VIAGGI – FAMILY TRAVEL
Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort is the crown jewel of accommodations at the Mouse’s House. (See below for more photos.) Some would argue that the honor really goes to the more sophisticated Grand Floridian or the Contemporary with the monorail moving right through it. But the Polynesian is not as stuffy as GF, nor is it as modern as the Contemporary. It’s the perfect balance of luxury and whimsy. It reeks of nostalgia, and it’s just plain pretty. That’s probably why it’s always called to me, but it always seemed too expensive to justify.
Until February 2016, I had only ever stayed at the resort once – for a weekend that I gave as a wedding gift to my husband in 2008. Frankly, if it weren’t for the discount of my relatives (who worked at the resort at the time), I never would have been able to afford it. Disney is expensive. Really expensive. And the Polynesian is among its costliest accommodations. (There are different categories of hotel, with the most affordable being value resorts, and the most expensive being deluxe resorts or villas, which are the most expensive.) Polynesian is a deluxe resort.
Without any promotions, the cheapest rooms are upward of $600 per night. In the last few years, the Polynesian has added longhouses (those are the complexes where the rooms are) that are part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). These are known as villas. If you’re not a DVC member, you can still make reservations directly with Disney for one of these rooms, some of which have kitchens and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. The Deluxe Standard room is actually $456 per night for the first week in December at this moment, which is not a bad price considering how much money it costs for rooms in the rest of the resort. The bungalows – those fancy villas on the water – cost between $2,100 and $2,900 per night.
Right about now, you’re thinking, “Hey, crazy lady, I can never afford this. How could you?” Well, that’s a good question. I actually rented DVC points from the DVC Rental Store (which I will tell you about in a future post). For now, you should know that it’s a viable option and it’s significantly cheaper than going directly through Disney.
Why did I waste so much space in this review writing about cost? Well, I want you to know that I believe a stay at the Polynesian (if it fits in your budget via renting points) is well worth it. Here’s why:
- Location, location, location – The Polynesian is on the monorail line, which means getting to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and any of the Magic Kingdom resorts is super easy. When you have little ones or you make lots of dining reservations at the hot spots in that zone, this ease makes all the difference. It means having a more relaxed vacation. Whenever we stay at non-monorail resorts, which I’ve done many times and will probably do again, I have a great time but I feel like I need another vacation a week later after all that running around. While many people want pool views or castle views, I was perfectly fine to have a view of the parking lot because it meant I paid less for my room and was conveniently located within walking distance of the Ticket and Transportation Center, the hub for getting to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT or the resorts. (If you get the monorail outside the upstairs lobby of the Polynesian, you will have to transfer at the TTC to get to your ultimate destination.) We literally would roll out of bed, get dressed, walk to TTC and get wherever we wanted to go. And we could come back for a break during the day or before dinner whenever we wanted. We took Disney buses to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, all of which were on time and comfortable.
- Food, glorious, food – Some of my favorite restaurants are at the Polynesian resort. Ohana, with its dumplings and wings and all you can eat salad and shrimp and beef, and that delicious bread pudding is a must do. Although I didn’t have a great experience at breakfast there, you do get to meet and share photo ops with Lillo & Stitch (more on that in another future post, so there’s lots to which you can look forward). Kona Cafe and its Tonga Toast and sushi are the stuff of legend. And, hello gorgeous, you can get the Dole Whip, which only available at the Polynesian and Magic Kingdom and nowhere else. That alone might be reason to stay here. The luau is awesome and includes a fire eater. Yes, a fire eater. No need to say more.
- The pool is cool and so is the beach area. It’s in the shape of a volcano. If theming and kitsch are important to you, then the pool makes this place a winner. I’ve always loved the nearby beach area. Toward the end of our stay, we spent an afternoon playing in the sand and indulging in S’mores (at the fire pit). I imagine real Polynesia is way better, but this fantasy version is still a delight. There have been complaints that the pool area is crowded during the high season. I can’t comment on this but imagine it to be true because of the smaller size compared to other resorts. I have only been in the pool once, that first time I went to the Polynesian in 2008, and no one else was there because it was December, not exactly pool weather. This last time in February, it was too cold to bear the thought.
- The room rocks. The deluxe standard room has a pull-out couch and queen bed. Plus, a small pull out bed, fit for a child. My son kept promising to sleep there, but he usually ended up in bed with us. We left the couch closed. But what we loved most about the room was the double bathroom. There was one room with a tub, sink, and toilet and another with a shower and sink. It made getting ready easy, and they were both simply beautiful. One downside was the water in the shower would always – I mean always – end up on the floor no matter where you moved the shower head. Small price to pay, especially since there was a seat in the shower. Heaven!
If it wasn’t for the price, I’d say everyone should just go to the Polynesian. Since it’s so expensive, I say you should try to make it a Disney bucket list item. If you get to go more than once, all the better. The best news is that you can go to visit the Polynesian for a few hours (not the pool but the resort) for free. Just hop on the monorail and go. You can grab a bite or just walk around and take it all in.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I have a close relative who works for Walt Disney World, and she has helped me get discounts and entrance to the parks, but I paid in full to rent DVC rental points to stay at the Polynesian deluxe standard room and to get Deluxe Disney Dining privileges throughout this stay. And her position in no way influences my opinions or writing.