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An honest (read: not great) review of Disney’s Polynesian Resort

An honest (read: not great) review of Disney’s Polynesian Resort

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Disney’s Polynesian Resort is one of Disney World’s original resort hotels. I recently stayed in a DVC room, and here are my honest (and probably unpopular) thoughts of the resort.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Complete Guide to Polynesian Resort

Themed after the South Pacific with sandy beaches, lush vegetation, and tiki torches, Disney’s Polynesian is highly sought after by guests. It’s like taking a Hawaiian vacation in the middle of Florida with all the Disney perks.

The resort has been undergoing a massive renovation since the summer of 2020. The cash rooms at the resort did not reopen when the rest of the resort did. Instead Disney reimagined the rooms to be themed to Moana. Not only that, but the Great Ceremonial House and the monorail are also receiving work.

Unfortunately, the monorail will not be available when the resort does reopen. Thankfully, we do not have to wait much longer. ‘Ohana reopened on July 9 and the rooms will welcome guests again on July 19.

I recently stayed at the Polynesian by renting points for a deluxe studio. Let me start this review off by acknowledging the fact that, yes, the construction has greatly impacted the guest experience. However, my review is based off the DVC accommodations and what resort amenities are available.

Polynesian Positives

Let’s start with the things I loved about the Polynesian Resort.


Walking path from TTC to Polynesian

The location cannot be beat. Magic Kingdom and Epcot are a short ride away on the monorail. The Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) is a 5 minute walk from the DVC buildings.

It was so convenient walking to the TTC to catch the monorail, and it made coming back to the room for afternoon breaks even easier. The Express monorail runs from Magic Kingdom to the TTC so you do not have to make additional stops. However, if you are staying in a room that is closer to the Polynesian monorail station it will be a longer walk to TTC.


I really do love the theming of the resort. No, it’s not the most immersive of the resorts, but I do think Disney did a stellar job pulling from the South Pacific influences. It’s very laid back and family friendly.

The Moana rooms will be a nice upgrade, although I think the Disney IP makeover is controversial for Polynesian die-hards.

Multiple Bathrooms

Finally, the DVC studios have two bathrooms! Let me repeat that: the studios have two bathrooms. The first one has a toilet, shower/tub combo, and sink. The second has a sink and stand up shower.

This is ideal for families or large groups (up to 5 people). The only other DVC studios on property that offer multiple bathrooms are the Grand Floridian and Riviera.

Polynesian Negatives

Now that I got that out of the way, it’s time to focus on what I didn’t love (or even like) about the resort.

DVC Studios

My biggest complaint would be the DVC rooms. The rooms were converted from regular guest rooms for the 2015 DVC expansion at the resort. Disney is currently in the beginning stages of refurbishing these rooms. As a matter of fact, I saw some signs during my stay that work was about to start.

First, the rooms are very dark. Not only is there a lot of dark colored paint (deep oranges and blues…blech) but there are also a lot of dark wood accents. Baseboards, crown molding, cabinets, headboards, tables, and chairs…all of it is dark.

Then, there is the lighting situation. There are two very dim lights in the hallway of the studio. These either would not turn on for me or I had to wait several seconds for them to slowly “brighten” up. In the main living space, there are three small recessed lights over the bed and sofa area. Nothing hangs from the middle of the ceiling, and there are only a few lamps on the nightstands and table.

None of these are bad all on their own. However, when you combine the poor choice of wall paint, dark wood features, and lack of lighting made for an unpleasant experience. I do hope with this upcoming refurbishment that Disney will address these issues. Disney can surely brighten up the rooms while still keeping with the South Pacific theming. It was a bit dreary being in the room compared to all the magic that awaits you in the theme parks.

In the meantime, the Moana rooms on the cash side will be the more desirable rooms. I have stayed at many DVC resorts, and the Polynesian is my least favorite.

Other Resort Accommodations

Another big negative for me is the lack of room types at the Polynesian. For DVC rooms, you only have the option of a studio or bungalow. There are no 1 or 2 bedroom villas.

On the regular cash side, there are some more options which is helpful for large parties. As someone who almost always stays in DVC rooms because of the savings, I would need to spend a lot more money to stay on the cash side.

Looking at just DVC for my large family, I would either have to get two studios or rent a bungalow here. And well, that’s just not financially possible because, well, have you ever priced out a bungalow?

This is where the Polynesian gets a strike compared to other resorts that have many room types for both cash and DVC rooms.


Complete Guide to Polynesian Resort

The layout of the resort can be very confusing until you get your bearings. I can’t tell you how many times I had to backtrack trying to get over to the Great Ceremonial House or find my way back to the room. I think because there is not a lot of variety in the theming, the whole resort looks the same.

In keep with the theming of the resort, there are only tiki torches to guide you. This made it even harder to find my way back to the room at night as there is no “real” lighting.

Final Thoughts

The room itself was the biggest influence on this review. I just could not get past how dark and dreary the room felt. Looking out my window at all the lush vegetation and sandy beaches made me wonder why they couldn’t put the same amount of effort into the rooms.

For me, even the prime location and tropical theming is not enough to justify paying a premium price for Polynesian. It is usually one of the most expensive resorts to book all times of the year.

As it stands, I would recommend waiting to stay here until all resort construction is done and the DVC rooms are refurbished. Perhaps I will try again when both are complete. I do understand many love this resort and you may have stayed here and really enjoyed it.

You can read Kate’s review of the deluxe studio HERE, and be sure to check out Susan’s guide to the Polynesian Resort.

What do you think? Have you ever stayed in a DVC deluxe studio? Did you love it or did you have the same feelings as me? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Facebook.

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Sunday 10th of October 2021

The trouble is - you’ve stayed in a hotel themed around French Polynesia. This is the general colour pallet of not only Polynesia but also tiki culture. Dark wood, warm tones and darker rooms are what you would expect to see from a resort in this region. So while I don’t find your review complaining - I do find the judgement misplaced. While it might not be for you - you did stay in a resort themed correctly and it has (partly) stayed true to what it should be. In fact, the new “Moana rooms” on the resort side are a lot brighter, I.e. they have been dumbed down to cater for cultural ignorance, which is a real shame. But your review shows why they unfortunately need to do this, and why all the resort rooms are starting to look the same.

Colleen Schwenn

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

I stayed at Poly with my 4 kids late last summer and absolutely loved it. I thought the dark tiki vibes, lush landscaping and torch lit paths were the best! I never felt disoriented walking around...nothing like OKW or the bayou room at Port Orleans anyway. We go back to Poly in 2022 and while I'm hoping to get a remodeled villa to compare for myself, I'm also a little bummed it seems like the tikis and mermaid lagoon prints will be gone.

David Spooner

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

There are things I like about the Poly and some I don’t. The above comment about the constant pandemonium in the ceremonial Hall hits the nail right on the head for me, as it was exactly our experience, which is why in the future we will stay anywhere but here with our DVC points in future. Paradise it is not!

Thankyou Monica for an honest review


Tuesday 20th of July 2021

If it’s not for you? Great, then you can stay elsewhere. We loved it. We didn’t get lost and we were comfortable with the lighting and the colors. We were in our room to rest and sleep and the rooms are conducive to that.

peter L Koo

Monday 19th of July 2021

"We felt as you did back several years ago. We paid high, and the rooms were drab with 1970s decor and not in great working order in regular rooms." This is exactly how we felt when we visited Polynesian DVC resort 4-5 years ago. We had to go through three TV remote before we found one that actually worked. The only positive point about this DVC room is the location to the TTC. I kind of remember that we have to walk to adjacent building for either Ice or laundry room. The author should count her luck that she was actually staying at a DVC room. We recently booked a DVC studio room at Grand California Hotel for one night and the automated text told us our room was ready but no room number was listed. After checking in with the front desk, we were told that our room was at opposite wing and not the DVC wing, the reason I know is because I was involved with the construction of the DVC wing. Basically someone overbooked the DVC room and we got tossed into the regular room. If I wanted to stay at Cash room, I would not want to pay $2,000.00 a year on property tax. After checking with the front desk, I was told that $200.00 credit was issued for my room for on site usage. Interesting, they pretty much blow you away with a $200.00 credit to replace your payment of $40K upfront payment and annual $2,000.00 payment for the property tax. DVC try to reach out to me but we are playing phone tag and it seems DVC's phone line is jammed since all I can hear is that their circuits are busy, please call at another time. Take this experience as what you wish. We are more or less stuck with DVC so the only way is to lower our expectation now since they already got our money.

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