If you’re looking to incorporate the relaxation of a tropical getaway into your Disney vacation, then it’s likely two of Disney’s classic resorts immediately come to mind. So in this battle between the Caribbean Beach Resort vs Polynesian Village, we’re going to see how well each resort compares when factoring in price, rooms and amenities, theming, dining options and much more.
Expected Cost for Each Resort
Are you planning on spending a majority of your time in the parks? Or will you be enjoying downtime at your resort and taking advantage of the amenities? These are a few questions to ask yourself when it comes to budgeting your stay at both of these fine resorts.
Either way, let’s first take a look at what you can expect in terms of price at the Polynesian.
Polynesian Village Prices
This is a top tier property, which means you can expect to pay top tier prices. Rooms book far in advance, and be prepared for rates between $600 – $1,000 per night. However with high prices come high rewards, and theme park view rooms overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon may treat you to your own private viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
Decide before you book how much time you plan to spend in your room, and keep in mind certain room types will book further in advance. Rooms are not the only thing on the pricier side. Expect higher prices when it comes to dining as well.
Caribbean Beach Resort Prices
The Caribbean Reach Resort is a moderate tier resort, and comes at a fraction of the cost. The rooms will run a more affordable rate of $300 – $400 per night. Like Polynesian Village, there are several different room types and views to choose from when booking your room. Not only do the rooms come at a lower cost, so do dining options.
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Polynesian Village Rooms
Basic rooms & suites range from standard view (usually a monorail view or parking lot view). These start at the lower end of the scale, averaging $600/per night. If view is important to you, there are also pool/marina view rooms and rooms with a view of Seven Seas Lagoon. These will cost more, ranging from $700 – $1,000 per night. These rooms will come with basic amenities:
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Pool Towels
- Coffee Maker
- Telephone & Television
- In Room Safe
- Coffee, Tea & Small Refrigerator
If you need a larger space, and are looking for additional amenities, the resort also offers deluxe studios, and again depending on the view you select, these range from $600 – $900/per night. Keep in mind these rooms are limited and may book further in advance. Additional amenities include:
- Paper Plates, Bowls, Utensils
Higher cost means larger rooms, averaging 400 – 500 square feet. In my opinion, the rooms physically feel bigger, and the views are more stunning. Theme park views will run you a pretty penny, but you may be lucky enough to be treated to your own private viewing of Magic Kingdom’s fireworks. This may be a selling point for you.
Personally, I don’t see the value, as you can view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach or the docks at Polynesian – at no additional cost. Most nights, they’ll even pipe in the music from the park. Regarding the rooms, these have more of a “resort” feel. They have incorporated modern amenities and space saving options that make the rooms more spacious for the whole family.
Beds are comfortable enough (though not enough to be a deciding factor for me), and newly renovated rooms now incorporate a Moana theme, which can be recognized in the details but is surprisingly not over the top.
Caribbean Beach Resort Rooms
The resort offers standard and preferred rooms, with queen beds, king beds, and even beds specifically for the kids. Standard view rooms will give you a view of the courtyard or the hotel. Water and pool view rooms will give you a view of – you guessed it – the water and the pool. Unlike Polynesian Village, these rooms all fall moderately in the same price range, $300 – $400 per night. Amenities include:
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Hair Dryer
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Telephone & Television
- In Room Safe
- Mini Refrigerator
I have had many comfortable stays at this resort. However, these rooms have more of a “hotel” feel to them than a “resort” feel. The rooms have basic essentials. I’ve found the beds are actually quite comfortable, but in general the rooms could use an update in the near future. A family of 4 may feel a little cramped – the rooms are smaller and a little outdated.
Again, if you need a little more space for a larger family, I’ve booked two rooms at Caribbean Beach for the price of one room at Polynesian Village. I’ve found that there isn’t really a bad view at this property, and I’ve never spent more for a specific view room. This hotel is my go-to when I know I won’t be spending much time in my room, and I just need a comfortable place to sleep with basic amenities.
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Whether you’re looking for a quick, casual breakfast before you hit the parks, a lively character experience or you’re ready to wind down from a day in the parks with a sit-down restaurant from the comfort of your own resort, both bring unique options to the table (no pun intended).
Polynesian Village Sit-Down Restaurants
Polynesian Village has more recognizable names, including Kona Cafe and ‘Ohana. While Kona offers lunch & dinner, breakfast is the star of the show, known for their decadent Tonga Toast. Kona is one of my go-to’s in Disneyworld when it comes to breakfast, as I appreciate the more intimate setting, and a well thought out menu that is reminiscent of the Hawaiian islands.
‘Ohana means family, and appropriately offers family style breakfast and dinner. ‘Ohana is one of my top choices when it comes to choosing a character breakfast. Hang out with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and the gang, and be ready for an energetic good time dancing around the restaurant with the characters.
Before you confirm those reservations though, be sure that the character breakfast is being offered. If character breakfast isn’t being offered, I recommend looking elsewhere. While the food is good, it’s similar to what you’ll find in most other resort restaurants that serve breakfast – it’s not worth the high price. Dinner on the hand is a different story, and worth the price for the amount of food. The appetizers are just as good as the selection of meats, and be sure to grab a Lapu Lapu from the bar – you won’t regret it! Reservations book as far as 6 months in advance, so be sure to plan ahead.
Polynesian Village Quick Service Restaurants
The resort also offers a few quick service options, as well as a handful of quality casual experiences. If you’re looking for a quick bite, breakfast on the go, or craving dole whip on a hot afternoon, be sure to hit up Captain Cooks. I’ve noticed mornings tend to be busy as hotel guests are grabbing breakfast on their way to the parks, but there’s plenty of seating and options that can be taken to go.
A stay at the Polynesian isn’t complete without a visit (or two) to Trader Sam’s. This is a must see tiki bar that pays homage to Adventureland favorites like the Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise. It fills up quickly, so consider getting there right as the doors open. As a former Jungle Cruise Skipper, I can guarantee this experience is the real deal. Get there as the doors open, and the “Skippers” will be so excited to see you!
Caribbean Beach Resort Sit-Down Restaurants
If you have the time to sit down and enjoy dinner at the resort, Sebastian’s is a hidden gem, and quickly becoming a favorite. Inspired by the Little Mermaid, the space is subtly decorated and the menu successfully incorporates a Caribbean flair. Sebastian’s at one point was a themed sit-down restaurant, but reopened with a new concept AND a new menu in 2021.
The resort is also home to the Banana Cabana, and while the food is delicious, the specialty cocktails are a must try, and come at a reasonable price. This is a great place to kick back for lunch or dinner, catch a sports game, and enjoy a little down time. If you’re missing the famous pineapple coconut bread pudding from ‘Ohana, don’t worry! You can find this same desert at both Sebastian’s and the Banana Cabana.
Caribbean Beach Resort Quick Service Restaurants
For the busy traveler on the go, Centertown Market offers a variety of Latin and Caribbean inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Spyglass Grill is another great quick service option, staying true to theme. The Cuban sandwich is authentic, and the guava stuffed french toast is a treat. Trust me when I say both of these resorts whip up delicious french toast!
Amenities and Activities
The good news is that both resorts have comfortable rooms that offer basic amenities and provide the essentials needed for an adequate stay. Setting the rooms aside, both properties offer additional amenities and unique experiences.
Both resorts offer online check-in, ATM & banking services, concierge services and guest parking. Both also offer 24 hour self-service laundry facilities. This may sound funny, but if you’ve ever visited the Disney parks, you’ve likely been caught in a surprise thunderstorm and these laundry facilities are lifesavers.
Polynesian Village Activities and Recreation
The resort offers fun recreational activities, from beachside campfires to outdoor movie screenings (family friendly, of course). Fitness is important to me, even on vacation, and here you have a great, paved trail past the Grand Floridian Resort to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. The path is walkable or “jogable,” and I recommend turning around at the Magic Kingdom and heading back for a decent 2 mile trek round trip.
Speaking of the Grand Floridian, this resort is home to Senses, a stunning oasis for rest and relaxation. This is a luxury spa offering a selection of rejuvenating treatments, and is the perfect getaway after a long day. The Florida heat means you’ll likely be checking out the pool. The Lava Pool is perfect for all ages, features a faux beach with zero entry and plenty of lounge space. This isn’t the only pool on property. If you’re craving more serenity, be sure to ask about the quiet pools.
Caribbean Beach Resort Activities and Recreation
The resort offers similar recreation activities. There is also a walking/jogging path through Barefoot Bay, however it’s considerably smaller than Polynesian Village, about half a mile. The Fuentes del Morro pool also has a zero-entry feature, but also boasts 2 water slides, water canons and a shipwreck play area for the kids. Don’t worry, this property caters to adults as well, with 5 additional leisure pools.
Activities Comparison for Both Resorts
When choosing a resort, decide how much time you really want to spend away from the parks. If you have small children, you may want to consider the resort that offers the best recreational activities. While Polynesian Resort has a larger offering, Caribbean Beach offers almost identical activities, and in my opinion has the better pool.
You’re also distanced from the park guests, so I find this property to be a little more peaceful. I love Polynesian Village, but I’ll be honest sometimes the hustle and bustle of this extremely popular resort can feel chaotic.
When it comes to ease of transportation, the resorts are fairly comparable. If you’ll be driving or renting a car during your stay, both offer on-site parking. Caribbean Beach provides on-site parking for $20/per day, while the Polynesian Village offers both on-site parking for $25 a day, and valet parking for $33 a day (always remember that these dates are subject to change, especially as time moves forward).
Disney bus transportation can be accessed at both resorts, but if you’re looking for a more direct option, Minnie Van Service is another option. I prefer to rely on complimentary transportation as this service can be pricey, but it’s easy to use and can be effortlessly booked using your Lyft app.
Polynesian Village Transportation
Polynesian Village offers easy access to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. You can catch the monorail from the second floor of the Polynesian directly to the Magic Kingdom. If you’re up for a short walk, you can follow the path alongside the Seven Seas Lagoon and past the Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom.
The Ticket & Transportation System is a short walk away, where you can catch the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon to Magic Kingdom. You can also catch the monorail here to Epcot. If you’re feeling adventurous and planning a day of park hopping, keep in mind that once in Epcot, you can exit through the World Showcase towards the Boardwalk Entertainment District. From here you have a moderate walk or a short boat ride (via the Friendship boats that can be accessed from the Boardwalk or in between the Swan and Dolphin) to Hollywood Studios.
Caribbean Beach Resort Transportation
Well, we’ve definitely arrived at the most unique mode of transportation: the Disney Skyliner. The Skyliner will connect you directly with Epcot and Hollywood Studios, as well as a variety of restaurants and nightlife at the Boardwalk.
With Hollywood Studios quickly becoming a prime destination with the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, this gives you quick access to the park and a better chance of experiencing the most popular attractions. Because you’ll be in close proximity to the Disney Skyliner, plan your route for the day and check out the different stations property wide.
When choosing a resort, decide which parks you’ll frequent more often. The bus system is my least favorite method of transportation on property, which is why I prefer the ease of traveling between parks that Polynesian Village has to offer. However the addition of the Disney Skyline makes Caribbean Beach a strong contender. Disney buses and the Minnie Van Service will both take you to Animal Kingdom, as unfortunately neither of these resorts has direct access to that park.
Which Resort Offers Easier Access to the Parks?
The simple answer is both—and neither. Which parks are more important to you? I prefer Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so I appreciate the ease of getting to and from these parks from Polynesian Village. However, if I were traveling with younger kids or wanting a fun ride for dinner on the Boardwalk or a night out, I’d prefer Caribbean Beach.
The short answer is that you can’t go wrong with either, Disney does a great job of ensuring you have multiple options depending on the park or part of the property your headed to.
While both resorts are going to give you that tropical island feel you’re looking for, they’re actually quite different.
Polynesian Village: Island Oasis
This resort is really dedicated to the island theme, from the stunning vegetation, to the tiki masks and tiki torches, to the cast costumes, greetings and music. The property is inspired by well known islands of the South Pacific – think Hawaii, Tahiti, Bora Bora. No matter where you find yourself at the Polynesian, you will always be greeted with a friendly “Aloha!”. The property is genuinely immersive, and in my opinion one of the most beautiful properties Disney has to offer.
Polynesian Village has done a great job of consistently updating accommodations, and you feel like you’re staying in a “resort”. The rooms are a little larger and have incorporated modern amenities and space saving options that make the rooms more spacious for the whole family. Beds are comfortable enough (though not enough to be a deciding factor for me), and newly renovated rooms now incorporate a Moana theme, which can be recognized in the details but is surprisingly not over the top.
Caribbean Beach Resort: Caribbean Paradise
This resort has a similar island vibe, but misses the mark slightly when it comes to being fully immersive. However for the cost, you’re still in for a treat. The colorful buildings are reminiscent of the Cayman Islands. This may not be a luxury resort, but the theme offers a unique escape with its villages, marketplaces, and Calypso music.
Keep in mind that Caribbean Beach is massive in comparison to Polynesian Village – the grounds are more spread out, which means the resort feels less congested. This is a selling point for me! If you’re not big on walking to get from one destination to the next, this may not be the property for you.
Caribbean Beach has more of a “hotel” feel to it. The rooms have everything you need. I’ve found the beds are actually quite comfortable, but in general the rooms could use an update in the near future. A family of 4 may feel a little cramped – the rooms are smaller and a little outdated.
Again, if you’re feeling a little cramped, I’ve booked two rooms at Caribbean Beach for the price of one room at Polynesian Village. Check out the pirate themed rooms – they come at a higher price point, but if you’re traveling with kids (or adults who are kids at heart) they’re a lot of fun!
It’s hard to recommend one resort over the other, as they both offer different experiences. If you’re comfortable with the budget, traveling with small children, and/or know you’ll be spending a lot of time at the Magic Kingdom, Polynesian Village is the obvious choice.
Transportation is effortless, character dining is available on property, you’re steps from iconic restaurants and a short monorail ride away from nightlife options. The theme is recognizable for guests of all ages, and as mentioned previously, there are few other resorts on Walt Disney property that offer the same immersive experience.
While Polynesian Village is an original Disney classic, I can confidently stand behind Caribbean Beach, and this is why. This is a stunning resort property, giving me that “island” feel at a fraction of the cost. The addition of the skyliner makes it easy to get to Hollywood Studios, which is quickly becoming one of the busier parks. I can enjoy dining options that are similar to ones offered at Polynesian Village, at a more affordable price point. I spend a majority of my time in the park, so I’m looking for basic amenities and a good night’s sleep – I’m less concerned with recreational activities or luxury services.
When it comes to comparing Caribbean Beach Resort vs Polynesian Village, both have so much to offer. Your decision may be based simply on budget alone, in which case Caribbean Beach is your obvious choice. If money is no object, Polynesian Village has the better property and the most up to date amenities, I can’t argue that, and it may come down to your personal taste.
If I’m traveling for work, with a close friend or two (or my significant other), I splurge on Polynesian Village for the sheer convenience of easy transportation to my favorite parks.
When I travel with my family, the Caribbean Beach Resort is the better choice for me, simply for the peace of mind that comes with being distanced from park crowds and the more affordable dining options. Whatever your decision, you’ve chosen the two best Disney World resorts to deliver on the tropical island adventure you’re looking for!
This article was written by Jessica and edited by Michael.
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