The first time I stayed at the Polynesian Resort in Walt Disney World, I was seven years old. I still remember the high-backed wicker chairs, wrapped around moms wearing flowered leis who drank from pineapples and wore relaxed smiles. I can still picture the talking parrot, perched on a leafy tree in the middle of the lobby. I remember wondering why I couldn't take a monorail to school.
Walking into the lobby of the Polynesian Resort brought all those warm childhood memories back. For my husband, the sight of the lush tropical garden spanning two floors, floor to ceiling windows overlooking more greenery, and South Seas-inspired carvings evoked a different image. "Cool," he said, surveying the lobby with an approving nod. "It's just like Adventureland."
The Polynesian holds a charm for both first-time visitors and those nostalgic for the classic Disney experience. One of the original three choices for accommodations in Disney World (with the Contemporary and Fort Wilderness campgrounds), staying at the Polynesian can make you forget how much things have changed here since the resort opened in 1971. Since those early days, the "World" has swelled to 23 themed resorts, for a total of 22,358 places to rest your ear-adorned head.
Our room, a standard view with two queen beds, was roomy. So roomy, in fact, that even after spreading out luggage, souvenirs, and baby equipment (full-sized stroller, bottles, formula, spring water, diapers, and so on), we still had plenty of room to walk around. A daybed served as an extra luggage rack for us, but would have easily served as a very comfortable bed for a fifth person.
Bamboo mats hung over the two beds and ceiling fans turning lazily overhead added to the relaxing South Seas atmosphere. Our balcony, furnished with a small table and two chairs, was supposed to overlook a parking lot. I peeked outside expecting to see acres of cement. Instead, I saw trees, carved wooden posts and the monorail track. The cars were well camouflaged.