WDW Polynesian, September 21-24, 2013...

Recently stayed at the Polynesian for three nights for a quick long weekend “off-season” late September WDW getaway with the wife (no kids). Late September was a great time to go if you want to avoid the crowds, however it rained three of the four days, and it was hot. We made due. Lots of international guests. I prefer our typical early December trip with the same low crowds but a much better chance of dry weather and you get all of the Christmas decorations.

If you want the short version of my Polynesian stay, I can sum it up in two sentences. The Polynesian was a great stay, and probably the most expensive average nightly room rate I have ever personally paid (around $350/night). But every time I walked past the International Gateway at Epcot, I couldn’t help but think I could have stayed at the Beach/Yacht/Boardwalk/Swan or Dolphin for the same price, or even less, and avoid a lot of the transportation headaches.

I travel around 60 days a year for business/pleasure, and my wife and I usually hit up WDW around twice a year. We have stayed at many of the WDW resorts over the years. The Polynesian was on our bucket list so we splurged a little and tried something new and different. Yes, I am now probably Visa’s #1 customer for the next few months.

Anyway, I will spare you every detail of the Polynesian Resort; you can certainly search these online. We had a very nice stay, but at a very “premium” price point. The resort is absolutely beautiful. Would we stay at the Polynesian again, sure, it’s a great property. But if you are looking for some sense of “value” in the “deluxe” resort category, my opinion is that the Epcot area resorts have an advantage, especially for adults looking to spend some evenings at Epcot and don’t want to bother with the “mass” transportation at park closing, after Illuminations. Having stayed at one of the Epcot resorts multiple times, I didn’t realize (and missed) the convenience of being able to walk home after closing Epcot (which is where we usually end up most evenings).

The Polynesian was clean, the grounds were very tropical and the staff was friendly. I really have no complaints. But we paid a “premium”. If you have small children, and will be frequenting the Magic Kingdom a lot, perhaps it is a better option for convenience…but again, you pay a premium price for this convenience.

The rooms are large and recently renovated. On par with the Beach/Yacht Club, maybe even a little nicer and better themed if that kind of thing matters to you. The pool area has a cool volcano theme, but not a lot of shaded areas for lounging. The pool area is surprisingly small considering. The resort itself is pretty compact and the TCC is a quick walk away if you want to monorail it direct to Epcot, or express it to the MK. You can also take the local monorail around the loop, but it always seems painfully slow. Best of all, the beach area has a great view of the Magic Kingdom across the lake and they pipe in the music during the fireworks so you have a front row seat...albeit a mile away, it is still pretty cool and a great view if you want to avoid the Main Street USA fireworks crowds.

In the end, while we were happy with our stay, if I’m going to spend $300+ a night at WDW, I’d rather stay at one of the Epcot resorts and be able to walk to/from two of the theme parks (Epcot & Studios) at any given time. I guess you are getting what you paid for. That is a great property, in a great location, with great theming. But no real feeling of “value” beyond that…..if that makes any sense.

sirloindude's avatar

Great review of the resort. I too haven't really gotten the same sense of value from the two deluxe resorts at which I stayed (Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge) as I have elsewhere. I very much enjoyed both, to be sure, but I tend to gravitate toward the moderates for their better balance of quality and price. I just don't feel like I get twice as much out of a deluxe resort despite it being twice as expensive as a moderate.

I'd absolutely stay at them again, to be sure, as I very much enjoyed them in the past, but I agree with your assessment of them.

Last edited by sirloindude,

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones


I've only stayed at mid-range resorts at Disney, and (especially considering the time actually spent there) we found it to be just fine. It's always made me wonder if a luxury resort would even be worth it.
I'll find out, though, as my partner has a meeting in February at the Grand Floridian and we'll be there a little over a week. We're able to take advantage of a group convention rate, but it's still pricey. And a good point that I never considered is how inconvenient transportation might be if we're on the MK loop. It'll be fine for that park, but the others may be a time consuming hassle. Oh well, not to complain, I guess.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Hanging n' Banging said:

The rooms are large and recently renovated. On par with the Beach/Yacht Club, maybe even a little nicer and better themed if that kind of thing matters to you.

With all the talk in this thread about the 'value' of the resorts, I imagine this is exactly where it's found for the people that stay in the deluxe resorts.

What's interesting is that people who stay in the midrange hotels don't seem to see that 'value' in the upgrade. We've only stayed in the deluxe resorts at WDW and I think it's totally worth it - but I don't have that midrange point as a comparison. It'd be neat to see what exactly drives the preference of the people who prefer to stay at the various levels or why people who have stayed at various levels prefer the hotels they do.

I'd say a big driver is what you can or want to afford.

All I know is what I frequently hear.

Val: "We got a good deal. It was cute. The kids loved the pool"
Mid: "We got a good deal. It was close to Downtown Disney. The food choices were decent"
Lux: "It was really nice. The view was spectacular. It was convenient to the park. The restaurant was fabulous."

I think no matter where you stay there are Disney touches and "magic" that make it special, which is why people are usually very content at their usual lever. For me, I like Port Orleans. I wanted that good deal, but not a motel type of building running with a lot of kids running. In other words a feeling of quieter seclusion was nice. Transportation was good from there, and Downtown Disney was a pleasant boat ride away. No need to worry about driving to or from a night spot.

I forgot all about this, but one time we were guests of a couple with a time share and they got one of those fabulous 2 story condos at Old Key West for us all. I was nervous at first, as there were eight of us. Turned out to be so spacious, bedroom and en suite for each couple, and as nice as any place I'll ever live. Now, that was a great time (party!) and the resort was nice. A drawback was the resort was huge, with an addition on the way, and transportation from there kinda sucked- very crowded.

What astounds me every time about Disney is how many people they can and actually do put up each night, and at many different levels. Something for just about every pocketbook.

slithernoggin's avatar

^^What he said. The first time my partner said we should take advantage of his cast member discount and stay in a cabin at Fort Wilderness, I was....dubious. But it was great. Disney made it special. We adored the towel animals that awaited us each night when we returned, compliments of the housekeeping staff. And when I left a note that he had a Halloween birthday (we were there over his birthday), we returned to find towel ghosts everywhere.

For me, even if you plan to never leave WDW, a rental car is still a necessity.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Jeff's avatar

I've never stayed at the Poly, but I was just there last night. I live about six minutes away, and we find ourselves going there or the Floridian pretty frequently. Both offer nice places to get out with proximity to Magic Kingdom, without actually being in Magic Kingdom. They're both great hotels, and I agree that the proximity to MK is the big selling point, especially if you have a kid.

Oh, and you can get giant fruity drinks in a pineapple, which is a win.

I did my first stay at Beach Club last November, and I have to agree that if you don't have kids, that's where it's at... or Yacht Club or Boardwalk. You can get away with never stepping on a bus beyond the Magical Express and line to Animal Kingdom, if you're flying in. I really loved that area.

I think a lot of the perceived value at the various resort levels is also tied to how you "do" WDW. If you have to do everything and go open to close, including Extra Tragic Hours, then it's a waste to stay anywhere but a value resort. You're only sleeping there anyway.

On the other hand, if you like room to stretch out, a place for a midday break, crazy good pools, lots of bars and restaurants, perhaps even "special time" with your significant other, then the deluxe resorts are the way to go. That Beach Club we did was our first multi-day vacation without Simon, and it was one of the most epic vacations I've had. I even completed drink-around-the-world without any ill effects.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

You're only sleeping there anyway.

Blasphemy. A hotel room is never "just a place to sleep."

A hotel room is your home away fom home regardless of how you use it and should be correspondingly suited to your comfort. If your home is "just a place you sleep" when you're not out doing other things, then sure. But my home is more than that and I like my hotel rooms to be too.


Jeff's avatar

I'm as much of a hotel snob as anyone, but if you're only there to sleep, what difference does it make if there's a nice pool, gym and four-star restaurants? Pop Century has perfectly adequate beds and showers if you're there to O-C the parks and just need a place to crash.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Not sure if it pertains to Disney all that much, but it's not necessarily the arbitrary extras, but rather the room itself. I imagine different bedding and decor - a different level of comfort for the time I am spending in the room.

Plus, I have a thing about exterior entry rooms. Blech. It's so 'motel' to me.

I dunno. It's about the details.

I'm with you there, about the exterior doors. Something about everyone walking by being able to see into the room is not good to me. I was dismayed to see that set up when we arrived at Port Orleans but it turned out ok. The doors were kind of in an angled cubby or something and it tricked me into thinking the place was a little more private.

Jeff's avatar

I might be going out on a limb here, but not every one is Lord Gonchar.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

sws's avatar

No, they only wish they were.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

I might be going out on a limb here, but not every one is Lord Gonchar.

Well, now that we've established the problem...

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