Comparing Disney's Polynesian Standard Rooms and Deluxe Studios
After decades of dreaming of staying right on the monorail at Disney, we finally pulled the trigger and made that travel dream come true. I've already warned you against staying there....not because it isn't awesome, but because it might be too awesome. In other words, once you have stayed so close to the parks at a true Disney Resort, you may not want to save by staying elsewhere.
When we decided to stay at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort it was already relatively close to our travel dates, so while we would have probably preferred to rent Disney Vacation Club points from a friend for all of our nights so we could save a little and stay in one room type for our entire stay, the 'availability Gods' were not on our side as the deluxe studios you can rent with DVC points were only available for two of our three nights. The upside, however, is that gave me a good reason to try out both the Polynesian Deluxe Studios as well as the standard hotel rooms so I could share a little info about both room types.
After taking the included Magical Express Bus from the airport directly to the Polynesian, we were ready to enter our island themed oasis and start the fun!
Checking in at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
The Polynesian's theming is really pretty great from the moment you exit the bus and enter the tropical lagoon paradise flanked with lit tiki torches.
The waterfall that used to be in the lobby is gone, but that hasn't stopped the tall ceiling lobby from being a very grand space. We arrived to the resort a little after 4PM, and thankfully since we were now just past check-in time our room was ready after a brief wait at the check-in desk.
You are greeted to the Polynesian not only with access to your room, but also typically with leis that the girls loved!
The Polynesian is not one or two big buildings with lots of rooms, but instead the property has multiple named long houses spread out across the resort. Our standard hotel room was located in the Samoa long house with a view overlooking the pool. Some people develop preferences for specific longhouses, but note that those requests will just be requests and probably can't be guaranteed.
Ours was one of the eight original long houses built when the resort opened in 1971, but fear not as all of them were redone in recent years. We had just paid for the cheapest "standard view", so we lucked out a bit to be able to view the pool instead of just a parking lot or similar.
Standard Room at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Our standard room at Disney's Polynesian was a decent size for four people and had two comfortable queen beds with easy to work dimmer lights located next to the beds.
There was a couch that I enjoyed having so we have somewhere to organize and sort our stuff that isn't the floor, but also doesn't require putting it all away in drawers for just a one night stay.
Next to the bed there was also a full sized chair and lamp...my toddler even used it as a bed and fell asleep there for a short nap! We also used it at night to be part of a barrier to that side of the bed so that she wouldn't fall off the bed in her sleep.
The bathroom in Disney's Polynesian standard hotel room had a good amount of counter space, two sinks, and a shower/tub combo. It was perfectly functional for a family, and had ample soaps and towels available.
In the room there was one large complimentary bottled water as well as a little fridge that you could stock with your own goodies. We saved a ton by using this super easy method to have drinks and snacks from home delivered right to our Disney room!
We all enjoyed our one night in a standard room at Disney's Polynesian as the beds were comfortable, the theming was fun, everything was easy to work, and there was enough space for two adults and two children as well as their 'stuff'.
I was honestly a little sad when we had to pack up so soon the next morning and head to our Polynesian deluxe studio rented with DVC points. Really though I was sad that we were going to be without a room from check-out time at 11AM until check-in time at 4PM. My requests for late check-out or early check-in were denied, and I was told that early check-in virtually never happens. I totally understand Disney is very busy, but this reality wasn't going to mesh well with a toddler who needed a nap at some point in that timespan. In fact she was passed out at the 11AM check-out time.
Our plan was to try to have her nap in the lobby, which of course didn't really work. I explained our situation to the check-in desk cast members who at first couldn't do anything, but seeing our pathetic situation eventually said they would see if they could get our new room sooner. A little before 1PM I got a text that they did indeed work some magic and our new deluxe studio was ready for us.
This time our room was in the newer Tokelau longhouse that is close to the quieter pool and on the side of the resort closest to the Ticketing and Transportation Center. This is very handy when going to EPCOT as you can just walk to the TTC to take a monorail directly there!
Deluxe Studio at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
The Polynesian deluxe studio room had a very different feel from the standard room from moment you walked in with a warm orange dominated decor theme as opposed to the cooler green theme in the standard room.
Now here's the point where I admit that I was a tad disappointed when we first walked in. We were a group of four people and had gone from a room with two legit beds to one that did not appear to have two legit beds. I knew that going in, of course, but paying several hundred dollars a night to sleep on a pull-out couch was suddenly not looking super appealing after having real beds just hours before. This was further amplified when I stupidly asked the bellman who transferred our bags if housekeeping was able to come with bedding to turn it into a bed and I was told no, that we do that ourselves. Great - several hundred dollars to make my own bed.
However, the bedding is actually already on the couch and the extra pillows for it live in the chest right in front, so it was very simple to convert. The toddler and I slept comfortably there for two nights. So, while at first glance this appeared to be a downgrade from the standard room for us in terms of available sleeping space, in the end the sleeping situation worked out great.
What made this even better is that there is also a hidden small bed under the TV!
You don't notice it at all until you pull down and it transforms into the perfect sleeping nook for a young kiddo!
While at first glance the Polynesian's studio villa doesn't have as much sleeping space as the standard hotel room, after transforming a few spots, it actually has more.
Next up were the bathrooms that are absolutely a step above what the Polynesian standard rooms have to offer. First off, there are two bath areas in the deluxe studio. There is a bathroom that has the toilet and a tub/shower combo similar to the standard hotel rooms, though with only one sink and less counter space.
But then located right next door to that bathroom area is a second bath area with a walk-in shower and second sink! If you are traveling with a family of four or five, imagine how much easier this will make getting ready and taking showers. There is still only one toilet, but you have two separate sinks and bathing areas that can be used at the same time. This was truly a very smart move by Disney to make this space functional for families. It is also worth a mention that there is enough room for a crib, at least in the larger bathroom if you wanted to hack that into a makeshift nursery as we have done in the past.
There wasn't a free bottled water in the deluxe studio, but there was not only a small fridge but also a microwave, sink, and some basic cooking, cleaning, and eating utensils for some simple in-room meals.
One of the coolest things about this room to us was we could walk right out of the ground floor patio and be just steps away from the smaller pool. This worked out perfectly for our late night swims in the zero entry water.
Because of the relatively early official check-out and late check-in times at Disney, I recommend against switching room types on your stay if you have little kids that need still midday naps. That really made for a tough transition and it felt like I was asking to visit the moon when I tried to arrange either late check-out or early check-in. Admittedly, elite status at hotel chains has gotten me used to that request being a yes far more frequently than a no, but at Disney you are just playing with a whole new set of rules. In the end they did take pity on the exhausted toddler in the lobby and we got into our second room much sooner than we otherwise might have, but just try to avoid that whole scenario if you can.
Deciding Between a Standard Room or Deluxe Studio at Disney's Polynesian
Otherwise, we ultimately loved both Disney's Polynesian standard hotel room and their deluxe studio room. On first glance I thought the standard room was the better option for us, but once we got settled in the deluxe studio and converted the sofa and hidden bed into sleeping areas, it actually was the more comfortable choice for our needs. Having the two split bathrooms was great, and I could see its usefulness only increasing as the girls get older and take longer to shower and get ready. It is the largest of all the deluxe studios at Disney, so if you have a family of four or five but want still to fit into a studio at Disney it is a very solid space to consider.
If we are lucky enough to return to Disney's Polynesian I would be more than happy to stay in either room type as they were both very comfortable for us. However, if we are again able to rent DVC points at a good rate, then I think the deluxe studio will be our choice not only to save some over the usual standard selling rates Disney wants with cash, but to also have the additional shower space and the bonus pull out little bed.
I can't really even begin to describe how nice it is to be so close to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT so that at the end of a long and magical Disney day bed is just within reach.
I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have stayed in either room type at Disney's Polynesian Village resort. The next post in my Disney series will be on the restaurants, pools, and activities at the Polynesian!