So, you’re planning a trip to Disney World, and you’ve narrowed it down between two of the most ICONIC Disney resorts in existence (you lucky, lucky person!).
Choosing between the Polynesian Village and the Yacht Club, is like choosing a favorite child, a favorite Disney cupcake, or between a Dole Whip or a Mickey Pretzel — there’s enough love to go around! But just like cupcakes and classic Disney snacks (and maybe your kids, too… only you know your family dynamic…), there’s a certain flavor that might just hit the spot for what you’re looking for.
There’s no doubt that Disney vacations are expensive, and no one wants buyer’s remorse when it comes to what can usually be the most EXPENSIVE part of your Disney trip. We’re approaching this chaos-agent of a decision with as much logic as possible, so we’re breaking it down into five categories:
- Common Ground
We’re putting each resort through these paces to see where they stand and which one may be speaking to you for your Disney trip.
Before we start down the rabbit hole into the Wonderland of their differences, let’s review the similarities of these resorts. These resorts are both Disney Deluxe Resorts, so they will be at a similar price point, with similar room sizes, and the same perks. They both have close proximity to the Disney Parks, and even within walking distance! And both offer Disney Vacation Club Villas as additional accommodations.
For the Polynesian Village, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $662 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $5,492 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit.
For the Yacht Club, that means that for the cheapest room at the cheapest time to visit, you can expect to pay around $537 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts), and it goes up to $3,877 per night (not accounting for any tax or current discounts) for the most expensive rooms at the most expensive time to visit.
Just like our ol’ Friend, Chandler Bing, would say, “Could these resorts BE any more different?” Both the Poly and the Yacht Club are Deluxe resorts and offer the poshest of Disney’s accommodations and perks, but that doesn’t mean they look the same!
The Polynesian celebrates tiki culture, and offers a nostalgic image of Pacific island vacations, but isn’t necessarily a literal representation of those environments. It’s filled with dark woods, tribal symbols, and tropical flowers. The Polynesian is one of Walt Disney World’s opening day hotels, it has a rich history, and a large following among Disney fans. It really does embrace its name of “village” as its layout is comprised of 11 longhouses plus the over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows, which branch out from the Great Ceremonial House.
All of the rooms have recently been renovated and updated with a Moana-inspired theme, and Kona Cafe, a table service restaurant in the Great Ceremonial House, has also recently reopened with a new look and refreshed menu. So even though this beauty is 50 years old, she’s gotten some TLC and looks better than ever!
But with renovations and updates comes construction, like over at the old Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show location, which is currently an active construction zone as it will be the site for a new DVC tower. Though it shares the same white sand beaches as the Grand Floridian, the island vibe here just makes them pop. Sunsets on the Poly beach are just superior to the other Disney World “beaches”.
Ahoy maties, straighten that ascot and slip on those boat shoes, you’re about to set sail into the Disney resort themed after the grand and sleek yachting clubs of New England. And no, Disney does not require that you own a yacht to stay here (phew, that’s one expense you won’t have to factor into your Disney trip!).
This resort makes “subtle” look good. It’s sleek, elegant, and streamlined — like, well, a yacht. If you’re visiting Disney World for a business conference, this hotel might just be the right speed for you as it encompasses a rather executive vibe to it. There are some very nice, and perfectly adequate furnishings, but the rooms themselves just don’t scream lavish.
Our favorite touch in these otherwise “character-less” rooms are the curtains that feature fictional constellations inspired by some of our favorite Disney pals.
The Yacht Club renovated and updated the rooms in 2017, for the more sophisticated appearance with dark woods, crisp whites and deep navy blues. They definitely don’t have the personality that you can find at the Contemporary and Polynesian. So, if you’re looking for a room with some “character,” the Yacht Club may not be your jam.
This could boil down to your preference. Are you looking for a casual, island theme and feeling welcome to wander through the lobby in bathing suits and flip-flops? Or do you want a sophisticated resort that feels like you should be sipping a cognac and lighting up a cigar? Both resorts deliver beautifully on their themes, but when it comes down to rooms, the Polynesian has the edge with having the most recently updated rooms with a bit more pizzazz.
Pools, splash pads, hot tubs, and lounge chairs, vacation just doesn’t feel complete without spending some time by the pool. Which of these resorts is the aquatic champion of water lounging? Only one way to find out…
The Polynesian’s whole vibe is stepping into a tropical oasis, so the pool game is strong with this one!
There are two pools at the Polynesian: the Lava Pool and the Oasis Pool. However, the Lava Pool is the showstopper here — because it’s a volcano! Ok, not a for-real volcano, obvi, but it has a waterslide from the top of the volcano’s peak, which is pretty epic.
Even if you’re not looking to swoosh down a volcano waterslide, the lounge area at these pools and the pool bars (which definitely enhance the atmosphere), the Barefoot Pool Bar, and the Oasis Bar & Grill. And Capt. Cook’s and Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace are also so close they could be considered pool area enhancements, too.
There are lots of drink options and plenty of food options for your day by the pool. You can even try a DFB Dole Whip drink hack that became a permanent menu item on the Barefoot Pool Bar menu!
The Yacht Club may be understated when it comes to its lobby and resort rooms, but it is not to be outdone in the pool category. Disney’s Yacht Club shares a pool complex with its neighboring resort, the Beach Club, Stormalong Bay.
Stormalong Bay is a destination on all its own. This pool complex is almost like its own mini-water park, with sand at the bottom and even a lazy river! So, your kiddos can take advantage of the ‘shipwrecked’ themed water slide, while you leisurely float around the lazy river, so just relax on of the many lounge chairs.
Stormalong Bay is also nestled in close to Beaches and Cream, an iconic ice cream shop, providing over-the-top milkshakes, sundaes, and comfort junk food essentials like burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Both have two pools, and both have pool bars, lounge chairs, and splash areas. Are you looking for adventure on a shipwrecked water slide or a cruise down a lazy river? Or something a bit more casual and with that island vibe? Seeking the pure wow factor with the Volcano and the proximity to Dole Whips? Or are you craving getting your toes in the sand and a deluxe ice cream sundae?
There’s no real loser in this category if you’ve found relaxation and joy, but our heart leans towards the Yacht Club, because that pool is just epic!
Because we are Disney FOOD Blog, we take food seriously. Very. Seriously. And we love it all. We love the cheap, comfort of plastic cheese, and we love the high-brow sophistication of a wine flight or a multi-course pre-fixe meal. We don’t discriminate; we are a lover of all foods. Since food is SO important, let’s see who these resorts stack up against each other in the restaurant category.
Polynesian Village has ten (10!) dining options, including lounges and pool bars (because those count!)!
Barefoot Pool Bar is the perfect place to grab a specialty cocktail to enjoy while lounging by the Lava Pool. Oasis Pool Bar & Grill serves up Polynesian-themed food and specialty cocktails to guests enjoying the Oasis Pool.
Captain Cook’s is a quick-service location, popular for being the place you can grab Tonga Toast for breakfast in the morning, and Island-inspired dishes like the Pulled Pork Nachos and Thai Coconut Meatballs for lunch and dinner.
The recently renovated and reopened Kona Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual setting. The sweet Tonga Toast makes breakfast at Kona is a guest favorite. Kona Island conveniently sits right off the second-floor monorail entrance. In the morning, this location serves Kona coffee and pastries, while at night, it becomes a sushi bar with cocktails.
‘Ohana has an oak wood fire pit that flavors the grilled meats served at an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal each evening. In the morning, Lilo and Stitch entertain guests during an Island-style character breakfast. Hawaiian side dishes complement each meal. Tambu Lounge is a relaxing bar where you can enjoy a drink prior to your dinner at ‘Ohana or Kona Cafe. The Lapu Lapu (a rum concoction served in a pineapple) is its claim to fame.
Pineapple Lanai is where you can find the famous Dole Whip! This is a Polynesian Village Resort claim to fame, as it was the first Disney World Resort where Dole Whip was served outside of the parks. The Polynesian remains the only Resort with its own spot dedicated to the treat.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a unique tiki bar located in the Great Ceremonial House, complete with an interactive room (elements react based on the ordering of certain drinks) and wacky hijinks from your servers, the Skippers! Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace is the more relaxed (but still entertaining) outdoor counterpart to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
Hurricane Hanna’s is a pool bar, tucked under the Stormalong Bay waterslide that provides fixes for your hunger without having to wander too far from the pool.
The Yacht Club is home to two lounges, one quick-service market, a table service option, and a Disney Signature dining restaurant. Not to mention its close proximity to Beach Club and all of those dining options.
An ideal spot to relax with a nightcap while winding down for the evening, or to grab a bite or two from their substantial appetizer menu, head over to Ale & Compass Lounge. The Ale & Compass Lounge is one part of the Ale & Compass dining concept at the Yacht Club, which also includes The Market at Ale & Compass and the Ale & Compass Restaurant.
Located right next to Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, the Crew’s Cup Lounge is a great place to get a bite and a drink in a relaxing, cozy atmosphere — and it’s a DFB favorite! In addition to specialty cocktails and a full bar, a robust food menu is served during evening hours as well, including a few full meals. During dinner hours at the Yachtsman, you’ll have a direct view through a glass window of steak being butchered for the steakhouse – so cool!
Ale & Compass Restaurant is the table service component of the Ale & Market dining concept in Disney’s Yacht Club, which also includes The Market at Ale & Compass along with the refreshed Ale & Compass Lounge. The atmosphere offers a gastropub ambiance while comfort food (New England-inspired) is featured on the menu. A la carte options for breakfast include classic American breakfast fare, with a few twists like the Dark Chocolate Waffle and Salted Caramel-Apple French Toast, and a pastry buffet option may be paired with your choice of entree. Casual lunch options include Fish & Chips, burgers, and more. Dinner offerings feature specialties like the New England Seafood Pot Pie and Pappardelle pasta dishes, among others.
The Market at Ale & Compass is a Counter Service location at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Simple convenience is the name of the game, with a focus on grab-and-go items. However, hot sandwiches, specialty desserts — and even a coffee bar — round out the options nicely. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, The Market at Ale & Compass is the quick service component of the Ale & Compass dining concept at the Yacht Club, which also includes the Ale & Compass Restaurant and the Ale & Compass Lounge.
Yachtsman Steakhouse comes highly recommended by any discerning carnivore. The steaks here are some of the best on property, and the service is often excellent. This craftsman-inspired dining room at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort caters to all tastebuds with a variety of dishes, incredible sides, and amazing, cut-in-house steaks.
It’s so hard to designate a clear winner for food — because we love it all! If you and your family love some more “unique” food, and options that vary away from the traditional comfort food of fried chicken, steak, seafood, burgers, and chicken nuggets, then the Polynesian might be your jam! All of its menus are influenced by island flavors, and though not bizarre or untraditional, you’ll definitely find some creative takes on your familiar favorites.
The Yacht Club really dances that line nicely with the Ale & Compass offerings, the cozy lounge at Crew’s Cup, and those amazing steaks at Yachtsman
Do these resorts offer anything different when it comes to transportation? Let’s see!!
Polynesian Village is on the Monorail loop. It’s the first stop after the Transportation & Ticketing Center (TTC) on the way to the Magic Kingdom. If Magic Kingdom is your destination, there is also a boat option to sail across Seven Seas Lagoon to the front steps of the Magic Kingdom. You can also get your steps in by strolling the walkway over to Magic Kingdom, but it’s not for the faint of heart as it is about a 20-25 minute walk.
If Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs is your destination, then you can board one of Disney’s busses to transport you over to these parks.
But if EPCOT is your park for the day, here is where the difference sets in. Because the Poly is so close to the Transportation & Ticketing Center, if you don’t mind a brief 5-10 minute walk, you can waltz over to the TTC and board a Monorail to whiz you off to EPCOT. This may give the Poly the edge over the Grand Floridian as it does provide relatively easy access to that EPCOT Monorail loop.
The Yacht Club is considered an “EPCOT-area” resort. It sits on Crescent Lake, next to Beach Club Resort, and across the lake from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. This resort is situated in between TWO Disney parks, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Yep, that’s right, you can walk or enjoy a relaxing boat ride on a Friendship Cruise boat to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
If Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs is your destination, then you can board one of Disney’s busses to transport you over to these parks.
And as if walkways, boats, and busses weren’t enough options for you, Yacht Club guests are also within walking distance of the EPCOT Skyliner station. This means you have easy access to the other Skyliner resorts if you want to go exploring other resorts or just have a relaxing cruise through the sky.
These neighboring resorts are pretty much a tie when it comes to transportation. They both have pretty quick access to TWO Disney parks, and have the options of busses, boats, and even direct walkways to help you get around.
The Polynesian is right on the Monorail loop, and the Yacht Club gives you access to the Skyliner, so they both have some unique offerings as well. It might just boil down to which parks do you plan to spend more time in, Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom?
So, who is the ultimate winner in the Polynesian vs. Yacht Club battle? We hate to say it, but it depends! The Polynesian may seem like a clear choice because of its theming and popularity with Disney fans. If the Yacht Club seemed like the clear choice to you, it is a great hotel, it has an awesome pool and is just a quick walk from EPCOT’s World Showcase. It’s up to you and your group to decide what makes the most sense for you using all that we talked about above.
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What do you think? Is Polynesian Village or Yacht Club Resort better? Let us know in the comments!
The post Polynesian Village vs. Yacht Club Disney World Resort Guide 2023 first appeared on the disney food blog.