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New Orlando Lodging Pre- & Post-Cruise Options Debut

by Georgina Cruz

Trying to decide between the Caribbean and the South Seas for your vacation this year? With the opening of the first phase of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, along the Seven Seas Lagoon and on the Magic Kingdom monorail line at Disney World in Orlando, guests can have their (pineapple-upside-down) cake and eat it too! Before or after their Caribbean cruise from nearby Port Canaveral they can opt to be immersed in the ambiance of the South Seas for as long as they wish.

A Disney Vacation Club shared ownership property that is available to the public when members are not using it, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows feature 20 over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows reminiscent of similar accommodations in Bora Bora and other isles of French Polynesia, as well as 360 Deluxe Studio accommodations (the first phase of these opened on April 1 and will continue opening in phases throughout this summer).

My husband Humberto and I stayed at one of the Deluxe Studios Villas in late Aprilwe are not members of the Disney Vacation Cluband found it and the Bungalows (which are two-bedroom accommodations that might be fun to opt for during one of our three-generational family reunions in the future) are both imbued in their design and décor with the spirit of the South Pacific. We found our studio accommodations to be spaciousthey are the largest of this type of lodging at Walt Disney World, sleeping up to five guests eachand offer the flexibility of connecting to an adjacent room, a plus for families. Studios have tropical décor with striking prints inspired in the islands of the South Seas, bamboo-style fixtures, a whimsical hidden pull-down bed with decoration themed to “Lilo & Stitch” or the South Seas, and a split bathroom with tub/shower combination, toilet and basin in one side; shower with massage head and basin in the other. Nice touches include a mini-fridge, microwave and wet bar. Our studio, #2123, was a standard view category (just the grounds, not the Seven Seas Lagoon) and yet, we were able to see the nightly fireworks over the Magic Kingdom.

The exotic Bora Bora Bungalows, the first such accommodations ever created for Disney, offer two bedrooms and two baths and sleep up to eight guests. Amenities of the bungalows, that boast views of the Magic Kingdom Resort area, include island touches in the décor, full kitchen, flat panel televisions in the bedrooms, split bathrooms, washer and dryer, two hidden pull-down beds with playful artwork including Disney’s Electrical Water Pageant that can be seen nightly from the bungalows, and a private plunge pool on the back deck (for viewing of the nightly fireworks over the Magic Kingdom and also the Electrical Water Pageant). We have stayed at over-the-water bungalows in Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora, and those accommodations have a glass panel on the floor to see the lagoon bottom without getting wet from inside the bungalows; the bungalows at Disney World do not have glass on the floor, but they do have many windows including one even over the kitchen sink, plus sliding glass door and the deck for lagoon viewing.

Steps away are the amenities of the villas’ and bungalows’ newly re-imagined sister resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, one of the original lodging options when Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. Disney’s Polynesian Village now offers more dining and recreation as well as special touches: Arriving guests are greeted in the Great Ceremonial House with new island-themed décor and a dramatic chandelier with big and colorful glass lanterns. Other novelties include a large Tiki statue with arms outstretched in welcome, a newly redesigned Lava Pool with themed children’s water play area, the Kiki Tiki Splash Area, and an expanded deck. An enhanced supervised childcare option, Lilo’s Playhouse, allows parents to enjoy an evening by themselves, perhaps to get a big taste of the South Seas during the resort’s Spirit of Aloha Luau, with authentic Polynesian music, dances and food.

New dining locations at Disney’s Polynesian Village include Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, a tiki bar inspired on the popular lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, so filled with memorabilia (1,200 pieces) and special effects that it is more of an attraction than a lounge/dining venue. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto serves specialty cocktails in collectible mugs including one for the Nautilus cocktail that looks like one of the ships of the legendary park ride “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” and Polynesian small plates including such specialties as “Headhunter Sushi” and Hawaiian poke. Special effects include Uh Oa, the “goddess of disaster” when she is angry, and a “volcano” that erupts when certain drinks are ordered by patrons. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is intimateseating 50but there is additional seating in the patio with views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and fireworks and nightly Hawaiian-themed entertainment. Another not-to-be-missed treat is the nearby Pineapple Lanai that serves the yummy Dole Whip soft-serve treats and floats.

IF YOU GO – For information, visit

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