Well, this is getting to be a bit late, since we went almost 2 months ago, but oh well. I had like 850 pictures to upload, sort through, and label. Not to mention a move (more to come on that…eventually, lol). Anyway, like last time, I’ve decided to chronicle our recent Disney trip on the blog, although I may consolidate posts by park. This trip was sort of meant to be our last vacation in which we were purposely just the two of us (as in, we would like to start our own family soon), so we went all out and did the deluxe resort, club level, full week of Disney fun! To start out the series of posts, like last time, I’ll first talk about the hotel!
Since this is a trip report of sorts, I should mention how we got there and then go on with talking about the resort, itself. We were still in our temporary apartment at the time (really close to the airport) and the night before, everything was packed and Buffy was already at the kitty kennel. Everything was great and we were excited. However, it started snowing the day before our trip and snowed all day and all night long. I remember looking out the window the night before and worrying that it was sticking a bit too much. The next morning, bright and early, we got up to see that the snow had stopped, but the ground was coated in at least 4 inches of snow, with not a single plow in sight (I guess NC isn’t really equipped for snow). We checked our flight status and it still said “on schedule” surprisingly enough, so we packed up the car and drove very slowly to the airport. Even the highways were completely unplowed. There were only a few cars on the road. When we got to the airport, we checked into our flight, still showing “on schedule” and made our way to the gate. As we were about to go through security, I made the mistake of looking at the flight schedule board. It was full of red. As in “canceled”. Including the earlier flight to Orlando that we had considered taking. But ours was ok, apparently. The airport was empty and when we got to our gate, we got our first glimpse at the runways. Which also looked completely unplowed…
However as we were waiting, we saw what I’m guessing was every plow in NC (all 10 of them) plowing the runways. To my surprise, we got on the plane and got to go through the de-icing procedure!
I was a bit nervous during take-off, but once we were up, I relaxed and was very happy that we were on our way to the happiest place on Earth!
Now then, about the hotel! We decided to stay at the Polynesian for a couple of reasons. One, it’s on the monorail line, which I’ve always found useful for getting around (it’s also got buses, which operated just fine for us while we were there – no complaints), not to mention I love riding the monorail (“Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas”!). Two, it’s just a really pretty resort, with dark wood details, lots of tropical plants, a beach, etc. Since I’ve stayed frequently at the Grand Floridian, I had passed the Polyneisan quite often, wondering what it would be like to stay there. So we did.
When we got there, we got our leis, checked in, and headed over to the Hawaii building. The grounds really are beautiful. I loved all the trees, flowers, paths, and the beach. The views from the beach were great – you could clearly see the castle and both other hotels on the monorail line. If it had been slightly warmer and less rainy, I would’ve definitely wanted to spend some time sitting at the beach during our breaks. The pool even looked pretty nice. I can see it being a blast for kids with the water slide, and it seemed nice for adults, too – it was heated, which was pretty at night when the water would steam. Chris maintains that the Beach Club/Yacht Club shared pool is still the best, though.
When we got to our room, we discovered that it was really nice! The size was good and I liked the decor a lot. My only two complaints were 1. we didn’t have a balcony since we were on the second floor (I don’t know why the second floor just gets a window while the first gets a patio and the third gets a balcony) and 2. I think I was expecting the concierge building to be somewhat similar to the Great Ceremonial House where the lobby is, with a big open space in the middle. However, when I thought about it, yes, the Grand Floridian has a good amount of concierge rooms in the main building with the grand lobby, but there’s also a smaller concierge building that is fairly normal looking. So our building was similar to the smaller concierge building – long, somewhat dark hallways with rooms on either side. I did notice that if we had paid even more, we would’ve had an amazing view of Cinderella castle on the opposite side of the building, but I was happy enough with our view of palm trees and the pool – it was actually pretty relaxing. It could’ve been way worse – some of the standard rooms have views of the parking lot. So overall, we liked the room. Here’s some pictures, including a few “Where’s Waldo” ones:
After dropping off some stuff in the room, we packed up our bag for the park and decided to stop off at the free concierge food. What I liked about this concierge food was that it changed day to day whereas I think (and I could be mistaken) that the Grand Floridian food was pretty much the same everyday. There were, of course, some repeats everyday like the amazing Disney cookies, gummy sharks, and most breakfast items (though some days muffins would be exchanged for croissants), but a lot of it was different each day. There was always popcorn, but it seemed to always have a different flavor. There were quite a few Polynesian appetizer items (I remember sushi, chicken sate, and a tasty salad) and quite a few desserts (the mousse seemed to change everyday – I remember white chocolate, mango, and chocolate). So, overall we enjoyed the food variety and it was nice to not have to buy breakfast in the parks or bring breakfasts with us like last time. Unfortunately, this was really the only benefit we took advantage of with regards to concierge, so I’m really not sure it was worth it for us. The concierge are also helpful in booking dinners and activities on the fly for you, but in recent years, I’ve become quite the planner when it comes to Disney. I know that if we want to eat at certain places like Cinderella’s Royal Table, it really helps to make reservations as far in advance as possible (even the concierge normally can’t help with CRT). Unfortunately, this year for us meal booking fell in the inconvenient time when Disney changed their policy from 90 days in advance to 180, so the day we made reservations was the day of the policy change, the day EVERYONE who was between 90 and 180 days out from their trip was trying to make reservations. In fact, their servers crashed and it wasn’t until that night that I was able to get onto their online system to book the restaurants (after trying to call all day). But no worries, we got everything we wanted!
One other thing we had been told would be a benefit of staying at the Polynesian is it’s proximity to the Ticket and Transportation center, which is about a 10 minute walk away. Now, if you’re not familiar with the parks, the monorail has 5 stops in a circle – in order, it goes Polynesian –> Grand Floridian –> Magic Kingdom –> Contemporary –> TTC (and back to Polynesian). So from the Polynesian, the monorail’s an easy ride to the Magic Kingdom, but would be almost a full circle to the TTC, so it’s nice that you can just walk to the TTC and skip the whole circuit, get onto the EPCOT monorail and go. So, yes, in theory it’s fantastic. And scenic! But at night, when you’ve just gorged on a huge meal or you’re just plain exhausted from walking all day, that 10 minute walk isn’t that pleasant. You just want to get in bed. So I’m not sure how I felt about that. It seemed that our building was fairly centrally located in terms of all 3 departure points (regular monorail, TTC to EPCOT, and bus), but none felt very close. I thought back to staying at Port Orleans French Quarter, where the bus dropped us off from every park quite near our building (granted, it could’ve been a longer walk if we had a further out building) and I kinda prefer the bus. Ok, maybe I’m just lazy. But really, you do a lot of walking at Disney, so whatever.
Anyway, overall we liked the resort and thought it was beautiful, but I’m pretty sure we’re done with concierge. We just don’t need it. It’s not worth the money for us just to get the free food. We’ll stick with bringing small breakfasty items which, admittedly is much easier when driving there, but I’ve heard about services that deliver groceries to you at the resort, so maybe I’ll look into that. Or, we could just use snack credits. Also, I’m pretty sure our next trip will be at one of the value resorts (or possibly back to the moderate POFQ if the price difference isn’t too big) – I’ve heard POP Century isn’t bad and, from the pictures, All Star Music doesn’t look bad either (plus I believe it was the most recently renovated of the values). We talked to a mom and daughter (both adults) while we were there that were staying at POP. They told us they got a great deal, something like $50 a night, and that their philosophy was that it was just a place to rest their heads, so the resort was fine. I’m open to adopting that philosophy if it means we can go back sooner! Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to splurge every once in a while (well, every once in a LONG while) and try some of the other nice resorts like Wilderness Lodge (I’ve heard it’s fantastic at Christmas time), Beach Club (being close to EPCOT would be super handy since most of our dinners are there), and Animal Kingdom Lodge (I just like animals, so I think a Savannah view would be lovely), but in the meantime, I loved POFQ and would gladly go back and again, I’d happily adopt a “cheap gets you there more often” philosophy and try out the values.
Next up: Magic Kingdom post!
EDIT: Ok, so much for the last vacation for a while. We’ve already got 2 more planned. One with my family, which has actually been planned for a while, and as I was working on this post (slowly), we booked one more shorter trip for our anniversary. But! The whole “last vacation purposely just the two of us” still stands – you never know what could happen between now and then (no, I’m not hiding anything).