Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
A review
Published on May 1, 2005 By Draginol In Reviews

I've been to Disney World 3 times.  The first time I stayed at the Contemporary Resort.  The second time we stayed at Fort Wilderness Lodge.  This time we opted to go with the Polynesian Resort.

The resort is not a single hotel but a series of small buildings that surround a larger building that houses restraunts, shops, etc.  It is well maintained and sits on the lagoon that is directly across from the Magic Kingdom. 

Guests can reach the Magic Kingdom by boat or the Monorail.  Similarly, they can reach the Epcot center through the monorail as well.  Other Disney parks can be reached by buses which come frequently.

The staff and service quality at the hotel was top notch. Everyone we interacted with was friendly and courteous and helpful.  The restraunts there (with one exception which I'll get to) server outstanding quality food with good service and the prices not out of line with other similar restraunts on the Disney properties (which means they're overpriced but not ridiculous).

We opted for the "concierage" section of the resort which provided us with a room facing the lagoon and therefore facing the nightly fireworks and electric boat parade. We also had a faux-beech that came up to our room as well.  The concierge building has a large room that has "free" snacks, mini-meals, and drinks from 8am to 10pm daily.  The food and drink are pretty good stuff too.  This is particularly true in the evening where various wines, liquors, cognac, and more are set next to very high quality deserts of various kinds.  Since you can take food with you and much of it is portable, guests are encouraged to "stock up" before their trips to the parks with goodies which can save quite a bit given the gouge-level prices found at food stations at the parks.

Of course, all this comes with a price, namely $700 per night. Not cheap by any means.  What you are paying for is the convenience of always having quick-good quality food at the hotel, great scenerey, and easy convenient access to all the parks. I suspect the final element is the biggest part of all since no other resort has as quick access to all the parks at the Polynesian.

That said, I don't think Disney gives guests enough bang for the buck.  $700 per night is an incredible sum. And on top of that, it, like Disney's parks themselves, seem to be incredibly blatant about gouging its customers.  "Captain Cook's" restaurant is a good example.  A hamburger (not even McDonald's level) at Captain Cook's is $6. Come on.  My wife and two young sons spent over $30 on a very low-grade, "dinner" our first night that consisted of a warmed up pizza, a hamburger, a chicken sandwich (a piece of chicken and a bun), and some chicken fingers.  This is a meal that would normally cost about half as much anywhere else.  They're already charging a premium for the hotel, how they justify such blatant gouging is beyond me and left a pretty negative impression with us.

Secondly, the rooms themselves are incredibly small.  Smaller than a typical Day's Inn room.  Two queen beds with a 13 inch TV and a small table and tiny bathroom is all our $700 per day got us in terms of a room.

Thirdly, there's no high-speed Internet access. That part really surprised me.  Even fairly low-end hotels offer Internet access.  What is the Polynesian's excuse? And not to be too conspicuous here but anyone who can afford $700 per night probably is someone who needs to be able to keep some eye on what's happening at work.

Fourthly, Disney is a paper mouse.  That is, throughout the parks and resorts Disney's "cast members" state various rules such as no flash photography, no eating and drinking, etc.  But inevitably, some people do just that and the rules are never enforced. So those who choose to ignore the rules prosper. 

But what really got us at the Polynesian was that we were on a no smoking floor and the people next to us were smoking like crazy in their rooms. Given the size of these rooms, our room by the end of the evening was so smokey that you could see the smoke hovering around the room.  Now I wasn't 100% positive it was the people next door (i.e. not enough to pound on ther doors) but sure enough to ask the Concierge to see if they could check on it and if they were certain, to "remind" them that they're on a no-smoking floor.  But they did nothing. They said "There's not much we can do, if they're breaking the rules that's very rude of them but there's not much we can do.."  Oh? What about enforcing the damn rules! We were pretty flabberghasted by the whole thing.  It definitely tainted our experience.

Fifthly, the pool was fairly mediocre overall relative to other resorts I've been to. And there's no hot-tub whatsoever.  Moreover, in keeping with the Disney tradition, the pool-side bar provided drinks at vastly inflated prices that were quite sub-par in quality.

Now, if I sound like I'm down on the Polynesian, I'm not saying it's a bad place.  But at the $700 per night level, it's competing against some pretty incredible places.  For 7 nights, that's about $5,000.  So the bar is raised pretty high.  So overall, while it's a decent hotel, it's really not anywhere near as good as it should be to justify the premium price point.  That said, the "Garden Room" view rooms are only $300 per night and at that level, given its proximity to the parks, it's more competitive.  But anything beyond that is not worth it in my opinion.

Overall: 3 out of 5.

on May 05, 2006
Ouch. Talk about exploiting. Sorry to hear it.