Renovation and Construction at Disney’s Polynesian Resort



By Dave Shute

Construction seems likely to be going on at the Polynesian into 2015–though this is not official. For alternatives to the Polynesian, see this.

So pretty much everything I know about the big picture of what’s going on at the Polynesian comes from my bud Steve’s Tikiman Pages website dedicated to the Polynesian and his Facebook page, or our email exchanges. For the latest, check his sites.

Longhouse in the Evening at Disney's Polynesian Resort from yourfirstvisit.netThe complexity of this is that Disney changes its mind all the time, and Steve’s sources are so good that he can report on current plans that then get superseded by new plans.  This doesn’t mean he’s “wrong”–it means that the truth has changed…

Based on Steve’s most recent material, here’s what’s going on at the Polynesian:

  • Room renovations are done.  Tahiti and Rapa Nui are largely untouched, but the other nine longhouses are set.
  • Tahiti and Rapa Nui are untouched most likely because they will become part of the DVC offering at the Polynesian.  Previous reports that DVC at the Poly would also include a couple of five story buildings east and west, and a new pool, seem off, and/or on hold.
  • Construction associated with adding DVC Grand Villas as bungalows on pilings above the Seven Sea Lagoon started in 2013 and is continuing.
  • Steve thinks further construction affecting the Great Ceremonial house and the area directly north of it through the main pool area and out to the beach may be beginning as soon as August 2014, and may take a while.  The Great Ceremonial House, Steve believes, will be renovated in stages, and the water feature in the lobby will be taken out.

Water Feature in Great Ceremonial House at Disney's Polynesian Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Moreover, the monorails will be down weekdays from 11.30a until 7p beginning January 21.

None of this, to me, is a big enough deal to suggest that the Polynesian is no longer the best choice for first time families who can afford it. It still is the best choice.

But returning visitors who deeply love something that may be down or different might have a different opinion…

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46 comments

1 Carey Greives { 09.14.13 at 10:37 pm }

Hi Dave!
My husband and I love your website. It’s been a great resource to us as we plan out WDW trip for our family of 4. My question for you is, we have the opportunity to stay at Polynesian resort for our Oct. 20-26, 2013 visit. Or should we keep reservations at Art of Animation? Thanks

2 Dave { 09.15.13 at 11:56 am }

Hi Carey and I’m so glad it’s helping!!

If your AofA rooms is a standard 4 person Little Mermaid, I’d swap to the Poly in a heartbeat. If you are in a family suite, I’d have more mixed feelings. The private bedroom and second bath can be a real luxury, and a table that fits all four of you is nice too…

If the latter, another option is to do both–spend half your nights in one, and half the other. You’d pick which to do first based on the days you plan to be at MK–staying at the Poly then…

Was this even remotely helpful?

Well then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

3 Carey { 09.15.13 at 3:07 pm }

Thanks Dave,
I thought about doing both too! However, we get the free meal plan with 6 night stay at Polynesian which makes it more affordable and my husband isn’t too keen on packing everything up and moving mid trip. ( we r flying in and will not be renting a car).
We did have a suite at Aof A….. ultimately decided to go to Polynesian for the convenience and overall resort amenities. Praying the refurbishment won’t negatively impact our experience there.

4 Dave { 09.16.13 at 10:00 am }

Cool, Carey…let me know how it goes.

BTW, Disney will transport your stuff for you if you change resorts–but you do still have to pack and unpack…

5 Matthew { 11.20.13 at 1:05 am }

We have reservations from May 28 through June 4. The travel agent contacted me today wanting to know if we wanted to change reservations to another resort. Not sure what to do? We have 5 children, ages 9, 6, 4, and infant. If there is no pool or the monorail is down, this could be a game changer. Thanks.

6 Dave { 11.20.13 at 2:51 pm }

Matthew, the monorail, if down, would be down now and then, rarely. The pool is more of an issue. The latest rumor I’ve seen would suggests it could be down for your visit. But nothing will be real until the reconstruction starts. Til then its a rumor… Do you need to switch now?

7 Anonymous { 12.04.13 at 4:08 am }

We are planning a week’s stay August of 2014. We have stayed at the Poly 6 times and truly enjoy staying there. Do you think the pools will be closed down at this time? We always stay in the building beside the pool. I would not think the monorail would have any effect with the renovations at the Poly, but I may be wrong. Thanks So Much,
Cristy

8 Dave { 12.05.13 at 8:48 am }

Hi Cristy! I don’t really know–but at most one pool will be closed…

9 Erin { 12.18.13 at 1:34 pm }

We will be staying in January 2014 and don’t know which building to request because of the construction? Which building would you stay in?

10 Fabiana { 12.18.13 at 6:55 pm }

Hi, Dave!
We are planning our first visit to Disneyworld and I am soooo glad I´ve found your website! As suggested by you, we intended to stay at the Polynesian. Today, though, I found these comments about the renovations and got really preoccupied. We are a family of 4 (two 5-year old boys) and traveling in March 2014. Do you think we would be somehow affected by the constructions. No monorail? No pool? Kindly please let us know your opinion: should we keep the plans or go to the second option in your list? Thanks!!

11 Dave { 12.19.13 at 7:40 am }

Erin I’d still aim for Tokelau! Large rooms, renovated, nicely located…

12 Dave { 12.19.13 at 7:55 am }

Fabiana, it can’t hurt to go to the Wilderness Lodge, the second-best option–your boys will love it.

This will be especially true if your dates are after March 8, as that will put you in peak spring break season, which will put added stresses on whatever alternate transport Disney comes up with to supplement the monorail, and on the Poly’s seocnd pool if in fact the main pool is being rehabbed…

That said, I’m not overly concerned about what’s going on at the Poly…I honestly think it’ll be OK…

13 Sharon { 12.30.13 at 5:06 pm }

Hi Dave!
Thanks so much for this forum. We will be 2nd-time visitors to WDW sometime between late Sept-early Nov 2014. Our 1st trip was in 2011 and we stayed at the Polynesian and vowed on our next (and probably last) trip back, we would stay there again. LOVED everything about it! We stayed at Raratonga and it was SO convenient to the monorail and Ceremonial House.
Now that I’m reading about the construction, I’m really bummed about the prospect of returning. We’re a family of 4 (kids will be 8 and 10). Loved the volcano slide and beach movies. Can you recommend the “best” house to stay during this time period? Will we still be able to see the lake light show and the fireworks at MK?
Thanks for any advice!

14 Dave { 12.31.13 at 7:05 am }

Hi Sharon, I dunno what’ll be up in Poly construction then, but still think that Tokelau is the best longhouse all things considered…

15 Tim { 01.04.14 at 7:52 am }

Hi Dave. I am taking my 4 yr old and my parents to Disney in the middle of April. I am deciding between the Poly and the Animal Kingdom. I had decided on the Poly due my son being 4 and the monorail figuring buses out of AK might be slow and then I read about construction and the Volcano pool mihgt close etc…. If you were me would you still stay at the Poly? Thank you.

16 Dave { 01.04.14 at 10:40 am }

Um, Tim, when in April? Disney World will be a zoo from the 12th through the 25th…and because of that, I expect that the monorail construction will be done with, or on hold, then. I have no good word on pool construction dates.

And is it just the 4 of you? AK rooms hold only 4, while Poly rooms hold 5…

17 Lauren { 01.05.14 at 10:00 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are planning our first trip to Disney for November 1-8th 2014. We decided on the Polynesian but now I’m having second thoughts because of construction. Do you still think it’s the best place for the time we are traveling? If so, what room requests should we make? We would like to be closest to the monorail to the MK (as we will be going there the majority of days). We will not be going to Epcot so we aren’t worried about being near the Epcot monorail.
Thanks!

18 Dave { 01.06.14 at 8:34 am }

Hiya Lauren! I’m still keen on the Poly for first timers, even with the construction, but if you aren’t going to Epcot and are focused on MK there’s a lot to like at the Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary (links to reviews here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/26/walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-reviews/

If you stick with the Poly, then Raratonga, Niue, and Samoa are good choices!–near the monorail, but also near the bus stop for the other parks

19 Kris { 01.09.14 at 3:30 pm }

Hi there – We finally settled on a resort (we were planning on the Contemporary Garden wing as we’ve been there for a conference before and loved it, but those were not available for our dates); so we settled on the Polynesian for late June. I began to read rumors that the big pool would be closed; I called the resort number, two people checked and said they saw nothing about that. Where is the information coming from that the pool will be closed? Wasn’t there a pool refurb done fairly recently? We REALLY want to be on the monorail, and now I’m concerned that we’re not going to find something in time to switch to, if we decide we need to change our reservations! (preferably we won’t be changing them, as we’re really looking forward to the Polynesian!)

Thanks!

20 Dave { 01.10.14 at 7:12 am }
21 Paul { 01.22.14 at 11:31 am }

Dave, my family is tentatively planning a trip for the week after Thanksgiving based upon your recommendation. Last time we went we stayed at the Poly, also based upon your recommendation, and absolutely loved it. We requested and received a room in Tahiti, which was perfect for us. It has the best location to the TTC, which helped us out because of our stroller and little kids. It was very convenient for us to hop on the ferry and get to MK and to come back to the room for naps with the kids.
So, am I now to understand that if we do go in November/December, we will not be able to stay in Tahiti because it will either be undergoing renovations or will be part of the DVC? If so, does Tokelau offer the same level of convenience or would the Contemporary be better?

Thanks very much!

22 Dave { 01.23.14 at 7:23 am }

Paul, Tokelau is just as convenient as Tahiti! But if you have any concerns, go with the Contemporary…

23 Mary Kate { 01.31.14 at 1:57 pm }

Dave,

We are staying at the Polynesian from 3/25/14 – 3/30/14 and it looks like the monorail should be back on schedule after 3/21/14. Do you think this true? Also, do you have any ideas as to whether the will decide to close the pool at this time. WE are traveling with grandparents and children so I just wanted to see what you would expect.

thanks!

24 Dave { 02.01.14 at 9:54 am }

Mary Kate, I have no way of knowing, but my bet is early March completion is more likely than later March–so that the high spring break crowds can be better served. The latest rumor on the pool is that the earliest it might close is August.

25 Kristin { 02.17.14 at 8:55 pm }

Hello. I originally booked our disney vacation being very torn between AK lodge and Contemporary. After reading a million reviews and interviewing, literally, many people who went to AK, I decided not for any other reason but transportation to stay at the Contemporary. Hands down I think AK won, but the biggest complaint was slow bud service. My husband is too impatient to deal with bus service on our first trip to disney with three kids. Then, upon working with a travel agent who knows disney well, I was convinced to switch from the contemporary to the poly. So I did. Wdw pre school blog stated to stay far away from poly. Too much construction is causing ugly crane views etc. Our trip is in April. I have club level theme park view at poly or standard level at contemporary to choose from. Help!!!!!! Seems like nothing good is said anymore about contemporary. I love love love a modern look. Grand Floridian is NOT my style, nor is wilderness.

26 Paul { 02.18.14 at 12:28 am }

Dave, thanks for the response above! We’re debating between the Poly and the Contemporary as we won’t be going to Epcot this time around. Also, we have others traveling with us who may prefer the Art of Animation, so we’ll see. However, our dates have changed. Instead of November/December, it looks like October is going to be our best dates. Do you think there will be any room or dining deals for October? If so, when do they usually come out?
Thanks again!

27 Dave { 02.18.14 at 4:03 pm }

Kristen, your dates there’s some construction at the eastern part of the Poly that is causing some to panic. However, the club rooms are the ones most affected, so in this rare instance I’d agree you should panic too, and avoid the Poly then! I have stayed at the Contemporary a million times, including twice in December and again in January. Stay in a Tower room there and you will love it…

28 Justin Anderson { 02.19.14 at 5:02 pm }

Hi Dave
Just found your site! We are planning to stay at the Polynesian Sept 18-22, 2014. This will be the first we have ever stayed on site! Any ideas about construction and monorail being down during those times? Also we’re staying in a standard room any suggestions about possible free room upgrades?

29 Kim { 02.19.14 at 9:36 pm }

Hi Dave-
Never stayed at Disney before… first time for the whole family, actually. My husband, children (3 yr old and 5 yr old), and I are considering the Polynesian. Want to make this trip as magical as ever. We are planning to go the first week in November (2014). A couple of questions: We are pretty sure we want to do Club Level- what is the best view to ask for (lagoon, theme park, garden view)? I hear the Garden View is quieter- but i don’t want a view of a parking lot. Also, what construction do you think we will need to worry about in the beginning of November? If there is any construction to the pool, monorail or any other item that will negatively impact our trip- we won’t stay there. Also- if we do get Club Level- what view will not have us staring at construction?
Oh… and one last thing- what is the weather like the first week in November in Disney World? Can the kids still go swimming in the day/ is it very cold at night?
Thanks for your site… very informative!
Kim

30 Dave { 02.20.14 at 8:39 am }

Justin, the monorail will be back up in March sometime. As for the rest, there will be at least some construction, and perhaps a lot. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/01/09/alternatives-to-disneys-polynesian-resort/ Frankly, if there is a lot of construction, it’ll likely make getting upgrades easier…

31 Dave { 02.20.14 at 10:33 am }

Kim, I think there’s a very strong chance of major construction then. We won’t really know til it starts. But if that’s a big deal for you, I’d avoid the Poly. Weather in November is quite variable. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/02/20/weather-at-walt-disney-world/

32 Heidi { 03.02.14 at 12:11 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are getting ready for our first trip to Disney! Our family of 5 (kiddos 11, 8, and 4) will be staying at the Poly from 3/22-3/28 in a standard room. I’m concerned about the construction, and have been reading mixed reviews on how our trip will be affected. From what I can tell the main pool will be open, and the monorail should be running. I really feel like the Poly is the best choice for our family, but I wanted to get some reassurance that our trip will still be magical despite the construction! If this was your family’s first visit would you stay at the Poly or change resorts? Thanks so much for your help!!!!!!

33 Dave { 03.03.14 at 10:33 am }

Heidi, you should be fine. There’s minor construction along part of the beach your dates, but nothing major!

34 Dawn Thommen { 03.04.14 at 8:41 pm }

I am concerned about the construction at the Poly. I stayed there last year and we had a good time. We will be there the week of July 4th should I look for another place to stay?

35 Dave { 03.05.14 at 7:48 am }

Dawn, the main concern of most is construction around the pool, which is now rumored to not be happening til late July, and construction in the Great Ceremonial House, which is expected to start soon and be ongoing in stages for a year or so. So it kinda depends on what is drawing you back there–if its the look and feel of the GCH, then go to someplace else…

36 Rob { 03.14.14 at 1:14 pm }

My family of 5 (3 kids 7,5, and 3)are staying at the Polynesian August 20-26. We booked a club level room with Magic Kingdom fireworks view (Hawaii tower). Do you know if we will have any issues with construction during this time? Considering switching to the Gran Floridian or Contemporary if so…..thanks in advance.

37 Dave { 03.15.14 at 8:46 am }

Rob, you will likely face at least a diminished view and closure of the main pool. You’ll be able to use the pools at the Grand Floridian if you stick with the Poly. With kids that young, if you switch, I’d switch to the Contemporary. It is more convenient than GF (becasue you can walk to MK)

38 Diane { 03.17.14 at 4:34 pm }

This site has been so helpful!! Thankyou. We are planning our trip to Disney for mid June. We consists of my husband and myself (we are the seniors) our daughter and husband and their three sons…21, 19, 16.
It is our big anniversary and we are going back down memory lane . We love Epcot and the Magic Kingdom (to be kids again). We have not been back there for 13 years. My husband and I are Florida Residents. Thankyou soo much in advance.

39 Dave { 03.17.14 at 4:37 pm }

Hi Diane! What can I help you with?

40 Brian { 03.23.14 at 7:36 am }

We are booked to stay at the Club Level at the Polynesian the week of April 18. We stayed there late November 2013. I know the GCH will be under renovations but are there any other differences we will notice that week in April compared to last November? Most concerning,: will the beach area to watch fireworks be affected or the view of fireworks from the club level? Thanks for your time.

41 Brian { 03.23.14 at 10:11 am }

Oops! I made a slight typo. We will be arriving at the Polynesian on April 6, 2013. Thanks!

42 Dave { 03.23.14 at 11:32 am }

Brian there’s contruction happening right outside and to the right of the club level rooms, and the beach to the right of them is closed. The beach in front, and also closer to the pool on the left oughta be fine during your visit.

43 MCD { 03.26.14 at 2:26 pm }

Hi, Dave! We are planning on our third family trip to the Poly August 9th-16th. I called the hotel and they denied the pool will be closed; any and all intel would be appreciated as our kids live for the Volcano pool and we live for the mai tais! If the pool is likely to be closed we will switch to GF. Thanks for your help!

44 Dave { 03.27.14 at 9:19 am }

MCD, the expectations that the pool will close are predictions, not facts. Disney will deny it until is becomes cast in stone (concrete?)–assuming it does!

45 Greg { 04.16.14 at 9:49 am }

Dave – If the pool actually closes for a long period of time, will you change your recommendations during that period or do you think there is still enough that poly offers without a large pool?

46 Dave { 04.17.14 at 8:56 am }

Greg, my recommendations to stay at the Poly have little to do with the pool, which frankly has among the least lounging/seatings area of any WDW pool (though lots of lounge chairs are on the nearby beach).

While it’s closed you’ll be able to us the slightly smaller and less themed second pool, or the Beach Pool at the Grand Floridian.

The Poly’s main offer that will remain is convenience. The kid and parent friendly theming will still be mostly intact, though diminished by construction. All that said, you can’t go wrong from picking the Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary or Grand Floridian as an alternative…

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