The last time I stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort at Disney World was Christmas 2012. It was a three generational group of 8 adults and 4 children ranging from 67 to 3..
The arrival (and departure) was super smooth due to Disney’s Magical Express transportation services. Essentially if you are staying at a Disney Resort they take care of your luggage. You check your luggage in at the airport where you depart from home and Disney then picks you up at the airport and delivers your luggage straight to your room. Then when you checkout they take your luggage and voila its waiting for you when you get off the plane. The check in took a little bit of time, 15-20 minutes, but nothing unforgivable.
The lobby of the Polynesian is fantastic and lets you know you are in a Disney resort with incredible attention to detail. The Christmas decorations were abundant and had a great tropical Christmas feel. The kids really liked the decor, and LOVED the volcano pool out back.
The hotel itself is a bunch of separate hotels laid out around the main lobby which houses the restaurants and the volcano pool.. The grounds of the Polynesian were also beautiful and easy to navigate, although we did get temporarily lost once or twice. Personally, having small children in our group, the location of both monorails being so close won me over for the Polynesian. For that reason, I must have been rewarded because you can see from the map below we were given rooms in the east end of the Moorea house, a great spot for monorail/boat/bus access.
The Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian all have monorail access to Disney Parks, but only the Polynesian has direct access to Epcot Center. The Polynesian is also located next to the transportation hub, a very easy walk depending on where you are in the resort.
The rooms were all standard double queens. The rooms were very clean and large with a sitting area with a couch that converted into a bed for a 5th member of the family. Like you would expect, they had the Polynesian theme running in every corner of the room. For me, this was why you pay for Disney, to feel like you are in a magical place. Yes, it is cheaper to stay out of the park, but you do lose some of that feeling of being transported to a different world. Disney is very good at creating incredible atmospheres and I am glad the kids got to experience it at least one time. The bathrooms were very nice and continued with the Polynesian theme. They were clean, modern, very large and had a great shower. What more do you want?
Dining and Amenities
The restaurants we ate at were fair to good, but I have found that all Disney food to be a bit overpriced for what you are getting. That is not to say you can’t find excellent food in the Disney resort, I would just say unless it is top tier, it is probably going to be just average to good. The Kona Cafe was just average and would probably avoid but Ohana is a very fun themed restaurant worth trying, but the food is good, but not great. We did not get a chance to try out their signature dining show, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha, however the bar with all the Polynesian themed was a big hit with our crew.
The other big hit was the volcano pool. It is regarded as one of Disney’s best and I can see why. Slides and waterfalls and an actual volcano is a kid’s dream.
I know this might surprise people, but one of the hits of the stay was the Neverland Club. We never intended for the kids, aged 7, 6, 5, and 3 to stay there but they really didn’t want to go out to dinner one night so we let them stay there. THEY LOVED IT and ended up forgoing dinner three more nights so they could play at the Neverland Club. Sadly, I learned it closed in 2014. If there is another club like that I can’t recommend them enough for young children who might want some time off from the adult parts of a Disney trip.
The value of staying at the Polynesian or any Disney World resort, on the other hand is questionable. In peak season expect to pay around $600 a night. There are plenty of places 10 minutes away for 1/2 the price and just as nice. However they won’t be on the Disney grounds, enveloped in the world of magic. You also probably need to factor in a car rental and parking, although most hotels do offer a pay per day shuttle to the major attractions. Obviously you can do Orlando for a lot cheaper than this too, but I am trying to compare a comparable quality hotel. This is also true if you go during the off season. Think January, February, September, November, early December, when kids are in school and not popular vacation times.
Overall, if staying in Disney again I would probably try another resort just for the sake of trying something new. However, I would recommend the Polynesian without hesitation. It was a great hotel and a wonderful experience. If the theme, location, and price suit you I would imagine you will have a great time, as we did.