A year ago we made the huge decision to become Disney Vacation Club members. We did a lot of research, crunched some numbers, and tallied up our vacation planning to come to the conclusion that it would be the right decision for us. One of the perks of become members was the fact that we could essentially prepay for our vacations and use our membership to stay at resorts we would never be able to afford when buying “off the rack.”
For our very first DVC vacation we decided to go with a resort that many say is the best place to stay for the first time in Disney World: the Polynesian Village Resort. This Magic Kingdom area resort sits on the south end of Seven Seas Lagoon with a postcard view of Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle across the lake. The resort is well situated with boat and Monorail access to Magic Kingdom but is also within walking distance of the Ticket and Transportation Center if you’d like to take the Monorail to Epcot.
Magic Kingdom area resorts are always more expensive than other resorts. These resorts are classified as Deluxe and can run from $400 a night upwards of $1000 per night for a private bungalow or Signature Suite. As DVC members these resorts cost more points but it is more within reach than the average guest. We reserved two nights in a Deluxe Studio at the Polynesian Village for 35 points when we stayed in the fall. With an annual allotment of 100 points that was only a small chunk of what we could use points-wise.
The Polynesian has made a number of improvements to their DVC rooms in recent times. The DVC rooms are in a few buildings to the eastern side of the resort with the Bora Bora Bungalows also available to DVC members (don’t even ask how many points it takes to stay there). We took advantage of online early check-in which meant we could go straight to our room with our activated Magic Bands. When we arrived the resort texted us that the room wasn’t quite ready so we playing in parks while waiting for the greenlight to head over.
Our room was ready for us by early afternoon, but because we were having a little too much fun we didn’t make it over until about 9pm. No matter. The guard at the entrance checked out bands, saw we were DVC members, and warmly said, “Welcome home!” Why, thank you! It’s good to be home!
Our room was in the Tokelau longhouse (buildings in the Polynesian are called longhouses). This building was centrally located close to the DVC pool and barbecue area with a clear path out to the beach where you could watch the fireworks. We’d requested a room on the first floor and were happy to see on our map that we were in the center of the building, close to the main doors.
The rooms at the Polynesian have all been renovated to reflect a mid-century modern tropical feel. We met the Imagineer who helped pick out all the art for the renovation in March and it was clear he did a great job. All the art on display comes from the Disney Archives and is a mix of attraction, animated film, resort, and live action film artwork.
Just around the corner from the elevators was our little home away from home. A co-worker of mine was gushing about how jealous he was they we would get to stay in the newly renovated rooms. Were they really that great? Weren’t they just a nice hotel room? We opened the door and flipped the lights on…
And nearly screamed with joy!
It’s beautiful! It’s so beautiful! It has two, yes count ’em, two bathrooms! Every little detail has been picked to elicit squeals of joy from Disney fans! I can’t take it!
Seriously, the room looked amazing. The Deluxe studio has a small kitchenette (fridge, sink, microwave, dishwasher, coffeemaker, a few days worth of kitchen supplies), a queen sized bed, a sofa bed, a pull-down bed in the television console, a table and chairs, and yes two bathrooms.
Why two bathrooms? Well you can imagine that there are families out there trying to get the most bang for their points, so they opt for a Deluxe Studio rather than a one or two bedroom villa. The room can easily sleep five people (two on the bed, two on the sofa bed, one on the pull-down) but how can you fit five people into one small bathroom? Even growing up with our parents you’d sometimes be fighting for the hotel bathroom hoping another family member didn’t hog it for one reason or another (I’m looking at you Mom with your hair and makeup bonanza in the mornings!).
We explored the two bathrooms first since it was such a novelty. One bathroom was pretty much a standard hotel bathroom with a nice wide vanity, toilet, and a tub-shower combo.
The second bathroom had a walk-in shower with accupressure pebble floor tiles (so nice after a long day of walking and standing in lines) and another sink vanity. There was no toilet in this bathroom, but with two showers that meant two people could get ready for the day at the same time.
Because the DVC rooms assume that guests will be stay a long time in the room toiletries come in large sizes. One downside of the DVC rooms is that there is no daily housekeeping. If you run out of shampoo you’re out of luck unless you can find a housekeeping Cast Member and beg for a bottle. You can also find the Disney Resorts toiletries in full size amounts in the hotel gift shops if you’d like a large-large size or some to take back home.
The kitchenette is fairly small. If you get a one, two, or three bedroom villa you’ll get a full size kitchen. Here you’ve got a nice little fridge, a microwave, a sink, a dishwasher, a coffeemaker, a toaster, a small supply of dinnerware and utensils, and a selection of kitchen supplies (sponge, dish soap, etc.) You’ll also get a nice little tray of Joffrey’s coffee and Twinings tea for your enjoyment. If you want Starbucks products you can always head to a theme park or to Disney Springs.
The closet had the standard hotel amenities of a safe, iron, and ironing board. Since this is a DVC room you also get some laundry supplies (great for families or that horrible accident with the Dole Whip and the white dress) and a crib!
The bedroom area has a queen size bed and a sofa bed. The bed and sofa each sleep two people, but there was a surprise hidden in the television console…
A pull-down bed! With Lilo and Stitch!
Busy Bumble slept on the bed and she found it to be wonderfully comfortable, especially after long days spent in the theme parks. We both prefer our mattresses somewhere between medium and soft and this bed was a good fit. The bed also has some storage space hidden underneath so you can keep the studio neat and tidy.
I had intended only to spend one night in the pull-down bed but it was actually a terrific little bed! I’m used to sleeping in a twin bed back home so I wasn’t fussed about the smaller size. The bed could support me easily and was long enough that I didn’t have to worry about my head hitting the console or my feet dangling off the edge. It was also wide enough that I could turn and adjust throughout the night. I also found a reading light/night-light, perfect for cramming a few more chapters in at the end of the night or for a child who might be afraid of the dark. I was tickled by the cute image of Lilo and Stitch on the inside. All the hotels that have these pull-down beds have different images on them themed for the hotel.
There is also a small table and two comfy chairs for eating meals, writing, and more. That may be the one weak spot for the Deluxe Studio if you have a larger group. For two people the table was no big deal, but if you have three or more you may have to sit on the floor and use the coffee table.
As a reminder there is no daily housekeeping in the DVC rooms. You’ll need to make your bed each day, keep the place clean, and do the dishes each night. Starting in January 2018 housekeeping Cast Members will come by to collect trash daily, but will only do a full room cleaning once during your stay. If you accumulate more trash than you can deal with before housekeeping come you can find conveniently located rubbish bins. At the time we stayed we had to collect and dump our trash ourselves and found a rubbish bin just down the hall.
Our stay really hammered home why we decided to become DVC Members. We would never have been able to afford a room at the Polynesian at the off-the-rack price and it really is worth the price. We felt like we were getting an incredible deal on a place that made our whole stay feel magical. Oftentimes the parks are fun but then you go back to an okay room that functions just as a crash pad to catch some sleep before heading back out the next day. At the Polynesian I really felt like I could spend my entire day at the resort, even just in my room. Most of all it really felt like home, which is why Disney says “Welcome Home” every time you come back.
The only big downside to the Polynesian for us was price. The average points-per-night can get very steep at peak days of the year (think of how bad it could be around Christmas to New Year’s Eve…) so this is a resort that isn’t cost efficient for DVC members with lower amounts of points and definitely not for the average guest paying actual money per night. But it is a Deluxe Resort with all of the bells and whistles you’d hope for, so consider carefully whether or not it would be worth it for you.