Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing our reviews of the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World.Like a lot of Disney fans, I dreamed of staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. We finally splurged on a stay for our 10th wedding anniversary. We only stayed two nights but it was enough time to get a feel for the resort since we didn’t visit the parks. Our review covers the good and the not so great (nothing was bad.)
The theme of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is mean to take you away to the South Pacific. That theme plus the retro vibe, the resort was opened in 1971, is what really made me want to stay at this resort.
The theme is apparent from the very beginning. There is lush greenery and waterfalls surrounding the entrance and you recieve a lei if you are a resort guest.
The Grand Ceremonial House is where you check in. It’s also where you’ll find most of the resorts restaurants (the Spirit of Aloha in Luau Cove, a short walk from the main part of the resort.)
It’s also where the gift shops are located. Moana Mercantile is upstairs and has Disney souvenirs plus a selection of grocery items. BouTIKI is downstairs and is my favorite because of the tikis found throughout. You’ll find resort specific souvenirs here and some Trader Sam’s branded items.
We stayed in a standard view room in the Fiji longhouse. This was a first for us for two reasons. We had never stayed at the Polynesian before and it was the first time we stayed in a room that wasn’t wheelchair accessible.
The room was great. The Polynesian’s rooms are big, 415 square feet, compared to other standard rooms at Walt Disney World. Most rooms have two queen beds, a sofa that coverts to a bed, chair, dresser with a built in flat screen television, and a desk. There are also a few rooms with king beds but the are not in every longhouse.
The entrance to the room is where you’ll find the closets, mini fridge, and coffee maker. The closet is also we’re you’ll find the safe, iron, and ironing board.
The bathroom was really nice and one of my favorites at Walt Disney World. I felt okay staying in a non-accessible room because I could still roll under the sinks and the bathroom was large enough for me to roll around in easily. You can request a seat for the bathtub (like we did at the BoardWalk) but keep in mind there are no grab bars in the tub like in the wheelchair accessible version.
There are also DVC rooms located in some on the longhouses as well as the bungalows located on the water. Disney Tourist Blog has a great overview.
And if you need help deciding which longhouse you want to request, TikiMan has the best information. We really liked Fiji because you can get a great view and only book a standard room. You either have a view on the marina with the Lava Pool in the distance or the lagoon and the wedding pavilion on the other side. The only downside was we could hear the music from the patio at Trader Sam’s until midnight
I think the Polynesian has some of the best resort dining on property. I can really think of only one other resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where I love all of the counter service and table service options. Plus, you can get Dole Whips and there is not only one awesome bar but two.
The main quick service option at the Polynesian is Captain Cook’s. It’s open 24 hours which is really nice if you are getting back late from the parks and want a snack. You can get Tonga Toast here from breakfast and it’s a little cheaper than the Kona Cafe version. I also love the options for lunch and dinner. The Pan Asian Noodles and Vegetables and Fish Tacos are our favorites.
Barefoot Pool Bar is at the main Lava Pool and the Oasis Bar & Grill at the quiet pool. The Barefoot Pool Bar only offers drinks but the Oasis has some nice options if you don’t want to walk all the way over to the Great Ceremonial House.
‘Ohana is a favorite of a lot of people. We’ve eaten there only once for dinner and we recently tried out the Best Friends Breakfast. Both meals are family style which works better for us than a buffet but it’s SO much food. I think ‘Ohana is meant to be enjoyed with a big group of people so we’ll probably head back when we visit with family or friends.
We love Kona Cafe. A lot of people will tell you it’s a hidden gem but I think the secret is out. 🙂 It’s been crazy crowded the last two times we have visited. But breakfast is delish and it’s an awesome option when you don’t want to do quick service. It’s also one of the few places at WDW with a menu that is a little different for lunch and dinner.
We really like the Tambu Lounge but we don’t visit often because it’s usually filled with people waiting to get into ‘Ohana. But since ‘Ohana is closed for lunch you can sometimes time it right and not have to deal with a crowd.
Trader Sam’s Grogg Grotto deserves it’s own post (I’ll get to that soon) but you have to visit at least once. The themeing is worth it alone but the drinks are really good and we love the food too. You’ll want to get there early to get a pager or expect a wait.
If you don’t want to wait, sit outside on the Tiki Terrace. It has it’s own specialty drink and there is live music in the evenings.
So what if you want to enjoy some great food but would prefer to hang out in your room? The Polynesian is a GREAT resort to splurge on room service. Andrew had run the Walt Disney World Marathon earlier in the day and by the time dinner rolled around he was ready to just relax. The room service menu is basically a best of menu from the resort’s restaurants. You can even have the full ‘Ohana experience if you order the Polynesian Twilight Feast. We ordered the Coconut-Almond Chicken which came with a huge salad and the Pan-Asian Noodles.
Everything comes wrapped up with all of the accompaniments for your dishes plus silverware. They roll an entire table into your room and you just have to call to have them come pick it up. If you need drinks those are available too as well as some wine and beer options. It was so nice relaxing in our room and having a great meal.
The Polynesian is great and accessible but there are a few things to consider before you make a reservation.
There are nice sidewalks leading to every part of the resort. However, around the marina there is a lot of stone which means a very bumpy ride. I actually went pretty slow because I thought my wheelchair might fall apart! (Not really, but it was that rough.) Fiji is a great building when it comes to location but since it is so close to the marina you are going over those stones every time. On our next stay I will probably request a different building on the other side of the pool like Samoa or Niue.
I think the elevator in the Great Ceremonial House is original to the building, or close to it. That means it’s not very big and it’s slow. It does the job but the Polynesian is a popular resort so there are always a lot of people visiting or eating at one of the restaurants. That means that families with strollers need to use the elevator too and that can lead to congestion during peak times. The Great Ceremonial House also features bumpy floors but they are not as bad as the ones located outside.
Lots of people visit the Polynesian just to check it out, grab a Dole Whip, and watch the fireworks from the beach. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, we’ve visited when we weren’t guests, but it does lead to some headaches. It took us almost 20 minutes one night just to get off the monorail, navigate the crowd waiting for ‘Ohana, and take the elevator to the first floor so we could get to our room. Just keep in mind that this resort will almost always be busy.
Things we loved: the theme, the Cast Members, our room and view, the food, access to the monorail, and being able to walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center.
Things that weren’t so great: the crowds, the price, the boats to the Magic Kingdom are not wheelchair accessible, and the stone/uneven/super bumpy walkways.
When you pay the amount you do for the Polynesian I don’t think anything is a “small” annoyance. But even with all of these little things we had a great time. I just don’t know if I would choose the Poly over the Contemporary or Wilderness Lodge (we haven’t stayed at the Grand Floridian yet) if I want to stay at a Magic Kingdom resort. But I will say that if this resort is on your Disney bucket list and in your budget, you won’t be disappointed.
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