We have a very special treat today. A good friend of mine, Joe Shulz from, Illinois had the chance to view the all new Polynesian Bungalows. He did this wonderful write up on his thoughts. Please note, this is written from a Disney Vacation Club Member’s perspective.
Take it away, Joe!
As I write this, we are staying in a one bedroom at the Grand Floridian Villas. It is a big step up from the older DVC rooms. If the older DVC resorts are a Chevrolet, this would be a Cadillac. They moved away from the whirlpool tubs (which many think are gross because the prior guests used water sits in the jets waiting for you to turn them on) to air jet tubs, they replaced the nondescript appliances with Bosch appliances, and the layout is the most functional we’ve seen for a family to use. The whirlpool tub with the shutters opening into the master bedroom have gone away to be replaced with a TV built into the mirror in the bathroom with the air jet tub. There’s also upgrades like tray ceilings and crown moulding. In fact, this really shows the potential of what DVC could do when refurbishing the older resorts.
GFV and PVR fall into the Luxury class. This is true both in amenities and in price. Starting with GFV, you get the double whammy: Higher prices for points and more points required per night. For the point cost of our one bedroom at GFV, we could’ve stayed in a two bedroom at most other DVC resorts on property at WDW.
On to the Polynesian Bungalows. First, there is a huge “wow” factor in staying in your own private dwelling on the water. Second, all the upgrades from the GFV have been translated to the bungalows. Large TVs, better appliances, multiple bathrooms, etc. This really is luxury. In fact, you’re in a mini-gated community. Only those staying in the bungalows can access the boardwalk which connects them together. The materials used are great and convey a rich and upscale feel to the villa. For those who have not seen the floor plan, keep in mind these do not have the gigantic footprint of the Grand Villas but are really a two bedroom house in a space-efficient layout. While the points needed to stay in these may exceed some of the Grand Villas at other resorts, these are very exclusive accommodations with only 20 available plus the fact they’re all on display for others to envy. In fact, they can envy you sitting on the deck every night watching the fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle with piped in audio.
So what’s the downside of the Bungalows? Well if you’re familiar with the resort, you’ll know that it’s really a bunch of separate buildings, so if the weather is bad then you have to endure it all the way to the Ceremonial House to catch the transportation options (or to the TTC). The Bungalows are not immune to this. Over at the GFV, we have a covered walkway from the main building to the resort. In fact, several of the DVC “add-ons” to the deluxe resorts have this feature. At the bungalows, you better bring your rain ponchos. Another downside is that you will be on display and have other guests watching you. However, if you’re paying a premium to stay here, then you’re probably posting pictures of you enjoying the building on facebook every few minutes (“here I am opening the fridge, hey is that the castle”, “here I am sitting on the deck in my mini pool, wow are those fireworks”, etc.)
As with any DVC resort room, the final question is how many will it sleep. Here’s the rundown for the bungalow. The living room features a pull out couch that could sleep 2 plus the murphy bed under the TV to sleep 1 more. The master bedroom will sleep 2 in the bed. The second bedroom will sleep 2 in the bed plus has a murphy bed to sleep 1 more. So this gives you 8 people. I took a couple afternoon naps on the murphy bed at the GFV while our toddler napped in our room. The murphy bed was comfortable and supported the weight of a grown adult just fine. I am just under 6 feet tall and the bed’s length was fine but probably wouldn’t be good for those over 6 feet. Really in the bungalow the only marginal sleeping spot would be the pull out couch, but it’d be great for two kids.
What’s the value proposition? For those of us who go WDW often, we’re always looking for unique things that’ll make each trip a little different. This is why we’ve stayed at so many of the DVC resorts. It’s not that we don’t like our home resort, in fact, we still love it. It’s that we like the option to try something different, especially when it really does not cost us any more. At some point, we probably will try a bungalow (depending on availability at the 7-month window). We’ve been able to get the other resorts at the 7-month window, so we’ll see how this works out. We may also wait until our youngest child is out of the stroller stage. In addition, people new to DVC only know what the current prices are for points, so for them it may not be as much of shock to pony up for a weeks worth of points at the bungalow. The challenge for those of us who’ve been in DVC for a long time, we paid about one-third the list price per point and can’t get our heads around paying so much more. It’s a mixed bag but Disney knows that there are a lot of people around the would with a lot of disposable income and they also know there’s a lot of Disney fanatics who’d sell a kidney to buy DVC points. I haven’t confirmed this but I understand that DVC is selling fixed weeks for the bungalows. This arrangement would limit the possibility of getting a unit at your 7-month window depending on the number of fixed weeks sold during the time you like to vacation at WDW. If you just need a DVC room to sleep 8, then there are better options. But if you are planning a special vacation, then these would be very memorable and never mistaken in your mind for one of the other resorts.
Overall, I think DVC/DVD has done an awesome job creating a unique product with the bungalows. Every time someone takes a boat across the Seven Seas Lagoon, they’ll be wondering how they get to stay in those cool buildings out on the water. In fact, they’ll probably be the second most desirable place to stay on property, only being beat out by the Castle Suite. The bottom line is would I spend my points to stay there? Most likely I will.
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