by Christine Koubek
Opened in the spring of 2015, Polynesian Villas & Bungalows is Disney World’s newest Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property and part of one of the largest resort-wide refreshes in Disney World’s history. The Polynesian Village Resort opened in October 1971 (along with the Contemporary Resort) to coincide with the debut of Disney’s first Florida theme park — Magic Kingdom.
Over the years, the resort has had one of the highest guest return rates, making it a good place to add larger Disney Vacation Club accommodation options. One of the first things former Polynesian guests will notice is that the Great Ceremonial House — home to restaurants, shops, check-in, and activities – has become a whole lot brighter. The revamped main building is breathtaking, with colorful nautical bulbs suspended from the glass ceiling, a smaller tropical hibiscus garden center stage, and seating areas with oversized rattan chairs and plump sofas.
Two of the original resort’s former longhouses were completely gutted and rebuilt to create 360 studio villas. These villas — combined with newly constructed over-the-water bungalows — make up the new Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. All have a mid-century modern meets traditional Polynesian vibe, and are accessible via tiki torch-lit pathways, many overlooking the beach and lagoon.
Note: Disney’s Vacation Club properties fall under two umbrellas. Some, like Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Animal Kingdom’s Kidani Lodge, for example, are self-contained resorts with their own pools, restaurants, and often a community center with games and activities. Others, like Grand Floridian and Polynesian’s new villa resorts, share those features with their respective sister property, hence the activities, dining, and amenities mentioned in this review are part of Polynesian Village Resort, as well.
Our Editor Loves
- Use of Polynesian's pools, dining and more
- Easy access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Like Disney's Polynesian Resort's rooms, the villas are accessed through interior corridors and each has its own private patio or balcony. Unlike Polynesian's resort rooms, the villas are slightly larger at 447 square feet, and they have many of the great space saving design features that have made Disney Cruise cabins so popular: bed platforms high enough for storage beneath them, a bath-and-a-half design that makes it easier for a family to get ready simultaneously, a large storage trunk that doubles as a coffee table, and a pull-down bed incorporated in the furnishings (no rollaways needed).
Each villa has a tropical motif with exotic prints balanced by solid white comforter covers, bamboo-style fixtures, and beautiful 'rain' style glass on interior doors. Villas can sleep five people with one queen bed, one queen-size sleeper sofa and a pull down bed built into the wall below the TV.
Additional room amenities include an armoire with flat screen TV, desk, microwave, small refrigerator, toaster, coffeemaker, lighted makeup mirror, full-size hair dryer, safe, free Wi-Fi, and a Pack 'n Play crib. While the villas are identical on the inside, the views are not, hence pricing is based on view.
These villas have a variety of views; some overlook Polynesian's pathways and gardens, others have views of the parking lot.
These overlook Seven Seas Lagoon, with some facing toward Grand Floridian and many with great views of the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks display and the Electrical Light pageant, which consists of seven barges carrying tall screens of lights that feature King Neptune and undersea creatures.
Once you've selected a view (price) category, location preferences within that category can be noted -- although not guaranteed -- in your reservation. Location Tips: Villas in Pago Pago are closest to Great Ceremonial House. Bungalows 14-20 have the longest walk to restaurants and pools, but they also offer the most privacy.
Bora Bora Bungalows
These 20 bungalows, built on stilts out over the water and accessible by planked decks, are so private and relaxing, you might not want to leave for long to go to a park. Each has a plunge pool on the back deck, rattan chairs that hang from the porch ceiling, wind chimes, a cushioned window seat in the bedroom and a roomy family room overlooking the water. Each of these 1,093-square-foot mini-houses also has a master bedroom with a king bed; a second bedroom with a queen and a pull-down twin; a sleeper sofa and twin pull-down bed in the family room. They have two full bathrooms that include an in-mirror TV, washer and dryer, dining table, and the amenities mentioned above in the villas -- only the bungalows have a full kitchen with gorgeous turquoise subway tiles.
Bathrooms in both the villas and bungalows have beautiful tile work, from stone tiles in shower floors to blue tiles run like a waterfall on shower walls.
Note: All villas and bungalows are non-smoking. Designated smoking areas can be found outside and on a few decks adjacent to longhouses.
Absolutely beautiful!! I don't know that we will ever be able to stay anywhere else when visiting Disney. Before I get into all the specifics...I'd like to send a shout out to the lifeguards at the pool!! Of all the reviews I've written I don't think I've ever seen them mentioned and boy do they deserve it!! Those kids are ON POINT!! They are diligent, present, and focused. Even if you approach them to ask a question, their eyes do not leave that water and the children and adults they are meant to keep safe. So GREAT job you guys!!! In addition...the grounds are just breathtaking!! So beautiful!! The smell of the main building is beautiful as well!! I don't know what they do to make it smell like that, but it's just awesome!! The very night we arrived I was emailed a survey to give feedback, which I completed and made mention we would have liked to have a balcony with our room which we had on our last visit and were missing it. Sure enough the very next day I received a phone call and we were offered to switch rooms to one with a balcony, which we did and it was well worth it!! The bellman (I believe his name was Anthony or Andrew), was very helpful in that move!! This trip we planned plenty of pool time to relax and enjoy the resort in between our days at the theme parks and it was so nice to just take in the view, utilize the pool, and watch the fireworks from across the lake at night. The monorail service to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot is absolutely a MUST!! The buses can be a bit slower, but honestly no matter where you stay the buses can be a slow transportation option. We used lyft a lot and it was well worth it. The food from Captain Cooks and Kona Café were great!! Next time I really would like to try Ohana. Being able to take a short walk or monorail trip to the Grand Floridian to use the gym, the spa or having dinner plans is great!! We had a wonderful time on our second trip to the Polynesian and CANNOT wait to return again in the hopefully near future!!
People seem to either love the Polynesian, or absolutely hate it. It’s probably my favorite resort at Disney even with its flaws.
First up, for anyone who was lucky to visit Disney in the 70s and 80s, this hotel IS Disney. It’s one of the originals, and we always visited. Ok, we actually stayed at a HoJo outside the Park (we couldn’t afford a Disney resort hotel), but I did get to swim at lunch time (sorry Disney, statute of limitations is long up).
But to today: I’ve stayed a few times over the years. The Resort still has its charm, and definitely gives the feel of what Disney was before it exploded in size.
Some don’t like the dark wood, but take a look at the Ritz on Maui: it has the same feel. This is old Polynesia (or Hawaii anyway). But the rooms are comfortable, and if you pay for a lake view, even amazing.
The restaurants are all decent, and the tropical drinks at the bars fun.
My only real complaint is the noise. This is a LOUD resort. The Lobby areas during the evenings are terrible, and it spills over outside. Peaceful walk? Nope.. there are always kids yelling.
But again, this is Disney and you expect that.
The Lava Pool, located between the Great Ceremonial main house and the beach, is often the kid-favorite due to its "volcano," waterfall, and 142 foot-long waterslide. A zero-depth entry slopes into the pool that reaches a depth of 4.5 feet. A variety of games take place each afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m., including water balloon and Hula Hoop games, relays, Disney trivia, and the newly added "Disney Junior Pool Party," with sing-alongs and activities inspired by favorite Disney Junior shows.
Nestled between longhouses and landscaping, the East Pool closed in mid-July, 2015, and is undergoing an extensive renovation. The pool is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2016 with a new gradual-entry entrance.
Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Pool hours and lifeguard availability change seasonally. Swim diapers are required for children who aren't toilet trained and are available at Moana Mercantile in the main house. Be sure to study the monthly Recreation Calendar (given at check-in) for pool hours and activity times.
Kiki Tikis Splash Play
Designed for children 48 inches tall and shorter, this shallow water play area has two small slides, a bridge to climb and cross, and tikis squirting water.
A night out at Lilo's is a bit like going to a fun birthday party, complete with take-home goodie bag filled with stickers, kazoos (depending on theme), and other treats. Here, kids age 3 to 12 play in castle and pirate themed play areas inspired by the six classic Golden Book tales framed in the center's entrance: "Peter Pan," "Alice in Wonderland," "Pinocchio," "Cinderella," "Lady and the Tramp," and Winnie the Pooh's "Grand and Wonderful Day."
Activities include everything from costume dress-up to arts and crafts and catching rings from a Captain Hook style hand. The center is open from 4:30 p.m. to midnight. The rate is $15 per hour, per child, and includes dinner choices from Kona Cafe. Meals are served at 6:30 or 8. While the center can accommodate up to 45 kids -- served by four to five counselors -- the space books up with children from other Disney resorts, as well as Polynesian. Reserve a spot in advance by calling 407- WDW-DINE.
Play Beach Volleyball
The court is located on the beach between the Hawaii and Tahiti longhouses. Volleyballs are available (complimentary) at Seven Seas Marina.
Learn About Polynesian Culture
Learn to "Yaka Dula Keiki Hula" (hula dance) in the lobby Tuesday through Saturday at 3:45 p.m. Auntie Kaui, a hula dancer and instructor with 50 years experience, is loved by repeat guests and leads many of the classes. That same front corner of the Ceremonial House is dedicated to kids with mini tables and chairs for coloring and a TV showing Disney flicks.
Movies Under the Stars
Disney movies (rated G or PG) are shown each night at 9 p.m. at the beach. Check the Recreation Calendar for show listings.
Seven Seas Marina
Here, you can rent a Boston Whaler 170 Montauk ($45 per half hour for six guests), a 21'-foot SunTracker family pontoon boat ($45 per half hour for up to eight guests) or a Sea Raycer mini powerboat, which teens can operate ($32 per half hour or $45 per hour).
You can also book a captained pontoon specialty cruise. The 21' SunTracker family pontoon boat ($299 for up to 8 guests) or a 25-foot that accommodates up to 10 guests ($349) includes snacks and soft drinks service. Additional private dining is available for an extra fee. These cruises run morning, afternoon, and evening. Prices vary based on time. Evening cruises allow you to drop anchor and watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks show. Water skiing, tubing and wake boarding are also available. Visit the marina for more information and reservations.
Pirate Adventure Cruise
Kids can board the pirate ship at the Grand Floridian Marina, then visit "ports of call" along Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon to follow clues and discover treasure. Voyages run Monday through Saturday, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and include a snack and drink. The Pirate Adventure Cruise is geared toward potty-trained kids ages 4 to 12.
Arcadia Games (Located at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort)
Once the Mouseketeer Club, this former kids' club area has been transformed into an arcade filled with classic games such as Donkey Kong and Star Wars, plus air-hockey and the "claw," the arcade game made popular by "Toy Story"; this one is full of plush Disney characters for the claw to attempt to grab. Arcadia is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Bou-Tiki (main floor, Great Ceremonial House), is filled with island themed Disney paraphernalia, designer gear like Dooney & Bourke bags emblazoned with characters and Lucky Bamboo plants. The store won a National Merchandising Award for its unique design based on Polynesian tiki lore. According to the legend, tikis were mischievous thieves (a sort of leprechaun cousin) and were said to "freeze" at the first sign of the sun's rays. The story goes that one night the sun came up very early while the tikis were prowling the store and now here they are -- frozen" in various states of mischief.
Located on the Great Ceremonial House's second floor, Moana Mercantile is the place to buy toys, treats and necessities of all kinds from boxes of Entenmann donuts and Ritz crackers, to pints of Haagan Daz ice cream, loaves of bread, and packages of bagels. The cold and frozen food section offerings were expanded as part of the renovation so that guests staying in villas and bungalows could stock up on things to make quick meals, hence you'll find frozen pizzas, chicken pot pies, Stouffers turkey dinners, milk, yogurt, and a variety of coffee creamers. The mini-pharmacy like section has rain ponchos ($10), a good selection of adult and children's medicines, shampoos, lotions and other odds and ends.
Polynesian Villas & Bungalows have fairly easy access to bus or water taxis to numerous Magic Kingdom area restaurants. At the Polynesian resort, dining options range from grab-and-go outlets to a family-friendly cafe, and a restaurant that's home to character breakfasts. While there aren't any new or particularly romantic Polynesian restaurants, Grand Floridian offers additional dining options just a 10- to 15-minute stroll along a lakeside path away or a short boat ride across the lagoon. See Disney's Grand Floridian Resort review for more information. But while Grand Floridian might have more food options, Polynesian is a stand-out for beverages, thanks to its Kona coffee and new Trader Sam's Grog Grotto that is part bar, part attraction.
Cap N' Jacks
Cap N' Jacks serves sandwiches, ice cream, and pizza 24 hours a day. Both hot and cold breakfast items are available and you can get Kona Cafe's popular banana stuffed Tonga toast here, too. Lunch and dinner options include pulled pork nachos, yummy fish tacos, a Polynesian salad with sesame soy dressing, and pho noodle bowl with shrimp or beef. Kid fare (for ages 9 and under) includes usual favorites (chicken nuggets and PB&J) plus chicken and pineapple skewers. The restaurant's interior is decorated with colorful posters of the Polynesian islands the longhouses are named for -- Pago Pago, Moorea, Rarotonga. The adjacent outdoor seating area overlooks the pool.
Barefoot Pool Bar
Located beachside behind the pool's "volcano," the pool bar serves wine, beer, sangria and drink specialties, from a Captain's Mai Tai to a coconut rum drink named Banana Cabana. Non-alcoholic Lava smoothies and Orange freezes are available for non-drinkers and kids. Unlike some Disney resort pool bars, Barefoot does not serve food, however, Cap N' Jacks does and is located on the other side of the pool.
Coffee-loving parents can start the day with a fresh pressed-pot of Kona coffee at Kona CafÃ©, the resort's casual eatery. Be sure to try one of Disney World's best-known breakfasts, the delicious "Tonga Toast" -- banana-stuffed sourdough bread, rolled in cinnamon sugar, then fried. Steak and Eggs, pancakes, and delicious omelets round out the breakfast choices. Kona CafÃ© has a Pan-Pacific flavor to its lunch and dinner menus offering pot stickers, Kona-coffee rubbed pork chop, sesame seared sea scallops, sustainable fish options, and a 'Big Kahuna" burger. Be sure to watch the sushi chefs hand roll sushi in the open sushi kitchen.
Open mornings from 6:30 a.m. to noon, and evenings from 5 to 10 p.m., this quick service walk-up food outlet is located on the second floor near Kona Cafe's entrance, serving morning coffee and pastries and made-to-order sushi, sashimi, and sake in the evening.
Located on the Great Ceremonial House's second floor, Ohana offers a character breakfast frequented by Lilo and Stitch (be sure to reserve in advance), a family-style Polynesian feast (eggs and bacon for breakfast; meats and seafood grilled over an open fire pit for dinner), as well as a large, albeit a bit dated, bar area, Tambu Lounge (noted below).
Located at Ohana's entrance, Tambu has a square shaped bar with additional high-top seating areas for sipping tropical drinks and noshing on Hawaiian-inspired appetizers. Of the two bars (Tambu and Trader Sam's), this one is more sedate and better for watching games on TV.
Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
This is is an interactive bar where quirky servers tell tall tales inspired by the drink you order. Order a Krakatoau and the bar darkens and a volcano erupts. The bar is based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim and founded by Adventureland's famous "head" salesman, Trader Sam. The Walt Disney World Resort version has some similarities to the original Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, but the theming reflects its new Polynesian resort location.
Specialty cocktails are served in vessels that are more like ceramic sculptures and range from the Polynesian Pearl, to a Nautilus ship (meant for two). Dark and tropical stormy and the smooth and creamy spiky pineapple are also favorites.
The menu consists of small plate options, such as chicken lettuce cups with hoisin ginger sauce; Hawaiian poke with Sriracha aioli and wonton chips; kalua pork tacos with shredded cabbage and pickled vegetables; pan-fried dumplings with soy-sesame dipping sauce. Open 4 p.m. to midnight, the lounge has 50 seats inside and 82 on the patio overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon. Come early. The bar is popular with guests and locals alike and there's often a wait for inside seats.
This place recently opened on the back side of the Ceremonial House on the pool pathway and is home to the very popular Dole Whip soft serve and floats. This walk-up window is the only dedicated spot for the Dole Whip outside of the Magic Kingdom
Room service is available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Menus feature American, seafood and steakhouse options.
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
This popular show is part food, part entertainment. The lively luau is set in a waterside open-air theater and features traditional music and dancing from Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii and more. The three-course, family-style feast includes things like pulled pork, BBQ ribs, roasted chicken and honey-lime slaw, pineapple-coconut bread, and warm pineapple bread pudding with caramel sauce for dessert. Children's choices range from mini-corn dogs with tater tots, to grilled chicken or mahi mahi with rice and green beans.
Shows are offered Tuesday to Saturday evenings, with seatings at 5:15 and 8 p.m. Reservations are highly encouraged; call 407-WDW-DINE.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Independent childcare provider Kid's Nite Out offers one-to-one babysitting in resort rooms and villas. Most sitters do arts and crafts, read, and play games with kids ages 6 months to 12 years.
Kids and adults alike receive a lei (made of fabric) at check-in and a special button if it's your birthday. Honeymooners and couples celebrating anniversaries receive the real deal: fresh flower leis.
The fitness center, part of Grand Floridian's Spa, is about a 5-minute walk along the lakeside path toward Grand Floridian. The facility has a full circuit of Life Fitness equipment, treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights, and is open to both Grand Floridian and Polynesian resort guests 24 hours.
Located in the same building as Grand Floridian's fitness center, this full-service spa offers massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and other perks, such as a back or scalp facial. Kids ages 4 to 12 have their own spa menu that includes a 25-minute manicure or pedicure. Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The spa is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A 24-hour, self-service laundry room is available near Lilo's Playhouse. Credit and debit cards are now accepted for washers, dryers and soap vending, and the best part is you can request a text message when your laundry cycle is complete.
Complimentary parking is available onsite.
Check-in is at 3 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
January to mid-February, late July to October, and post-Thanksgiving through mid-December are typically when you'll find the best pricing, as well as smaller crowds and shorter waits for rides and restaurants. There are discounts available for active and retired military members, as well as resident discounts (typically for Florida residents) at various times of the year.
Disney's complimentary Disney's Magical Express service allows you to check your bags at your hometown airport, bypass baggage claim at Orlando International Airport and take Disney's comfortable motor coaches to the resort (while you watch classic Disney short flicks and test your Disney trivia knowledge). Once you arrive, your bags "magically" appear, albeit a while after check-in.
The service must be booked in advance and is not available with all airlines. If your airline is not a program participant, you can still take the complimentary bus; just claim your bags in baggage claim, then head to Disney's Magical Express airport desk for your bus assignment. Note: Return service pickup is typically three hours prior to flight time.
For those renting a car, the resort is 24 miles from Orlando International Airport.
It's easy to navigate Disney World from the Polynesian. Not only is there a monorail station right off the lobby's second floor, a walkway to the far side of the resort leads to the Ticket and Transportation Center where you can catch a monorail to Epcot. The monorail (no fee) travels in a one-way loop from Polynesian to: Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort, and the Ticket and Transportation Center (Epcot connection) before returning to Polynesian. In addition, bus service to all parks is available in front of the Great Ceremonial House and a complimentary boat service to Magic Kingdom, or Grand Floridian Resort, departs from the marina.
For Mom and Dad
After dinner at Kona Cafe, grab a bottle of wine from Moana Mercantile (in the Great Ceremonial House) and head for the quiet beach on the back-side of the Tuvalu building. There's a single wooden bench swing for two, and you can sink your toes in the sand and look out over the water.