Walt Disney World/WDW hotels
Brad, we are planning our second trip to WDW this summer. We have three boys ages 11, 8, and 5. We'd like a hotel on the monorail line due to convenience. Last time we stayed at the Contemporary in the Garden wing. We loved it, but it was a hike to the main lobby. This time we've narrowed our choices to the Contemporary, but in a tower room, or the Poly. In your experience, which one would provide a more exciting experience?
Also, is it worth it to upgrade to a room with a better view or not?
Well you have picked two of my favorite resorts there and you would be happy with either one of them but if I had to choose I think I might lean towards the Polynesian for a few reasons. First is convenience to the Epcot monorail which you can literally walk to from the Poly, and with the exciting new renovations to Test track I'm sure you'll be headed there at least once this trip. Second is the Volcano pool area which with it's volcano slide, waterfall and beach area I find to be more entertaining for kids (and adults too) than the contemporary. Plus with the torch lighting ceremony and the grounds themselves lit by torchlight at night just going back to your room each night can be an adventure. Finally you've already been to the Contemporary once and the rooms are for the most part identical in the tower as they are in the Garden wings except for the view of course. :-)
Now the question on the view upgrades, in the Poly I would say don't bother, if you want to view the Kingdom at night or the fireworks your much better off grabbing a lounge chair or hammock on the beach, they even pipe the music in by the pool area as well. Big savings and big fun. Remember the longhouses are all low rise buildings so paying for that theme park view does not guarantee an unobstructed view and many are not. For the contemporary you may want to consider it if you can afford to do so, basic rule of thumb in the tower is the higher up the better the view and the more you will pay all the way up to the concierge levels.
Overall for the 3 boys at that age I think the Polynesian will probably be more of an adventure and possibly more relaxing for you as well. It will definitely be cheaper for the room as opposed to one of the upper level tower view rooms at the Contemporary. You may have to hike to your room a bit just like you did last visit at the poly but if you tell your travel agent to request a room on the east side of the resort particularly Rappa Nui, Toke Lau, or Tahiti you will be closest to the bus station as well as midway between the TTC and Resort monorail stations and farthest away from the Spirit of Aloha Show. I book clients there all the time and they all love the easy access those 3 locations provide.