Looking for the ultimate hotel for your next visit to Walt Disney World? Or looking for an excuse to take a trip to the property? Look no further! The Polynesian Village Resort gives you the full package. Before you say that we're biased because we're tiki enthusiasts, hear us out! The Polynesian has way more going for it than a great theme to make us die-hard fans (and many others would agree). From its convenience to its dining options to its beautiful grounds, this place is simply magical. Want to know the top 10 reasons why we love it so much? Keep reading!
1. It's a Retro Classic
The Polynesian opened the same year that Walt Disney World opened in 1971. It is one of the original resorts on property, sharing this distinction only with the Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. These original resorts (as well as the Grand Floridian, which later joined the group) were all themed based on the different lands in the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian, as you might have already guessed, was themed after Adventureland and the spirit of that land is certainly felt around the property.
While the Polynesian has gone through many changes since opening, it still maintains a lot of its original feel. Even with the updates that have occurred, there's still quite a retro look to the original architecture and design elements on property.
2. The Grounds are a Lush Tropical Paradise
The Polynesian Village Resort is lush with palms and tropical foliage. You easily feel as if you've been transported to an exotic locale while roaming the grounds of the property.
The resort is also situated right along Bay Lake so there are several beachy vistas as you walk around the property. While you're no longer able to swim in the water, you can still lounge in a beach chair on the sand along the shore or rent a small boat to enjoy the lake.
3. The Rooms are Big & Beautiful
Because the Polynesian Village Resort is one of Walt Disney World's "Deluxe" properties, the rooms are designed and sized as such. There's plenty of space and the rooms have a modern, tropical styling to them.
4. The Views are Incredible
From the resort grounds, you're able to see Cinderella's Castle, the Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary. Because it's situated on the water, there are plenty of beachy vistas as well. You might even catch a glimpse of the monorail going by at some points. It's all quite beautiful to take in!
This is one of the few properties at Walt Disney World that offers great views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks at night.
You can also watch the Electrical Water Pageant go by on Bay Lake each night!
5. There are So Many Great Food Options!
With so much variety on property (all with great menu items), it's pretty much impossible to be disappointed with the Polynesian Village Resort's food offerings. Even if you don't stay on property, it's worth paying at least one of these spots a visit on your trip to Walt Disney World!
Captain Cook's is the Polynesian's quick service restaurant. The food offerings are often American classics with some island flair. We've enjoyed lobster rolls, Hawaiian pizza, and pulled pork sandwiches here during the day. For breakfast, this location serves a classic - Tonga Toast. While many people flock to the Kona Cafe for this item, it can also be ordered here!
The Kona Cafe is the Polynesian's more relaxed sit-down restaurant. All meals are served here throughout the day. For breakfast, the Tonga Toast (pictured below) is a very popular menu item. For dinner, guests often enjoy the sushi rolls served here.
Kona Island is primarily a coffee bar that also has some small bites to eat. It's no surprise that the Kona coffee served here is a big hit!
'Ohana is an all-you-can eat restaurant open for a character breakfast and a non-character dinner. There are activities for kids at both meals and the dinner has become quite a popular meal to attend - especially if you love island fusion!
Some popular dinner items are pictured below. With all of the delicious options and neverending portions, it's almost inevitable that you'll leave 'Ohana stuffed!
The Pineapple Lanai serves one of Disney's cult classics: Dole Whip! This is a great spot and (thankfully) the crowds here are sparse (especially if you're used to the ones at Disneyland!).
Spirit of Aloha Show
The Spirit of Aloha Show is a luau dinner show. While I haven't been in quite some time, it was always a big feature of our trips in the past! We always enjoyed dressing up for the theme, watching the performances, enjoying the cuisine, and just feeling like we attended a fancy, fun event.
The Tambu Lounge is the small tropical bar located on the second floor of the main building. Before Trader Sam's opened up downstairs (we'll get to that spot in a second!), this was the go-to spot for tropical drinks on property. The famous one here is the Lapu Lapu since it's served in a pineapple! The Tambu Lounge also offers small bites to eat like pulled pork sliders.
6. IT'S Home to TRADER SAM'S Grog Grotto
For any of you who aren't familiar with Trader Sam's, it's Disney's enchanted tiki bar with locations at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This family-friendly spot offers delicious tiki drinks and themed offerings as well as a ton of entertainment! The bar comes to life in different ways based on the special drinks that guests order. We love Trader Sam's Grog Grotto so much that we wrote a whole post about it. Check it out here!
7. It's on the Monorail Route
Being on the monorail route means that the Polynesian has super easy access to the Magic Kingdom & Epcot (and gives visitors another mode of transport besides buses).
It also provides access to two other great resorts, which are also on the monorail route: the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary. These two properties similarly have great themes and excellent restaurants worth exploring. Almost every trip we'll enjoy at least one meal at each of these resorts because we love the food served at each one!
8. It Scores High on Walkability
Staying at the Polynesian means that you can walk to the neighboring Grand Floridian Resort (if you don't feel like taking the monorail over). We often prefer the picturesque walk along Bay Lake and it's great for burning off some calories after a big meal! Being within walking distance means that you don't need to take a full loop around the monorail to get back to the Polynesian (unless, of course, you want to!).
The Polynesian is also in walking distance to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). It's at the TTC that you transfer monorails to head over to Epcot. When you're headed to Epcot, you can take the full monorail loop over to the TTC...or you can just walk right over!
We love the ease that the positioning of the Polynesian Resort provides!
9. The Shopping is Great
The Polynesian's gift shops are unique in the way that they have so many resort-specific types of merchandise. Boutiki is filled with island-themed goods, Polynesian Village Resort souvenirs, and some Trader Sam's apparel. Looking for tiki mugs? This is one of your best bets on property (after Trader Sam's, of course). We love that there are so many wares to purchase here that you can't really find elsewhere around the resort. It's worth a visit even if you don't stay on property!
10. The Theming is Top Notch
Ok, and for anyone looking for a well-themed resort (and all of you tiki enthusiasts out there), the Polynesian's commitment to its tropical island vibe (with Adventureland touches) just can't be beat!
You may spot some familiar faces from the Enchanted Tiki Room on property!
Even the trash cans are themed! These have become so iconic that Disney has made salt shakers and Christmas ornaments out of them!
One thing you can't capture in these photos are the floral scents you'll smell and the tropical tunes you'll hear on property to tie the whole theme together.
To enjoy a piece of the Polynesian Village Resort at home, Spireside makes Polynesian scented candles.
And to listen to some of the great music played on property, here's a 3-hour loop to stream! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrAkWFQpi0w
In case you couldn't tell, we think that the Polynesian is, hands down, the best resort at Walt Disney World. While it does come at a hefty price point as one of the most expensive Deluxe resorts, we still think it's worth a stay for all of the reasons listed above. It's really the best destination for a relaxed, carefree stay on property.
Strapped for cash? Stay here part of your stay (we suggest the later portion) and stay at a Value or Moderate resort the rest of the time. Disney will transport and deliver your luggage for free (similar to the Magical Express service). We did that once and loved the savings paired with the luxury of getting to enjoy the Polynesian for part of our stay!
Want to know our other favorites? Port Orleans French Quarter is our favorite Moderate Resort and Pop Century is our favorite Value Resort.
What about you folks? Which resorts are your favorites? Let us know in the Comments section below!
P.S. I'll admit, I'm a little biased. This is where I stayed on my first visit (which also happened to be my 5th birthday). But, hey, maybe this is what planted the tiki seed many, many years ago!
Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.