Polynesian Village Resort review

Glorious Sky!!” by Chad Sparkes licensed under CC BY 2.0

When planning a trip to Walt Disney World, one can possibly get very overwhelmed. You have to buy your tickets, make dining reservations, find out what Fast Pass rides you want to reserve, what parks you want to do, what extras you want to add to your vacation and the list can go as there is so much things to plan for a vacation at Disney World.

If you have never been to Disney World, one of the big things you need to decide on is where you want to stay while on vacation? You have countless options, as there are quite literally 30+ hotels onsite. If you have never been or may have been 50 million times but are looking to change up your hotel stay you when you go, you may not know where to start.

For starters, Disney World has 3 different kinds of resorts; you have the Value, the Moderate, and then the Deluxe resorts. Value resorts are the cheapest options and increase in price throughout the other 2 levels.

If you are looking for a resort that has your classic hotel feel to it that is on the cheap side, your best option is a value. If you want a resort that is slightly better in accommodations and has a bit more elegance but still not super expensive, then you want a Moderate resort. Then finally, if you want a resort with high elegance, some class, beauty, and superb accommodations, then you want a Deluxe resort.

In this article, however, I’m going to provide you with a very detailed Polynesian Village Resort review.  In fact, I’m going to provide you with five reasons why I think this resort is very impressive and worth booking a stay for you and your family.

1) The Beauty

The Polynesian Village Resort is downright majestic And in my opinion, the Polynesian is arguably the most beautiful resort on all of Walt Disney property.

Starting outside of the resort as you walk from the parking lot into the front lobby, the theming already starts. To the left and right there is a large, gorgeous pond area with a tiny waterfall. As you walk inside, you are greeted with a friendly and warm atmosphere in which dark brown and orange accents greet you along the walls and ceiling of the resort.

In the middle of the lobby you are greeted by a friendly Tiki statue. As you walk in you will find the check in towards the left. Around the lobby can also find some furniture and decorations inspired by the Polynesian islands which are the Hawaiian islands, New Zealand, Easter Island and everything that is in between them.

The beauty does not stop in the lobby as even outside and the the path leading to the pool and your room it is decorated with Hawaiian flowers, palm trees, and gorgeous nature scenes. Even the pool is really cool as it is themed around a volcano in which you can even take a water slide ride right down it!

When we first arrived at the Polynesian resort, the theming blew me away. Having never been to this resort before, I was thoroughly impressed with the attention to detail. It struck me that it would have been very easy for Disney Imagineers to fall back on corny, “Tiki” decorations. But the Polynesian Resort is much more tasteful and successfully transports you to a genuine tropical destination.

The lofty skylights in the lobby particularly impressed me. Gorgeous glass orbs hung down, catching the light from the windows, and created a magical effect that guests expect from a Disney resort.

More memorable than the visuals, though, was the smell. As soon as the hotel doors opened, my nose caught hints of tropical fruits and coconut. For avid Disney fans, the smell of the “Poly” is an iconic part of the Disney experience. For me, it was a beautiful introduction to a resort that came to feel like my home away from home.

I noticed right away that there were a lot of families staying at The Polynesian. It was extremely common to see a large group of children and adults, wearing flower leis, passing through the lobby or headed upstairs to their rooms. The lobby was often very busy, and anyone who is looking for a peaceful resort might not enjoy the atmosphere at The Polynesian.

Notably however, all the families seemed extremely relaxed and happy. It’s not uncommon to run into families having stressful vacations while at Disney World. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the vibe at The Polynesian was generally relaxed, despite being quite busy.

Disney takes advantage of movies like Lilo and Stitch to integrate kid-friendly fun within the tasteful theming. Since we are a couple without kids, we didn’t participate in the child-friendly activities, but it was very obvious that many families were enjoying that aspect of The Polynesian.

2) The Shopping Experience

The Polynesian Village resort has a good selection of shopping. They only have 2 stores, but they give you a good array of common items found in the parks as well as some unique special merchandise exclusive to the resort.

A lot of the merch is inspired by Hawaiian culture. The two stores you can visit are Moana Mercantile, and BouTiki. Now, you may be thinking that as ‘Moana’ is in the name of Moana Mercantile that it may be just a store of Moana themed merchandise.

That is not the case as this is just a name. In fact, this name was there long before the movie was ever made. Here you can expect to find apparel, camera gifts, toys and more. Moana Mercantile is located on the second floor of the lobby. The second store, BouTiki can be found on the first floor of the lobby. Here, you can find most of the same things as Moana Mercantile but there is some different things that Moana Mercantile does not have.

3) Polynesian Food and Drinks

If you like food as much as I do, then you will absolutely love the food options at the Polynesian Village Resort. The Polynesian Village Resort has 3 quick or counter service restaurants, 4 table service or sit down restaurants, 4 bars/lounges, and 1 desert place.

The quick service consists of Capt. Cooks, Oasis Bar & Grill, and On the Green Grill. The table service restaurants consist of Kona Cafe, Kona Island, Luau Cove, and Ohana. For the bars/lounges you got Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, Tambu Lounge, and the Barefoot Pool Bar. Lastly for some delicious dessert, you have Pineapple Lanai.

As you can tell, there is a lot of dining options for you to choose from. Now, what do I recommend? Well, I highly recommend going to ‘Ohana especially if you have children. For right now I will just say that it is truly a remarkable experience and I will tell you more as to why that is later on.

Overall, the food is very great at all of the dining locations and you can expect a great meal from any of them. If I had to pick my top 3 restaurants it would be ‘Ohana, Capt. Cooks, and Kona Cafe.

Now, one of the coolest things about this resort is that you can get a very special treat here. If you head straight through the lobby outside into the open area and look toward your left, you will find a little place of heaven called Pineapple Lanai. Now, if you have ever eaten a Dole Whip, you probably know how good they are and have probably always thought you can only get it in Magic Kingdom.

Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong and you can actually get it here at Pineapple Lanai inside the resort! I know it is pretty awesome and would recommend going if you crave a dole whip while at the resort!

Now, I also want to go into some depth about drinks at the Poly, too.

Possibly the greatest highlight of my experience at The Polynesian was the bar scene. The atmosphere of The Polynesian Resort encouraged relaxation, and that’s exactly what we came to do. The bars became the perfect place to unwind after a long day at the parks, or rest up for an evening of extra magic hours.

My personal favorite place to grab a drink was Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. Trader Sam’s is a bar and lounge at The Polynesian, famous for it’s indoor space called the Grog Grotto. The Grog Grotto is well known for the silly and fun interactions guests have with the staff, and innovative drinks served in themed cups and glasses.

Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace is the toned down version of the Grog Grotto. The same food and drink items were available on the menu, but the outdoor patio is designed for relaxation. I loved being able to sip on a drink from a “shrunken head” cup while a musician played island music on his guitar, taking in the Electrical Water Parade on Bay Lake.

My favorite drink that I ordered was called the “Shrunken Zombie Head,” a rum drink mixed with fruit juices and other flavors. It was good, certainly, but the real appeal was that it was served in a souvenir cup that looked like the face of a zombie. In fact I was so enamored with the silly thing, I decided to buy my own cup. I think it’s a testament to how great the theming is that I was convinced I should buy a shrunken head glass. I still love that cup.

The only negative experience I had at the Tiki Terrace occurred with a server. Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace allows guests to choose to approach the bar and order a drink, or sit down and wait to be served. One night we arrived at the Tiki Terrace and all the tables were full. We chose to order a drink at the bar, then wait for a table to open up. When it opened, we took our drinks to the free table and sat down.

Once we were seated, a server approached us. She said hello, and commented on the fact that we already had drinks. We said we got them from the bar, but told her we would like to order more after the first round. After some time, we finished our first round and waited for the server to return.

We must have waited at least 20 minutes, and still were not served. Perhaps she assumed we were planning to order more drinks at the bar, but after waiting 20 minutes we were surprised she didn’t even attempt to check in on us. It was disappointing, and we left the bar out of frustration. 

With that said, don’t let one bad experience sway you away from trying out the Tiki Terrace.

4) Accomodations

For your hotel room accommodations, you have multiple different rooms to choose from. You have your Standard View room, Lagoon View room, Theme Park View room, Pool or Marina view room, and then your suites/club level style rooms. The cheapest option is going to be the Standard View room and that room starts at around $485 per night and will vary depending on the time of year.

I have stayed inside the Standard View room when I was vacationing there myself. The room itself is big enough for up to 5 adults which actually says quite a bit. When you book, you can ask for either 1 of 2 variations of the room.

The first is where you can have 2 Queen beds and the second one is where you can have 1 King Bed and 1 Day bed. Inside of the room you have your typical hotel room items such as shampoo and conditioner in the bathrooms, a hairdryer, free in-room wifi, an in-room safe, mini-refrigerator, Iron and Ironing board, coffee maker, and a telephone.

The rooms decor is very beautiful and combines simple elegance with a mix of tranquility as you are surrounded by tropical vibes. Overall, the room was great to stay in and well themed.

5) ‘Ohana Means Family…and Food

The last thing I want to show you is what the Polynesian Village Resort is all about. It is truly all about your ‘Ohana and I think that the Polynesian Village Resort is a perfect resort for everyone in your ‘Ohana. If you do not know what ‘Ohana means, it means family in Hawaiian. The resort just has so much to offer that everyone can do and enjoy.

For starters, let’s dive back in to that restaurant I mentioned a little while back and said I would touch on it later. That restaurant was called ‘Ohana. Now, I did not go into extended details before because I really want to talk about how it pertains to the whole family side of things. For me personally,

‘Ohana is your typical buffet character meal but with a big difference and I think that it is honestly the best character dining experience at Disney World. The way ‘Ohana works is you never have to get up at any time during your meal. They want you to sit back, relax, and spend time with your ‘Ohana!

Now, it is a buffet so you probably are wondering just how do you get the food then. Well, everything is brought out ‘family style’ meaning all the food is placed onto a giant platter that everyone can then pick and choose what they want to eat. When you want more of that particular item, you simply just ask the server and they will bring some more out.

At breakfast time, you can eat sausage, eggs, bacon, biscuits, Mickey/Stitch waffles, fresh fruit, pineapple sweet bread, and my personal favorite, Stitch Juice! Stitch Juice is simply a combination of Guava, Mango, and Passion fruit juices mixed up together and is very delicious. On top of the yummy food, Mickey and his friends (Lilo, Stitch, Pluto) will stop by your table to meet and greet you!

‘Ohana does not offer lunch but they do offer dinner which is, of course, different from breakfast. For Dinner the same meal setting applies but for your meal you can eat a variety of different Polynesian inspired cuisine. Overall, the atmosphere, food, and the way it was all presented makes ‘Ohana a really amazing restaurant. 

Another food related item I would like to mention that I did not mention before for the fact that it again deals with family is the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. It is a unique dining experience in which it combines a tropical dinner while watching a Hawaiian inspired show that involves hula dancing, fire torch juggling and much more! I recommend it as it is just purely a cool show to watch while spending some time together as a family and eating your meal together.

The one downside is that the food is not super impressive as ‘Ohana has much better tasting food, but the show is really what you are paying for. Besides these 2 food related items, there is so much for you to do as a family here at the Polynesian Village Resort.

You have the amazing pool you guys can swim in, you have free movies under the stars where you can sit back on the grass and watch a Disney movie, you can play volleyball, you can go for a jog or walk on the trails, you can go fishing, you can have fun at a campfire and you can even rent a boat for a few hours.

With all that there is to do at the Polynesian Village Resort you may think that this could be a theme park. Another really awesome thing you can do with your kids is you can take them to the bars and lounges.

Yes, you heard that right. At Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto there is a large selection of non-alcoholic drinks that are similar to the adult versions your kids can choose to get. It gives you a nice time to enjoy your drink while letting your kids relax and have something they can do as well. In all, there is just tons to do at the resort that really incorporates the whole ‘Ohana!

I also want to talk about one more thing—transportation.

Polynesian Village Resort Transportation

It’s well known that The Polynesian is one of three Disney World hotels on the monorail. The convenience of being able to hop on the monorail from the comfort of a resort hotel is phenomenal, and I felt lucky that we were just a ten minute walk from the stop.

At Disney World, there are three monorail paths that can be taken. The Resort Monorail takes resort guests and visitors to the Magic Kingdom. In order to get to Epcot, guests of The Polynesian can switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center, then hop on the Epcot monorail.

I found this process to be very simple. The monorail is fast, ensuring you’ll get to the parks efficiently. For me the monorail was not only convenient, but it also became a part of my Disney vacation much the same way park attractions did.

One thing that’s cool is that, if you aren’t staying at the Polynesian but want to visit (maybe to check out the theming of the resort or eat at a restaurant), you can also take advantage of the boat transportation to The Poly that travels across Bay Lake.

It’s easy to overlook how stressful transportation can be while as Disney. The comfortable and fast options that The Polynesian offers to get to and from the parks are a huge asset to the overall Disney vacation experience.

The Polynesian Resort also offers complimentary bus transportation to parks and other areas of Disney World that aren’t near the monorail.


Overall, the Polynesian Village Resort is a really awesome resort to stay at. I think that when compared to other Disney resorts on property it is definitely worth it to book and you may even feel slightly spoiled and won’t want to stay at any other Disney hotel again!

There is one negative element I do want to emphasize. If you are planning to not spend some time in the resort, then you may want to just book another hotel. In reality, if you just book the Polynesian to sleep there and not really explore everything it has to offer, you will miss so much.

In the end, The resort is beautiful, it has great dining options, it is perfect for the whole family, the rooms are amazing, and even has got places to shop. I give the Polynesian village Resort 5 out of 5 stars.

Another really cool aspect of the resort is the deep history of the place as it is one of the resorts that opened when Magic Kingdom originally opened to guests in 1971! I hope that these 5 Disney tips can possibly help you into deciding if this resort is a great fit for your family and that you can maybe think about it as you plan your next trip to Walt Disney World!

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