2010 started out rough. It was a year of budget cuts, increase in cost and decrease in services. We also lost a big part of the Polynesian family. There will be some big announcements and the largest change to the property since the mid 80’s with not only another room renovation but the introduction of Disney Vacation Club.
Hawaii was closed for a while to do some painting and repair to the building.
The music around the grounds was replaced with different songs. Some of the songs are even played by past Cast Members of the luau who have Hawaiian music albums they have recorded.
Some carpentry work being done around the Great Ceremonial House
The signs at the Resort are getting an updated look. The lettering is changing to the new font. Instead of the original font of the resort from the beginning (Bauhaus) it is going to look like the sign shown here that is outside the Great Ceremonial House. I think the look is good but I miss the hand crafted carved signs that were originally made here in California by Oceanic Arts who still has some old reject signs from the Polynesian hanging around the store.
Tonga has gotten some new furniture such as couches and other soft furnishings.
Roofs have been refurbished at Aotearoa, Fiji, Tuvalu and Tonga.
The boardwalk work at the marina is completed. They replaced all the wood along the marina.
Plans and concepts for a new quiet pool are being presented and discussed. Dates to shut down the East Pool (aka quiet pool) are being posted and the plan was to redesign the pool to have a grotto feel with a zero entry and a spa. The dates keep changing and plans start to change also.
Originally planned for 2009, the Cabanas at the volcano pool were put off because of budget issues. In 2010 they finally built them at 3 locations around the pool. Two standard cabanas at the south east end and one Premium cabana on the beach where the structure for the hair wraps was located.
Cost was $100 for a half day or $185 for a full day. The time you will occupy the cabana is from 10 AM -2 PM, or 3 PM-7 PM for half day rentals and 10 AM -7 PM for full day.
A new computer system (Lilo) for check in will start to be introduced in October of this year.
Continued work to clean up rooms, building by building replacing hard goods, repairing things and touching up paint can be seen throughout the resort.
The low shower heads in the rooms are replaced with new shower heads that allow for a taller person to be able to get under the head without crouching down. This had been a complaint almost as much as not having a hot tub.
As I mentioned in the earlier history lesson, the East Pool (beter known as the quiet pool) was put in place of a putting green in the late 70s. The reson if earned the name quiet pool was because the pool at the beach was always more popular because of its location to the beach and bar as well as it having a slide. The kids were mostly over at the main pool while many adults found a nice and quiet place to relax at the East Pool. When the new Volcano pool was being constructed they installed a temporary slide at the East Pool but once the new pool opened it was a better destination for kids (especially smaller ones) because of the zero entry, the slide and it not being deep. The East Pool also does not have life guards.
Well the East Pool is going to change for the first time since it opened in 1978. I was told it is getting a complete makeover and it will include a zero entry section but plans changed to just make the pool shallow. Later I found out about concept art that showed a grotto with zero entry and a hot tub that might have been the plan for the East Pool and budget or other factors might have changed that plan. I may never know.
Photos thanks to Darrin Demshar and Denise Fales Preskitt (Mousesteps.com)
In April of this year an email went out to Cast Members to look for people that were at the Polynesian when it opened or who have been coming to the resort since the early years. They wanted them for a celebration that was going to take place at the resort for the 40th anniversary. The anniversary party was going to be on the official birthday of the resort, October 24. Later it was planned that something would happen on October 1 (the day the Polynesian really opened). Once October came, nothing was done on either day although I still have the email to prove there were plans.
Rumors were starting the beginning of this year about the Polynesian needing to be torn down because of asbestos and that Disney Vacation Club was going to be built. When it was originally posted I talked to those I knew at the Polynesian and they said the only part of that rumor they felt was true was the Great Ceremonial House had multiple issues including asbestos and something needed to be done. They were trying to figure out how to shut it down and relocate check in and have alternate places to eat. One suggestion was to move check in to the old arcade location next to the Neverland Club and open back up the Tangaroa Terrace along with the Luau to serve food all day.
The original rumor that was posted online was shot down as false and even a statement saying it was not from reliable information and it was dismissed.
Later on my trip in October There was quite a bit of information going around about major changes (article here with all the details http://www.tikimanpages.com/poly/news/item/112-change-is-in-the-wind )
Seems that the original rumor had some truth to it. Even I was convinced that the rumor I heard was false, I later believe that there are major things coming to the resort in the next few years.
The monorail to Epcot has already reduced its hours starting on July 11 and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom will start on August 1. Instead of operating an hour and a half past Extra Magic Hours it will shut down one hour after regular park hours. Extra busses from Epcot and additional boat service for the resorts around Seven Seas Lagoon will be used to transport the guests that are at parks after the monorail service is stopped.
My initial reaction was that this was another cutback to save money but it seems that the monorails are getting older, requiring more maintenance and are not being allowed enough down time. The fleet has also been reduced by one since the July 5, 2009 accident.
The rooms got a whole new look and all new amenities. They are going to be adding more to the lounge area also sometime next year.
Some maintenance is being done to exterior cosmetic items at Tuvalu and Fiji as well as the Marina is getting new ropes.
The year starts out with some major work being done to the Volcano pool to repaint the volcano and fix the slide.
New test rooms go into two of the longhouses to start work on the next room design.
They started pumping a scent into the Great Ceremonial House that some love and others hate, saying it takes away from the original smell of the Polynesian that brings back so many memories. The company Scent Air produces two smells for the Polynesian. One is green bamboo and the other is white tea and ginger.
The Room renovation starts with Hawaii longhouse in January 2013
The work to redesign the rooms was to begin in September of 2012 but was pushed out to the beginning of 2013. For the most part they stuck to the schedule. Some longhouse finished a few days late or early but others were off by a week or so. About half way through the redesign I was informed that the grand plans for Disney Vacation Club were scaled back. Instead of two phases with the first phase building a 5 story building over where Luau Cove is and bungalows off the Tahiti beach, and the second phase being another 5 story building, new pool with lazy river and conversion of Tahiti over to DVC, they decided to scale back. Rapa Nui and Tahiti were going to be converted and the bungalows would start to be built later in the year.
Once they started getting to the last longhouses the contractors for the room renovations packed up and left the property and by no surprise did not work on any of the rooms in Tahiti and Rapa Nui. There was no need to covert them when they would shortly close to become DVC.
Room renovations consisted of not only a new design to the room but a major redesign to the bathroom. It also removed remaining asbestos from the halls and an upgrade to their look.
Construction starts on the bungalows. Walls go up around Sunset Pointe, the beach at Tahiti, Rapa Nui and near Tokelau. The parking lot next to Rapa Nui is closed and torn up to be redesigned. This is also where the heavy equipment accesses the beach area to demolish Sunset Pointe and construct the DVC Bungalows.
The Year starts out with word of the Neverland Club closing later in January to be redesigned and a new theme. A new map for the Polynesian resort comes out to match a new app that will be used in the parks.
The pool was reported to close for resurfacing and adding in a fence in January. Later it was to close for a whole new redesign to the pool deck area and volcano structure. This later gets pushed off until May and again delayed until August.
Wyland Gallery closed and would not return to the newly redesigned lobby. This area will be opened up outside the Great Ceremonial House and become the sitting area for the new Pineapple Lanai.
Work on all the walkways around the resort will start this year to make them more ADA compatible. Interestingly enough, the original walkways were much more wheelchair friendly but a stone pattern was added in the 90s to make it look more natural.
Rapa Nui and Tahiti closed the end of February to be converted over to Disney Vacation Club rooms and their names will change back to what they were before the name change in 1999 to Moorea and Pago Pago.
A new path to walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center was added to go around the DVC construction area.
The Moana Mickey’s Arcade closed on March 31. There will be no arcade added back at the resort and this area of the Outrigger Assembly House will become the area for the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
The work to the Great Ceremonial House will start in March with Captain Cook's closing April 9th.
Captain Cook's location closed the afternoon of April 9 and will be in a temporary location down the hall towards the stairs that go up to 'Ohana. It will be in this temporary location until it reopens in Summer of 2015. The location will have a limited menu and only a few grab-n-go items. Drink selections were limited also and there are no Dole Whips at the temporary location. This location was open from 6:30 AM to 4:00 AM. The grill was open until 11:00 PM and pixxa will be available until 1:30 AM. Grab-n-go items were available any time during the open hours.
Menu items available at the temporary location were:
Kids breakfast: Oatmeal, Egg white scramble, scrambled eggs, kids french toast
Lunch and Dinner: Chicken Sandwich, Aloha Pork Sandwich, ANgus Bacon Cheeseburger, Thai Coconut Meatball Sandwich, Pork Nachos, Caesar Salad with chicken, Polynesian tossed salad, Chicken Teriyaki rice and vegetables, Thai Coconut meatball on rice, Fish with rice and vegetables (available 5-9 pm) THe Big Kahuna Sandwich with chips.
Kids Lunch and Dinner: Turkey sandwich, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chicken and pineapple skewers, fish with rice and vegetables, cheese burger, hot dog, chicken nuggets.
Flatbreads (cheese, pepperoni, Hawaiian or Flatbread of the day)
In March Tokelau closed and was added to the list of rooms that will be converted over to Disney Vacation Club studios. These rooms were renovated with the new room design but shortly after it was decided that they needed to have more DVC rooms.
May 2 Disney officially announced changes to the Polynesian Resort including the name change (that I mentioned the year before) back to Polynesian Village and showed concepts for the addition of Trader Sam’s, new sign and lobby changes. There was no mention at this time about DVC even though it was obvious.
May 16 the upper floors of the Great Ceremonial House started to get closed off for the removal of the water feature. Shortly after the lower level was also closed off.
Letters go out to guests telling them of the Nanea pool closure and the offer of free access to a waterpark while the pool is closed.
We are thrilled you have chosen to be our Guest at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Walt Disney once spoke of how his creations would never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world. It is in this spirit that we have embarked on one of the largest and most exciting updates in our history! In preparation for your upcoming stay, we wanted to make you aware of some renovations that will be taking place during your visit.
• In the Great Ceremonial House, we are revamping several areas including the lobby. In order to make your check-in experience more efficient, we encourage you to participate in Online Check-In by visiting MyDisneyExperience.com and providing us with information that will allow us to prepare for your arrival.
• Capt. Cook’s, our Quick-Service restaurant, is temporarily relocated in the Great Ceremonial House with a modified menu. We look forward to continuing to serve you savory flavors of the South Seas from 6:30am- 4:00am daily.
• We anticipate the Nanea Volcano Pool and Slide to close for enhancement in late July through early 2015. Should you find the pool unavailable during your stay, one complimentary ticket to Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, our watery winter wonderland featuring waterslides, a wave pool, water play areas for the kids and more, will be given to each member of your party. To ensure you have a seamless visit to the Park, we will provide transportation to a dedicated check-in at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park where you will receive your complimentary tickets and towels.
Rest assured, while we work our magic, much of our white-sand beach and many of our exceptional amenities, including shops, dining experiences and marina featuring recreational activities will continue to be open for your enjoyment. In addition, boat transportation to Magic Kingdom® Park will be available for your convenience.
We appreciate your patience and understanding during these exciting times. While you may experience our “work in progress,” please know that we are making every effort to ensure your visit is comfortable and magical.
If you need assistance with your reservation, please contact your original booking agent listed on your confirmation letter. If you booked your stay through Walt Disney World Resort or have general questions, please call 888-939-7376 and one of our Cast Members would be happy to assist you.
We eagerly await your arrival and wish you a truly magical stay!”
May 16 Samoa and Niue closed all the rooms facing the Nanea Pool side for work to start on the pool area.
June the Neverland Club reopened as Club Disney with a new sign, theme and activities.
Test rooms are in over at Rapa Nui for the new DVC studios.
May 28th was the last day people could still see the waterfall. After that it was completely closed off to later be removed.
July The doors out the back (north side) of the Great Ceremonial House are blocked off.
July 4 Shave Ice is added to the Kona Island.
July 28 The Nanea Volcano pool is open for the last time. The East pool gets a temporary bar to service guests with the Barefoot Bar closed over at the Nanea pool.
August 13 Captain Cook’s reopens with a new look and some new menu items. Part of the change was to remove the touch screen ordering system that went in during the last renovation.
August The Pineapple Lanai opened up to serve Dole Whips at its own location and no longer offers self-serve.
September The old Trader Jacks and Samoa Snacks reopened as Moana Mercantile.
The old sign out in front of the resort was removed and the new sign was unveiled to reflect the new name.
October Some of the items were shown for the new Trader Sam’s at a private event at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel called Mahaloween.
November The new Magical Express driveway was completed.
The tiki at the corner of Boutiki was replaced with a DVC kiosk across from a new DVC office inside the Great Ceremonial House.
November 20 the new front desk was unveiled and the old temporary front desk was closed off.
The new Club Disney kids club changed its name to Lilo’s Playhouse.
The Polynesian General Manager (Norm Noble) when from GM of both the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian to GM of the Polynesian exclusively.
December The walls came down and the new lobby was reopened.
DVC and details about the Polynesian DVC were announced