For me, there is just something a little extra magical about the Polynesian Village Resort. Before Disney Vacation Club was a thing in my life (or even existed for that matter), before Walt Disney World was our family tradition, before I fell in love with my amazing wife, there was the Polynesian. My only family trip as a child was when I was still just 7 years old and went to Walt Disney World with my grandparents and two cousins and stayed at the Polynesian Resort. Like a lot of World War 2 veterans, my grandfather was a bit fascinated with the idea of staying at such a resort, which was of course based on the Polynesian islands that he was stationed in when he was a 16-year-old Marine (like a lot of his Charlestown, MA friends, he lied about his age to join). To give context, this trip was in September of 1983 and Epcot Center had just opened 6 months prior. To be honest, I only remember small pieces of this trip. I remember being a pain in the butt about having to go onto “It’s a Small World”, I remember being fascinated about the “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” ride, and I remember loving the parades. My biggest takeaway was how amazing the hotel that we stayed in was. It was like nothing that I had ever seen and nothing that I ever would again. Until I walked in 30 years later. Walking through those doors and smelling that white tea and ginger scent, it woke up that 7-year-old Ken that still lives in my brain, and I was in love once again with the resort.
A lot of has changed since 1971 when the resort opened, and a lot has also changed since that first trip in 1983, but the magic of this resort has always remained. I have said this before, but I have always felt that The Polynesian Resort was the closest resort to Walt’s original vision for his Florida Project, which I feel lends to its mystique.
Fast forward to today and the Polynesian is what I would consider the best resort on property for both families and couples traveling without children for a hundred reasons. First and foremost is location, location, location. Not only are you just a quick monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom, you are also a short walk (especially if you are staying in a DVC villa) to the Transportation and Ticket Center, which can get you to Magic Kingdom by monorail and boat and also to Epcot by monorail, but is also the best place to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Their beach is a direct sightline to Cinderella’s Castle, and finding a nice spot on that beach can be either the most magical or most romantic place to watch.
Not far behind the location, is the multitude of dining options, which includes Cap’t Cooks (in my opinion one of the two best quick service dining options on property), to the always popular ‘Ohana (and the adjacent Tambu Lounge) and Kona Café, to the many micro-quick service dining stops and kiosks. While everyone probably knows about Pineapple Lanai (home of their famous Dole Whip) and the amazing sushi and coffee being served at Kona Island (adjacent to Kona Café), less people may know just how good the Oasis Lounge and Bar is at the “quiet” pool (if you haven’t had the Teriyaki Glazed Burger topped with Pork Belly and a Grilled Pineapple ring and washed it down with their rum and Dole Whip frozen concoction-the Spikey Pineapple-, you are truly missing out) or the shaved ice stand just outside of the Lava Pool. Then, of course, there is Trader Sam’s Grotto, one of the most unique experiences that you will find on property. As a side note, one pro tip that gets overlooked is that if Sam’s is full, which it has a tendency to be prior to being 21+ only after 8 PM, you can enjoy the same signature drinks and appetizers outside on the Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. If this was not enough, they offer one of the most recognizable specialty dinner shows in the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.
The DVC studios are especially clean and crisp, with just the right island feel, while offering stunning balcony views and being the only DVC studio that offers its guests two bathrooms in each unit, especially important when staying with a small family.
Last is the property and amenities that the Polynesian has to offer. From the Lava and Oasis Pools, to the shopping locations (Moana Mercantile on the second floor and Boutiki on the First floor of the Grand Ceremonial House’s lobby) offer some of the best shopping for traditional and DVC merchandise on property, to the perfectly detailed grounds, the Polynesian Resort offers just a little something for everyone to complete whatever it is that makes your vacation magical.