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My very first trip to Walt Disney World was as a ten year old girl with my family. We did one big family Disney trip growing up where we drove to Orlando from Texas, played at Disney and the surrounding attractions for about a week, rode absolutely everything that existed at the time, and we stayed on Disney property at the then still pretty new Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. It was a grand trip, and until last week it was the only time that I had stayed at a 100% true Disney resort.
As an adult I have been lucky enough to return to Walt Disney World several times, and I like to think my lodging choices have improved each time as my knowledge and resources grew. Over the last 15 years of visiting Disney as an adult I have gone from sleeping on the floor of a friend’s Orlando timeshare, to Pricelining a $29 hotel about 30 minutes away from the parks, to staying at the nearby Hyatt Grand Cypress using free nights, to the staying at the on-site but not quite a Disney Swan using SPG points, and now after about 25 years I have finally returned to a true Disney Resort.
We didn’t just stay at any Disney Resort, we shot all the way to the top and stayed at one of the original Disney resorts right on the monorail, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Even though we did a decent job keeping costs as low as possible, it was still a splurge. My biggest piece of advice if you are considering splurging to stay at Disney’s Polynesian instead of using points or deals to stay off-site or saving some cash by staying at a less expensive Disney property is…don’t do it*. Here’s why you shouldn’t stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, plus a video giving a 90 second glimpse into what it is really like to stay at The Poly.
At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort you feel like you are on a relaxing island vacation filled with lush plants, lagoons, and more from the moment you step off the included Disney’s Magical Express bus from the airport.
After check-in you walk through the lobby and to an open green play area and look out at the volcano pool while listening to piped in island music. You might even make an immediate pit stop on the way for some cool dole whip. It’s almost perfect, so don’t do it.
You might even go for an evening swim in one of the two pools, one of which is open until 11PM at night.
From the main volcano pool you can see the Magic Kingdom’s evening fireworks. If you don’t want to be wet while you watch the fireworks, that’s okay because you can see them from the beach or really from almost anywhere at The Polynesian. If you want the full effect there are some speakers spread out around the property where you can even hear the soundtrack that goes along with the fireworks. It’s all too easy, too magical, so don’t do it.
If Disney characters are your thing, you can book a character breakfast at the on-site Ohana restaurant where your crew can not only enjoy all-you-care-to-eat eggs, sausage, biscuits, Mickey shaped waffles, and Kona coffee, but you also get to meet characters like Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Lilo, and Stitch as they waltz right up to your table.
If that isn’t enough fun to kick off your day there is also a kid’s parade that goes around the restaurant every hour or so. Again though, being able to walk (or be carried) right from your room to that fun is probably too fun, too easy, so don’t do it.
When it is time to head to EPCOT or Magic Kingdom all you need to do is hop on the monorail. For Magic Kingdom it is likely easiest to take the monorail from the second level of the lobby. For EPCOT it is easiest to walk the 5 minutes to the Transportation and Ticketing Center to get a direct shot from there, otherwise you need to transfer from the lobby monorail to the EPCOT monorail at the TTC. You get to walk from your room, to the monorail, and then be deposited directly at the gates of those parks if you stay at The Polynesian.
After the evening fireworks at Magic Kingdom there will be a line of exactly four million people trying to ride the monorail to the parking lots and such at the TTC, but you don’t get on that monorail. You get on the one with the much shorter line to three deluxe resorts including The Poly. Again, too easy, so don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it. PS, the resort monorail actually stops at the TTC as well, just in case you are parked there and want to avoid the eleventy billion person line…
When you stay at the Polynesian you have almost immediate access to Mickey and all things Disney, but you also have a literal island themed oasis awaiting you when you return from the various Disney parks and activities. You can eat sushi and sweet rolls at Kona, have a feast at ‘Ohanas (make reservations 180 days out if you can), or hit up the food court options at Captain Cooks all just by walking from your room. No buses, parking, or monorails required for those solid dining options. But, you don’t want to get used to that, so don’t even try it.
At Polynesian Village, and all Disney resorts, you can do everything from open you hotel door to charge lunch to access your FastPasses with a swipe of your included Magic Bands, and you don’t want to get used to being able to head out of your room without cash, your wallet, purse, key cards, and more, so don’t go down that road at all.
Enjoying the downtime at your resort as much as you do your time on the rides in the parks can get addictive, so I caution you against giving it a shot.
Seriously, don’t stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort unless you are ready for it to be your best Disney experience ever. It is so good that it will be hard to stay elsewhere knowing how easy, relaxing, and enjoyable things can be at this on-the-monorail deluxe resort.
Of course I say ‘don’t stay at The Polynesian’ tongue-in-cheek, as we absolutely loved our time here. However, I am serious when I warn that staying here may spoil you to the point that you don’t want to go back to staying at an off-property less expensive option, or even on property at the Swan, but without the true Disney Resort perks and experience. We seem to come to Disney World about every other year or so, and it will be very hard to convince myself to go back to staying elsewhere….but my wallet won’t appreciate that change in travel patterns quite as much as my girls enjoyed their lei welcoming.
Honestly, while my girls are young, we may now be in a Poly-or-bust situation for Disney trips. It was that good, that easy, that fun. On the one hand I’m thrilled the resort lived up to my very hyped and decades old expectations, but on the other hand it will make Disney more expensive for us. So while I am kidding when I say don’t stay here, be careful about when you start dabbling your toes into these deluxe Disney resorts because you may not want to do Disney any other way once you taste the Mickey shaped waffles and watch the fireworks located just steps from your hotel room.
In my next post in this Disney series I’ll give insight into the two entry-level rooms at the Polynesian including the standard hotel room and the studio villa that we booked with rented Disney Vacation Club points.
I’d love to hear if you also became hooked on the Polynesian after enjoying some Dole Whip by the volcano pool!
Know before you go.
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