Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Review
Polynesian Village Resort is a deluxe hotel at Walt Disney World themed to retro tiki culture and the South Pacific, with monorail access to Magic Kingdom. This review features room photos, thoughts on the amenities, and whether this expensive resort is worth the money. (Updated June 16, 2022.)
We’ll start with several updates. The good news is that Walt Disney World has finished the guest room and building component of the multi-year enhancement project at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (or the Poly as it’s known by fans). This means that every hotel room is new–we’ve stayed in these overhauled accommodations, and share the experience in our Photos & Video: “Moana Makeover” Rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Along with the new rooms, a number of upgrades have been made around the Poly in the last couple of years. The Great Ceremonial House received updates, a new porte-cochère and monorail station were built, and gardens around the front entrance were reimagined. While all of that is finished, more construction has begun and will continue until at least 2024…
This multi-year construction project at the Poly is the result of Walt Disney World’s plans to build a new DVC tower at Polynesian Village Resort. This will replace the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, and be built between the existing Polynesian longhouses and Wedding Pavilion, near the Grand Floridian.
In advance of this, Walt Disney World has updated its official site with this message: “As we prepare for the proposed expansion at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you will see and hear construction at certain times of day. To minimize disruptions during your stay, activities that may create noise will not start earlier than 9 a.m.”
If you’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort anytime in the next 2 years, we’d recommend requesting a room that is not in the Aotearoa, Fiji, or Tuvalu longhouses. Those buildings are adjacent to the construction site, and the only ones that should be impacted in any material way. The DVC tower construction will be visible from other locations in the resort once it goes vertical, but the impact should otherwise be minor.
No construction timeline or other details have been announced for the Polynesian tower, but work has already started in Luau Cove, with the demolition of Spirit of Aloha. At present, the walkway connecting the Poly and Grand Floridian remains open–there’s just a fence on one side of it. At some point, that’ll almost certainly close entirely and the entire beach will be walled-off, too.
We’ll have an on-the-ground report with photos and video of the construction as soon as it kicks into high gear so you can see how intrusive it looks. For now, here’s our review of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, along with everything you need to know about the hotel…
As one of Walt Disney World’s original hotels, the Polynesian has a rich history and is incredibly popular with Disney fans. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is considered a village because of its sprawling layout comprised of 11 longhouses plus the over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows, which radiate out from the Great Ceremonial House.
The Great Ceremonial House contains several restaurants, shops, an atrium lobby with many species of tropical plants, and access to the monorail station that services Magic Kingdom, the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), Grand Floridian Resort, and Contemporary Resort.
Outside the Great Ceremonial House, you’ll find the Poly’s marina and feature pool, plus outdoor seating areas for a handful of the resort’s restaurants. There’s also a path that connects the Polynesian to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. (Note that this path will probably close at some point later this year.)
This path now connects all the way to Magic Kingdom, making it theoretically possible to walk from the Poly to Magic Kingdom (it’s about a mile-long walk–definitely doable in the winter months, but probably not ideal during the summer). This path actually starts at the TTC, meaning you could theoretically walk from the TTC to Magic Kingdom. If you enjoy serene strolls, it’s actually quite lovely. But we digress.
We have long been fans of the Poly. For me, it dates back to when I was a kid, walking from Shades of Green to the Poly for the monorail, and going to the Neverland Club while my parents went to Pleasure Island. We’ve since been back numerous times for dining and other purposes, and have stayed at the Poly both before and after the big “renewal” of the resort, on both the hotel side and DVC side of the property.
While there were some loses during that renewal (such as the lobby water feature) and DVC expansion, the Poly is still an excellent resort and one that now feels nicer and modern. Let’s start by taking a look at the positives…
The Poly is just a flat out cool resort. It has a ton of incredibly detailed tikis scattered around the grounds that were carved by Oceanic Arts in California. I could spend a morning just wandering around looking at these, and their cheeky designs always make me smile.
In general, the Polynesian has a very enjoyable ambiance thanks to its many details and the general island ambiance that is so well conveyed, even if the resort is more a lighthearted caricature (not at all in a bad way) of island life than it is an attempt at authenticity. The feel of the Poly is a definite X-factor. In terms of theme and atmosphere, this is one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World.
In terms of layout, I think the Polynesian Resort will satisfy a variety of guests. I’ve stated in numerous reviews that I like resorts that are spread out, giving me plenty to explore in the mornings. I think this has perplexed a lot of commenters, who generally seem to favor compact layouts for the efficiency’s sake.
The Poly is not as spread out as Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach Resort, making it easy to walk to the Great Ceremonial House in the morning no matter the longhouse in which you’re staying. Despite this ease of access, there’s still a lot to explore, making those who prefer the sprawling “resort” layout (like me) happy. The only resort that does a better job of striking this balance is probably Wilderness Lodge (Grand Floridian also does it well).
Exploring the Polynesian is a ton of fun, too. I’ve long held the opinion that sunsets at the Polynesian are more beautiful than sunsets anywhere else at Walt Disney World, and I’m convinced that the same is true of sunrises. One of the great things about staying at the Poly is getting up early and enjoying the resort with no one else around.
Whenever we stay at the Poly, I get up well before sunrise to walk around, take photos, and soak up the ambiance. If it weren’t for wanting to take photos, I could just lounge in a hammock listening to the relaxing background music for an hour or so as the sun comes up.
We also enjoy simply hanging out in the Great Ceremonial House. The open air atrium gives it a relaxed, spacious atmosphere. Around dinner time, it can get loud in here, but it’s generally pretty calming.
We do miss the waterfall that used to be in the middle of the lobby, but aside from this and the removal of some of the streams behind the Great Ceremonial House, the changes made to the Poly in the last few years have been generally positive.
The rooms are a big plus at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and these might be some of the nicest at Walt Disney World now. Rooms now feature Moana-inspired decor, along with custom-made fixtures and furnishings.
The quality of these is mixed but mostly good. The furniture is heavy and substantial, feeling both high quality and durable. These do a great job of balancing theme and luxury, offering an upscale vibe of the tropics. They utilize textures and patterns nicely, without being overly busy or chaotic.
Functionally, there’s a lot to like about the rooms. There are tables with outlets on each side of each bed and reading lights in addition to lamps. There’s also uplighting from the headboard itself, which is fantastic as a single-source mood light for decompressing after a long day in the parks.
As with other Walt Disney World hotel redesigns, the beds are elevated with storage of suitcases. There’s also more storage space flanking the television and dresser, but this comes with a big potential drawback–no desk. (Personally, I think this was an unnecessary removal–this is a huge room and they added plenty of storage space. No need to also remove the desk for even more.) The chair and couch are both comfortable, and provide plenty of space for spreading out.
The additional storage space continues in the bathroom, where there are cubbies below the sinks and an elevated countertop above.
The backlit mirror provides ample lighting in the bathroom and the stone texture behind is a nice touch. The toilet is also now separated with a door, a simple but essential upgrade for larger parties.
In terms of commonalities between the old and older rooms, both are spacious, sleeping five adults with plenty of room to roam, and have space to sit, along with a desk for working and balconies with a table and chairs.
These rooms are among the largest at Walt Disney World, making them a good option for larger parties or those who will be spending a lot of time at the resort.
Above is a video that Sarah shot of the new Moana rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Suffice to say, the Poly’s rooms are perfect for laid back, resort-centric stays. Whereas there are some hotels at Walt Disney World geared towards only sleeping, you could easily stay at the Poly and never visit the parks–these are rooms you don’t want to leave!
In terms of dining, the Poly has four options that we love (click the link for our full review of each):
- Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – One of the best bars at Walt Disney World
- Kona Cafe – Table service restaurant that’s an unheralded gem
- Captain Cook’s – A good to great (depending upon what you order) counter service restaurant
- ‘Ohana – One of Walt Disney World’s most popular restaurants…but perhaps (controversial opinion incoming) a bit overrated.
Don’t get us wrong–we really enjoy ‘Ohana. But the price has increased exponentially over the past several years and the quality has decreased in that same time. It’s still a ton of fun and if money were no issue, we’d highly recommend it.
In addition to these favorites, there’s Barefoot Pool Bar, Oasis Bar & Grill, Tambu Lounge, and a few snack spots.
Most notable of these is the Pineapple Lanai window, which is one of the few places outside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World to get a Dole Whip.
While none of the aforementioned restaurants are fine dining options, there are plenty of those at the Grand Floridian and Contemporary, which are a short monorail ride or walk away.
Fine dining in the Polynesian would be nice, but given the proximity of the other options, we aren’t penalizing the Poly for its lack of fine dining.
The pools at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort used to be simply fine, but are now top notch. The main pool with its volcano slide was totally re-done, and now looks more authentic, while containing more areas that–I think–feel relaxing.
It’s not just a loud, family pool. The quiet pool is nothing special, but it’s not bad. The refurbishment has pushed the Poly to the head of its class in terms of Deluxe Resort pools near the Magic Kingdom.
Transportation is a complaint we have about every Magic Kingdom-area and Epcot-area Deluxe Resort, and that these high-priced hotels share buses while Pop Century (a Value Resort) does not continues to puzzle us. We feel this is a serious fault of all of these Deluxe Resorts, and something that Disney should correct.
Fortunately, the Poly has convenient monorail or boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom, and many longhouses are a short walk from the Ticket & Transportation Center, which also offers monorail service to Epcot. Getting to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the water parks is less convenient, but the convenient access to two theme parks is a huge plus.
Far and away the biggest downside of the Poly is pricing. Discounted rates start at over $500/night and only go up from there–and that’s if discounts are even available. The Poly is frequently excluded from special offers, in which case you’re looking at rates in the $600+ range. For the Polynesian Village Resort’s room rates, it should be a luxury-class hotel. Although the theming is fun and as a fan of Disney history I love all of the little details, the Poly isn’t on par with similarly-priced real world hotels.
However, this is a common refrain we have when it comes to Walt Disney World hotels, especially on the Deluxe end of the spectrum. It only becomes more pronounced with the most expensive hotels. Some nights, the Poly is double the cost of the Four Seasons Orlando or Waldorf Astoria–and it does not offer commensurate luxury.
It is a fair point to contend that the location, monorail transportation, and theming compensates for the lack of luxury. Historically, Walt Disney World hotels have gone for themed design rather than upscale amenities.
It’s also fair to say that location plays a huge role in price–most real world hotels don’t have Cinderella Castle visible in the distance, nor do they have a monorail whizzing past them. (If you want the best of both worlds, see our King Kamehameha Club Level at Polynesian Resort Review.)
Conversely, if you’re trying to do Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort on a tighter budget, your best option is unquestionably renting Disney Vacation Club points.
This will give you the chance to stay at the Polynesian Villas (which we prefer to the regular rooms, anyway) at less than half the price of the main hotel. If you have a larger party and want something novel and fun, consider the Polynesian Bora Bora Bungalows (we didn’t love our one stay in those, but we had an ‘unfortunate incident.’)
Overall, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a great option for those who want to splurge on a trip, but want a resort with a more laid back and relaxed tropical vibe as opposed to an opulent and luxurious one. The Poly is pricey, but other than that we don’t have major complaints about the resort. Its theme and ambiance are exceptional and very much to our tastes, and it’s a great place to simply hang around and wander.
Beyond that, the Poly scores major points from a functional perspective. The rooms are among the best at Walt Disney World, the pools are great, and the dining options are diverse and fun (minus the lack of fine dining). Walkability and transportation also cannot be overstated–the ability to conveniently catch a monorail to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot is huge, an advantage you may not fully appreciate until having experienced it. All in all, these factors are why the Polynesian Village Resort ranks so highly on our List of the Best & Worst Deluxe Hotels at Walt Disney World.
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Want to do it yourself, but not sure which Walt Disney World hotel is right for you? Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page, which offers quick-hit capsule reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of every Walt Disney World hotel, plus links to our reviews and photo pages for every hotel we have reviewed. Looking for comprehensive Walt Disney World vacation tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
How do you feel about Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort? Do you think it’s overpriced for what it is, or do you think it’s such an awesome place that it justifies the high nightly rates? What are your pros & cons for the Poly? Thoughts on transportation or dining here? Do you agree or disagree with our resort review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We stayed at the Poly November 2021. Huge Disney fans…we usually stay at Wilderness Lodge which we love but thought we would try something new. Before I start..in all fairness, this was our first visit after the pandemic so along with the refurbishments, the resort was still not back to normal.
To start, we were dropped off in front with all of our bags (family of 5)..no greeting, no help with luggage, no lays. The ponds out front were all empty and a little sad looking (probably post construction). I had done online check in which was fine but we ended up dragging all of our bags to our rooms while looking at a map trying to figure out which “house” we were staying in.
Refurbished rooms were really nice but no Mousekeeping the entire week. Just dropped off towels, bags for the trash and we ended up just taking coffee pods off the cleaning carts if we needed them. Needless to say our room was a dump by the end of the week.
The resort itself was very very crowded. The monorail would literally drop off hundreds of people a day coming from MK to go experience dining, go to Pineapple Lanai, use the beach to watch the fireworks at night. Stand in line for hours for Trader Sam’s. It was not a relaxing getaway just an extension of MK. I guess what I’m trying to say is good location can come with a price.
The pool areas were dirty…wet towels everywhere, hanging over chairs, on the ground. Empty cups, overflowing trash. It seemed very understaffed. Want to get quick service or a quick drink outside of Trader Sam’s? Good luck finding a table.
I would say, it was definitely not worth it for us paying $700+ a night. Just too crowded, understaffed and not enough amenities.
Is the sand beach still open at the Poly? We enjoy watching the fireworks from there (when not in the park). Pictures look like construction has taken over that area.
We love the quiet pool! My son still talks about it. Love the infinity edge and how the deep “end” is the center. Plus a lovely calm bar and a nice hot tub. I have fond memories of chilling here after a rainstorm, eating pork nachos and “drinking” a Dole whip with a special adult addition of my own, watching the kids jump in the pool.
As usual, lovely and informative photos Tom. Thanks!
Heading there October 1, 2021. Will everything be finished by then? Thanks!
Where to start…, like many have said the remold now has the Great Polynesian looking like nothing more then an overpriced motel. As you walk around you will note that it is not safe for kids, there is open electrical boxes next to pathways some even full of water. There’s burnt plants hanging over the tiki torches waiting to ignite. However, they do spray pesticides every morning. So that has to good right…
You can order food and drinks and have it brought to you at pool side without wearing any Covid mask. Yet, you can’t order food or drinks and have it placed out side your door. While you can at other resorts.
But to top it all off. There are zero amenities but you will pay as if there was. Other resorts have drinks available 24/7, not the Polynesian. The Polynesian will offer guest a few soda types when they work ( down most of the time) and simple coffee from 7 am to 10 pm. You will pay over $500 for a room that you have to clean. Yes, I was handed a vacuum and a broom because they will not clean your room. For a ten day stay we only got new sheets one time. It was a family style resort that has turned into a commercialized scam. To make things worse the parks are starting to following suit. The fall of the greatest place on earth has begun.
I could go into more detail of how horrible our stay was. But it’s not worth it.
Do you and your love one’s a favor, go somewhere else!
@Kristie: That does make me feel a bit better about our split staying having the room we were trying to book at the Poly vanish, resulting in us ending up at Wilderness Lodge. instead. My visions of non-stop gorging on Pineapple Dole Whip were not to be this trip.
However, I’d note that I’m waiting to hear more about Tom’s experience, because the DVC rooms were in operation the whole time, and, I suspect, stretched to max use due to location. The regular resort’s rooms are all going to be brand new, hopefully without the problems you had
My curiosity is really up about how far those room renovations went. These are 50 year old buildings so I’m curious if the received any additional deep infrastructure revisions/repairs, other than the surface changes.
But you are so right about the Beach Club. In a way, it’s a good thing my wife picked WL over Yacht/Beach Club, because I always need heavy construction vehicles and explosives to get her out of Stormalong Bay. ^_^
WL was on our bucket list, so looking forward to that…and breakfast at ‘Ohana!
Are any Club Levels open as of yet ???
No. Here are the reopening dates for Club Levels: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/club-level-reopening-dates-disney-world/
Many don’t even have dates yet.
Is Trader Sam’s open in Disney World? I thought only the DL location opened. I have been anxiously awaiting the announcement and the change on the WDW website and must have missed it? Thanks!
We stayed at the Poly- DVC side in January. I fell in love with the zero entry pool and beautiful tropical grounds.
I know I’ll stay again.
Tom – any thoughts on when club level might return for the Polynesian?
We consistently rent points from David’s and go to Disney a few times per year from Ohio. Never thought I would say thing, but i would avoid Polynesian for a bit. We stayed there for one night the beginning of July before we headed to the Beach Club Villas for 5 nights and it was obvious that the staff at Poly was completely overwhelmed. Our room wasn’t ready until almost 6:00pm and the housekeeping staff kept telling us it had to be “steamed cleaned” (turns out water had leaked from the shower through the walls onto the carpet and they tried to “shop vac” the water from the floor). In addition, there was a hair (use your imagination) on our bed. The patio was unusable, a complete construction zone. It was fine for one night, as we go often and felt bad for the staff, who were kind as always and doing their best. I do highly recommend you stay away if Polynesian is on your bucket list for once in a lifetime, you’re paying full price and it has to be perfect. I can’t imagine the overworked staff trying to navigate everything with more rooms open and more people staying. Beach Club villas were amazing as always (though we have teens who can be at the pools by themselves, which helps lol)!
Any rumors as to when the Spirit of Aloha show will reopen? What’s the likelihood this could happen by October?
I haven’t heard a single word. I think an October return is pretty unlikely, but I truly do not know.
Didn’t realize there would be a pathway out in connecting to MK…. you stayed later 2020. Any guesses on a month? Going again in Oct, maybe maybe would it competed by then?
this was my family’s home resort when i was a kid, in the early 90s when it was “affordable”. alas, hard to justify the price today. and two favorite memories were ruined with the refurbishment- the lobby water feature (so many memories of wandering around it, watching the parrots), and the bungalows ruining the sightline to MK (see the fireworks photo above, just not the same). still, it will always hold a special place for me, always make a trip for a meal when visiting, and maybe someday a splurge trip to stay again…(or the point rental thing i’ve always been too scared to try).
also, proud member of the Neverland Club! i ordered a yesterland tshirt a few years ago i wear with a huge smile.
So, I know I am definitely in the minority, but I actually think that the Poly is better without the water feature. It was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it made the lobby LOUD. The water was enough of a volume enhancer that folks would yell over each other. Instead of finding the lobby calm and inviting, it was loud and chaotic. You could never hear the BGM, and folks yelled so loudly, you could barely even hear the water. As a HUGE Kona fan, the removal of the water feature is an amazing plus for me. I think the gorgeous glass “chandelier” more than makes up for the lack of water.
We’ve booked our early August stay at the Poly Villas (main resort won’t be open until our last day). I am a little concerned about the limited amenities. I read reports that the pool slide was closed this week which I hope is just a temporary maintenance issue rather than a budgetary cut. Dining also seems very limited–the menu choices are pared wayyy back, and I had hoped that tiki terrace would be open even if Trader Sam’s is not. The lack of an Epcot monorail is also a bit disappointing. We’ll make the most of it I suppose, but for the price it is a bit frustrating.
Funny little oddity, I am currently looking at taking our niece and nephew along for 2021,and was trying to get some idea of pricing and to see if could afford to treat them to a Deluxe stay. I used dates 8/30/2020-9/6/2020 to get a rough idea since that is the time of year we go, and for those dates the Poly is actually of the cheapest Deluxe resorts.
Love the Poly, can’t beat club level service, did it Mickey’s Halloween week 2018, and March 2019. Have also stayed at the Floridian, and Contemporary. If short on travel time between parks usually take Minie Mouse taxi cars. Quick service and very friendly.
I would like to know if I can brew coffee or make instant coffee in my room at this hotel?
My arrival date is this October 12th
They give you complimentary coffee to brew, and also a toaster! We just left there today!