Disney’s Contemporary Resort vs Polynesian Resort: Which is Better?
Head to Head: Walt Disney World’s Original Two Deluxe Resorts
There’s a certain allure to staying in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, since this is where it all began at Walt Disney World back in 1971. For many years, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort were the only two choices you had to stay onsite (along with Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground nearby).
Whether you want to capture a sense of nostalgia or simply want to be close to the action of Disney’s Magic Kingdom Resort area, deciding between these two luxury Disney properties isn’t an easy choice.
Let’s take a closer look at which of these two historic Disney Resorts might be best for you.
On a pure cost basis going head-to-head for a standard studio accommodation, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is more expensive on a nightly rate basis. While prices can vary, expect to pay in the range of $100.00 more per night to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
So if cost is one of your major factors, the edge goes to Disney’s Contemporary Resort here.
Both of these properties are located on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop, making for convenient travel around the Seven Seas Lagoon area. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort also has one-stop boat access when travelling to the Magic Kingdom (two stops on the way back).
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is also within walking distance of the Epcot Monorail line at Disney’s Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). This is a definite plus that guests of other Resorts do not have.
On the other hand, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the only hotel from which you can walk to Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. I personally find this to be a big plus — equal to, if not greater than, the Polynesian’s foot access to the TTC.
If avoiding the exit crowds from the Magic Kingdom at the end of the night — the crowds that line up to catch a boat, bus or monorail — is important to you, then Disney’s Contemporary Resort may be your choice.
In addition, Disney’s Contemporary Resort overlooks Bay Lake on one side and Seven Seas Lagoon on the other. While it does not offer boat access to the Magic Kingdom, it does provide direct boat access to both Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge on the Bay Lake side.
When you add it all up, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are both in excellent locations and each has a compelling benefit not offered by any other Resort.
For these reasons, I will call this category a draw.
When it comes to onsite shops, these two properties are very similar.
Each has a boutique offering clothing, gifts, jewelry and souvenirs and each has a toy store/gift shop as well.
The edge here goes to Disney’s Contemporary Resort which has a separate third shop offering some groceries and sundries. While Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort does offer some of these items in a small shop connected to the toy store, it is not of the same size and stature ad what you will find at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
While this category is nearly a tie, Disney’s Contemporary Resort has a very slim edge when it comes to onsite shops.
Dining at each resort can be a great experience. They both have some great options and very popular restaurants that draw guests from beyond the Resorts themselves.
That said, this category clearly leans in the direction of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. With an upscale table service option in California Grill and a popular Character Dining option in Chef Mickey’s, Disney’s Contemporary Resort outmatches Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort when it comes to onsite restaurants.
‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a decent signature restaurant, but it is not of the same calibre as the table service offering at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Winner: Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
While Disney’s Contemporary Resort has a unique design (one that has stood the test of time and grown on me over the decades), it’s hard to imagine that anyone would say that it has a better or more inviting ambiance than Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Where Disney’s Contemporary Resort is rather neat and tidy in its design, the lush tropical ambiance of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is warm and inviting by contrast.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort welcomes guests with vibrant colours and tropical fragrances that immediately bring a smile to your face. By contrast, Disney’s Contemporary Resort feels more like a luxury urban hotel that really could be located almost anywhere. It is upscale and impressive, but ambiance is not its strong suit.
It’s pretty easy to give the nod to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for ambiance.
The Disney Factor
The Disney Factor is the factor that attempts to quantify just how Disney a Resort feels. While this is not always directly related to ambiance, in this case the Disney Factor does mirror the points made previously under ambiance.
Some would argue that Disney’s Contemporary Resort is an iconic design and that when you see it, you immediately say Walt Disney World. And while that is a fair statement, it just doesn’t translate into a feeling of being immersed in the Disney magic when you stay there.
The Aloha theme of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is reinforced in many aspects with Disney history and for this reason, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort takes the prize when it comes to the Disney Factor.
And the Winner is…
This battle really comes down to two very different types of Disney Deluxe Resort. Each property has its relative strengths and each will appeal to different types of guests for different reasons.
Guests seeking a highly themed Walt Disney World Deluxe Resort on the Magic Kingdom Monorail loop may prefer to try Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Whereas guests looking for modern conveniences in a luxury Disney setting within walking distance of Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park will opt for Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Learn More About Walt Disney World’s Deluxe Resort Properties
Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.
Listen each week to a new episode of the Daddy Daughter Disney Travel Podcast at 1923MainStreet.com.
Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™