Disney’s Polynesian Resort: You’re Welcome
This article is part of our series us folks at Not Club 33 call “A Spitting Match” Bobby from Cynical Disney is here to add some rebuttal to this article and you can read his full thoughts here.
Ok, ok, I see what’s happening here. You’re face to face with greatness, and it’s strange. You don’t even know how you feel
It’s adorable! Your choice in a Disney Resort doesn’t change. Open your eyes, let’s begin Yes, it’s really me, the Poly: breathe it in! I know it’s a lot: pools, the beach! Dole Whip within your reach! What can I say except, you’re welcome!
It comes as no shock to those who read my work regularly that I am quite the fan of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It’s my favorite place on the Walt Disney World property to stay and while I would stay pretty much anywhere Disney besides the All-Star Resorts (sorry, not sorry) I’d probably nix the Grand Floridian too (I’d have to get a killer deal to be comfortable tolerating the library-esque vibe of that joint). The Polynesian is where I look to first when I’m booking my WDW trips and here a just some of the reasons why.
The Atmosphere and Theming are simply fantastic. When you think of a vacation in greater Polynesia some of the first things you’ll envision are palm trees and lush vegetation, sandy beaches, and a general feel of relaxation. Check, Check, and Check!! Disney’s ticked all of those boxes and since it’s the House of Mouse they’ve plussed it. Adding soft ukulele music through the resort as you meander it’s winding pathways, kitchy yet seemingly authentic tiki decor (it just works) and at hotel check-in you’re greeted with a lei around your neck and the words “Aloha, Welcome home.” For those who want to indulge even more in that aloha feeling, head to the Great Ceremonial house for the Torch Lighting Ceremony which is free to enjoy (every day but Sunday and Monday). If you like what you see there you may choose to pony-up for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.
Bobby says: Not to put too fine a point on it, but the resort is in Florida. Palm trees are on the “Welcome To Florida” road sign. Kitschy is certainly a more apt description of the resort. The theming may work, but there are just much better examples of theming on property. AKL, Wilderness Lodge, Old Key West are examples of great theming, or if kitschy is your theme of choice, Boardwalk is kitschy as hell.
The Food and Beverage game is strong with this one. With so many dining options across the Parks and Resorts there are many many good places to eat and there are also some places you should probably just avoid (for shame Hollywood & Vine, Grand Floridian Cafe, Boardwalk “Pizza” Window). At the Polynesian the food options fall firmly into the former category. You’ve got Kona Island a wonderful sushi bar. Kona Cafe a nice casual sit down joint. Two pool bars (across the way at the Contemporary the “pool” bar is indoors, what in the actual fuck), The Tambu Lounge is a great place to get a cocktail before your dinner (or breakfast if you are so inclined) at O’hana (Pro Tip: you can order O’hana’s bread pudding from here just ask nicely). If that wasn’t enough they have Dole Whip, actual Dole whip like in the Magic Kingdom not eh “Pineapple Soft Serve” you get at Animal Kingdom Pop Century Resort (yes’ I know it’s the same stuff but it’s just like how mickey shaped foods taste better – you gotta have the real deal). Then there’s Trader Sam’s a badass bar that is filled with all things Jungle Cruise themed, with added touches from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride from yesteryear and a splash of Enchanted Tiki Room. Luckily for you, you can enjoy all these delicious options without the hassle of putting on a tuxedo or a fancy ball gown (sorry Vicky and Al) because you’re in Polynesia so as long as you look presentable you’re welcome to dine. The main draw is for dinner at O’hana with it’s open fire pit style kitchen and churrascaria style eating you get a meal filed with great meats and sides. Fun Fact a chef here once went into ninja-mode and saved Not Club 33 co-owner Pat Neistat At the end of your meal there is bread pudding, which is worth serving some jail time after fighting over it. *Editor’s Note: don’t be a dumbass – leave no witnesses. For the all you care to enjoy price point of $60 O’hana is pound for pound one of the best table service values on Disney property.
Bobby says: Trader Sam’s is bat shit crazy fun, and I’ll even give you the Dole Whip, and if you love O’hana that much, I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong for loving it. I think the money you’d spend at O’hana is better spent elsewhere, especially if you’re not a fan of pineapple. You don’t need to bring the Tux, but there’s nothing wrong with a golf shirt over at California Grill.
The Pool, Beach, and Waterplay are a major bonus. Outside of the waterparks and the mini-waterpark known as Stormalong Bay, the Lava Pool is the standard bearer for pools at Walt Disney World. With the baller-ass waterfall and waterslide and the exception kids splash area it’s hard to pry either kids or adults from the water. In fact for our upcoming stay it’s one of the reasons we elected to forgo the waterpark add=on to our Disney tickets. We usually schedule a pool day for our trips of 5 days+ to ease the burden on our feet and just to get away form the go-go-go of the Parks but when you stay at places like the Contemporary Resort (which we love) the pool leaves a lot to be desired, especially for Deluxe accommodations. With the Poly that’s not the case so we’re able to pass on the water parks and just chill at the pool and water areas all day. Maybe play game of sand volleyball, grab drinks at the Oasis Bar at the “quiet” Oasis Pool or the Barefoot Pool Bar at the Lava pool. There’s boat rental options and even fishing excursions you can take. Or you can head over to the beach and grab a hammock for a nap. If that hammock is occupied be sure to dump it’s occupant onto the sand before you commondier your new sleeping vessel. *Editor’s Note: don’t be a dumbass – leave no witnesses.
Bobby says: I absolutely agree with you on all fronts…but only because all of these options are available to you at many resorts, including the Beach Club, which has the aforementioned mini-water park Stormalong Bay. The Beach Club is also cheaper to stay at, and offers many more hiding places for when you dump that hammock occupant.
Disney Vacation Club saves the day in more ways than one. There was a dark time in the the history of the Poly that many a fanboy such as myself has conveniently overlooked in the late 2000s and early 2010s the Polynesian was beginning to show its age. It wasn’t slum by any means but it certainly was not worth the price tag Disney was asking. Luckily the company’s appetite for adding a Disney Vacation Club into every crevice of Mouse owned real estate swooped in to save the day. Since the new DVC rooms would share amenities with the rest of the Polynesian, Disney could just refurb part of the place so a rehab was scheduled and a few years later in 2015 we got the nicely updated resort we have now. But there’s more to this story and this goes for any resort that shares their property with a Disney Vacation Club. For the uninitiated DVC is the company’s timeshare program and owners are allowed to use their points book rooms for anyone they want to. Many owners who aren’t going to use their points that year will rent them to you. I recommend using a top-rated rental service to facilitate the transaction David’s is one very reputable company, but we here at Not Club 33 personally use dvcrentalstore.com. For a popular hotel like the Poly you’re going to pay $18 per point and if you can book during the “Adventure” Season (aka Value Season – like when kids are traditionally in school) the going rate is 16 points per night putting you at $288 – go ahead and lookup that rate directly from Disney….yes, you’re welcome. Now you could do this as a simple transaction between two parties without using the middle man for about $16 per point, but this can be risky since neither party really knows the other (as these are usually done by finding folks on message boards) so if you get burned you may end up using reverse lookup to find the person who wronged you and then you probably end up in jail *Editor’s Note: Don’t be a dumbass – leave no witnesses. The secondary plus side to renting DVC points is you get a bigger room, in fact at 440 square feet they are the largest studio rooms on Disney Property and in my opinion they are a bit nicer than the Standard Room you get in from the regular Polynesian hotel allotment. If your wallet runs deeper than the average guest you can opt for the Bungalow option which is fucking ridiculous but if you’ve got ridiculous money go for it – and probably join the real Club 33 whilst you’re at it.
Bobby says: I’m glad you admit it wasn’t worth the price tag, since that’s the crux of my argument. In my subjective opinion, it’d be more worth the price if they were charging the same rates as 2010. That said, you’re dead on about the DVC side of things my friend. I have a lot of experience with DVC and it’s absolutely the best way to stay, with the exception of those Bungalows. See my post for a more in-depth look at those.
Location and Transportation are key to any Walt Disney World Vacation. So, if you’re spending 20 minutes on a bus riding around your hotel using the internal busses then it’s another 20 minutes waiting for the Park bus then another 20 minutes to actually drive to the Park you’re stealing at least two hours per day from your time in the Parks (more if you come back mid-day for naps, etc) and if you weren’t aware by now, park tickets are fucking expensive. So the less time you spend fucking around with a bus the better. Luckily most Deluxe Resorts don’t have this issue (for shame Animal Kingdom Lodge, for shame) thusly the Polynesian has just one bus stop for taking you to Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, the Water Parks and Disney Springs. Where it gets even better is the fact that via the monorail you can reach the most attended theme park in the world, the Magic Kingdom – no bus needed. Just hop your ass on the monorail from the second floor of the lobby (after a brief security checkpoint) and the Magic Kingdom is stop number two – and since you’ve already cleared security at the hotel no need to do so again to enter the Park. On your way back to your room you can board the express monorail back to the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC), from there it’s just a five minute walk to the Polynesian. Speaking of the TTC, that’s also where you can board a monorail to Epcot so a simple five minute walk to the TTC from the Polynesian and you’ll climb on Disney’s highway in the sky en route to my favorite theme park. And if you want a change of pace, you’re covered there too cause there’s a boat bitches!! That’s right head out the the marina at the Polynesian and grab a seat on the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon, your first stop is the Magic Kingdom, on the way back the Polynesian is the second stop after the Grand Floridian. When it comes to the convenience of location and transportation the Polynesian is the proverbial shit.
Bobby says: I mean, the monorail is literally falling apart and trying to kill us. I’ll skip it the next time I’m at Disney. Boats are certainly a great way to travel to MK, but boats don’t go to Epcot. There aren’t any alternatives to get to Epcot other than the Monorail, which, again, is trying to kill us
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort ticks all the boxes. So if you’re looking to spend the money for a Deluxe Disney resort don’t miss out on the awesome theming, food, location, and transportation options. add in great pools, bars, and a relaxing atmosphere and you can see why I’ve rated it the #1 resort in our rankings. If you’re a guest that usually stays on a moderate Resort, now that you’re privy to DVC points renting (you’re welcome), I’d strongly encourage you to see if this beautiful resort can fit into your budget next time. If not you could always rob a bank and then book a room in the Bungalows. *Editor’s Note: don’t be dumbass – leave no witnesses.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on the Poly and Bobby’s comments in rebuttal. Make sure to read his full negative review here as the other half of this “Spitting Match” and while your at it head over to cynicaldisney.com and support his site.