Have you ever spent a day at Walt Disney World without a park ticket? Many guests fail to realize Disney magic can be found outside the parks, particularly at the Walt Disney World Resorts. Even those who aren’t staying at a Disney Resort are free to visit and enjoy some of what the different resorts have to offer. We’re focusing on another one of the first and most popular Disney World Resorts in today’s Ticketless Disney: Experiencing Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
The Polynesian Village Resort, one of the most popular at Walt Disney World, is a tropical paradise smack in the middle of the magic. One of Walt Disney World’s original resorts, the Polynesian seems to have struggled to both update its seventies, mid-century style while preserving it at the same time.
The resort’s main building is designed after a Tahitian royal assembly lodge, housing the Polynesian’s front desk and concierge, restaurants, shops, and offers Monorail access just off the second level. In 2014 the lush waterfall feature in the middle of the Great Ceremonial House was replaced with something smaller and topped with the resort’s mascot tiki.
It’s a Deluxe Resort, meaning it falls in the most expensive of Disney World’s resort categories. But unlike most Deluxe Resorts, there are no guest rooms in the main building of the Great Ceremonial House. Instead, the rooms are contained in several longhouses, and a few over-the-water bungalows, spread throughout the resort grounds.
Check Out What Makes the Polynesian Unique:
The Polynesian is one of Walt Disney World’s original resorts which opened to guests on October 1st, 1971, along with the Contemporary Resort and the Magic Kingdom. Situated directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom, it offers a fairy tale view of the Cinderella Castle spires and the nightly Happily Ever After fireworks display.
The Polynesian offers Monorail access on its second floor just off the lobby, as well as walking paths to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) next door and to the neighboring Grand Floridian Resort.
Lastly, as legend has it, John Lennon signed the paperwork officially dissolving the Beatles at the Polynesian Village Resort in 1974!
Stuff Your Face:
The Polynesian Village Resort is one of the best resorts for foodies due to fun and delicious dining destinations like ‘Ohana, Kona Cafe, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, the Pineapple Lanai, Capt. Cook’s, and more. My suggestions?
‘Ohana offers the Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch, one of the most popular character meals on property. Guests feast family-style, which I love because it’s like a buffet without having to get up. Plus, while character meals are expensive, they are the best way to meet characters. ‘Ohana doesn’t offer characters at dinner; but along with platters of all-you-can-eat meat skewers, veggies, and dumplings, kids can participate in coconut races and everyone can hula and listen to music and stories. Plus, ‘Ohana has views and piped-in music of Happily Ever After, the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display!
Kona Cafe is famous for Tonga Toast which is banana-stuffed sourdough bread covered in cinnamon sugar. It’s a classic. But if you don’t want the table service bill, this breakfast favorite is available at the resort’s quick service restaurant: Capt. Cook’s.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, a cousin of the original at the Disneyland Resort, is pretty much an interactive tiki bar packed full of fun details. It’s worth just taking a peek inside.
I have a confession. Sometimes I visit the Polynesian just for the Pineapple Lanai. Located just off the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House, the Pineapple Lanai is a walk-up window serving Dole Whips and Dole Whip Floats (I’m totally Team Float by the way). There’s rarely a wait, plenty of shade, and I love that I can satisfy my Dole Whip craving without a park ticket.
Go On a Shopping Spree:
As I’ve said before, it’s a personal rule of mine to always shop at the Deluxe Resorts, particularly those on the Monorail loop. This is because they offer several gift shops as opposed to one. Now along with your standard selection of Disney merchandise, these shops carry items you may not find at the parks. This is especially true at the Polynesian, particularly at the BouTiki shop. Also, Disney’s resort-themed merchandise game is strong these days, particularly the Polynesian line.
Watch the Fireworks:
One of the most popular places to watch the Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After fireworks display outside the park is the Polynesian’s beach, as it directly faces the Magic Kingdom. Another I’ve mentioned is the view from ‘Ohana, but keep in mind you will need a dining reservation.
Get Those Insta-Worthy Photos:
There are so many places at the Polynesian Village Resort for photos, I don’t know where to begin. There are waterfalls, tropical foliage, textured walls, tikis to pose with, manicured beaches, a Lilo and Stitch surfboard, and even a grassy circle of hub grass (that’s a thing, by the way).
Go For a Run:
Haven’t walked enough during your Disney World Vacation? Determined to stick to your work out routine even on vacation (which I admire, but can’t relate)? Take advantage of the 1-mile path which connects the Polynesian with the Grand Floridian Resort. Of all the paths and trails at Walt Disney World, this is my favorite. Tracing the Seven Seas Lagoon, the view is gorgeous with views of sandy white beaches, Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, and the Magic Kingdom.
Go to the Beach (Sort of):
So guests are no allowed to wade or swim in the Seven Seas Lagoon due to the Florida wildlife. But the Polynesian Village Resort is a tropical paradise after all. So there are definitely beaches with lounge chairs and gorgeous views for relaxation and enjoyment.
Note: A commonly asked question is whether or not non-resort guests can swim at the different resort pools. The answer is no. The resort pools are reserved for resort guests only; and to enforce this policy, guests must scan their MagicBands to enter the pool areas (at most resorts).
Enjoy Two Vacations for the Price of One:
Many of the Disney Resorts strive to transport guests to a different place or time. Part of the Polynesian’s appeal is that it offers two vacations in one: Disney World and a tropical island getaway! In addition to the lush foliage and tikis, guests can check out the handmade leis crafted in the lobby or catch the tiki lighting ceremony on the resort grounds in the evenings or attend a luau at Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. The latter is held at Luau Cove, where guests feast and enjoy traditional live entertainment. It’s a great way to experience Polynesian traditions, even though we’re on the mainland.
Have you ever spent a day at Walt Disney World without a park ticket? What is your favorite thing to do at the Polynesian Village Resort?