Aloha! Welcome to one of Walt Disney World’s original resorts, the famed Polynesian Village Resort. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, more affectionally known as the “Poly,” opened its resort to the world at the same time as Magic Kingdom Park and The Contemporary Resort on October 1, 1971. Celebrating its Grand Opening ceremonies on October 24, 1971 on the resort’s beach, with guests such as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Florida Governor Reubin Askew and the Disney family were part of the celebration.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort offers guests all the luxury of a tropical paradise with lush its vegetation, tiki torch-lined pathways and relaxing white-sand beaches. Ambience is abound as guests are surrounded by tropical palms and colorful koi ponds with an added touch of Hawaiian hospitality and the warm spirit of the South Pacific.
Situated on the manmade Seven Seas Lagoon, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is made up of eleven 2- and 3-story Longhouses that surround the focal point of the resort – the Great Ceremonial House. The Great Ceremonial House is modeled after a Tahitian Royal Assembly Lodge and boasts a 3-story atrium warmly appointed in tropical hues and authentic decor. While there are no rooms found in the main building, the Great Ceremonial House is home to guest services, several of the resort’s exotic dining options and the various merchandise locations.
As defined in a Hawaiian dictionary, Ho’Onanea means “of absorbing interest….enjoyable….to have a good time….to pass the time in ease, peace and pleasure.” Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a shining example of Ho’Onanea.
The Polynesian Village Resort has long been a favorite of Disney fans and possesses quite the storied history. In 1969, Disney announced five themed resorts as part of the first phase of their new “Vacation Kingdom of the World” project in Florida with a polynesian-themed resort in the plans. An early concept for the Polynesian-themed resort originally featured a 12-story building similar to luxurious resorts found in Waikiki. As plans evolved, and given the luxury of the 39 acres of space to design a dynamic resort, WED Enterprises and the Santa Monica architectural firm of Welton Becket & Associates instead designed the aesthetically pleasing village which was constructed by United States Steel’s USS Realty Development Division.
Construction on the Polynesian Village Resort commenced in February, 1971 and as the main frame for the Great Ceremonial House and the longhouses were built, each of the rooms were built as free-standing units in a unitized modular style at an assembly facility approximately four miles from the property. The modular guest rooms were built and equipped with air conditioning, bathroom fixtures, sliding-glass doors and decor and then transported to the construction site for installation. Much like construction process of The Contemporary Resort, once the skeletons of the longhouses were complete, a crane carefully slid the units into the building frames one on top of the other. Contrary to popular legend, the modular rooms were never intended to be removable for refurbishments.
Over years, the Polynesian Village Resort has endured many modifications and refurbishments, but none quite as grand as the current ones. In 1978, the resort embarked on an its first expansion by adding the longhouse, Oahu, which will later be named Tokelau. The addition of this longhouse increased the room numbers by 144 making it a 628 room resort. In addition, the East Pool was added near the longhouse giving guests two pool choices.
The 80’s brought great changes to the resort as well. The guest rooms received renovations taking away the cheeky tiki designs and moving towards more traditional colors and designs and construction on two new longhouses started in 1984. The new additions would then increase the longhouses to eleven and the total room count to 847. The new longhouses Moorea, later renamed Tahiti, and Pago Pago, later renamed Rapa Nui, were opened to guests in 1985, which was also the year that the word “Village” was dropped from the resort name, not to return again until 2015.
Fast forward to present day where the Polynesian Village Resort has undergone an extensive reimagining with not only the addition of new DVC bungalows but also a complete overhaul of the Great Ceremonial House. The popular Nanea Volcano feature pool underwent transformation to resemble more of a grotto and was expanded to include an aquatic play area for kids known as Kiki Tikis. A new spa is added featuring classic lava rock formations with an infinity edge providing scenic views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
A new interactive lounge modeled after Disneyland favorite, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, has opened with a themed lounge featuring handcrafted cocktails and delectable food, as well as outdoor seating and live entertainment. Captain Cook’s received a complete renovation and has been upgraded to include enhanced quick-service dining options. And, the Pineapple Lanai opened featuring the world famous, Dole Whip treat and its many variations. Yes, that’s right, the Pineapple Lanai is the only place to get a Dole Whip in all of the Disney Resorts.
Perhaps the greatest of these enhancements to an already favorite destination was the reimagining of the Great Ceremonial House. Many scoffed at the removal of the well known fountain and floral icon and the replacement of the rather smaller Tiki statue in the lobby but its new design offers a bright and colorful feel complete with tiki glass decor, expanded guest common areas and a view of the Seven Seas Lagoon from within the lobby area.
All in all, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is an escape to a tropical paradise and one that should be experienced at least once in your lifetime. As we all learned in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, ‘Ohana means family and here, everyone is treated like ‘Ohana.
One last thing before you explore the guest room options, exotic dining and other luxurious amenities the resort has to offer. This resort also holds a bit of important history in the world of rock ’n roll. Did you know that John Lennon signed the documents to dissolve the Beatles at the Polynesian Village Resort? In December, 1974, John Lennon was staying at the Polynesian Village Resort with son, Julian and his girlfriend, May Pang, for the Christmas holiday. As May Pang recounted in her 2008 book, Instamatic Karma:
“John, Julian and I left New York to spend Christmas in Florida. On December 29, 1974, the voluminous documents were brought down to John in Florida by one of Apple’s lawyers. He finally picked up his pen and, in the unlikely backdrop of the Polynesian Village Hotel at Disney World, ended the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history by simply scrawling John Lennon at the bottom of the page.”
Polynesian Village Resort Rooms
The Polynesian Village Resort rooms are composed of two areas, the eleven Longhouses and the recently added Bora Bora Bungalows which are part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). The Longhouses get their names from islands in the South Pacific – Fiji, Tuvalu, Aotearoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Niue, Rarotonga, Tokela, Tahiti and Rapa Nui and offer Standard, Deluxe and Club Level accommodations including:
- Garden View
- Lagoon View
- Theme Park View
Club Level Rooms:
- Garden View
- Lagoon View
- Theme Park View
- Honeymoon Room
- 1-Bedroom Suite
- Princess Suite
- Ambassador Suite
- King Kamehameha Suite
Guests staying at Club Level receive evening turndown, access to the club-level lounge that serves refreshments 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, pre-arrival Walt Disney World Resort itinerary planning, complimentary health club access, access to Concierge service at the King Kamehameha Club, personalized Front Desk and Guest Services and complimentary newspapers in Club Level lounge.
The Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Twenty new bungalows rest upon the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon and are the newest addition to Disney Vacation Club’s incredible array of accommodations. The Bora Bora Bungalows feature 2-bedroom stand-alone units situated at the waters edge with accommodations for 8. Each one of the bungalows offers approximately 300 sq ft of decking with a private plunge pool and an unobstructed view of the lagoon and Cinderella Castle. Guests are able to view the Wishes Fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant from the comfort of their own private retreat.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort offers several wonderful dining choices that are destinations unto themselves. With several popular eateries found at this deluxe resort, it is not uncommon for guests not staying at the resort to venture here just for the wonderful dining options.
Kona Cafe – Also located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, this à la carte restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is well known for its famous Tonga Toast, created by the resort’s cultural advisor, Auntie Kaui. Dinner selections feature an Asian flair. An adjacent kiosk, Kona Island, is available for morning coffee and pastries.
‘Ohana – ‘Ohana is one of the most popular table service dining at Walt Disney World. The large family-style restaurant is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House and is open for an all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast and dinner. At breakfast, guests can enjoy ‘Ohanas Best Friends Breakfast with Lilo & Stitch and a cast of other loved characters who make their way to your table. During dinner, ‘Ohana Feast is on the menu with family style platters and a variety of hawaiian fare with family-friendly entertainment.
Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show – Inspired by a traditional luau, this musical dinner show is an all-you-care-to-enjoy family feast that celebrates traditions from Polynesia with dancers, fire performances and music in an open-air theater in Luau Cove.
Tambu Lounge – This island-themed watering hole is located outside of ‘Ohanas and offers a variety of specialty drinks and Hawaiian inspired appetizers.
Captain Cook’s – Quick service restaurant on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House that offers hot breakfast and a variety of food with an island flair. For guests on the go, Tonga Toast is available here as well.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – Themed lounge featuring handcrafted cocktails and delectable food as well as outdoor seating and live entertainment.
Barefoot Pool Bar – Located in the Lava Pool area, this poolside bar and tiki hut serves up specialty cocktails such as fan favorites, Captain’s Mai Tai and Tonga Tea, as well as beer and wine and offers wonderful views of Cinderella Castle and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Pools – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has two pools for guests to enjoy. The newly designed Lava Pool, which re-opened in March, 2015, is the resort’s largest pool and features the same 120 ft. waterslide as the previous Nanea Volcano pool. However, recent renovations revealed new rock work designs that no longer resemble a volcano and are no where near as large as the previous structure. The newly designed Lava Pool now has a larger pool deck area to allow for more families and seating and also the new Kiki Tikis Splash area for kids. Much to guests’ delight the previous kids play area is now an infinity hot tub that overlooks Seven Seas Lagoon with views of the Grand Floridian.
Various poolside activities take place daily including hula hoop games and different arts and crafts for families to participate in as they soak up the tropical atmosphere.
An additional pool, the East Pool dubbed as the quiet pool area is also available to guests near the Rarotonga and Niue longhouses, but is currently undergoing renovations. In July, 2015, the East Pool closed for a complete redesign and is expected to reopen in March, 2016 compete with a bar and grill.
Beaches – Bask on white sand beaches by day or take in the sights of Wishes fireworks as they explode over Cinderella Castle every evening. You can also enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant, a classic Disney favorite, performed each night along the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Polynesian Village Fitness Center– The fitness center features a cardio and strength training equipment. Guests can also have a massages and facials by appointment.
Jogging Trail – Enjoy a scenic run or walk along the one-mile path thats runs between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort with views of the Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Wedding Pavilion.
Marina – The Seven Seas Marina offers a wide variety of motorized boat rentals for families wanting aquatic activities. Pontoon boats, Sea Raycers, sailboats, pedal boats, kayaks rentals are available. Reservations can also be made for a Specialty Fireworks Cruise for parties up to 10.
Polynesian Village Campfire Activities – Gather ’round the campfire with your entire family for roasted marshmallows and stories around the cracklin’ campfire.
Movies Under the Stars – Cozy up under the stars for a complimentary nighttime movie outdoors on the beach closest to the Lava Pool.
Fishing Excusrions – Guests can take advantage of bass fishing on one of Disney’s guided catch and release excursions.
Volleyball – Guests can join in a friendly game of beach volleyball on the lagoon side court located between the Hawaii and Tahiti longhouses. Volleyballs can be checked out for free at the Seven Seas Marina with your MagicBand or lodging card.
Hula Lessons: Guests can celebrate the Hawaiian culture with hula lesson given in the Grand Ceremonial House on designated days.
Lilo’s Playhouse: Lilo’s Playhouse is a kid’s club for kids ages 3 to 12 offering dining, entertainment and fun while parents enjoy time to themselves. Kids will enjoy movies, LEGOs and imaginative play, dress up, various arts and crafts and video games.
BouTIKI: Located in the heart of the Great Ceremonial House, BouTiki is the main shop located at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Guests are greeted by wooden tiki statues crafted in Bali as they shop for a wide variety of Hawaiian shirts, South Seas themed items, surfwear, resort logo apparel items, jewelry, MagicBand accessories, Disney character apparel, souvenirs and home decor. You can also find snack foods, beverages, adult beverages, magazines, books and other general sundries. BouTIKI is open from 8 am to 11 pm daily.
Moana Mercantile: Moana Merchantile recently replaced Trader Jack’s on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, but still offers a wide assortment of souvenirs and Disney themed merchandise including children’s apparel, toys, books, pins, accessories, snacks and other sundry items. Moana Mercantile is also open from 8 am to 11 pm daily.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is conveniently located on the Monorail loop with the station on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. The Resort Monorail line offers round-trip service on the inner loop that runs clockwise with stops in order from the Polynesian Village Resort to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and the Transportation and Ticket Center as well.
Magic Kingdom: Guest can take the Monorail resort line from the Great Ceremonial House or walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center and board the Magic Kingdom express monorail. Watercraft transportation is also available and located at the beach area.
Epcot: Guests can take the Monorail resort line from the Great Ceremonial House to the Transportation and Ticket Center or take a brisk walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center and board the Epcot designated Monorail.
Bus Transportation – Walt Disney World Resort buses run continuously from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney/Disney Springs, as well as Typhoon Lagoon Water park and Blizzard Beach water park. The bus stop is located outside of the Great Ceremonial House with buses departing approximately every 20 minutes and are available 45 minutes before parks opening and 2 hours prior to parks closing times.