Disney's Polynesian Resort
Commanding an enviable position on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and a short boat ride from the Magic Kingdom’s front gates, the South Seas–inflected Polynesian is a circa-1971 Disney original. It connects via monorail to the Magic Kingdom in two stops; to Epcot in six. Its top kid-centric attraction is the three-story waterslide down a steaming faux volcano, and it’s also the only hotel on the monorail with a specialized kids’ area. The 847 island-themed rooms, in longhouse-style buildings, have darker, handcrafted wood furniture. The white-sand beach, within view of Cinderella Castle, is a popular sunbathing spot by day and provides a front-row view of the Electric Water Pageant (a parade of illuminated floats) by night.
Tip: Terraces leave ground-level rooms vulnerable to theft.
Room to Book: Tuvalu, Tahiti, and Hawaii longhouse rooms are most likely to have water views; lagoon-facing rooms have views of the water parade.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.