Disney's Polynesian 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 features 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.
As of 2008, Disney's Polynesian Resort is certified green lodging property with the state of Florida.
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 Aotearoa (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 Tahiti, Rapa Nui, Tokelau, and Tonga which do.
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 teryaki 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 named the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show is performed Tuesday through Saturday nights at 5:15 and 8:00pm at Luau Cove, an outdoor pavilion on the western edge of the resort's property. The location cuisine and entertainment is inspired by a traditional Polynesian-revue, including family style food and several authentic dances and performances intertwined with a back-story.
Quick service dining, lounges, and bars
- Captain Cook's Snack Company - Captain Cook's Snack Company, commonly referred to as Captain 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. Captain Cook's menu was recently expanded to additionally offer Tonga Toast and Dole Whips, two exclusive items from other Walt Disney World Resort food and beverage locations.
- 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.
The resort offers several shopping areas focused on Disney parks merchandise, resort-specific specialty merchandise, convenience items, and an art gallery focused 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.
- Trader Jack's and Samoa Snacks - Trader Jack's and Samoa Snacks are adjacent locations on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House. Trader Jack's features Disney theme park related merchandise. Trader Jack's also operates a Disney Pin Trading cart next its location. Samoa Snacks is the resort's convenience store, offering 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.
- Wyland Gallery - Wyland Gallery showcases a collection of artwork by marine-life artist Robert Wyland and associates. Originals, prints, jewelry and sculpture are available for sale from the gallery, located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House.
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.
- Nanea Volcano Pool and the East Pool - The resort's Nanea Volcano Theme Pool was constructed in 2001 replacing the resort's original pool. The theme pool features a large, volcano-type 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 East Pool is a "quiet" pool for the resort, offering deeper depths and a freeform design somewhat more appropriate for swimming laps.
- Mikala Canoe Club Marina - The resort's lakeside Mikala Canoe Club Marina, or just 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.
- The Neverland Club - The Neverland Club 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 draws inspiration from the Disney movie Peter Pan, including a fiberglass recreation of the nursery in the foyer. It is located to the direct east of the Great Ceremonial House.
- Moana Mickey's Fun Hut Arcade - The resort has an arcade with a collection of video games and physical skill games.
- 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 Floridan 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.
John Lennon signed the paperwork that officially broke up the Beatles at the Polynesian Resort on December 29, 1974.
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