We strongly feel that the Polynesian Village Resort is the best place to stay at Disney. We love the laid- back beachy vibe and the kids obsess over the water park. Practically speaking, it has the best location- just a short monorail ride to the parks but far enough for some peace and quiet. We loved walking the beach at night lit by tiki torches.
There are two pools and several places to choose from to eat. O’Hana is a beautiful restaurant which offers a character breakfast with Lilo and Stich. We usually ordered take-out from Captain Cooks and ate in the room because we were so spent. The flatbread pizzas were great and count as a quick service meal. Adult meals come with a choice of dessert or wine by the glass… Pure. Genius. Just note- go down and bring the food back yourself. There is room service but it will cost you double the meal points! On mornings that we just wanted to get out the door, we grabbed bagels from Captain Cooks and it just counted as a snack. The Luau at the Polynesian, called the Spirit of Aloha, is great fun. Kids will be impressed by the flame throwers. These book up quickly, so book in advance. There are two shows each night- 5:15 and 8:00. The hotel also has a small convenience store as well as a few Disney merchandise shops.
Being on property gives you many perks from using the Magical Express to Extra Magic Hours- which is when the park opens early or stays open late just for people staying at their resorts (grab a schedule at the front desk). Most important for us with little kids- we had easy access to the monorail. If we forgot something or someone needed to go home for a rest, we could easily shoot home. We were only one stop away from the Magic Kingdom and a few from Epcot. We had our own bus terminal so we could hop on a bus to Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios within a few minutes. When we went to the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, there is a sea of people leaving the park afterwards and pouring onto the monorail. We were so happy to jump on a small boat and shoot home across the water. On the following night, we watched the firework show from our beach and enjoyed it just as much. You will have a perfect view of the fireworks and the resort will play the music to go along with the show. You will feel like you are right there but without the crowds- the only thing you will miss is the light display on the castle.
The Polynesian is the only place outside of the Magic Kingdom that you can get a Dole Whip and that alone makes it worth it. I had never had one before and thought it sounded a little gross- a pineapple ice cream float? All I have to say is one taste and I was hooked. That is basically where all of my snack credits went for the rest of the visit.
For your next trip to Disney World, I would strongly suggest staying at the Polynesian. You won’t be disappointed!
NOTE: It is now safe with alligator fencing and swimming in the lake is no longer allowed.