Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is a Polynesian-themed hotel on the shores of Bay Lake at the Walt Disney World. It is located near the Magic Kingdom and has its own Walt Disney World Monorail station. Since its opening in 1971, the resort has seen two major expansions; the first in 1978, with the addition of a longhouse, the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant/support facility, and a secondary pool. A second expansion took place in 1985, with the construction of two additional longhouses. In that same year, the resort shortened the name to simply the Polynesian Resort. The resort had a collective 847 rooms and suites, after a recent renovation in 2006.
In 2014, the Polynesian Resort underwent a significant renovation and restored the original Polynesian Village Resort name alongside the opening of Disney Vacation Club villas and bungalows.
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort is situated on the southern shore of the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon, south of the Magic Kingdom and adjacent to other Walt Disney World complexes, with the Transportation and Ticket Center to the east and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to the west. The resort is on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop, providing transportation to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (via transfer), and is part of the route for Disney's Magic Kingdom Resorts Water Launch service. Other Walt Disney World Resort theme parks and attractions are served by Disney Transport buses.
The resort is organized around a central building named the Great Ceremonial House, itself designed after a Tahitian royal assembly lodge. The Great Ceremonial House houses guest services and most of the resort's dining and merchandise locations. The Great Ceremonial House also featured a large tropical rain forest in its atrium, with over 75 species of plant life and several waterfalls. No rooms are contained in this building, instead, several lodges, longhouses, house all guest rooms and are spread out amongst resort property. Additionally, copies of the Tiki statues from Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room could be found scattered across the grounds. During the 2014 renovation, however, the iconic waterfalls were removed for wider guest space, a better view of the Seven Seas Lagoon through the lobby, and a significantly smaller waterfall fountain featuring a sculpted tiki figure based on the resort's mascot, Maui.
Original design and construction
The resort used United States Steel's then newly-developed construction process for its original longhouses; steel frames were erected on-site, and pre-constructed modular rooms were lifted into these frames via crane, similar to Disney's Contemporary Resort. This method of building caused problems in both Disney's Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts, with guest complaints of a moldy smell in their rooms. It was found that mold and debris had collected in the spaces between each room. The spaces were filled in, stopping the problem, and Longhouses built as part of the resort's later expansions were built using conventional building techniques.
With newly found construction photos of the Polynesian Resort found, the rooms were done differently than the Contemporary. The Polynesian Resort, the Contemporary Resort, and the Court of Flags Resort all had the rooms built off-site. The difference was instead of sliding the rooms into a metal frame like the Contemporary, they stacked the rooms and built the frame/concrete around them. Actual construction photos showing the stacking system
The resort design and layout consists of 11 two and three-story longhouses, spread throughout the property. The resort originally opened with 8 longhouses: Bali Hai, Bora Bora, Fiji, Hawaii, Maui, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga. In 1978, the Oahu longhouse was added. The Moorea and Pago Pago longhouses were added in 1985.
On October 28, 1999, most of the resort's longhouses were renamed to better reflect the vast scope of the Polynesian islands. Today the longhouses are named for islands on the Polynesian isle map, with chosen longhouse names matching the relative geographic position of their namesake island(s). Ten of the eleven longhouses, excluding Fiji, were renamed: Bali Hai became Tonga; Bora Bora became Niue; Hawaii became Samoa; Maui became Rarotonga; Moorea became Tahiti; Oahu became Tokelau; Pago Pago became Rapa Nui; Samoa became Tuvalu; Tahiti became Aotearoa and Tonga became Hawaii.
Two of the current longhouses, Hawaii (formerly Tonga) and Tonga (formerly Tahiti), offer a Concierge Lounge - where refreshments, views, and lounge space are offered exclusively to guests of Hawaii or Aotearoa. Hawaii arguably offers some of the best views of Seven Seas Lagoon in Walt Disney World.
All standard guest rooms contain two queen beds, a daybed, a lounge chair and table, a combination dresser and entertainment center with a flat screen television, a desk with an integrated rolling table and matching chair, two closets, and convenience area between the closets for a small refrigerator and a coffee maker. Bathrooms typically include a single or dual-sink vanity, western toilet, and a bathtub. As of 2012, most guest rooms offer free wireless Internet access.
The resort's guest rooms make use of earth tones such as brown, green, and red; and are influenced by a modern interpretation of the resort's original South Seas theme. The resort has some of the largest standard rooms on Walt Disney World Resort property (for rooms in original longhouses, for rooms in newer longhouses), matched only by Disney's Contemporary Resort and Shades of Green. All first floor rooms have patios, and all third-floor rooms have balconies. Most second floor rooms have no balconies, with the exception of Moorea, Pago Pago, Tokelau, and Tonga.
With the 2014 updates to the pavilion, 380 Disney Vacation Club villas opened including 20 Bora Bora Bungalows, located along the shoreline and over the water, alongside 360 deluxe studios in 3 fully reimagined longhouses - Tokelau, Moorea (previously Tahiti) and Pago Pago (previously Rapa Nui).
Disney's Polynesian Resort has two full-service restaurants, one dinner show and one quick service restaurant.
Full service dining and dinner shows
- 'Ohana - 'Ohana is a large family-style restaurant located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, which serves breakfast and dinner. For breakfast, the location operates as 'Ohana's Best Friends Breakfast with Lilo and Stitch, a meal service with Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Lilo and Stitch visiting tables while food is served family-style in calabash platters. During dinner, the location serves its 'Ohana Feast, a family-style meal featuring several varieties of grilled skewered meats cooked on an oak-burning fire pit along with family-friendly live entertainment. If you're lucky, you'll have a front row seat to the Wishes fireworks show while enjoying this Hawaiian feast.
- Kona Cafe - Kona Cafe is a mid-sized à la carte restaurant located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Asian influences. Kona Cafe is noted for its signature breakfast dish Tonga Toast, consisting of French toast stuffed with deep-fried bananas and covered with sugar and cinnamon, created by the resort's cultural advisor, Auntie Kaui. Kona Cafe also serves 100% Kona coffee, prepared in a French press. Lunch offers many selections like Asian noodle bowls and teriyaki beef salad. An additional kiosk bar is located adjacent to the restaurant, which serves coffee and pastries during the morning hours and sushi during the evening hours.
- Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show - A musical dinner show called the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show is performed Tuesday through Saturday nights at 5:15 and 8:00 pm at Luau Cove, an outdoor pavilion on the western edge of the resort's property. The entertainment is a traditional Polynesian-inspired revue, including family style food and several authentic dances and performances intertwined with a backstory.
Quick service dining, lounges, and bars
- Capt. Cook's - Capt. Cook's is a quick service restaurant on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. Open 24 hours a day, the location features food with an island-style flair. Capt. Cook's menu is regularly revised to offer a wide range of cuisine, including Tonga Toast (also found at Kona Cafe).
- Tambu Lounge - Tambu Lounge is a bar with an attached lounge area, adjacent to 'Ohana on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, operating in the evening hours. In addition to a full menu of beverage offerings and appetizers, several resort specialties are available from Tambu Lounge, including the Lapu Lapu, an alcoholic mixed beverage served in a hollowed-out pineapple. Until 2009, Tambu Lounge offered live, Hawaiian style lounge music.
- Barefoot Pool Bar - Barefoot Pool Bar is a poolside bar offering a full selection of beverages from the early-afternoon to mid/late-evening hours. A limited amount of pre-packaged food items are available at this location.
- Trader Sam's Grog Grotto - Opened in 2015, Trader Sam's is a tiki bar inspired by the Jungle Cruise, the Enchanted Tiki Room and the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage attraction, located adjacent to Captain Cook's. It features special effects activated by specialty drink orders, Disney adventure film memorabilia, and the Jungle Cruise's sense of humor.
- The Oasis - Alongside the newly constructed Oasis Pool, the Oasis contains a bar and grill exclusively accessible to Disney's Polynesian Village Resort guests. Like Capt. Cook's, the Oasis Grill serves quick service Asian and Polynesian inspired fare, while the bar is a full-service location.
- Pineapple Lanai - During the 2013-15 renovations, Pineapple Lanai opened to serve Dole Whips in place of the self-serve machine previously located at Capt. Cook's.
The resort offers several shopping areas focused on Disney parks merchandise, resort-specific specialty merchandise, convenience items, and an art gallery focusing on marine life.
- BouTiki - BouTiki is the resort's largest gift shop, located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House. It features resort logo items, novelties with a tropical-theme, surf style clothing from Quiksilver and Roxy, and clothing by Tommy Bahama.
- Moana Mercantile - formerly two outlets, Trader Jack's and Samoa Snacks, Moana Mercantile is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. The store features Disney theme park-related merchandise and also operates a Disney Pin Trading cart outside the main outlet. It also functions as the resort's convenience store, offering basic groceries, small snacks, refrigerated beverages and other miscellaneous sundries.
- Disney's PhotoPass Desk - Disney Photo Imaging operates a PhotoPass desk at the resort to provide information and process prints for their photo services offered in Disney theme parks. The PhotoPass Desk also books and coordinates on-location photo sessions around Disney's Polynesian Resort. The desk is located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, adjacent to Trader Jack's and the entrance to the resort's monorail station.
Disney's Polynesian Resort features two swimming pools, a marina, an arcade, a supervised children's activity center, and a shared spa and health club.
- Lava Pool and Oasis Pool - The resort's Lava Pool was constructed in 2001 replacing the resort's original pool, and was extensively renovated in 2015 to become the Lava Pool. The theme pool features a large rock structure with waterfalls and a water slide that feeds into the main pool. The theme pool offers a zero-entry sloping entrance, as opposed to traditional stairs or step ladder. The resort's Oasis Pool is the secondary pool.
- Seven Seas Marina - The resort's lakeside Seven Seas Marina offers a variety of watercraft available for rent and offers private cruises and excursions on the Seven Seas Lagoon. The marina also offers surrey bike rentals for use around the resort.
- Lilo's Playhouse (formerly The Neverland Club) - Lilo's Playhouse is a supervised children's activity center offering activities for children, including themed entertainment, crafts and meals. It is open from 4:00 p.m. until midnight, and accepts toilet-trained children ages 4–12. It once drew inspiration from the Disney movie Peter Pan, and included a fiberglass recreation of the nursery in the foyer. It is located to the direct east of the Great Ceremonial House.
- White Sand Beaches of the Seven Seas Lagoon - There is a large expanse of beach fronting the Seven Seas Lagoon, with lounge chairs, hammocks, and cabanas placed throughout the area. For a short period following the resort's opening, swimming was permitted in the Seven Seas Lagoon, with wave machines and other features built to increase the authenticity of the location. Due to land erosion concerns, the wave machines were not used beyond their initial testing period. With other operational considerations in mind, swimming/wading is not currently permitted in the Seven Seas Lagoon.
- Grand Floridian Resort Spa & Health Club - Located between Disney's Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts, the two share a comprehensive spa and health club facility that allows guests from both resorts to use the various equipment and services offered.
- Torch Lighting Ceremony - This free 5-minute show takes place at the front doors of the Great Ceremonial House on select nights.
- Wyland Gallery - Closed in 2013. Wyland Gallery showcased a collection of artwork by marine-life artist Robert Wyland and associates. Originals, prints, jewelry, and sculpture were available for sale from the gallery, located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House.
- Moana Mickey's Fun Hut Arcade - The resort had an arcade with a collection of video games and physical skill games. It was later replaced by Grog Grotto.
- John Lennon signed the paperwork that officially broke up the Beatles at the Polynesian Resort on December 29, 1974.
- In the Tales from Adventureland book Tales from Adventureland: The Keymaster's Quest, the Nanea volcano appears as an active volcano in Polynesia. Nanea being the name of the volcano-pool in Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.
- The resort's mascot, affectionately dubbed "Tikishrug" by some, is actually intended as a stylized representation of the god Maui, with material from early in the resort's lifespan revealing the connection.
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