Polynesian OR Wilderness Lodge

JLB0607

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
We are booked for a late September trip at the Polynesian. It is our first Disney trip, and we are so excited! It will be my husband, myself, 10 yr old, 6 yr old, and a 2 yr old. We picked the Polynesian because most of the YouTube vlogs that we have watched made it seem like it was the best resort on property. (I agree that it looks absolutely stunning.) Our trip is basically paid for. I was going to make our final payment this Friday, but I am having second thoughts about our resort choice. We have the dining plan, and plan to do 2 resort/non-park days.

The part that is making me second guess is really just the cost of the Polynesian. We have money set aside for tips and a few souvenirs, but that is it. We don't have any 'extras' planned. I'm not sure if it would be better to switch resorts and save all of the extra money for more experiences? Maybe a dessert party or two? I started looking at resorts again and saw how much we could save by switching to the Wilderness Lodge. I called and spoke with someone and they said that I could switch if I wanted to do so, but I couldn't decide!

I'm just not sure what to do, and I suppose it is really apples and oranges to compare the two resorts. We are from Illinois, and have never traveled outside the midwest, so all we know is a world of corn fields (yikes). Is Wilderness Lodge a good pick? Would we be happy there? Is it good for kids? Or is the ambiance and tropical vibe worth the hefty price tag at the Polynesian? We have a dining reservation for Ohana. I am looking forward to that! It looks so pretty and fun!

Suprisingly enough, we don't have any family, friends, or coworkers that have been to Disney, so I don't have anyone go ask personally or bounce thoughts off of. I must rely on the advice of strangers!!!
 

Mainsail Minnie

Momketeer
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
We are booked for a late September trip at the Polynesian. It is our first Disney trip, and we are so excited! It will be my husband, myself, 10 yr old, 6 yr old, and a 2 yr old. We picked the Polynesian because most of the YouTube vlogs that we have watched made it seem like it was the best resort on property. (I agree that it looks absolutely stunning.) Our trip is basically paid for. I was going to make our final payment this Friday, but I am having second thoughts about our resort choice. We have the dining plan, and plan to do 2 resort/non-park days.

The part that is making me second guess is really just the cost of the Polynesian. We have money set aside for tips and a few souvenirs, but that is it. We don't have any 'extras' planned. I'm not sure if it would be better to switch resorts and save all of the extra money for more experiences? Maybe a dessert party or two? I started looking at resorts again and saw how much we could save by switching to the Wilderness Lodge. I called and spoke with someone and they said that I could switch if I wanted to do so, but I couldn't decide!

I'm just not sure what to do, and I suppose it is really apples and oranges to compare the two resorts. We are from Illinois, and have never traveled outside the midwest, so all we know is a world of corn fields (yikes). Is Wilderness Lodge a good pick? Would we be happy there? Is it good for kids? Or is the ambiance and tropical vibe worth the hefty price tag at the Polynesian? We have a dining reservation for Ohana. I am looking forward to that! It looks so pretty and fun!

Suprisingly enough, we don't have any family, friends, or coworkers that have been to Disney, so I don't have anyone go ask personally or bounce thoughts off of. I must rely on the advice of strangers!!!
The Polynesian is a nice resort, but there is no best resort at WDW. It's very subjective, which resort different people like the most, and there is no one-size-fits-all. All of the deluxe resorts are nice places to stay, and have different advantages & disadvantages.

A major advantage of the Polynesian is that it's on the monorail line, which provides bus-free access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. There is a huge transportation advantage to staying at a monorail resort for a family with young kids that will likely spend a lot of time at MK. The monorail is more efficient than buses, and you won't have to fold up a stroller to get on.

So I'd be hesitant to switch to Wilderness Lodge, which is not on the monorail line. No dessert party would make up for that lack of convenience for me. If you want to be on the monorail line but save money, a garden wing room at the Contemporary Resort might fit the bill. Plus you can easily walk between the Contemporary and Magic Kingdom, which is a huge advantage at busy times, especially after fireworks or at park closing, when tons of people leave at once and flood the transportation options (and you're all bone tired from the long day). You'd be able to just walk back to your room.

Another advantage of the Polynesian is its nice feature pool, although it does tend to be crowded. Wilderness Lodge and Contemporary both have much more basic pools. So if you plan to swim, that is a consideration.

So you need to reflect on what is important to you. Personally, for a first WDW trip with three young kids, I'd really want to be on the monorail line.
 
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Sunshine11

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 7, 2013
If your budget can accommodate the Poly, keep it. It won't disappoint. It's a magical resort and the convenience of the location (boat and monorail to MK as well as walk to TTC to catch one monorail to Epcot) makes it's even sweeter! This resort has a huge following of happy return guests!
 

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  • westie55

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 24, 2015
    Since your 2 yr old will be in a stroller, I'd stick with the Poly. WL is pretty but the rooms are smaller and you will be grateful for the moments when you don't have to wake your sleeping child up to fold the stroller to get on a bus. I have stayed at resorts both on and off the monorail with strollers and have decided that until I am done with strollers, I will pay the premium for the convenience. There is something special about being able to see the castle from the Poly anyway! I recently did the Contemporary garden wing and, while perfectly adequate, it wasn't impressive. I missed the theming. The resort was much more sterile, and it was much too hot to walk to and from the MK in the blazing summer heat by midday, making the walkway less of a draw.
     

    trishadono

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 21, 2011
    Poly is my fav. I have stayed at all wdw resorts except SSR. However I think wl May work better do you. Here is why:

    The room is smaller at wl however the bathroom has a better set up. At poly everything is in one room. At wl the tub/toilet in a room with a door and the sinks are outside that area . Much easier to get ready in the morning.

    Next, with a stroller is may be easier at wl. There are larger elevators than polys. Also everything is in one building so you don’t have to go outside to get food etc. You do have to take kids out of stroller for boat and bus but not a big deal at wl .You can boat to MK or do a quick bus ride. So sometimes it’s nice to have that double option.

    Both resorts have great theming so you are not missing out on Disney Magic.

    You can still visit poly . You already have a meal planned . To get there boat or bus to MK then boat or mono to poly OR take boat to CR then catch mono to poly. That would be fastest way.

    Think of anything else? Let me know . I stay and visit both resorts several times a year.
     

    TongaToast21

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2019
    I think if you haven't left the midwest before, you should definitely stick with the Poly... It truly feels like a tropical "vacation within a vacation" there, and the island atmosphere should be particularly special for you! Think tiki torches at night with hawaiian music piped into the resort grounds
     

    westie55

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 24, 2015
    Another consideration since you are a family of 5, room occupancy at the Poly is 5 but it is 4 at the WL. Since your youngest is 2, this is fine and you will technically fit at WL, but the 2 yr old would have to be in a pack n play. Neither of my boys fit well or slept well in a pack n play by age 2, and my younger son is quite small for his age. At the Poly you get an extra day bed.
     
  • saving our pennies

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 21, 2011
    We have stayed at both, and they are both just stunning resorts. I love the privacy of WL, but I think the benefits of the Poly outweigh the WL. There is a little more sq footage and one extra sleeping surface (Murphy bed) at Poly. Plus the benefit of being on the monorail (especially with a stroller you’d have to fold up on a boat or bus). Another perk for us was that you could watch the nightly fireworks from the beaches at the Poly. Nice to be able to head right to your room after that, rather than fight crowds out of the park!
     

    SillySallySews

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2014
    The Polynesian was our dream resort for a long time and we finally got a chance to stay there. The monorail was either completely down or on a modified route during our entire stay and the bus system was very inefficient. You can walk over to TTC, but when you are paying all that money to stay on the monorail and you can’t even use it, that’s a huge bummer.

    That being said, if I had to choose to go back to the Polynesian or stay at WL I’d go back to Poly in a heartbeat. The resort is beautiful and there are lots of things to do on your non-park days. The food options there are some of our favorites. We could stay there for a week and never venture off to eat anywhere else. My kids really liked the volcano slide and the kids play area at the pool. We’ve tried almost all the deluxe resorts and the rooms here just feel extra large compared to the rest. WL would not be my first choice if I was switching to save money. I’d look into a garden wing room at CR (you can walk to MK), or moving over to one of the Epcot area resorts.
     

    TongaToast21

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2019
    The Polynesian was our dream resort for a long time and we finally got a chance to stay there. The monorail was either completely down or on a modified route during our entire stay and the bus system was very inefficient. You can walk over to TTC, but when you are paying all that money to stay on the monorail and you can’t even use it, that’s a huge bummer.

    That being said, if I had to choose to go back to the Polynesian or stay at WL I’d go back to Poly in a heartbeat. The resort is beautiful and there are lots of things to do on your non-park days. The food options there are some of our favorites. We could stay there for a week and never venture off to eat anywhere else. My kids really liked the volcano slide and the kids play area at the pool. We’ve tried almost all the deluxe resorts and the rooms here just feel extra large compared to the rest. WL would not be my first choice if I was switching to save money. I’d look into a garden wing room at CR (you can walk to MK), or moving over to one of the Epcot area resorts.
    did you use the boat at all? thats actually my preferred method of travel there.. its beautiful and relaxing!
     
  • Wood Nymph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2012
    We love the Wilderness Lodge and we are not fans of the Polynesian. Everything is under one roof at the Wilderness Lodge while you have separate buildings at the Poly. Florida is very rainy, especially in September, and not having to go out in the rain to get some food is a plus for WL. The Polynesian is a very busy place with very busy lobbies, restaurants and pools. The lobby of the WL is a great place to relax. The monorail is nice for getting to MK from the Poly, but it is a pain to go to Epcot from there. We prefer the park buses at WL.

    The rooms are much bigger, though, at Poly, which is the only thing that sets it a better choice for a family of five. But with the Wilderness Lodge you can take the boat to Fort Wilderness and explore the horse stables and other activities.

    It is your first trip and the Polynesian is one of the most expensive resorts at WDW. If you decide to switch to WL you will have a wonderful trip and be glad to have some extra cash. :)
     

    KenHutch

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2005
    For our next trip I actually considered what you did The Western Lodge over the Poly because we stay for 10 days. Its a fair amount of money. The girls however said monorail, easy access to Dole Whips and the pool. That was the fastest veto I ever got.
     

    mickeynut1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 16, 2007
    We've stayed at both and while we do love the WL, the Poly is our favorite. I don't think you'd be disappointed in WL, but I think you'd be a little more comfortable at the Poly as the rooms are quite a bit larger/more spacious and all rooms come with a daybed. Both resorts have nice pools, but the Poly pool is amazing as it backs up to the beach with a view of the castle in the distance (with the added benefit of being able to watch fireworks while swimming). With all that said, if the extra cost for the Poly is doable without breaking the bank, I wouldn't change.
     

    sethschroeder

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 24, 2013
    We are from Illinois
    I wouldn't stay at Wilderness instead go to northern Wisconsin next summer to a resort and you will get the Wilderness vibe.

    If you are trying to save some money have you looked at Animal Kingdom (possibly even just a split stay?) or how about Beach/Yacht club?

    The boat from Wilderness takes 8-10mins the bus from Animal Kingdom takes 20-22 mins to magic kingdom. It's really not that much more time in my book.

    I would personally not worry about extra events. I would stick with your primary hotel choice if the math works financially. It's going to be one of those experiences you won't get anywhere else at the Poly unless you travel to the South Pacific.
     

    BarlowFamily

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 27, 2019
    Is a split stay an option? We have two trips planned next year, both split stays. We're starting off at value/campsite for the first part and the splurging at AoA Cars suite/AKL savannah for the last nights. We couldn't afford the expensive resorts for all week, each trip. Disney will even transfer your luggage for you. Just an option.
     

    jpakstis

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 3, 2018
    We have stayed at both and if you value convenience to the parks, especially MK, the Poly can't be beat. Its nice to have two options to get back from the MK (either monorail or boat, or even the ferry if you don't mind walking from the TTC) and having the bag check and security before you board the monorail made it so much easier in my opinion. Now you go through security at the Poly instead of having a huge mass at the front of the MK. The boat security is right after you get off at the MK, but its only for people coming from the Poly and Grand Floridian.

    Also depending on what longhouse you're in, you're within a not-strenuous walk to the TTC to get to Epcot pretty easily as well. The Poly is pretty spread out, but I found it very relaxing to walk around, especially with the music playing and the tiki torches lit at night. We were able to see the fireworks from our room (we were in the Tokelau longhouse), but its a quick walk to the beachfront area to watch them too.

    I really loved the Wilderness Lodge for the quick boat ride to the MK (our daughters were 2 and 4 when we stayed there and 7 and 9 when we stayed at the Poly), but it is not terribly convenient to other parks and areas, where you have to rely on the buses. The resort itself is pretty impressive and the food options were more plentiful than the Poly.

    Finally, the Poly is iconic for me. We have been going to WDW since we were kids and there is something about the Poly that just takes me back to my childhood, sort of how walking through Adventureland and Frontierland in the MK does the same thing. Also its history! John Lennon signed the paperwork to officially break up the Beatles there!

    With the caveat that we are not big "extras" people (my wife is not a dessert fan), I'd rather spend the money on accommodations. The Poly has some downsides: it is a bit more limited dining and food-wise, its spread out, and the rooms, at least the DVC studio we stayed in, were not the best in terms of layout, but for overall vibe and convenience, nothing tops it in my opinion. It made it so easy to have a less stressful park-going experience.
     

    J'aime Paris

    Living happily ever after
    Joined
    Mar 7, 2008
    For your first trip, you will be so busy exploring all that WDW has to offer! No need to book any extras.

    Stick with the Poly!
    We've been going (sometimes multiple trips per year) since my DD was 2. She's now almost 21. We've stayed at almost every onsite property at WDW.

    The one that we've repeat visited the most? POLY :lovestruc
     

    Wood Nymph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2012
    There are a lot of fans of the Poly and I can understand why. But this is your first WDW trip and you will find that it can be overwhelming. If you stay at the WL then you will be in a compact resort just steps away from your room, the pools and restaurants. The boat ride to MK is great. If you stay at the Poly then you can have a rather long walk to your building, depending on which one you get. And when the kids are too tired to get out of bed in the morning and you decide to bring some breakfast back to the room while they get ready it is much nicer to just walk down the hallway to the elevator at WL then to take that walk to Captain Cooks at the Poly. :)
     

    TheSouthernBelle

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 21, 2017
    We are booked for a late September trip at the Polynesian. It is our first Disney trip, and we are so excited! It will be my husband, myself, 10 yr old, 6 yr old, and a 2 yr old. We picked the Polynesian because most of the YouTube vlogs that we have watched made it seem like it was the best resort on property. (I agree that it looks absolutely stunning.) Our trip is basically paid for. I was going to make our final payment this Friday, but I am having second thoughts about our resort choice. We have the dining plan, and plan to do 2 resort/non-park days.

    The part that is making me second guess is really just the cost of the Polynesian. We have money set aside for tips and a few souvenirs, but that is it. We don't have any 'extras' planned. I'm not sure if it would be better to switch resorts and save all of the extra money for more experiences? Maybe a dessert party or two? I started looking at resorts again and saw how much we could save by switching to the Wilderness Lodge. I called and spoke with someone and they said that I could switch if I wanted to do so, but I couldn't decide!

    I'm just not sure what to do, and I suppose it is really apples and oranges to compare the two resorts. We are from Illinois, and have never traveled outside the midwest, so all we know is a world of corn fields (yikes). Is Wilderness Lodge a good pick? Would we be happy there? Is it good for kids? Or is the ambiance and tropical vibe worth the hefty price tag at the Polynesian? We have a dining reservation for Ohana. I am looking forward to that! It looks so pretty and fun!

    Suprisingly enough, we don't have any family, friends, or coworkers that have been to Disney, so I don't have anyone go ask personally or bounce thoughts off of. I must rely on the advice of strangers!!!
    For a first visit I don't think you can go wrong at either resort, they are both great resorts. But there is no one BEST resort on property, everyone has their faves.

    I have never stayed at either but been to both and have kids around your kids ages. Poly, while pricey, will offer you added convenience as a monorail resort. There are other pros/cons that PP's have mentioned. WL is the same, has some pros/cons as well. Bottom line it comes down to personal preference, which theming appeals to you more, etc. For a first trip you really don't need to do any extras like parties. It's too much planning for a first visit IMO. The parks, dining and resort will be plenty for first timers. Parties and all that are great but not necessary. We are going back for our umpteenth visit and not doing any extra parties or early morning magic, just regular park visits. It's magical on it's own!! Have fun with whatever resort you decide.
     

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