Reviews of Polynesian Bungalows (Disney Vacation Club)
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Reviewed by EleanorofAquitaine Review Date: 07/27/2015
Rating: (7) Recommended
This is long, but since no one has reviewed these here, yet, I figured I'd try to cover a lot. While Iâ€™m not usually an â€˜early adopter,â€™ the Polynesian has always been my favorite Disney resort, so I when I discovered my family of 4 adults could actually get a reservation for the new Bora Bora Bungalows for our summer trip to WDW, I could not resist. We decided to splurge for our three day stay. Was it worth it? Well, not at this time, I have to say, despite how beautiful the bungalows are and how nice some of the Polynesian cast members were as they worked to solve the problems that arose. There were a lot of positives but we had some real problems as well. I would recommend waiting until Disney has some of the bugs worked out before staying in the bungalows, and not staying during the peak season when the rates are at the top end of the range. (While these are DVC properties, we are not DVC members and paid regular rates.)
First, a few of the good things. These bungalows are beyond gorgeous. The master bathroom is fabulous. Thereâ€™s a television in the mirror! Thereâ€™s a huge, deep tub and a separate area for the toilet (in the regular room, but unfortunately not in the handicap-accessible room to which we were moved --- more on that below) But my favorite part was the shower. It had a glass front, a pebbled floor (which I loved but other family members said felt uncomfortable), and a waterfall showerhead in addition to a wand showerhead you could detach from the wall. It was a bit disconcerting to see that the showerhead in our first room appeared to have been repaired, as the ceiling dipped several inches around the showerhead in a way that the ceiling in our second room did not.
Both bedrooms are lovely, with a nice closet and a huge flat screen television. The master bedroom had a side door that led out to the side deck, where there are two fun hanging basket chairs. While the bungalows are listed as being able to sleep up to 8, many of them would have to be small children. We slept four in the two bedrooms and could have added one, maybe two in the main room (not sure if the couch is a sleeper or not, but there is a murphy bed there, too) But I would not want to have more than 4-5 people trying to stay there together.
The living room and kitchen area was roomy, but it would have been nice to have a more comfy armchair. The theming throughout the bungalow is gorgeous. The little bench outside by the front door and the wind chimes were a lovely touch as well.
Many have mentioned the boat noises all hours of the day and night, but that did not bother my family, even though our bungalow was near the end closest to the transportation hub to the MK. One son said he found it a tad bothersome in the night, but the rest of us didnâ€™t even notice. The noise inside the building was far, far worse (see below).
The best part--- location, location, location. Sitting in the plunge pool watching the fireworks over the castle, with the narration piped onto the deck, was the absolute best. And enjoying the early morning quiet on the water was another plus.
Now for the negatives:
There are some kinks that need to be worked out and some things that just take some getting used to. We started out in one bungalow and had to move the first night because the air conditioning was broken. When they checked out the air conditioning in the second bungalow, it was iffy as well, because the filter was very clogged, but it was manageable. (The air conditioning will kick off if you leave the sliding door to the deck open, btw, but we didnâ€™t do that.) We had to move late at night and they sent a fabulous cast member to help us. I think his name was Carlos--- should have written this sooner, because we all loved him and remembered his name while we were there, but now Iâ€™m blanking out. He and a manager named Alfredo saved our vacation with their attitude and concern.
Also, the plumbing is really loud and sounds like a plane is landing in the room. It is downright frightening the first time or two you hear it.
When you are having a bad time, as we were the first day, little things matter a lot. We discovered there was mold growing in our coffee pot. Housekeeping replaced it, but that was gross.
The control panels for lights, television, etc, are unnecessarily complicated. I just want to be able to flip a switch and turn on the lights. I donâ€™t really need to be able to choose between a half dozen lighting settings, or if I do, it should be an option, not something required just to turn on the light. It took us ages to be able to work the television, and you had to figure out that the remote needed to be pointed at a panel near the television, not the screen itself. And one silly thing--- if you are going to have tv in your bathroom mirror, which is cool, shouldn't it include all the channels the rest of the tv's have? Or at least one of the business channels? I can see keeping up with CNBC or Bloomberg while getting ready in the morning, but we couldn't do that.
The bungalows are supposed to be behind a locked gate, activated by your MagicBands (donâ€™t get me started on Magic Bands).
Iâ€™m not sure they have enough housekeeping to keep up, since the bungalows are DVC and may usually be filled with DVCers who donâ€™t get daily maid service. We are not DVC, so we got daily maid service, but there was one maid who seemed to be working alone and it took a while for her to get to all the rooms. In fact, the first day, we were frustrated as we waited for our bungalow to be ready in the first place. While my sons went to a park, my husband and I sat on a bench in the hot sun waiting for the text message to say the room was ready. We were in sight of the bungalows and noticed no one was cleaning any of them during most of the afternoon. Our room was finally ready after 3 pm, the stated check-in time.
That reminds me--- I have health issues and cannot walk far without stopping to rest. So I have gotten very familiar with all the bench locations at WDW. The Poly seems to have far fewer benches scattered around the property than it used to have, which made the walking very difficult for me, as the bungalows are a long walk from anywhere. It would be nice to have a bench along the long walk past the concierge building to the pool area and the dock, for example.
Finally, the cost. I do not mind spending ridiculous sums at Disney. I enjoy the deluxe resorts and sometimes stay on the club levels. BUT the pricing on the bungalows seems a bit high, even for those willing to splurge. Of course, the bungalows are going to be at the top end of the range, but when it rivals the King Kamahamaha Suite, thatâ€™s just silly. I hope that the prices drift down a few hundred dollars over the coming year, and that Disney gets a handle on some of the problems. When that happens, Iâ€™ll gladly bring my family back to the bungalows. In the meantime? I think weâ€™re back in Tuvalu next time we visit the Poly.
Disney Magic: Alfred and Carlos (?) made a huge difference in our experience. He said if we needed anything during our stay, just to call. So we did. We were dressed up to go to Victoria and Albertâ€™s for my birthday dinner and it was a very hot day. As I mentioned, I have a hard time walking and dreaded the long haul to the monorail. So I called to ask if he could get me a ride in one of those little carts the workers drive everywhere. He showed up personally driving one, and Carlos drove another so that our whole family could ride. Learning it was my birthday, they wound up not just driving us to the main building to catch the monorail, but all the way over to the Grand Floridian! And that night, when we returned to our room, there was a birthday surprise waiting for me--- cake and balloons.
Carlos really impressed us with his attitude as well. The first night, as things were going so wrong, my frustrated husband told Carlos he realized that the problems were not Carlosâ€™ fault and his frustration was not directed at the worker. Carlos corrected him, saying, â€œIf thereâ€™s a problem here, itâ€™s my problem, too. You arenâ€™t going to go home and say â€˜so-and-so gave us a bad roomâ€™ or â€œso-and-so didnâ€™t help us,â€ you are going to say DISNEY did it. And Iâ€™m part of Disney. So if you have a problem, I want to help fix it. What one person does reflects on all of us. Now thatâ€™s the Disney attitude I see less and less of these days. It was wonderful to meet him. Thank you, Alfredo and Carlos (?) for restoring my faith in WDW.