the Polynesian. Lilo and Stitch host breakfast at 'Ohana, while at dinner, it’s an all you can eat feast with skewers loaded with grilled pork, beef, chicken, and turkey. The Kona Café, in addition to their great menu, has amazing desserts. In the mood for a show with dinner? Check out the Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau, held nightly in Luau Cove, weather permitting. The Luau, while recently re-invented, has been entertaining guests since the resort’s opening in 1971.

Want to work off some of those calories? Then hit the shops at the Polynesian! There are several stores located in the Great Ceremonial house, where you can purchase anything from artwork (Wyland Galleries), to clothing (BouTIKI) to souvenirs (Trader Jack’s) to snacks (Samoa Snacks.) You may even find a grass skirt for sale!

Still looking for something fun? Kids can burn off extra energy on the playground or in the arcade. Or you can rent a boat from the marina to take a cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake. There is always something fun to do at the Polynesian.

At night, the tropical ambiance is just amazing. The Polynesian’s pathways are lit by flaming torches, while Polynesian music wafts through the air. Find a spot on the beach or boat dock and watch the Electric Water pageant float by. Make sure you don’t miss the great views of the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes fireworks show, which can be seen from several points on the Polynesian property.

Tip: Go to the Back of the Monorail
My husband and I just returned from a week at the Walt Disney World Resort. In using the monorial systems, the best seating isn't in the "front row" -- it's in the back! The monorail fills up in the front and middle first leaving the back cars nearly empty! Next time you're traveling the circuit, check out the back where you actually have a chance to sit down and not be overly crowded. One last thing though -- remember to follow the instructions of the cast members if they instruct you to another seat. - tip contributed by Katie
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Polynesian - 'Ohana Show Kitchen photo
Polynesian - 'Ohana Show Kitchen

The "show kitchen" at 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.

All in all, the Polynesian has everything a great resort could offer, plus easy access to Disney magic to boot. If you choose the Polynesian for your next Disney vacation, you will have a wonderful time. Aloha!

About the Author: Kara Costello lives in South Boston, MA, and works for an HMO when not planning her next Disney vacation.

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Updated 03-10-2011 - Article #597 

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