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Resort Hopping over to Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Friday, September 03, 2010

Mahalo!  Aloha!  Hang Loose! And all that stuff in between.  Words often heard from the Polynesian Islands.  These same words are heard at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. A place that has vacation stamped all over it. I’ll admit it; the Polynesian Resort is my favorite Disney World resort hotel.  It didn’t take me long to figure out why I enjoyed it so much.  The laid back atmosphere and resort theming really fit my style. But most of all, nothing screams vacation more than the island tropics of Polynesia.  The music, the tropical foliage, and the wood carvings are all part of a very laid back experience.  If you didn’t know any better you’d swear Disney World was on the other side of the globe. 

I have another confession, I’ve never visited Hawaii. However, I’ve heard from many good sources that the Polynesian Resort is as authentic as any resort on the Hawaiian Islands.  With it’s deep earth tone buildings, authentic wood tiki carvings, pathways with flamed-lit torches and inspired landscape the Polynesian Resort might trick you to pull out your surfboard and hang 10 on the Seven Seas Lagoon. 

Walt Disney loved the Polynesian Islands and it’s rich history.  In fact, you’ll find other Polynesian inspired touches around Disney World and inside the theme parks.  It only makes sense that the Polynesian Resort was opened at the same time Disney World opened in October of 1971.  Back then this resort was called the Polynesian Village and welcomed famous stars like frequent visitor Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.  In fact, both of these stars were present during the grand opening of the resort. 

The Polynesian Resort is well situated on the Seven Seas Lagoon.  Directly across the lagoon is the Magic Kingdom with a great view of Cinderella’s Castle in the distance.  Admiring the view from the Polynesian beach or your room balcony is a great way to relax and unwind.  Or even better, viewing the Magic Kingdom fireworks at night.   

The main building of the resort where the shops and restaurants are located is called the Great Ceremonial House.  This is the place to visit for shopping, dining and other fun.  Inside you’ll find two floors housing the check-in desk, great landscape, two sit down restaurants, a counter service restaurant, and several shops. 

On the first floor you’ll find great landscaping with a beautiful waterfall.

Also located on the first floor is the main gift shop called Boutiki

Just down the hall from Boutiki you’ll find a Wyland art gallery full of Disney and tropical artwork. 

Heading towards the back of the GCH you’ll find Captain Cooks which is the resort’s counter service location.  Right next door is the resort arcade. 

Heading upstairs to the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House you’ll find both of the resort’s table service restaurants; Kona Café and Ohana.  Kona Café offers dishes from a traditional menu while Ohana is an all you care to eat family style dinner experience. 

Kona Café

Ohana

Also located on the second floor is a full service sushi bar. The sushi is prepared fresh to order each evening. 

The Polynesian Resort provides the best Disney transportation options on property.  The Transportation and Ticket Center is a short walk away.  The TTC monorail can take you back and forth to EPCOT.  If you decide you want to take a trip over to the Magic Kingdom Park you’ll want to head to the resort’s monorail station.  The Magic Kingdom is two stops away. 

Heading outside of the Great Ceremonial House you’ll find a water paradise.  The resort is home to a beautiful marina filled with water crafts and other activities. 

The main resort pool is appropriately called the Volcano Pool.  Inside the replica volcano is the long and winding pool slide. 

The pool is also equipped with a zero entry for families to enjoy. 

If the Volcano Pool is not your speed and you are looking for something more laid back check out the nearby quiet pool. 

As you continue walking around the resort you will notice several buildings called longhouses.  Inside each longhouse are specific resort room categories like Magic Kingdom view or standard view rooms.  Each longhouse has a specific name related to the South Seas.

This map shows the resort layout and the names of each longhouse.

Also located outside the Great Ceremonial House near the marina is Luau Cove home to the Spirit of Aloha dinner show.  This show takes place on select evenings. 

One of the best aspects of this resort are the wonderful views and atmosphere.  I simply love viewing the fire lit torches which illuminate the pathways at night. 

Even better are some of the views at sunset.  It’s always a picture perfect end of day at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

There is so much more to see at this beautiful resort.  The Polynesian Resort is full of history and facts.  Fans of this resort will tell you even though it’s a Disney built resort it is extremely authentic.  Much of what you see and hear is strikingly similar to what you would find in Hawaii.  The best source for learning more about the Polynesian resort is Steve “Tikiman” Seifert’s website.  His site is strictly devoted to this resort.  You can visit his site here

If you ever decide to splurge at Walt Disney World be sure to include accommodations at the Polynesian Resort.  This resort is more than a room and a place to stay.  Be sure to plan your visit around both this resort and the theme parks.  If you spend too much time at the theme parks you will miss everything this resort has to offer, and quite honestly, not get full value for your resort accommodation dollar.  It’s really the best of both worlds; hitting the theme parks and then coming back to the Polynesian Resort for a very relaxing experience.  With so much to offer you may find yourself spending more time relaxing at the Polynesian Resort than in the Disney World theme parks. 

Related Link:  Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Next Up:  Vacationing at Disney World and helping the community.  A look at “Voluntourism”….

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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