Welcome back to another Disney Top 5. Recently on MousePad, MousePlanet’s very own discussion board, I engaged myself in yet another healthy debate. This particular discussion was centered on which resort to stay in when visiting Walt Disney World—the Polynesian or the Grand Floridian. Some problems we Disney fans have, deciding which deluxe resort to stay in, right? Granted, not everyone who’s traveling to Walt Disney World has this concern. The high cost of each resort certainly limits their appeal to a large portion of travelers. But if you can afford it, or you’re interested in splurging on a resort, it would be hard to find two better choices.


So which side of the debate did I land on? I suppose if you’ve read the title of this article, you’ve guessed that one of Walt Disney World’s first hotels, the Polynesian, has won me over. After this past summer’s stay, it’s become our favorite hotel on Walt Disney World property and we can’t wait to go back. As far as the aforementioned debate is concerned, I have to disclose the fact that we have not actually stayed at the Grand Floridian. As far as the Deluxe category goes, we have stayed at Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in addition to the Polynesian. We’ve dined and spent time at the Grand Floridian and to be totally honest with you, the place kind of turns me off. It’s certainly beautiful. The main lobby is stunning. The grounds are meticulous. Some of Disney’s best restaurants are there. That all said, there’s just something about the place that makes me feel…uncomfortable. My wife and I have both felt the same way each time that we’re there. But I digress. This isn’t the Top 5 Things I Don’t Like about Disney’s Grand Floridian. It is however, the Top 5 Reasons I Love Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

5 – The Room Size

The view from our Fiji room. Photo by Chris Barry.

We have 5 people in our family and space is pretty important to us. We’ve done just fine at Port Orleans Riverside with the trundle beds. The Yacht Club added a balcony and a daybed and several square feet. But the rooms at the Poly are downright spacious, and as I understand it, they are the largest standard rooms on Disney property. The 5 of us had plenty of room. It’s certainly spoiled us. It would be hard to go back to a smaller room.

4 – The Monorail

The monorail glides over the Seven Seas Lagoon. Photo by Chris Barry.

This was our first monorail resort and it really changes everything. I don’t mind the Disney busses. Actually, I find them to be an integral part of the whole experience. Being able to hop on that monorail to get to and from the Magic Kingdom is really amazing, especially with kids. Add the ride to Epcot in there and you’ve got such an efficient way to get around. Besides all that…let’s face it…it’s just way cool to ride the monorail.

3 – Location, Location, Location

The nearby Grand Floridian. Photo by Chris Barry.

Factoring in the monorail, the proximity to the Magic Kingdom, being able to walk to the Grand Floridian for a meal, being able to walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and having The Contemporary and the Wilderness Lodge nearby equals one super convenient resort to stay in.

2 – The Volcano Pool and the Beach

The empty beach at the Polynesian. Photo by Chris Barry.

Obviously, if you’ve ever seen the Yacht and Beach Club pool—Stormalong Bay—you’ve seen Disney’s best pool complex. The Volcano Pool at the Poly is not as enormous, but the kids love it; and what was even better was the adjacent beach. My wife and I were able to sit alone on the beach, sipping drinks with umbrellas in them while the kids were less than 100 feet away safely playing in the pool. It seemed like we were a world away from the chaos and noise of the pool, but we were literally right next door sitting side by side on beach chairs staring at Cinderella’s Castle off in the distance, and we pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves.

The view of Cinderella's Castle from the Polynesian beach. Photo by Chris Barry.

1 – The Atmosphere

A garden pool in front of the Polynesian. Photo by Chris Barry.

Strolling around the grounds of the Polynesian, you can’t help but get caught up in the tropical feel of the resort. Amazing flowers and gardens surround you. The Seven Seas Lagoon is spread out in front of you. The winding pathways between all of the longhouses invite you to explore the grounds. Whether it’s my wife’s morning run through the grounds, a stroll out to Sunset Pointe with the kids to watch the ferries plying back and forth in the afternoon, or the torches guiding me at night for a walk over to the Great Ceremonial House for late night snacks, the whole place is just teeming with atmosphere. I know I’m not really in Polynesia, but as far as I’m concerned I might as well be in Tahiti or Hawaii…only better…the Magic Kingdom is only 5 minutes away!

My son Casey and a tiki. Photo by Samantha Barry.

There are so many things we all loved about the Polynesian…the awesome gardens and waterfalls, the Tonga Toast, the tikis in the gift shop, watching the fireworks on the beach, sitting on our balcony at night looking out at the lagoon, taking the boat across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Magic Kingdom…and that's without even eating at ’Ohana or seeing the Spirit of Aloha show.

Mickey, Minnie, Morty and Ferdie in Polynesian garb. Photo by Samantha Barry.

It’s become our favorite place to stay. We can’t wait to go back. It’s safe to say that we’ve joined the loyal ranks of the many, many others who call the Poly their home away from home at Walt Disney World.

That's My Disney Top 5 for today. What's yours? Click on the "Discuss this article on MousePad" link below and share your list!


Discuss this article on MousePad. (Direct link to the article's thread)

(Send an email to Chris Barry)

Chris Barry lives on Long Island in New York with his wife and three kids. He has had a lifelong love of cartoons, comics and animation. Those who know him well say he has truly, "earned his Disney PhD." Chris has been involved with Television Production for 20 years and began his career working with The Muppets at Jim Henson Productions in NYC. Currently teaching TV Production to high school students, Chris has been writing about many different facets of The Walt Disney Company for several years now.