Monthly Archives: June 2013

Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Review

If you’re looking for a great on-property resort for your stay at Walt Disney World, and a deluxe resort is within your budget, you should definitely check out (and check-in to) Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Disney Polynesian Resort
Disney Polynesian Resort

The Polynesian is one of Disney’s original resort hotels (the other is the Contemporary resort) that have been around since the opening of the Magic Kingdom theme park way back in 1971. It is one of four Disney resorts offering monorail transportation to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks, which is a great convenience for guests during their stay. Disney’s Grand Floridian, Contemporary Resort, and Bay Lake Tower offer a similar convenience.

Evening at the Polynesian

Evening at the Polynesian

The Polynesian resort consists of several separate buildings with names like ‘Tahiti’, ‘Hawaii’, ‘Samoa’, and ‘Tokelau’, authentically presented with ‘island flair’, a couple of pools (including one with a giant volcano and water slide), and a variety of restaurants and gift shops to explore and enjoy. The lush tropical grounds feature two pools, and can be traversed using a variety of winding pathways through the gorgeous tropical foliage. There are several small waterfalls and creeks dotting the landscape which provide a truly immersive experience for you to enjoy.

The centerpiece of the resort is the Great Ceremonial House which is the lobby of the resort and contains the resort’s restaurants and gift shops. It is also home to a very nice little arcade for the videogame buffs in the family.

Waterfall at Disney's Polynesian Resort

Waterfall at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

The Polynesian’s three restaurants are ‘Ohana, Captain Cook’s, and Kona Café. ‘Ohana features a delicious family-style all-you-can-eat feast of skewers and skewers of beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp cooked over an open wood burning grill and topped off with a variety of delicious side dishes. (See full review here.) There is also a character breakfast available each morning at ‘Ohana featuring Mickey and Pluto. Captain Cook’s is a quick-service restaurant offering both standard American dishes and authentic Polynesian offerings throughout the day, and Kona Café is a sit-down dining experience offering dishes such as Tonga Toast and Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes for breakfast, Big Island Tacos and an Island Chicken Sandwich for lunch, and Grilled Lamb Chops and Togarashi Spiced Ahi Tuna for dinner.

Wishes fireworks from a balcony at Polynesian

Wishes fireworks from a balcony at Polynesian

The resort has a beautiful beach on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon and looking out toward the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle towering in the distance. There are nightly movies on the beach as well as an Electrical Water Pageant light show in the lagoon each evening. Unfortunately, the beach is only for ‘looks’. You cannot swim in the Seven Seas Lagoon.

Each evening you can enjoy the “Wishes” fireworks extravaganza from the beach or from the comfort of your balcony if you’ve upgraded to a room with a ‘Theme Park view’. If you want to get fully immersed in the tastes, sights, and sounds of the islands, you can also check out the Spirit of Aloha dinner show and luau occurring twice each evening. The luau requires a separate ticket (which includes dinner) which runs about $60-$75 depending on where you sit, but it’s a pretty cool event if you’re willing to invest the time and money.

Room rates at Disney’s Polynesian resort range from $475-$1,063 during the value season, up to $748 – $1,554 during Disney’s peak seasons.

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Check out ‘OHana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Dinner at ‘Ohana

For a delicious all-you-can-eat family style feast with a distinct, unique flavor of the islands, check out O’Hana at Disney’s Polynesian resort. O’Hana is located on the 2nd floor of the main building at the Polynesian known as the Great Ceremonial House. If you’re planning to dine here, you’ll definitely want to have a reservation. Although you are able to put your name in for a table without a reservation, O’Hana is booked solid pretty much every night. If you go the ‘walk-in’ route, you’ll likely wait a long time to be seated. Not that it won’t be worth the wait. The food at ‘Ohana is delicious and will be certainly worth your time. Still, be sure to make reservations well in advance- just to be safe.

We visited ‘Ohana for dinner on the first day of our stay at Disney’s Polynesian resort. As we were shown to our table, we walked directly past the giant half-round wood-burning grill where all the action takes place. The sights and scents of skewers of fresh grilled meats and seafood was enough to get our mouths watering for sure!

The meal began with delightfully fresh loaves of homemade ‘Ohana Welcome Bread, followed by a mixed greens salad topped with their delicious Lilikoi house dressing. That was followed by a plate of appetizers- Pork Dumplings with Sweet-n-Sour sauce, and Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings.

Grill at 'Ohana

Grill at ‘Ohana

Next up came a delicious noodle dish with stir-fried vegetables tossed in a Teriyaki sauce. Things heated up quickly from there with the arrival of skewers and skewers of delicious beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp cooked over the open fire wood burning grill and accompanied by both Peanut and Sweet-n-Sour Sauces. Awesome! The servers seemed to time everything just right, giving each guest a few pieces of meet at a time, just as we finished the previous portion. Each tasty morsel seemed to melt in your mouth with the juices exploding in a burst of flavor.

Dessert at 'Ohana

Dessert at ‘Ohana

The hot towels brought to the table for each guest were a nice touch. The tasty sweet and sour and peanut dipping sauces brought for the meat made these towels a necessity.

The meal was topped off with a delicious concoction of ‘Ohana’s own delicious bread putting dessert. We left ‘Ohana about an hour after we arrived feeling completely stuffed and satisfied, and about $250 lighter in the wallet. Dinner with tax and tip will run you about $50/per person. Certainly not cheap, but definitely an experience well worth it!

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Arriving at Walt Disney World

Main Street USA

Main Street USA

We’re on our way to Disney World- woohoo! We’re pretty excited that this year’s trip will include our first stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Even more excited that we’re taking advantage of a 30% discount on our stay! Disney announced discounts for summer stays and we were able to call to upgrade from a standard view room to resort view- plus we saved about $150 on our stay. Very cool!

Our flight is right on schedule so we expect to catch Disney’s “Magical Express” transportation from Orlando International around 11:00 a.m. and should get to the Polynesian around noon. We’re going to spend the day exploring the hotel and checking out their awesome pool. We have a 5:15 reservation at O’Hana for an authentic taste of the islands!

Not sure what’s on the docket after that. We may test out Disney’s bus transportation to Downtown Disney to check out the nightlife. Tomorrow is our big Fathers’ Day lunch at Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace for character dining with Winnie the Pooh and friends! We’ll spend the day at Magic Kingdom and enjoy the ‘extra magic hours’ in the evening. We may even hop over to Epcot in between!

Magical Express

Disney’s Magical Express

Aboard the Magical Express

Aboard the Magical Express

We arrived at Orlando airport right on time and hopped aboard Disney’s Magical Express for the 30 minute ride to The Polynesian. It was just about the nicest bus we’ve ever ridden! Check-in at Polynesian was a snap. There was a cast member waiting for us at the entrance, iPad in hand to check us in and escort us to the front desk. The room wasn’t ready quite yet so we had time to explore the resort and grab lunch at Captain Jack’s restaurant, a quick-service restaurant with pretty good food. After lunch we chilled out for a bit in the lobby and then headed to our room.

Resort view room at Polynesian Resort

Resort view room at Polynesian Resort

The room (and view) are just gorgeous! We have a resort view room with two queens and a couch that ‘flips over’ to turn into a bed. We even discovered a ‘hidden Mickey’ on the painting in our room!

We’ll take a quick swim and head to dinner in a bit. Tonight we’ll watch the “Wishes” fireworks show at Magic Kingdom from our balcony. Can’t wait!

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Keys to the Kingdom

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