No king beds in standard rooms; all have two queens
Part Neverland (totem poles and a Peter Pan kids' club) and part Hawaiian resort (nightly luaus and a Volcano Pool), the crowded, 853-room Polynesian remains one of Disney's most popular Deluxe-category resorts for families, thanks to its especially large rooms that sleep five and ideal location on both the Monorail and the beaches of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Service is friendly at the Polynesian, but the resort can feel a bit understaffed. Check-in borders on chaotic and, in my case, it took about 20 minutes of waiting before someone at the front desk could finally help me get a room key. Likewise, mealtimes can feel like a zoo, particularly at the Ohana buffet restaurant, where lines for food are endless and crowds of hungry guests billow around the host's desk at peak hours since there's not nearly enough seating to accommodate everyone. Otherwise, the staff is warm and friendly, but not as engaged as the staff at Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge, who seem to go out of their way to talk to children, in particular.
Full room service menu from Kona Café available throughout the day; most Value- and Moderate-level Disney resorts only offer pizza delivery
Free copy of USA Today delivered to the room every morning
No poolside drink service (like all Disney hotels)
Free shuttle to and from Orlando International Airport and free delivery of one luggage item per person; airline check-in desk at the entrance lets guests check bags and get boarding passes at the hotel
Free shuttle bus or monorail transportation to the Disney theme parks; buses between the parks often run behind schedule, but the Polynesian is conveniently located on the Monorail line, and is thus only 10 minutes to the Magic Kingdom.
Guests can use their room key cards to charge theme park and Disney resort purchases to their rooms.
Concierge desk. The concierge mainly helps guests book an activity or get tickets to an event.
Lines at check-in and checkout can feel endless and chaotic, especially during peak hours.
Book restaurant reservations early. Otherwise, wait times can be up to two hours.
Daily fee for valet parking; self-parking is free.
The monorail, ferry, and bus are all outside your doorstep, which makes getting around Walt Disney World especially convenient.
Located on the northwest side of Walt Disney World, the Polynesian is connected to several other Disney resorts, including the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary, via the monorail, which stops conveniently outside the Polynesian's lobby. That said, while it's easy to get to the Magic Kingdom (about 10 minutes), it's a bit of a trek to Epcot (about a 30-minute monorail ride that involves changing stations or a 15- to 20-minute drive, depending on traffic). But guests report that the monorail is more convenient than the bus.
Like most Disney resorts, the Polynesian is set back from the main roads, so traffic noise isn't much of an issue (though some guests complained of noise between rooms). The downside, as is the case at just about any Orlando resort, is that there's nothing within reasonable walking distance; renting a car is a must if you plan to get off the Disney compound.
Spacious, yet dark, guest rooms with two queens and a daybed to sleep a family of five
The standard guest rooms at the Polynesian are among the largest standard rooms at any Disney resort -- much more spacious than the rooms at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or Coronado Springs. Despite their spaciousness, however, the rooms still feel dark, partially because of the dark décor (lots of brown and beige), but also because there's just not enough light sources, especially in the bathrooms. Sure, it's bright enough to read shampoo labels but the yellow haze can be irksome.
Since the hotel's 2007 renovations, all of the rooms now include flat-screen TVs and alarm clocks with iPod docks -- unlike most Disney resorts, which will have older tube TVs. However, unlike Coronado Springs' plush down duvets, the Polynesian's rooms still have polyester-blend bedspreads (like most other Disney resorts).
The large standard room (415 square feet) can sleep a family of five on its daybed and two queen-size beds (room occupancy at most other resorts is four). Only the suites have king-size beds.
Comfortable, but not luxurious bedding: polyester bedspreads; 250-thread-count sheets; a waffled blanket (it didn't look to be washed in my room)
Small, 27-inch flat-screen TV with basic cable and Disney programming
No spa or fitness center on site, but there's a 1.5-mile jogging trail around the property and guests can use the well-equipped facilities at the Grand Floridian, a 10- to 15-minute walk away (or one stop on the monorail).
Seven Seas Lagoon: plenty of boating, kayaks, fishing excursions, and sailing options that can be arranged through the resort's Mikala Canoe Club. No swimming though.
A great pool, kids' club, and very large guest rooms that sleep a family of five
Disney resorts are all family-friendly, and the Polynesian is no exception. Its convenient location on the monorail line is ideal, and its grotto pool with a 40-foot-tall volcano and a 140-foot-long waterslide were made for kids.
All standard rooms sleep up to five people on two queen-size beds and (often) an additional daybed -- more than most Disney resorts.
Free cribs and bedrails upon request; no rollaways available
Families, especially those with young children, should request rooms closer to the main building; it can take an adult 10 minutes to walk from some guest rooms to the lobby.
Great variety of kid-friendly restaurants -- from quick PB&Js at Captain Cook's to a family-style buffet at Ohana. Mealtimes, however, can be mayhem, so be sure to make restaurant reservations well in advance.
Concierge can arrange for private in-room babysitters through a separate company.
Coin-operated laundry room
24-hour indoor video-game arcade, outdoor playground, and two pools (including one with a 140-foot-long waterslide)
Peter-Pan-themed kids' club for children ages four to 12; open daily and includes dinner, video games, and arts and crafts; charged per hour.
The resort's last major update was in 2007 (the same time the Grand Floridian was updated), and the guest rooms and common areas still look to be in good condition. However, due to the high volume of guests, the lobby is starting to show some wear -- faded and worn upholstery; nicks and scrapes on the furniture.
Ample variety for kids and adults on-site, but there's also easy access to some of Disney's best restaurants at the nearby Grand Floridian
The Polynesian has four primary dining options, ranging from a deli-style shop with cheap(er) a la carte items, to a full-service sit-down restaurant. The range is good for families, but wait times can be up to two hours long at Ohana, the buffet restaurant. Like at all Disney resorts, be sure to make restaurant reservations well in advance.
Captain Cook's serves a variety of pre-made and made-to-order sandwiches and stir-frys, as well as pastries, cereal, and packaged snacks; guests can sit in the cafe or at outside tables to dine.
Kona Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers a selection of Asian-inspired dishes like pot stickers and "Pan Asian Noodles" (egg noodles with sliced chicken and pineapple).