The Disney World Monorail Resorts are some of the best places to stay on property. There’s just something special about being so close to the Magic.
Staying at a Monorail Resort means having easy access to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the TTC via the monorail system’s loop. This is a luxury that totally changes the feel of a Disney vacation.
That level is convenience enough as it is, but the Monorail Resorts also happen to be three of Disney’s best resorts in general. The Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Contemporary all have that classic Walt Disney World charm.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the resorts. From themes to restaurants and activities, we’ve covered it all.
Which Disney World Resorts are on the Monorail Track?
The Disney World resorts on the monorail track include the Polynesian Village Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort, and the Contemporary Resort. The resort monorail stops at each of these resorts and also stops at Magic Kingdom and the Ticket and Transportation Center.
Are the Monorail Resorts Worth it?
Staying at a Monorail Resort is worth it if you have a comfortable budget and value the convenience of easy access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The Monorail Resorts will typically be more expensive than other Deluxe resorts, but they do add quite a bit of convenience.
Families with small children will especially enjoy the convenience of a resort on the monorail track. Strollers can be rolled right out of your resort room and onto the monorail. No more folding up strollers and packing them into a bus or into the trunk of your car.
Staying in a monorail resort also means that you have incredibly easy access to the other monorail resorts. Simply hop on the monorail and you’ll arrive at the next resort on the loop within minutes. It really can’t be overstated how cool this is. The amount of dining, shopping, and entertainment options are automatically tripled.
Overall, the monorail resorts are the properties most “connected” to Disney World. They are the resorts that do the best job of making you feel like you’re right in the middle of things. Magic Kingdom is a quick monorail ride away and Epcot is one monorail transfer away. Once you’ve experienced the convenience of having the two “big” parks connected to your resort via monorail, it can be hard to go back to staying anywhere else. It really streamlines a vacation and eliminates a ton of transportation stress.
The Polynesian Village Resort
Polynesian Resort Theme & Atmosphere
The Polynesian Village Resort has what is arguably the best overall resort theme at Disney World. The resort has a feel that is 50% Golden Age of Hawaii and 50% Golden Age of Disney. Everything is highly stylized yet classic and does a great job blending Disney features with a tropical island setting.
The Polynesian’s main building/lobby area is one of Disney World’s best. It houses a number of outstanding dining options, including fan-favorite ‘Ohana. The shops are also very good for a resort. There’s a lot of uniquely Polynesian merchandise along with plenty of standard Disney World items.
Outdoors, the Polynesian has awesome amenities and overall grounds. There are cool details all over the place, from tiki carvings to torches lighting all of the pathways. The main pool area is one of Disney World’s best, featuring a volcano water slide and a large splash zone.
The Polynesian Resort’s beaches are one of its biggest assets. You can’t beat the view of the Seven Seas Lagoon. The beaches are a great spot to relax or play during the daytime hours. In the evening, they’re one of the best places on the Disney World property to watch fireworks. Magic Kingdom is straight across the water from the resort and you’ll have a head-on view. Sunrises and sunsets at the Polynesian also shouldn’t be overlooked. They are beautiful and there are a number of good spots to view them.
The Polynesian Resort also makes quite a few appearances on our list of 110 Disney World Must-Do’s.
Polynesian Resort Dining
- ‘Ohana: ‘Ohana is one of the most popular restaurants at Disney World. For breakfast, it’s character dining with Lilo and Stitch. For dinner, it’s an all-you-can-eat Pan Asian feast. ‘Ohana is a particularly good spot for watching the nightly fireworks from the comfort of a table.
- Kona Cafe: Kona Cafe is one of my go-to Disney World resort restaurants. It’s a table-service Pan Asian restaurant right next door to ‘Ohana. It’s moderately priced and the food is always great.
- Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show: The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show is an evening event with live entertainment and food. The show includes Hawaiian storytelling, fire dancing, and other performances.
- Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto: Trader Sam’s is my favorite bar at Disney World. It’s an amazing tiki bar with crazy decorations, effects, and even some animatronics. The drinks are awesome and the bartenders are top-notch. The whole bar reacts to certain drink orders with effects and the bartenders get it on the fun. There’s no place like it.
- Captain Cook’s: Captain Cook’s is the Polynesian Resort’s 24-hour quick-service restaurant. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a good, reliable spot to find food (especially Tonga Toast for breakfast) at any hour.
- Tambu Lounge: Tambu Lounge is a simple lounge area connected to the entrance of ‘Ohana. It serves a variety of drinks like the popular Lapu Lapu (the pineapple drink). Food is also served all day.
- Oasis Bar & Grill: Oasis Bar & Grill is an outdoor poolside quick-service restaurant that serves a variety of simple entrees and cocktails.
- Barefoot Pool Lounge: The Barefoot Pool Lounge is a small pool bar in the resort’s main pool area.
- Pineapple Lanai: The Pineapple Lanai is a simple quick-service spot that serves the legendary Dole Whip. If you’re not familiar with the Dole Whip, drop everything and get one the moment you’re able to. It’s a soft-serve pineapple dessert that is famously served at Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Resort.
Polynesian Resort Final Thoughts
Overall, the Polynesian is really hard to beat. There are other resorts that may beat it in one area or another, but the Polynesian is extremely well-rounded with its great design, amenities, and rooms.
One of the Polynesian’s best qualities is the underlying sense of immersion it provides, which is hard to convey to guests who haven’t been there. The whole resort does an amazing job of immersion. Even though you’re right in the middle of Disney World, the Polynesian makes you feel like your somewhere else at the same time.
The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Grand Floridian Resort Theme & Atmosphere
The Grand Floridian is Disney World’s “Flagship Resort” and is easily the most extravagant of the Deluxe Resorts. The fancy Victorian design and ornate common areas make it totally different than most Disney properties.
As soon as you walk through the front doors and into the Grand Floridian’s lobby, you’ll realize that you’re not in a typical theme park hotel. There’s still a Disney vibe, but much of the Disney stylization is traded out for Victorian grandeur with marble floors, birdcage elevators, and massive glistening chandeliers. The main lobby also has some of the best resort entertainment. A pianist plays throughout the day. In the evening, the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra plays on the second level. Also, the Disney Princesses appear daily in the lobby for the Princess Promenade.
Dining options at the Grand Floridian are arguably the best at Disney World. There are a number of outstanding restaurants, from fine dining at AAA-Five Diamond Award-winning Victoria and Albert’s to more moderately priced meals at the charming Grand Floridian Cafe.
The outdoor areas at the Grand Floridian are top-notch. The landscaping is immaculate and the views are outstanding. The pool/splash areas are very nice, as is the beach. Everything feels very clean and “open” when compared to other resorts. The Magic Kingdom fireworks are visible from a handful of different spots on the property.
Grand Floridian Resort Dining
Victoria & Albert’s: Victoria and Albert’s is the crown jewel of Disney World fine-dining. It’s a AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant. It’s very good and it’s very expensive. An evening here is as much about the experience as it is the food.
1900 Park Fare: 1900 Park Fare is the Grand Floridian’s buffet-style character dining. Mary Poppins, Alice, Winnie the Pooh, and more are available during breakfast. Cinderella and Prince Charming are available during dinner.
Citrico’s: Citrico’s is a signature restaurant that features an American/Mediterranean menu. The food is very good.
Narcoossee’s: Narcoossee’s is a signature seafood restaurant located on the Grand Floridian’s waterfront. The food is excellent and the restaurant has some of the best waterfront views on Disney property. There’s a porch outdoors that’s perfect for watching the fireworks or the Electrical Water Pageant.
Grand Floridian Cafe: The Grand Floridian Cafe is a Moderate table-service restaurant that serves American cuisine. The food is good and the restaurant is a good value.
Garden View Tea Room: The Garden View Tea Room serves a traditional British tea. It offers a selection of small sandwiches, scones, pastries, and other desserts with your tea.
Gasparilla Island Grill: Gasparilla Island Grill is a 24-hour quick-service restaurant. It’s one of the best quick-service resort restaurants and has a good menu with plenty of entrees, snacks, and desserts.
The Enchanted Rose: The Enchanted Rose is the newest addition to the Grand Floridian’s main building, located on the second floor. It’s a full bar themed after the Beauty and the Beast live-action movie with beautiful French-inspired gold and blue decor and intricate pieces resembling furniture from the movie.
Beaches Pool Bar & Grill: Beaches is a simple gazebo pool bar with alcoholic drinks and small entrees and snacks.
Courtyard Pool Bar: Courtyard Pool Bar is a quick-service food and drink spot connected to the main pool area of the Grand Floridian.
Final Thoughts on the Grand Floridian Resort
The Grand Floridian may be the most expensive resort at Disney World, but it has a ton of amenities and a style that you won’t find anywhere else. The high prices do mean that resort itself can sometimes be divisive among Disney fans. Many love it for its refined Victorian style and countless resort perks. Others feel that it’s too stuffy or too expensive for what you get. Some folks don’t mind the price, but would simply prefer to stay in a resort that features more obvious Disney theming.
The Grand Floridian is especially well-suited for adult guests. We rank it toward the top on our list of Best Disney World Resorts for Adults. The resort is great for couples who want to be in the middle of Disney World without being constantly inundated with overt Disney themes. Not that there isn’t plenty of “Disney Magic” to go around at the Grand Floridian, it’s just not as in-your-face as of many other resorts.
It’s also worth saying that the Grand Floridian is spectacular during Christmastime. The lobby becomes what could be described as “Christmas Central”, complete with a multi-story Christmas tree and a life-sized gingerbread house that serves as a holiday treat kiosk. If you’re a Christmas fanatic, it’s hard to beat the Grand Floridian during this time of the year.
The Contemporary Resort
Contemporary Resort Theme & Atmosphere
The Contemporary Resort is quintessential Disney World. It’s iconic and has a modern, contemporary theme that ages well. Even though it’s less groundbreaking in the 2010’s than it was in 1971, it still does a good job blending Disney nostalgia with luxury. The rooms are especially good for a Deluxe Resort, even if they lack heavy theming.
Almost all of the resort is contained inside one massive a-frame building and the location is objectively amazing. The Contemporary’s uniqueness is evident the moment you walk inside and look up. Stories full of rooms tower over you, huge walls of glass go from floor to ceiling, shops and restaurants are laid out in the open. And, perhaps the most defining attribute of the Contemporary Resort is the monorail track that runs straight through the middle of the building.
There are so many ways to keep yourself occupied at the Contemporary without ever stepping foot outside. Every major common area is indoors. The restaurants here are especially good. Some of the best quick-service dining is available at Contempo Cafe and popular character dining is available at Chef Mickey’s. At the very top of the resort is California Grill, my favorite restaurant in Disney World.
The views afforded by the Contemporary Resort are unmatched. You absolutely will not find a better spot to look over Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon. There are observations decks around the resort that make it easy get a front row seat for sunrises, sunsets, and fireworks. The room views are equally amazing, especially if you choose a room with a view of Magic Kingdom. The Contemporary Resort is easily the top choice if you want a constant reminder that you’re in the middle of Disney “Magic”.
Even though the Contemporary Resort’s primary attraction is its large main building, its outdoor areas are impressive. The resort grounds are laid out well and the pool area is nice. The main pool isn’t anything overly exciting, but it’s still decent for a Deluxe Resort and has a good water slide. The beach area is adjacent to the pool and has a great backdrop of Bay Lake. The walking pathways from the resort make it easy to walk right into Magic Kingdom, which is an awesome feature that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Contemporary Resort Dining
California Grill: California Grill is a signature table-service restaurant at the top of the Contemporary. It’s my personal favorite Disney World restaurant. The food is outstanding and the views are breathtaking.
Chef Mickey’s: Chef Mickey’s is a character dining buffet featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. The food is decent, but the draw is definitely the atmosphere and characters. The restaurant is located in the middle of the resort’s main floor, so it has a good view of the monorail traveling through the building.
The Wave: The Wave is a very contemporary, stylish table-service restaurant on the bottom floor of the resort. It’s sometimes overlooked, but the food is always very good and reservations are usually fairly easy to find.
Contempo Cafe: Contempo Cafe is the Contemporary’s primary quick-service restaurant. It’s open 24-hours and has a large menu of entrees and snacks. Contempo is one of the best quick-service restaurants at Disney World.
Contemporary Grounds: Contempo Grounds is the resort’s coffee bar. It has a number of coffees, teas, and smoothies. Baked goods are also available, making it a good stop for a quick breakfast.
The Sand Bar: The Sand Bar is the Contemporary’s main pool bar. It serves a handful of lunch entrees and plenty of drinks.
Outer Rim: Outer Rim is a lounge inside Bay Lake Tower. It has a great view of Bay Lake.
Cove Bar: Cove Bar is Bay Lake Tower’s pool bar. Lots of drinks available on the large menu.
Final Thoughts on the Contemporary Resort
The Contemporary is always one of my favorite Disney World resorts, but for different reasons than others. It feels a little more like a modern, upscale hotel you’d find at any urban location when compared to most Disney World Deluxe Resorts. At the same time, the Contemporary’s location ensures that you always feel like you’re right in the heart of Disney.
The resort always feels busy, but not in a bad way. All of the resort’s common areas are concentrated, so you always feel some of the bustle of Disney. The monorail traveling through the middle of the building really amplifies the aesthetic.
Guests that prefer modern luxury over blatant Disney themes will really appreciate the Contemporary. It does a really good job of balancing the atmosphere of an uspcale hotel with just enough of the “Disney” touches to make it a complete experience.
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