Disney’s Polynesian vs Contemporary – The Best Resort?

Light” by Chad Sparkes licensed under CC BY 2.0

Disney’s Polynesian Village and Contemporary Deluxe Resorts are two of the most iconic resorts on Disney Property.  Both resorts are located in the Magic Kingdom area, but they each have their own unique charming characteristics. 

Both resorts also opened on October 1st of 1971, ironically enough, as they debuted along with the grand opening of Walt Disney World. 

So along with the rich history associated with these two resorts, what else do they have to offer that would benefit you and your family on your next Disney trip?  Which resort is most worth your time and money?  Well, let’s find out, as we see which hotel winds up on top in this battle between Disney’s Polynesian vs Contemporary!

Disney’s Polynesian vs Contemporary Resort

These two iconic Disney World resorts are considered to be “Deluxe Resorts” by Disney’s standards. That’s just a fancy way for saying that Disney considers these two hotels to be the “top tier” amongst their entire slate of resorts offered to guests.

That’s the good news.  The bad news?  The Polynesian and the Contemporary are also some of the most expensive resorts you can stay at on all of Disney property.

Location

Both the Polynesian and Contemporary are located on Seven Seas Lagoon.  Along with the Grand Floridian, they make up three of the resorts located at or near the Magic Kingdom.  You can check out my reviews of each resort below:

All of these resorts have quick and easy access to the monorail. This mode of transportation will take you directly to Magic Kingdom, or with one transfer, over to Epcot.

I will note that the Polynesian is the second stop on the way to Magic Kingdom, while the Contemporary is the third stop. This is a difference of about five minutes. 

From Epcot, you could then take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios and avoid the congested bus travel option.

So as for the general location, if you are a big fan of Magic Kingdom (you must be since you’ve narrowed your options down to these two resorts), then you will find both locations to be a fantastic option.

Dining Options

For the Contemporary, let’s start with one of the most iconic restaurants on all of Disney property—Chef Mickeys.

Chef Mickeys offers an all-you-can-eat style buffet for breakfast and dinner, and you can expect to dine here with Mickey and all of his friends. Though the food has somewhat became a little less “magical” over the years, I still recommend guests visit at least once to enjoy the experience. 

For quick service and lounges, you have the Cove Bar, Outer Rim, and the Sand Bar. All of these options offer great refreshing cocktails, and a slimmed down menu of appetizers—if you are in a rush. 

The Outer Rim offers the best views of three spots, and is an all around great option for quick service. 

Steakhouse 71 offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Though I would only visit this place for dinner, as to be sure and get a big juicy steak (well, if you’re a meat eater).

Though a bit pricy, you will get a great portion of American dining here, along with a family-friendly atmosphere. This option is great for all ages.

For the signature dining option, The California Grill is among the best options on Disney property. With views of the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon, the atmosphere is pretty unmatched. Serving up a great menu of Californian inspired delicacy, even the most picky of eaters will feel right at home. This top-of-the-line experience will come with a hefty price tag though, so make sure you save room in the budget for it!

Next let’s take the monorail over to the Polynesian.

For the casual breakfast, lunch, and (sometimes) dinner option, we have Captain Cooks. 

Captain Cooks offers a South-Seas inspired line-up that is fresh and tasty. They have many options to please even picky pallets. The atmosphere is great and is a fantastic quick service option of you are on site.

Next, we have the widely popular Pineapple Lanai. With only one menu item with different flavors, they serve the Dole Whip cool and fresh all day long.  This Disney staple has been around for many years, and no one does it better than the Pineapple Lanai. 

On to one of my personal favorite bar options on Disney property: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

This mystical, volcano themed bar is inviting to all who pass by. The atmosphere is incredible, and you will be hard pressed to gain entrance if you don’t show up and claim a spot at opening. 

There are very few experiences that I claim you must try if you stay at the Polynesian, but this happens to be one of them! 

And last but certainly not least, we have our signature dining option— O’hana. 

O’hana has been a crucial part for every Disney trip I have taken, or will take. Though a bit pricier, the food and atmosphere is incredible. The options are a lot like the other restaurants here at the Polynesian with a south seas inspired course. You can eat as much of one item as you can stand, and they will keep it coming. 

The butter noodles are one of my favorite dishes ever. The bread pudding for dessert has me thinking about it year-round. 

Overall, I enjoy both dining options the resorts have to offer. I don’t think I could pick a clear winner in this category.

Pools

We will start this comparison over at the Poly.

There are two pools located on the Polynesian property, plus a beach—a beach that you cannot swim in by the way.

The Lava Pool is the headliner, bolstering a towering volcano with 142 foot long waterslide that is great for most ages and adults alike.

This pool is has similarities to a beach style, making it ideal for small children. You will typically find this pool area to be loud and bustling with guests of all ages splashing about. 

Also for mom and dad, a lounge is close by to grab a quick cocktail while you enjoy a day of relaxation.

The other pool on Polynesian grounds is the Oasis pool. It is a bit more calm and peaceful.  It rests in the middle of a lush garden, where you will usually find the older generation. Not many swimmers, but many people lounging around.

You’ll be able to finish that never-ending novel, or just get mentally prepared for your next park visit. This is a great option if you are looking for a quick escape.

Now, let’s backtrack across the monorail and check out what the Contemporary has to offer. 

The “Feature Pool” has marina views along with white sandy beaches. A 17 foot twisting and turning waterslide towers above the drop below where you are sure to make a big splash. 

Unlike the Polynesian Lava Pool, here you have the option to rent a cabana complete with a flat screen tv and several other amenities. I’m not sure that this is for everyone, but you have the option nonetheless.

If you’re seeking a more quiet retreat from the Feature Pool, check out the Bay Lake pool area. Like the Oasis pool over at the Poly, splashing and loud activities are discouraged. 

Both locations offer hot tubs and a lounge area to grab a quick cocktail.  

So, which one would I choose?

Having experienced both, I prefer the Polynesian by a razors edge. Though, I think you would be happy with either option.

Pricing

Per the usual, the price points are ever changing and fluctuate a bit throughout the year. 

Since both of these resorts are in the deluxe category, situated on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and are Magic Kingdom Resorts, their prices throughout the year are usually very close.

You may save a couple of bucks one way with some special offers, but don’t count on it. These Disney Resorts are premium—and come with a premium price tag to match.

Rooms

The Main Tower of the Contemporary offers a sleek and modern feel. With newly renovated rooms, they are sure to feel fresh and clean.  You can make your pick between theme park view, or Bay Lake view. Keep in mind you will be paying quite a bit extra for that theme park view. 

The contemporary also offers a more wallet-friendly option, unlike the Polynesian. Situated on the East side of the property is the Garden Wing. It’s not connected to the main A frame tower, but you are within steps to all of the amenities offered by the Main Tower. 

Some guests find the theming a bit dated, since it was built in the 70s. I personally believe it adds an extra layer of charm knowing that the lobby has only been updated minimally over the years. 

Just like the Contemporary, the Polynesian also has newly renovated rooms. For the last decade, the Polynesian was themed after Lilo & Stitch. However the newly renovated rooms now offer the Hawaiian Disney film characteristics from the fabulous film Moana

Though the theming is a bit subtle, it is recognizable with a keen eye. The rooms are spacious and offer all the amenities you would need during your vacation. 

It’s difficult to pick a clear winner here again. It all depends on your style and theming preference. With that said, be sure to look up lots of pictures to help you on your journey. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has done a good job in comparing the two Disney Deluxe resorts for you.  And. after all is said and done, my pick between Polynesian vs Contemporary would have to be:  A TIE!

“What! You can’t do that!”

Believe me, these resorts are both fantastic in their own way. It’s ultimately going to come down to what experience you are after. The location, dining, pools, and rooms are all in the same class. 

So, I hope I’ve laid out all the fine details to help you comb through to make the best decision for you and your family.  No matter what you ultimately decide, you can’t go wrong with either of these resort choices.

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