South Pacific Tropics are Re-created at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will be the place we’ll retire to if we ever hit the lottery. With its tropical landscaping, well-appointed rooms, and good on-site restaurants, it’s one of the few Walt Disney World resorts where you could skip the parks entirely and be perfectly content just exploring the grounds.
Everything about the Poly (as it’s known to its fans) is designed to relax, from the exotic plants that greet you at the entrance to the white-sand beach complete with hammocks and lounge chairs.
Spread across 39 acres along Seven Seas Lagoon, the Polynesian Village Resort currently consists of two- and three-story Hawaiian “longhouses” situated around the four-story Great Ceremonial House. Buildings feature wood tones, with exposed-beam roofs and tribal-inspired geometric inlays in the cornices.
The Great Ceremonial House contains restaurants, shops, and an atrium lobby with slate floors and many species of tropical plants.
Rooms at the Polynesian Village Resort are among the nicest in Walt Disney World, and bathrooms have lots of counter space and larger-than-average showers. Most rooms have two queen beds, a sofa, a reading chair, and a large dresser with a built-in flat-panel TV cabinet. A mini-fridge and coffeemaker sit between two large closets near the doorway and opposite the bathroom area. The dresser includes two horizontal shelves above and below the TV for extra storage capacity. The closets are spacious and light. Lighting throughout the room, including that for the desk and beds, is among the best on Disney property.
Seafoam–colored walls are offset by the dark wood of the desk and beds and by lighter woods used as accents on the remaining furniture. The color scheme is brightened by the use of white bed comforters. Woven straw headboards and carved-wood tikis provide texture throughout the room.
The Polynesian Village Resort has two pools. The largest, Lava Pool, sits behind the Great Ceremonial House. The pool features a lava rock structure and a waterslide. There is also a hot tub, kiddie pool, and water splash area. At night, the Poly’s pool and beach offer excellent views of the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks display.
Excellent Dining Options Include a
South Seas-Island Dinner Show and
Trader Sam’s Grotto
The Polynesian Village Resort has a number of excellent dining options, including one dinner show, one counter-service restaurant, and two table-service restaurants.
Ohana is a great place to fill up. The method of service and the fact that it just keeps coming make it all taste a little better. Insist on being seated in the main dining room, where the fire pit is located. A large open pit is the centerpiece of the room. Here, the grilled foods are prepared with flair—as well as flare: From time to time, the chef will pour some liquid on the fire, causing huge flames to shoot up. This is usually in response to something one of the strolling entertainers has said, evoking a sign from the fire gods. At any moment, there may be a Hula-Hoop contest or a coconut race, where kids are invited to push coconuts around the dining room with broomsticks.
Skewer service is the specialty here—there’s no menu. As soon as you’re seated, your server will begin to deliver food. First comes bread and a green salad, followed by honey-glazed chicken wings, pork fried dumplings, pineapple-coconut bread, and fresh pineapple. The main course is steak, pork loin, chicken, and grilled peel-and-eat shrimp, accompanied by stir-fried vegetables and lo mein noodles placed on a lazy Susan in the center of the table.
During breakfast hours, Ohana offers a character meal with Mickey, Pluto, Lilo, and Stitch.
The casual Kona Cafe has a postmodern decor, with arched railings and grillwork on the ceiling. If you want to escape the Magic Kingdom for a quiet lunch, hop on the monorail or take the resort launch to the Polynesian. This isn’t a fancy dining room, but the food is on a higher plane than your average java joint’s.
The house specialty for breakfast is the Tonga toast, a decadent French toast layered with bananas. For lunch we recommend stir-fried Asian noodles, barbecued-pork taco, and sticky wings. For dinner, try the pomegranate barbecued pork chop, ginger-crusted rib-eye with tamarind jus, and sustainable fish.
The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show features South Seas-island native dancing followed by an all-you-can-eat “Polynesian-style” meal. The dancing is interesting and largely authentic, and the dancers are attractive though definitely PG-rated in the Disney tradition. We think the show has its moments and the meal is adequate, but neither is particularly special.
The latest and priciest addition to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, 20 Bora Bora Bungalows now extend into Seven Seas Lagoon. The bungalows are 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom, stand-alone structures surrounded by water, and they offer magnificent views at staggering prices—up to $3,400 per night!
For a review of all Walt Disney World resorts, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.