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Disney's Polynesian Resort: A Resort Hotel Review

Walt Disney World photo
by Kara Costello, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 03-10-2011
  

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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.

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.



Polynesian -Theme Pool photo
Polynesian -Theme Pool

The theme pool at the Polynesian Resort. - photo by Jennifer Marx

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

Save This Tip


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!


Polynesian - 'Ohana Show Kitchen photo
Polynesian - 'Ohana Show Kitchen

The "show kitchen" at 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. - photo by Jennifer Marx




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

Related Links:
The Art of A Smooth Check-in At Walt Disney World - Save Time and Trouble On Your Next Trip last updated 12/04/2008
Disney's All Star Movies Resort - Big "Blockbuster" Fun On a Small "Indie" Budget last updated 01/20/2009
Disney's All Star Music Resort - Quality Lodging For a Song last updated 1/13/2009
Disney's All Star Sports Resort - The Original Value last updated 1/13/2009
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - The "Perfect" Resort for Teenagers last updated 1/13/2009




Reader Comments:


Hello all - we just got back Monday from 9 days at the Polynesian, and we loved it!! Here's what we found:

1) Food options - lots!! We stayed at the BC last year, and there seemed to be so much more at the Poly. We ate at both O'Hana and Kona, and liked both. We also got food nearly every day at Captain Cooks and the Kona coffee counter. Good coffee! Loved those Mickey waffles too...

2) Pool - fun! Small, but we were not there during a super busy week, so it was totally fine. I liked that I could sit by the pool and actually see the kids, whereas at Stormalong Bay you really had to watch closely to keep an eye on them. Kids (and me!) loved the slide. It was long with twists and turns. DH and I also took advantage of the bar by the pool, and it was fun being on the beach!

3) Room - We were in 1409 in Tuvalo. We had an MK view, and could see the fireworks very clearly along with the water show. Room was a good size, and mousekeeping was great. Bed was really uncomfortable! Felt like it was old with big dips on each side, but we managed. What's up with the fans in the bathroom? Not good. Things got very steamy in there.

4) Location - IDEAL! Monorail, buses - everything very convenient. We were extremely happy that we made the decision to stay at a monorail resort. BC was great last year, but we were always waiting for a bus to the MK, it seemed.

5) Decor - Loved it! Beautiful and lush! Didn't think that it was really my kind of theme, but I ended up really loving it. Christmas decorations were also really nice.

6) Shopping - good options here. I liked that there was more than one shop, with a variety of types of merchandise. We took full advantage and ended up having to ship some things home!

7) Service - good, good, and good!!!!

Verdict - we all loved it and can't wait to go back!!

     julieb on December 19, 2007 @ 10:32 am
That is great to hear.

I am surprised about the bed. They replaced the beds with the same that are used at the GF in 2006 and I found them to be the most comfortable I have ever been on. Maybe that room never got the new bed. I know they were short of some of the new room items for a few of the rooms.

Thanks for the report and glad you had a good time. Someone else just got back that emailed me and said they were in Tuvalu 1407. I was i 1411 in 1998.

Aloha

Steve

     tikiman on December 19, 2007 @ 10:43 am
Glad you enjoyed it.

     Lemap760 on December 19, 2007 @ 10:46 am
Glad you had a great time smiley for :D

     Colexis Mom on December 19, 2007 @ 10:59 am
Thanks Steve - I loved this resort, but the bed was definitely old!! It can't have been replaced in the last year, or at least I don't see how it could have gotten that bad that quickly. Great resort overall, though. It must feel like your personal resort! I love your web site, and referred to it often before our trip!

     julieb on December 19, 2007 @ 11:06 am
Glad you loved the Poly! While we have never stayed there..We DO visit it every time we are at the World! It, Like the C.R. just has a great Disney feel to it!

     mttafire on December 19, 2007 @ 11:16 am
Glad you had such a wonderful time....

     mcc0313 on December 19, 2007 @ 11:41 am
We're staying there next Sept with a MK view and so it's great to read yet another great review! smiley for :)

     Principessa_di_Fata on December 19, 2007 @ 12:17 pm
I have not checked o the status of Tuvalu for a while but when they were doing building by renovations, there were a few buildings and floors that were behind schedule of being finished. I remember that when Tuvalu was being done that the first floor was not done initially so maybe they still have not caught up on ordering all the beds for Tuvalu.

     tikiman on December 19, 2007 @ 12:21 pm
Great review - thanks! smiley for :)

We haven't stayed at the Poly for several years now, but we always visit and definitely would like to stay there on our next trip.

One thing we enjoyed while visting this April was the re-habbed Captain Cook's. We loved some of the new menu items, and the touch-screen ordering process.

Your review makes me want to stay there ASAP!

     HakunaMatata on December 19, 2007 @ 1:08 pm
Glad you enjoyed it!!

     lauren-roxy on December 19, 2007 @ 1:40 pm
Glad you enjoyed it. We love the Kona Cafe. The decor is beautiful & it's my dream to stay there. We ate there & used the marina boat rental, & had a good walk around the resort. I was surprised at how small the pool was. While we are at WL in Jan. I plan on nipping over to the Poly for a meal.
Sue

     Sue M. on December 23, 2007 @ 12:52 am
Sounds like you had a great stay! smiley for :)

-B

     Bman on December 23, 2007 @ 2:42 pm
We are staying at the Poly next December. I have read several posts (another board) that the rooms at the Poly were not kept very clean--dusty rooms, sand on furniture, hair on bathroom floors. They felt that the maids were not doing their jobs.

     Erin's Mom on December 27, 2007 @ 11:59 am
Glad you liked it.
Poly is our favorite resort.

     Teresa on December 27, 2007 @ 12:35 pm
Glad to hear such a favorable report. We have stayed there once in the past and liked it but we are BClubbers at heart.

     piratefreak on December 27, 2007 @ 12:37 pm
tikiman;1865260 >That is great to hear.

I am surprised about the bed. They replaced the beds with the same that are used at the GF in 2006 and I found them to be the most comfortable I have ever been on. Maybe that room never got the new bed. I know they were short of some of the new room items for a few of the rooms.

Thanks for the report and glad you had a good time. Someone else just got back that emailed me and said they were in Tuvalu 1407. I was i 1411 in 1998.

Aloha

Steve

Hi, we are staying at the Polynesian in April. I have already reserved a themepark view and was wondering do you have any suggestions. I understand there are only 2 long houses that have themepark that are not concierge. We didn't do concierge as we didn't think we would take advantage of it with 4 year olds (soon to be 5). I understand we need to call about a week before to ensure we have a balcony or patio because some houses have "fake" balconies on the second floor. Any other suggestions would be great...also, I hope the beds are new also..any way to find that out?

     Lori Jakiela on December 28, 2007 @ 8:44 am
I'm glad you had a great time, we stayed at the CBR this month which was nice but waiting for the buses with a toddler in a stroller got to be a little too much. So we decided upgraded to a deluxe resort and stay at the Poly on our next vacation in December 2008, just the thought of having the monorail right at our door step makes me excited, I have always heard great things about it and can't wait to go.

     valegirl5292 on December 28, 2007 @ 10:15 am
Erin's Mom;1870941 >We are staying at the Poly next December. I have read several posts (another board) that the rooms at the Poly were not kept very clean--dusty rooms, sand on furniture, hair on bathroom floors. They felt that the maids were not doing their jobs.

We didn't have that problem at all, fortunately. I remember reading that same type of complaint about the Beach Club before we stayed there last December, but we didn't have any problems there, either. I'm sure that it depends on who you get, so like anything else, it's variable. We were very happy with the cleanliness of our room, and I'm a neat type of person, so I'm picky!! I'm sure that you won't be disappointed with the Poly. We truly loved the hotel!!!

     julieb on December 28, 2007 @ 10:55 am

     julieb on December 28, 2007 @ 11:17 am
I've never stayed anywhere but the Poly. (my DD hates change) There's just something about that place that is so amazing. Everyonce in a while I'll smell a certain flower somewhere and it's like walking through the doors at the Polynesian. Can't get enough of it!! The food, the location, the service...it's perfect!

     ChristyLeni on December 28, 2007 @ 11:36 am
julieb;1871817 >We didn't have that problem at all, fortunately. I remember reading that same type of complaint about the Beach Club before we stayed there last December, but we didn't have any problems there, either. I'm sure that it depends on who you get, so like anything else, it's variable. We were very happy with the cleanliness of our room, and I'm a neat type of person, so I'm picky!! I'm sure that you won't be disappointed with the Poly. We truly loved the hotel!!!



Thanks, julieb. Even though it's almost a year away, I'm getting excited. I've been checking out Tikiman's site.

     Erin's Mom on December 28, 2007 @ 4:07 pm
Glad you had a great time at the Poly! It is so beautiful there! :love: I don't think I would have been happy with the bed situation, though...

     ilovedisney0_0 on December 28, 2007 @ 5:48 pm
I'm glad to hear you had such a great time there. smiley for :)

     chezp on December 29, 2007 @ 4:38 am
Erin's Mom;1870941 >We are staying at the Poly next December. I have read several posts (another board) that the rooms at the Poly were not kept very clean--dusty rooms, sand on furniture, hair on bathroom floors. They felt that the maids were not doing their jobs.

I think you have to take some reviews with a grain of salt. I did the same before my last trip to CBR, reading reviews on lots of sites. Some complained about the cleanliness of the rooms. So I was a little worried.

Our room was spotless. Mousekeeping was great. Busses were prompt 98% of the time (& we were there 10 days).

Sue

     Sue M. on December 29, 2007 @ 11:51 am
I haven't stayed at the Poly since I was a kid! I wish I could afford it for our next trip, but since we're staying 10 days it was out of the question. (We've got a standard room at AKL) I love the decor, but DRM (room mate) preferred AKL and a longer stay!

     ilovedisney247 on December 29, 2007 @ 8:11 pm
Glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. Your review really helps others, so thank you so much for sharing! smiley for :D

I'm trying to get DH to spend at least one night at the Poly in May, but my powers of persuasion are not working all that well.smiley for ;)

     wdwlovers on December 29, 2007 @ 8:13 pm
I can't wait until we can stay at the Poly :now: That is a few trips away for us, but it will happen smiley for :D

     KrisLuvsDisney on December 29, 2007 @ 8:16 pm
wdwlovers;1873159 >Glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. Your review really helps others, so thank you so much for sharing! smiley for :D

I'm trying to get DH to spend at least one night at the Poly in May, but my powers of persuasion are not working all that well.smiley for ;)


Just book it! Seriously, though, thanks. I had fun with my little write-up, and I hoped that someone would find it either of interest or of use. We certainly had a wonderful trip, so it was something that I enjoyed sharing!! smiley for :thanks:

     julieb on December 31, 2007 @ 3:25 pm
ilovedisney247;1873153 >I haven't stayed at the Poly since I was a kid! I wish I could afford it for our next trip, but since we're staying 10 days it was out of the question. (We've got a standard room at AKL) I love the decor, but DRM (room mate) preferred AKL and a longer stay!



The AKL is known for its free upgrades. It doesn't hurt to ask for an upgrade when you check in. The Lodge is beautiful and the African CMs are really great to talk to.

     Erin's Mom on January 1, 2008 @ 1:43 pm
So glad you enjoyed your stay at the Poly!
We adore this resort, for many reasons!
We stayed there last April and thought the beds were very comfortable!
And Kona is definitely one my all time favorite places to eat!
Thanks for the review!

     Luvsun on January 2, 2008 @ 11:53 pm
So glad to hear you loved the Poly -- It's an amazing resort. We stayed there in 2002 and loved it as well. smiley for :)

     dzlovesdisney on January 3, 2008 @ 2:19 pm
We are going to the Poly in Oct/Nov for 10 days for our 10th Anniversary and my 40th Birthday...and reading your review and the other responses...I am getting soooo excited to stay there!!!

Thank you!! smiley for :D

     dsteiny23 on March 25, 2008 @ 8:38 pm
I cant wait to be able to stay at this resort...just visiting here makes you fell relaxed and calm.

     Starla4436 on March 25, 2008 @ 11:04 pm
Glad you enjoyed your stay...the Poly is like my dream resort so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Glad you got to really enjoy it for all it's benefits...

     mcc0313 on March 25, 2008 @ 11:07 pm
I am so looking forward to staying there in a couple weeks! Will let you know....

     Lori Jakiela on March 26, 2008 @ 7:29 am
The Polynesian is such a gorgeous resort!! I'm so glad that you had a magical trip here! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!!

     Cinderbrella on March 26, 2008 @ 8:59 am
Lori Jakiela;1988378 >I am so looking forward to staying there in a couple weeks! Will let you know....

Please update us with your trip when you get back as well. My DH doesn't understand, he thinks I'm ruining any surprises or spontaneity, but as far as I'm concerned reading about other experiences on this site only makes the anticipation that much better!!! smiley for :)

     dsteiny23 on March 26, 2008 @ 10:54 am
dsteiny23;1988623 >Please update us with your trip when you get back as well. My DH doesn't understand, he thinks I'm ruining any surprises or spontaneity, but as far as I'm concerned reading about other experiences on this site only makes the anticipation that much better!!! smiley for :)

I definitely will! My kids were looking at the pictures of the resort last nite. My little boy can't wait to see the Volcano pool.

     Lori Jakiela on March 28, 2008 @ 8:00 am
We'll be there in Dec! I haven't been to the Poly since I'm about 12 years old = I'll be 37 in June = so I'm am THRILLED! I want to hear as much as I can about it before we go. I'm so excited!

     GinaButtrfly on March 28, 2008 @ 8:09 am
We will be staying at the Polynesian in April, 5 nights. Can't wait. It will be our first time at this location. We need the break from these cold Cape Cod winters. Thanks for your tips Katie, I know I can trust someone from RS Nation smiley for :)

     RedSox Mickey on March 10, 2011 @ 10:37 pm
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