Hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving. I’m finally getting around to posting about our trip to Walt Disney World back in October. And only a month after the fact, which I’d say is pretty good by my procrastination standards.
A Halloween visit to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Funny story: We decided against Mickey’s Halloween Party in Disneyland this year because the ticket price had skyrocketed to almost $120. Out of general curiosity, we looked up the tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Walt Disney World and saw they were only $90.
What a bargain! 😉 So, we took a couple days off work, bought plane tickets to Orlando, and booked a 3-night stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
All to save $60 on Halloween party tickets. We are very practical humans.
We flew out of LAX on the Friday morning of Halloween weekend, and arrived in Orlando in the evening. It sucks to lose a whole day traveling, but we prefer it to the misery of a West Coast-East Coast red eye.
(Also, look — it’s Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom down there.)
Our first impressions
This was our very first time at The Polynesian. Our go-to hotel when booking a Walt Disney World stay has always been Disney’s Grand Floridian (hashtag bougie) but we felt like trying something new this go around.
Our first impression as we stepped inside the lobby? Holy Aulani vibes, Batman! Of course, instead of looking outside the window and seeing the splendor of Hawaii, it’s just…Florida. Also, the leis that they give you at check-in are made of itchy cheap fabric instead of real flowers.
But! Apart from the fact that the Polynesian didn’t live up to it’s Hawaiian counterpart (which, tbh, is impossible), it was charming in its own way.
Rooms and amenities
The Poly is one of Walt Disney World’s “Deluxe” resort offerings, promising top notch service and location for a more premium price. It has fabulous island theming, plus convenient proximity to Magic Kingdom: it’s on the Monorail loop, and has it’s own boat service to the front gates. It’s also walking distance to the Transportation and Ticket Center, where you can hop on the Monorail that takes you to Epcot.
The resort is made up of a bunch of disconnected, scattered buildings or “longhouses.” We stayed club level in the “Hawaii” longhouse, which was really just a sad reminder that we were NOT in Hawaii. It was well situated, though — it looks out onto Seven Seas Lagoon and the Bungalows, with a great view of the sky above Magic Kingdom where they do nightly fireworks.
The room itself was standard. They just finished renovating the entire hotel a year or so ago, so everything was fresh and new. So, no gripes! Except for maybe the pillows, which were paaaaaaper thin.
Actually, scratch that. Our biggest gripe was Disney’s highly inconsistent bus service to the Poly. This rings true of our many stays at the Grand Floridian, too. Why is it that the Magic Kingdom deluxe resorts have the worst bus schedules?
It took nearly an hour for the bus to arrive when we were waiting at Disney Springs, and nearly that long from Animal Kingdom. It got so bad that we just started taking Lyft everywhere instead of wasting our time.
The King Kamehameha Club
Crappy bus transportation aside, Mark and I had a great time over our 3-night stay. I think at least 70% of that was due to the club level amenities. If you’re not familiar with how it works: Disney offers “club level” rooms that are priced slightly higher per night than standard rooms, and this cost covers access to an all-day lounge that offers all-inclusive drinks, snacks, desserts, etc.
We’ve experienced quite a few club level lounges at Disney resorts. At the Disneyland Hotel it’s the E-Ticket Lounge, at the Grand Californian Hotel it’s the Craftsman Club, and at the Grand Floridian it’s the Royal Palm Club.
At the Polynesian? Enter the King Kamehameha Club. It’s located on the second floor of the Hawaii longhouse, and was just down the hall from our room.
The food options left a little to be desired, but we’ve honestly found that to be the case in most of these club level lounges. I imagine they just run down to the neighborhood Costco for the stuff they serve: oatmeal, toast, cheese and meats, finger foods, tiny desserts… It’s not gourmet, but damn if it’s not convenient.
Plus, the all-you-can-pour-wine is an A++ way to drown out all the screaming children.
The windows of the lounge offer an amazing vantage point to watch the evening fireworks above Magic Kingdom. They even pipe in the music. We hadn’t seen the new Happily Ever After fireworks show, and happened to catch the whole thing by chance when we came up to grab snacks after a day at the Animal Kingdom.
The only bummer was that they didn’t dim the lights inside the club when the fireworks were on, so our eyes had to compete with the awful glare off the windows.
As has become our norm with WDW visits, it was a very quick trip. Barely enough time to settle in before we were packing our bags and heading back to LA.
Since we were only in town for the weekend, there were a lot of things that we didn’t have time to experience: the Polynesian pools, the many restaurants. But we only have good things to say about the things we did experience: Trader Sam’s (mmm, spiked Dole Whip float), room service (super speedy), the King Kamehameha Club (again — hello, convenience).
The Poly was a solid home base for a weekend of adventuring through the parks, but ultimately it didn’t replace the Grand Floridian as the default winner in our minds. The Island vibes were groovy, but at the end of the day they just made us miss Hawaii.
Then again, if you’re heading to Walt Disney World and feeling like a little dose of aloha, the Poly ain’t a bad choice.