The 1990's was a decade of change to the resort and its philosophy. A leader in this change was the General Manager Clyde Min (GM from 1995-1999) along with some other key cast members Stephen Hoel, Mary Cooper, and Shelley Randazzo. As the resort got some help from our Hawaiian friends to make it more authentic, this talanted group implement the Disney Management by Values-the Magic of Polynesia. With Dr. George Kanahele as a mentor, they would change the behavior of those who worked at the Polynesian. These changes to the resort and staff would bring the final ingredient to the Polynesian that would make it the jewel of Disney World and would bring the aloha spirit to the resort.
Some refurbishment was done to longhouses (#9 Oahu, #10 Moorea and #11 Pago Pago)
The suites in Bali Hai got a rehab also.
All the rooms got a new room design (design by Gary Whitney) including the suites that remained that design in the suites until 2005. A new lock system was installed on all the rooms and the housekeeping costumes were changed to go with the new design.
The Luau kitchen was changed to be a full kitchen and they added a green room for the entertainers.
Tangaroa Terrace closed in October 1991 but would reopen the next year.
Additional torches were added to the grounds to light up more of the paths.
Bell services and the front desk got new costumes.
Tangaora Terrace opened back up but would only stay open 4 more years before closing for good.
Captain Cook's, Second floor merchandise shops, Cast Cove and Barefoot bar were renoveted.
Papeete Bay Sunday Brunch ended.
Audio system was added to the resort grounds. Summer of this year, Regis Philbin hosted a pageant for Coppertone’s 40th anniversary on the beach of the Polynesian.
The Polynesian's concierge lounge has been located in the Great Ceremonial House since it was started in the early 1990's but in July of 1994 the Tonga (which is now Hawaii) longhouse had major modifications to add a concierge lounge and concierge desk area for Cast Members to check in guests and take care of any of their needs. Before this concierge service was offered for any lagoon view room at the resort and not just in one building. After this concierge will only be located in the Hawaii longhouse and Tonga that has always housed the suites. After this remodel the Hawaii longhouse became a secure building needing room key access.
Papeete Bay entertainment was canceled.
This is the year that Clyde Min would be hired as General Manager. Many of the best changes to the resort would happen while Mr. MIn was the GM. These changes were in the look and feel of the resort and in the attitude of the Staff. The idea was to get the staff to understand the Spirit of Aloha and how they could affect a guests experience every day.
The Polynesian's Papeete Bay Varandah became 'Ohana on April 12, 1995 with the world's largest fire pit. Soon after it became one of WDW's favorite restaurants (more info on food page).
The Great Ceremonial House roof got a rehab and the Luau show and menu was revised.
Bellmen got a new 2-way radio system
The children's theater was added in the lobby.
Starting in 1996 with Hawaii (now Samoa), Oahu (now Tokelau) and Pago Pago (now Rapa Nui) and ending in 1998 the Polynesian got a facelift. They completely refurbished all the rooms and added a little color to the outside of the longhouses. Everything in the room was gutted and replaced with new materials.
At this time the Polynesian Managment also had some of the staff at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel come over from Maui to help make the Polynesian more authentic. They wanted to make the Polynesian feel even more like sland life and the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel is called "the most Hawaiian hotel" by the locals. They removed the tile floor in the Great Ceremonial House and added slate. They also put in automatic doors.
They started what they called the "Magic of Polynesian" cultural awareness program.
This year they closed Snack Isle and expanded the arcade.
The Coral Isle Cafe closes and Tangaroa Terrace closes for good in October of 2006. During my last visit in August of 2006 I purchased some wine from Tangaroa Terrace that was from a winery on Maui that made the wine from pineapple.
Guest rooms in Tonga (now Hawaii), Bora Bora (now Niue), Maori (now Rarotonga) and Moorea (now Tahiti) were redesigned. These buildings also were repainted on the exterior.
Local Area Network was also installed in many of the buildings.
Security gates went in this year.
Tangaroa Terrace opened as a meeting facility.
This was something that was written about it from the Disney Archives
The Kukui Tree and the Kukui Lei
"Since 1959, the Candlenut tree, known more commonly as "kukui", has been the state tree of Hawai'i. It was selected because of its many incredible uses and the distinct beauty of the silvery-green foliage. It is often mentioned in Hawai'ian literature and is a cherished and valued tree found flourishing on the islands in Polynesia.
The kukui nut was used as medicine, dye, moisturizing cream, body oil and lotion, shampoo, food and light. The oil of the nut, being very high in essential oils, is excellent for the treatment of superficial burns, chapped skin and some minor diseases. A tradition for new born babies was to be bathed in this easily absorbed oil. The leaves of the kukui tree were used as poultice for swelling and infections.
The nut was also used for entertainment and adornment. Keikis (children) would make a top called a "Hu" out of the nut by putting a small bamboo stick through the hole. The one that spun the longest was the winner. The green outer covering of the nut and the root yielded a black dye that was used in making patterns on the kapa, or tapa, cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. The bark of the kukui tree produced a red dye also used for kapa cloth. The kukui flowers, leaves and nuts are used in making leis. In fact, it is the favored and cherished lei of the island of Moloka'i. Today, the kukui nut is still used in lei making, and various types of jewelry like necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and hair accessories. They of course look great with anything, but are most appropriate and suitable when wearing Aloha attire.
A spice called "'ina mona" is also made from the kernel of the kukui nut. This white, oily kernel was roasted, mashed and mixed with salt and chili peppers creating this relish spice. Hawai'ian fisherman would chew these kernels and then blow the pieces out to sea. The oil of the kernels would make the waters calm and clear so they could see the fish below. They would do this as they paddled in their canoes made from the trunk of the kukui tree. This oil was also used in polishing and waterproofing wooden bowls, and was put on the runners of the wooden holua sleds to make the sled go faster.
Hawai'ians would also use the kukui nut for light because of the oil. Torches made from placing nuts in a hollow piece of bamboo or in leaves on top of a pole were used to light pathways and homes. Candles or "kalikukui" were made by stringing the nuts on coconut midribs or slivers of bamboo. The keikis (children) were responsible for turning the candle so the next nut would light. Each kernel would burn for two to three minutes.
An old Hawai'ian belief was that a person should not plant a kukui tree near his house, but it was all right for a stranger to plant it for him. That stranger could plant it in the back of the house or "hale" but not in the front.
At Disney's Polynesian Resort, our kukui tree is located behind the Great Ceremonial House and in accordance with this legend, was planted by a hotel guest. The leadership team also wears a lei of black kukui nuts symbolizing our privilege and responsibility of lighting the way for our cast members in sharing the magic of Polynesia and the spirit of aloha with our guests and lifelong friends. It was planted on April 25, 1997."
Guest rooms in Tahiti (now Aotearoa), Fiji and Samoa (now Tuvalu) were redesigned. These buildings also were repainted on the exterior.
Other repairs and refurbishments were for the tiki tourches, Luau driveway, Training room, offices, Cast Communication Center and Executive offices.
Kona Cafe opens in the old location of Coral Isle Cafe. This was a major change to the food offerings at the Polynesian since the resort first opened. The look and feel changed to be more open air and the menu had many new items added to it. The menu would evolve over the years but one thing that has been offered at this location since the resort opened is Tonga Toast.
The Polynesian changed the names of its longhouses on October 28th. Here are the old and new names.