We recently returned from a stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the first since the rooms were renovated. And we were impressed! Overall, we thought that the new designs and features of the rooms offered maximum space, greater usability of the bathroom, more versatility, updated amenities and more storage space. (And even the soundproofing seemed much improved!)
My wife and I went with our daughter, son-in-law and 3 granddaughters: 2 people in one room, 5 people in another. We had adjoining rooms, which were identical except for one thing: our bathroom had a bathtub with a large shower head / hand accessory; theirs had an outdoor shower.
You have seen all the pictures of the decoration of the new room: Moana, Maui and Heihei play a role.
But what about functionality? I hadn’t read any article that told me about the little things – the things I care about while packing. My list of worries includes: how much closet space is there? How many drawers are there? Do I have to carry a multi-port plug to be able to charge two watches, two phones and two iPads at the same time? You know, stuff like that. Little things most of my friends don’t think about, let alone care about.
And while there are plenty of pictures online everywhere (included here), how was it really to stay in the room and LIVE with the updates for a week?
Well, when we arrived, I’ll tell you: we were pleasantly surprised by the answers to all these questions.
The old design had two closets with two doors each opening. One had the luggage rack, the other had 3 shelves, the safe and iron, and a high shelf with extra bedding.
The new layout has three closet doors: two are soft-closing with lights that turn on automatically when you open them and turn off when they close, and one that opens.
From left to right in our room, the first door (open it) houses five shelves (the safe is located in one). The second door opens and houses a high shelf with extra bedding for the rollaway bed, a hanging bar and two deep drawers underneath. The third door opens and has another high shelf, a hanging bar for longer items, a luggage rack and some space at the bottom for shoes. Without real measures to compare old and new, it’s hard to tell if closet space has shrunk. But we didn’t think so. While the linear footage may have shrunk a bit, in our opinion absolutely nothing was lost. In addition, we found the wider drawers very useful.
The old cafeteria had a coffee maker on a counter with a mini-fridge and a small shelf and two drawers side by side, all hidden by two closet doors. The new cafeteria has a practical top shelf, coffee maker counter, a drawer under the counter and a mini fridge with a glass door underneath. For our money, no counter space was wasted and additional useful drawer space was gained and welcome.
The old “bureau” had six drawers: two on the other side and three below; ample counter space and TV upstairs. The drawers were not very wide, which made us less useful. The new “bureau” has three drawers as wide as the counter. Much more useful than the old design in our opinion.
Now, for those of you who are still with me, this is where things get interesting!
The new rooms have 8 USB ports integrated in the points of sale; in addition, there are four USB-C ports (if I didn’t miss any). No need to carry my multiport plug. Very grateful and I wish I had known this soon! All ports are placed in excellent locations: next to the bedside tables and under the TV in the office.
Speaking of bedside tables, the old middle bedside table had a drawer and a two-door closet. The new one is essentially the same (including the Gideon Bible). But the old one had a clock radio, while in the new room there is none, because with smartphones, who already uses one?
Another big improvement: the “benches” at the foot of each bed. The extra seats provided were easily moved to create a conversation area and were a great place to store your shoes after a long day in the parks.
And another big improvement: the beds are on raised platforms, which means you can put your suitcases underneath instead of putting them in a corner; this maximizes available / usable space. And because, at 415 square feet, the Poly already has some of WDW’s largest rooms, this is a BIG advantage for larger families like our daughter’s. Even with the sofa turned into a bed, our daughter’s family never felt full in her room.
The sofa offers seating for 3, two can fit comfortably on each bench, one person can sit in the corner chair, another in the ottoman, and one of our grandchildren even used the smaller of the two room tables as a stool. Versatile seats, if ever!
And one more big improvement: the pavement. It is now a luxury vinyl sheet instead of carpeted, a welcome upgrade from a cleaning standpoint.
I didn’t mention the best thing about the bathroom! It now has a pocket door that helps maximize usable space. The toilet has been moved to its own closet with an automatic on / off fan, a towel bar and shelves in front of the “throne”. This new design allows two people to take advantage of the facilities with greater privacy for both. Also new: a magnifying glass illuminated on the wall and a soft night light integrated into the bathroom wall switch. The new shower has sliding glass door closures, a big improvement over the old tub with its shower curtain.
Besides the clock, was anything else lost in the remodel?
Countertop space in the bathroom. The old bathroom had an expansive counter with two sinks, two towels in front and two large lighted mirrors. Although the new design retains two sinks, towels were lost, countertop space was reduced, and a narrow but long shelf was added above the main countertop. Several narrow shelves were added under the counter. The change was necessary to make room for the new separate bathroom closet, which would change for any day.
We found missing hooks on the door. We didn’t know where hooks for gowns or towels could be placed, especially considering the new pocket doors, but we missed them.
Also lost: the desk area with a small “table”. It was replaced by two tables of “mushrooms” of different sizes that sit next to the sliding glass door of the balcony (one of which can serve as a stool).
Big loss? We didn’t think so.
Overall, the improvements were spectacular. And we can’t wait to stay again.
What do you think of the Polynesian room renovations? Let us know in the comments.