Disney's Polynesian Village Resort: A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is a Disney Deluxe hotel located on the shore of Seven Seas Lagoon. It's more or less directly across from the Magic Kingdom, next to the Ticket and Transportation Center. The hotel opened on October 1, 1971 along with the Magic Kingdom Park, Disney's Contemporary Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
The resort consists of a main building called the Great Ceremonial House and eleven longhouses, and several bungalows over the water nearby. Altogether, there are 478 traditional rooms, 6 suites in addition to the 20 over-the-water bungalows, plus 360 deluxe studio villas which are part of the Disney Vacation Club Resort.
Even though this is one of the original hotels on Walt Disney World property, it's kept its appeal through the years with several minor and major renovations. Take a look at what we found:
The central building at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is called the Great Ceremonial House. The main lobby's central water feature has a statue of Maui, who was prominent in the early days of the hotel but lost some popularity through the years. With the release of the movie "Moana" in 2016, Maui—being a central character to the movie—has enjoyed a bit of a comeback Photo by Bonnie Fink.
As far back as 1972, the Legend of Maui has been around at the Polynesian Village Resort in various forms. In the early days of the hotel, the legend was that Maui was largely responsible for many of the comforts enjoyed by Islanders of the Polynesian Islands. As we saw in the 2016 Disney movie Moana, Maui is able to transform himself into an animal of his choice when the need arises.
As a demigod, Maui was part human and part god who lived among the people of Polynesia. He used his magical fishhook to capture and raise the Polynesian Islands from the bottom of the sea, and was responsible for discovering the secret of fire, which he passed along to his people. Maui is also said to have captured the sun with a special net and held it captive until he (the sun) agreed to move more slowly across the sky, thus increasing the amount of daylight for the people of Polynesia.
But Maui's most significant contribution to the Polynesian people is the raising of the sky. It seems that in the beginning, Maui noticed that the sky was too low to the earth. It was so low in fact that the people had to move around on their hands and knees. Seeing how this was harming the people, Maui went to his father, Akalana, and asked for his help. Together, they were able to raise the heavens until the people could walk upright.
The guest rooms are as you would expect in a Disney Deluxe hotel. They're large and come with different bed configurations. Ours had a king-sized bed while the sofa, seen here on the left, made down into a smaller sleeping arrangement. There was a desk, a decent-sized TV, and a chest of drawers. The closet was in the hall, near the entrance. Photo by Donald Fink.
There's a second part to the Moana Mercantile that has park related merchandise and gifts. You can see a heavy influence from Lilo and Stitch, based on the things we found in this store. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Food and Drinks
The main Quick Service food offering at Disney's Polynesian Village is called Captain Cook's. It's located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House, beyond the lobby and to the left. As you might expect, it offers island inspired food and is open 24 hours a day. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Many of the value hotels have microwaves and toasters available for guests to prepare their own food. This isn't true in the Deluxe Hotels like Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, so it was a bit of a surprise to see this toaster in the condiments area of Captain Cook's. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
As if to make up for the limited indoor seating at Captain Cook's, there's an outdoor seating area overlooking the Lava pool. We believe Captain Cook's is using, or is about to start using trackers—similar to the ones used at Be our Guest in the Magic Kingdom—to deliver food to your table. At least, the outside tables are marked with signage to indicate where you should place your tracker. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
One of the finer restaurants at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is 'Ohana. In the mornings, they offer a breakfast where guests are joined by Lilo and Stitch, along with a few of their friends. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
In the Hawaiian culture, the word Ohana means "family," and can include extended family, friends, neighbors, or anyone really. Ohana is more of an idea rather than a word.
'Ohana is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. They offer breakfast and dinner. At dinner, the service is like a Brazilian steakhouse, where wait staff brings single portions of food to your table. In this case, the portions are skewers of sweet and sour chicken, oak-grilled shrimp, and steak, along with all the vegetables, noodles, and salad to go with it. This is an all-you-care-to-enjoy format. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Kona Cafe is a restaurant located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For lunch and dinner, you can find Asian inspired foods, including a selection of sushi. For breakfast, we like to call the selection "Island food." With selections like macadamia pancakes, or French toast with caramel roasted bananas, it was hard to choose. The coffee beans are kona from Hawaii, brewed in a French press. This was good food. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
If you want a quick snack, there's a small counter outside of the Kona Cafe called Kona Island. Here you can find various breakfast pastries and coffee that make a grab-n-go breakfast really easy. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
During a renovation that took place between 2013 and 2015, the Pineapple Lanai was created, featuring Dole Whip soft serve. It's located just outside the Great Ceremonial House on your way to the Lava Pool. So, if you're craving a Dole Whip, you don't necessarily have to cross the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Magic Kingdom to get one. They also have different flavors of soft serve swirls. During our stay at the Resort, Bonnie tried a lemon-flavored swirl. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
If you walk through the Great Ceremonial House lobby, turn left down the hallway and pass Captain Cook's, you might think your next stop is outside near the marina. What you may miss is a small, unassuming door on the right that leads you into Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. This is a small, intimate tiki bar rich in Island flavor and ambiance that should not be skipped, especially if you want a quiet place to have a drink. Be sure to have a cast member tell you about the various Disney artifacts that decorate this bar while you’re there. Photo by Donald Fink.
Outside the Great Ceremonial House, overlooking the marina, is Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace. Here you can listen to live music in the evenings while sipping an exotic cocktail like the Polynesian Pearl, or the Tahitian Torch. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
One of the advantages of staying at a hotel on one of Disney's lakes is access to water sports. From the marina at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, you can rent several different types of watercraft, charter a guided fishing trip, view fireworks from a private, chartered boat, or even take an evening dinner cruise around Seven Seas Lagoon. Of course, you don't have to be staying at this resort to enjoy these amenities, but it cuts down on the travel time. Photo by Donald Fink.
The Lava Pool is located behind the Great Ceremonial House. It's not a particularly large swimming pool, but has plenty of amenities, including a water slide from near the top of the volcano, a water fall, plenty of seating poolside, and a "beach" at one end where the pool starts out at ankle depth and gradually slopes into deeper water. Photo by Donald Fink.
Inside the Lava Pool area is a children's play area called Kiki Tikis Splash Play. It features a smaller water slide plus a number of other interesting features, usually involving spraying or squirting water to entertain the kids. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The second, more secluded pool at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is called the Oasis Pool. This swimming hole is smaller and quieter than the Lava Pool, with cabanas and a bar. The shallow end starts at ankle depth and gently slopes into the pool allowing people to wade at pretty much any depth they prefer. Photo by Donald Fink.
There's a boat dock at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort that takes guests to the Magic kingdom. The route usually leaves here and goes directly across Seven Seas Lagoon to the Park. On the return trip, the boat will stop at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort first. The small boats on this route are called "Launches." They are the smallest in Disney’s fleet of water transportation fleet and cannot accommodate scooters and wheelchairs because they require you to step down onto the deck. Photo by Donald Fink.
There are twenty, two-unit bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. They're built offshore, over the water and offer sleeping for up to eight adults, according to Disney. Each unit has a plunge pool on the deck facing the Magic Kingdom, and all bungalows have unrestricted views of the evening fireworks. Photo by Donald Fink.
We’ve been fortunate to stay at many of the Deluxe hotels on Walt Disney world property over the years. Truthfully, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is not one of our favorites, but we think it’s simply a matter of personal preference. We spend time on the grounds during our walks around Walt Disney World, and have always been impressed with pretty much everything we see here. It’s just, we like other hotels more. Who knows though? If you’re looking for an island getaway on your next Walt Disney World visit, this might just be the place.