Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Disney Vacation at the Polynesian
When you plot your itinerary for a Disney trip, one thing matters the most. Where you stay will determine a lot of what you do. After all, the park that’s closest to your hotel is the one that you’re likely to visit the most. Here’s a guide on how to plan your Disney trip when you’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Along with Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is the oldest official Disney hotel in the world. A bit of trivia is that Walt Disney didn’t build Disneyland, offering the idea to an interested third party instead.
When Walt Disney World construction began, Imagineers weren’t about to repeat the same mistake. They built two hotels that connected to Magic Kingdom via the monorail. From its earliest days, the Polynesian is where park officials took celebrities and influential guests. This hotel signified the best of Disney in 1971.
Fast forward roughly 50 years, and not much has changed. The Polynesian has maintained its status as one of the elite resorts in the Disney lineup, perhaps exceeded by only Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Ergo, when you stay at the Polynesian, you’re guaranteeing your traveling party a spectacular vacation.
Transportation and Logistics
Due to the hotel’s presence on the monorail line, the Polynesian has a reputation as a Magic Kingdom hotel. While that’s true, it also shares the same parking lot with the Transportation and Ticket Center.
By jumping on the monorail there, guests can head straight to Epcot, too. As such, this property also stakes a claim as an Epcot resort. A monorail ride to Magic Kingdom should take 10 minutes or less, while a trip to Epcot will be in the 15-minute range.
Overall, the Polynesian’s logistics are terrific. Beyond the monorails and Disney’s standard bus options, this resort features a ferryboat to Magic Kingdom, too. This scenic trip takes less than 10 minutes and comes with an unforgettable view.
The bus routes out of the Polynesian are generally quite reasonable. Blizzard Beach Water Park is only seven minutes away, while Typhoon Lagoon requires a 10-minute ride. A park visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios takes only 10 minutes, too.
Disney Springs is a bit longer at 12 minutes. According to Google, that’s the longest travel time for any of Walt Disney World’s primary offerings. Even Disney’s Animal Kingdom is only eight minutes from the Polynesian. Simply stated, the Polynesian’s logistics are as good as you’ll find on the Disney campus.
Thanks to the fantastic, centralized location, your Polynesian visit gives you a plethora of options. You can go to Magic Kingdom or Epcot whenever you want. After all, you’re just a monorail ride away from both. My suggestion is to explore Extra Magic Hours and Rope Drop options whenever possible. You could get a lot done at either park before lunch.
Here’s how I would suggest that you plan. Schedule most of your FastPasses at the other two parks, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. That way, you’ll get to pick and choose your favorite attractions at each place.
Presuming that you’re fortunate with your attempts, you’ll guarantee a ride on Slinky Dog Dash and Avatar Flight of Passage. Since Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run doesn’t have a FastPass yet, you have to wait in line for that one. Thankfully, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowds are manageable enough that it shouldn’t be a problem.
My thinking with this approach is that you can sneak several quick visits at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The power of the monorail setup guarantees you ready access to both parks. Maximize this advantage by spending a few hours at the park whenever you’re in the mood. You don’t need to stay there all day since you’re so close. Instead, you can leave and come back as you wish.
In fact, you can attack FastPasses differently than most guests. Once you’ve used your allotment at Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, you can search for options later in the day at Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
Generally, guests don’t want to skip from an 11 a.m. FastPass to a 5 p.m. one. However, when you’re staying at the Polynesian, your situation is different. Once you’re done at the first park, you can head back to the hotel. Take your time and maybe eat at an exceptional restaurant or swim in a relaxing pool setting.
Then, when you’re recharged, you can head over to Magic Kingdom/Epcot to use the later FastPass you found. The convenient location of the Polynesian makes this strategy possible. Of course, Park Hopper tickets are a must for this plan to work.
Things to Do at the Polynesian
This resort’s amenities are exemplary. For starters, it’s the only hotel where you can order a Dole Whip. A stand just outside of the lobby called Pineapple Lanai serves this beloved delicacy and not much else. Speaking of the lobby, it’s my happy place at Walt Disney World.
The legendary fragrance at the Polynesian is so recognizable that any number of candles and wax tarts attempt to recreate it. Once you get a whiff of that serene smell, you’ll know that you’re at your Disney home for the next few days. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find excuses to walk through the lobby just to sniff it again.
The hotel lobby is the Great Ceremonial House, and it’s the base of operations for the resort. Three restaurants and two bars are here, and almost all of them have ardent support among Disney fanatics.
The Quick Service restaurant, Capt. Cook’s, is right there with Contempo Café as my favorite counter service meal at Disney. Similarly, the two Table Service restaurants at the Polynesian, Kona Café and ‘Ohana, are a dynamic duo. The cuisine at both places will make your mouth water. Each location serves the perfect blend of island flavors.
You can even take the show on the road. Disney’s Spirit of Aloha presentation occurs twice nightly at a location near the lagoon. In addition to an entertaining show, the food features some of the highlights from ‘Kona Café and ‘Ohana. You get the benefit of the delicious flavors, AND you get to watch someone perform a fire dance.
When you want a drink, you should visit Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. It’s the most immersive bar at Walt Disney World. Sometimes, when you order drinks, the walls will shake, or an active volcano will come to life. The whole thing is the right kind of ridiculous and a must for tourists who love over-the-top entertainment.
The hotel’s main pool is also phenomenal. Disney recently redesigned elements of the Lava Pool to make it more child-friendly. It’s always crowded for a reason. Frankly, everything at the Polynesian is so great that you may never want to leave the hotel grounds.