Aloha! Welcome to Disney's Polynesian Resort - Part I

Last month we got to spend a 8 days and 7 nights at Disney's Polynesian Resort.  I am a summer time, beach loving girl, so the Polynesian's themeing seemed like a perfect fit for my little beach babies and me (especially in the winter!)  Of course, the husband came along too, but as long as he has a pillow and a clean room, he could care less where he stays.

As a general disclaimer, even though I am a blogger and a travel agent, I was flagged as neither during my stay.  I booked my travel using a PIN code in my husband's name.  I did not get any sort of industry discount nor did I flash a business card or anything else that would identify me.  So this is 100% my experience as an average family visiting the Polynesian for a week....I was totally "incognito" (feel free to insert the Mission Impossible theme song here)

Of the several factors that I considered when choosing our hotel, I weighed transportation options the heaviest.  Yup, with all of the more glamorous factors to consider, buses, boats, and monorail were on the forefront of my mind.  I wanted to maximize my time in the parks, not waiting to get there.  Also, my crew is still young enough that we have strollers and afternoon breaks to consider.  That of course gave the edge to the monorail resorts.  But which one?  The Polynesian got the edge because not only is the Magic Kingdom just one stop (less than 10 minutes away), but you can actually stroll over to the TTC to get the Epcot monorail.  From our longhouse it was only about a 5 minute walk, only about 2 minutes longer than the stroll over to the Great Ceremonial House to get on the Resort/Magic Kingdom monorail. Throw in boat service to Magic Kingdom for fun, and pretty frequent buses to the other parks the Polynesian has, hands down, the best transportation options on property.

The themeing at the Polynesian is great.  The landscaping is lush and beautiful.  There are also several water features inside and out that are not only lovely, but manage to drown out some of the noise of the outside world.  Soft Hawaiian music is piped in through out the grounds.  At Christmas time, be sure to listen out for the 12 Days of Christmas song Hawaiian style (Numbah One day of Christmas my Tutu gave to me...).
The beach at the Polynesian is a great spot to relax.  I would have made more use of it, but the record lows in Orlando that week made the area slightly less desirable.  The beach is along the Seven Seas Lagoon and is made of pristine white sand.  You may think it was trucked in from some remote paradise location, but it was actually found when the Lagoon was dredged prior to the construction of the Magic Kingdom!  There are lounge chairs and hammocks available to stretch out on...and did I mention that your view is of Cinderella Castle?  In the evenings, you can relax and watch the Electrical Water Pageant float by.  (And laying in a hammock while watching the Wishes fireworks show, listening to the piped in soundtrack is my own little slice of heaven!)  On a side note, if you happen to be visiting during one of the hard ticketed parties at the Magic Kingdom like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, or Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, I urge you to seek out the beach to watch the fireworks.  Fireworks are not only shot from a location behind the castle, but from surrounding perimeter locations as well.  While spectacular from Main Street, the perspective you get from watching at the beach at the Poly is AMAZING!

The Polynesian has two pools, a quiet pool and a feature pool.  The quiet pool is your standard, garden variety, hole-in-the-ground type pool.  You do not have to be quiet to enjoy the pool, but it tends to be quieter and less crowded than the feature pool.  The feature pool is known as the Volcano Pool. The volcano itself houses a water slide.  Part of the interior of the slide is lit so that it looks like molten lava.  There are several lifeguards stationed at regular intervals around the perimeter of the pool, so it is as safe as can be for novice swimmers.  Both pools are heated so they can be enjoyed year around.  It was far to chilly for this girl to hit the pool, but there were several nights I walked by to see kids playing in the water with steam rising all around.  The poor parents were bundled and wrapped in a blanket pool side, but the kids were happy. 

There are several dining options at the Polynesian.  Room service is an option at this hotel, which can be a nice choice for breakfast or at the end of a long day.  My family did not put room service to the test, but judging from the frequency of empty trays left in the hallway, it seems like a popular option.  The quick service location is Captain Cook's grill.  We enjoyed a late dinner there one evening and a relaxed breakfast there on our departure day.  I will write a full review at some point in the future, but right now, I will leave it at "The Tonga Toast is not to be missed!"  The Kona Cafe is located on the 2nd floor of the Great Ceremonial House, near the monorail station.  We did not get to experience Kona, but we will most certainly be putting it on our "to do " list.  Also on the second floor is the famed 'Ohana.   The entire family enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and entertainment.  I will also be posting a review of this hard-to-book restaurant in the future. The only disappointment was that the children requested to eat there again during our stay, which was impossible, as it is such a popular spot.  Finally, there is the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.  Located on the beach at Luau cove, this dining experince looks like a lot of fun.

There are also great little shops in the Grand Ceremonial House.  Clever names abound including Samoa Snacks (say it out loud) and the Bou-tiki.  I saw lots of wonderful things there and at Trader Jacks, but neither had what I went in looking for.  First of all, nowhere at the Polynesian can you purchase milk in any size larger than a single serving container.  Annoying.  I also went in search of new underwear.  Someone, who shall remain nameless forgot to pack her underwear.  I am sure it had nothing to do with planning the entire vacation solo, struggling to keep the trip a surprise, and packing everything for everyone else all while staying under the 50lb weight limit for flying with a suitcase.  Anyway I was unable to secure extra underwear for myself  the poor lady who forgot hers.  (It was not as bad as it sounds, I had tucked a pair into my carry on luggage along with a change of clothes.  And thanks to static cling, I found another pair hitchhiking on one of my fleece shirts.  The  wear one, wash one, dry one each day was annoying, but I was glad I did not have to make alternate use of the hair dryer!)

As far as the decor of the resort goes, for me it was just ok.  In general, I would say it has a very dark wood dated 1970's Hawaii feel.  My husband described the Great Ceremonial house as almost "claustrophobic."  Personally, I prefer the more modern "light and airy" tropical feel.  However, in a weird sort of way, the "dated" feel kind of grew on me. I bet the people who had fond memories of the Polynesian as a child will instantly feel re-connected to the property.   My husbands assessment made me laugh with its accuracy..."I feel like I am trapped in the Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii episode.  Bobby, put down that tiki idol!"

You can read Part 2 of my review of the Polynesian here.  In the mean time, I took a stab at trying to edit together a brief video of our stay.  It is my first try at such an effort, so please be kind! Double click on the video to view entire screen.

While you are visiting out youtube channel feel free to check our Holiday Wishes video. It was spectacular! If you can hang in there past the first 45-55 seconds I recover from my tripod issues and everything is stable!

I would love to help you plan your next visit to the Polynesian or to any other resort! TMC Travel offers the same rates (and discounts) as if you booked through Disney directly, but with lots of extras. Please Email me if I can help!

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and articles.

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