After nearly three decades of visits to Walt Disney World hotels, I finally had the opportunity to stay at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort as part of a recent visit. Here's what we thought of this popular deluxe option at Walt Disney World.
Booking Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
We had planned a five-night trip, and on anything longer than four we really like to try and do a split stay. Polynesian made a lot of sense for the first two nights of our trip for a few reasons.
First, we knew we'd be paying a visit to Trader Sam's Grog Grotto on the first night. Second, our first full day was going to be at Magic Kingdom from rope drop to park close. Finally, our third day was going to be at Animal Kingdom, which meant we'd be taking a bus or Uber in the morning regardless of where we stayed.
Polynesian is one of Disney's most expensive resorts. Some dates, when its cheapest rooms have all been booked, it even prices more expensive than Grand Floridian and Contemporary.
Standard View rooms at Polynesian range from $534 to $836 per night. Using a Sun & Fun deal, we were able to book two nights for $645 per night. We put the room on our Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3X points on travel.
Basics of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Polynesian was one of the original Walt Disney World resorts, the other being the Contemporary. As its name suggests, the resort has a Polynesian theme.
The resort is a Magic Kingdom area resort, connected to Magic Kingdom by monorail. Taking the monorail to Magic Kingdom requires a stop first at Grand Floridian. In the reverse direction, you'll pass through Contemporary and the Transportation & Ticket Center.
Besides its design and location, Polynesian shines with an excellent pool. We didn't spend enough time taking in the pool to really review it, but you can read more about it over at Disney Tourist Blog's Walt Disney World pool rankings.
Adults will probably love Polynesian most for its food and drink options, which we'll discuss more below. As a deluxe resort, Polynesian is a great option for people considering a resort day. You'd have awesome food and drink options all along the monorail along with a great pool and resort experience.
Our Room at the Polynesian
Our room, located in the Samoa building, had a view of the secondary pool. It was a standard room with two queen beds. Honestly, we were both a little disappointed with the rooms. Disney's recent refurbishments have trended more and more minimalist, and we find that leaves something to be desired.
The availability of USB ports between the beds, in addition to the outlets, is great. The TV was also a very respectable size. The bathroom was clean and spacious, but otherwise didn't impress.
Food & Drink at Polynesian Village Resort
Polynesian offers one of the best rosters of food and drink options in Walt Disney World. We'd place it tied with Animal Kingdom Lodge for best food and drink.
On the food side, you've got Kona Cafe, home to the Bloody Mary Flight and Tonga Toast. Then there's Ohana, with its character breakfast and festive dinner experience. And of course there's the Spirit of Aloha dinner show, a luau experience. Finally there's counter service available at Capt. Cooks and a few other spots around the resort if you're looking for a quick bite.
But let's face it, the real highlight of Polynesian are its bars, Tambu Lounge and, particularly, Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. The Grog Grotto is, hands down, our favorite bar in Walt Disney World and a must-visit for adults and families alike. We don't want to give too much away, but the Grog Grotto is a tiki bar with some of Disney's best theming and some extra flare that sets it apart.
It's a small space that can get a bit crowded these days, but the crowds definitely come and go. If you visit and wind up waiting with a buzzer, simply grab your first drink at the Tiki Terrace outside for a few minutes.
Transportation to/from Polynesian
We arrived at Polynesian via Disney’s Magical Express after one of the longer waits we’ve ever had at the airport.
As we discussed above, Polynesian is connected to Magic Kingdom and Epcot (via the transportation and ticket center) by Monorail. You can also take a boat to Magic Kingdom. Bus transportation will get you to Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Disney Springs.
These days, we use (and endorse) Uber when we need to get to rope drop or are in any other sort of rush. We spent $12 to get from Polynesian to Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner, for example.
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - Conclusion
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort does have its perks. There's excellent food and drink, and the location is great if you are going to be visiting Magic Kingdom a lot (especially important as you cannot conveniently Uber to Magic Kingdom). The overall design of the resort is also impressive, especially the lobby and pool.
But, and this is a big "but," it would be difficult to rank the resort higher than the more reasonably priced Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, even in its strongest areas. Theming is at a prime in those two resorts, and they're no slouches in food and drink. Does Polynesian beat them for location? Definitely. But that's about it.
Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one big thing about how we view Polynesian. Polynesian is not "Hawaiian" themed. It is Polynesian themed. This may seem insignificant, except Disney does have a Hawaiian themed resort, Aulani, in Hawaii. Aulani also happens to be the best hotel, and arguably best space, that Disney has created. Certainly we couldn't visit Polynesian without the exceptionally high standards of Aulani in mind.
While it didn't complete entrance us, some people are just going to love Polynesian. If the "Poly vibes" appeal to you, then there's really no downside to this resort other than its price.
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
Don't forget to master your Disney World Fastpass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.