The Disney Polynesian Village Resort, one of the original Disney World hotels, opened in 1971. It captures the essence of Hawaii and Polynesian culture, offering guests a tropical hideaway reminiscent of the Polynesian Islands. The resort boasts iconic architecture, lush landscapes, and access to Magic Kingdom via the monorail system.
The Polynesian Resort is an iconic hotel developed at the peak of America’s (and Walt’s) love affair with Hawaii and Polynesian culture.
Our Review of the Disney polynesian Village Resort
As part of our Nerdy history lesson, Hawaii became a state in 1959, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room debuted at Disneyland in 1963 (showcasing ground-breaking Audio-Animatronic technology), Disney World was announced in 1965 and officially opened October 1, 1971.
Today, the property is one of Disney World’s eight Deluxe Resorts.
Okay…here we go with a Nerdy overview.
At the time, traveling to Hawaii or anywhere in Polynesia (generally considered an area of more than 1,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean) was considered incredibly exotic and most Americans would have been lucky to even know someone who traveled to this region.
So the concept of bringing the Polynesian experience in the form of a highly themed hotel to guests of Disney World would have been bold!
In fact, Disney Parks Blog has an interesting article titled “Histories of Disney’s Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts.”
Although room rates have evolved from the +/- $28 range in 1971 to $500 or more today, this is a spectacular resort in an incredible location at the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort; a short monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
Upon arriving at the Polynesian Resort, guests are immersed in a tropical landscape and immediately see monorail running the length of the resort and, just beyond it, the towering structure that is the Great Ceremonial House reception area.
Hotel arrivals have certainly evolved since 1971 (heck…since 2019!) and while guests can use MagicBands to go straight to their rooms, the Great Ceremonial House is worth a visit.
Not only is the Great Ceremonial House the only way to access the Magic Kingdom monorail from the Polynesian Resort, it is the main hub for the property.
It is here that Disney’s Magical Express Bust Stop will allow guests to disembark and where folks will find the Front Desk and Concierge, two stores (Boutiki and Moana Mercantile), two lounges (Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tambu Lounge) and four eateries (Capt. Cook’s, Pineapple Lanai, Kona Cafe, and ‘Ohana).
Just beyond the Great Ceremonial House is the Lava Pool with its Kiki Tikis Splash Play for the younger set.
The Lava Pool features a waterslide, waterfall, pool side activities and entertainment.
And set back ever so slightly, just removed from the chaos that is often a Disney Resort pool is a hot tub!
The lounge chairs are all padded (a Deluxe Resort feature), towels are in ample supply and the entire pool experience is a great one.
On the other side of the Samoa building from the Lava Pool is the Oasis Pool with its Oasis Bar & Grill.
Although still a large pool area that fits in with its surroundings, it lacks the magic of the main pool area…which means it is generally not very crowded and a great place to relax.
On the west side of the property lies the Luau Cove where Polynesian Resort guests can reserve and join in a traditional Polynesian luau at Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.
In typical Disney fashion, this is not your typical luau. Sure, it has Hula dancing and fire dancing, but it features Disney fun and is truly a unique experience.
The two-hour Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show typically features two shows nightly with three different categories of seats with Adult prices ranging from $60-78 and children $33-48.
Just beyond Luau Cove is the walkway to the Grand Floridian Resort where a running trail map can help guide guests on a morning walk or run just before getting in their 20,000 steps for the day!
As we head east to explore the rest of the Polynesian Resort, we will find pathways curving and winding through lush landscapes and past unique Polynesian statuary.
There are 12 buildings that house nearly 850 rooms at the Polynesian Resort in addition to the over the water Bora Bora Bungalows (where prices can easily reach $1500-2000 per night or more).
The Views along the shoreline of the Polynesian Resort are stunning with white sand beaches, the Bora Bora Bungalows and the spires of Space Mountain off in the distance.
On the far east side of the Polynesian Resort is a short pathway to the Ticket and Transportation Center and monorail service to Magic Kingdom and Epcot as well as ferry boat service to Magic Kingdom.
It only takes a couple of minutes from the Moorea building to navigate the path to the Ticket and Transportation Center.
From this vantage point, there are great views looking back at the Polynesian Resort.
The great thing about the Polynesian Resort is that every building is close to a coveted guest area.
Buildings are either close to the Great Ceremonial House with food, shopping and monorail access, or close to the Lava Pool, or close to the Oasis pool or close to the pathway to the Ticket and Transportation Center with its monorail and ferry service.
The Polynesian Resort is a terrific property to explore!
And now…on to the rooms!
On this particular trip, we rented DVC points and secured a studio with a preferred view.
You can read all about why we think we made a Nerdy mistake with the preferred view room here.
However, our decision to stay at the Polynesian Resort was a great one because we love this property!
The main differences between the Disney Vacation Club studio and a typical room is that the DVC studio has a small wet bar and a second shower (in addition to the shower/tub combo) and sink.
The amenities of both room types are very similar.
Overall, the Polynesian Resort is in a great location within Walt Disney World, the rooms are well-appointed and deserve the “Deluxe” tag and it is one of those rare resorts that truly transports you away to another place and time.
We will be back to the Polynesian Resort and we recommend you do the same.