Bringing you up to speed
We are about 9 months into the 21 month long renovation of the Polynesian Village Resort (if you don’t count the 8 months before that of renovating the rooms to the new design. On the Disney Vacation Club side of things we have seen a lot of progress. This is mostly because other projects that were to start in the beginning of 2014 were pushed off to concentrate more on Disney Vacation Club. While Disney Vacation Club is targeted to be complete earlier than first projected (end of 2014 instead of late 2015), there have not been a lot of details about the bungalows or the studios. Some Jacuzzi tubs have been seen out near Rapa Nui and also installed in the bungalows. Other new details are that each deck of the 20 bungalows will have a plunge pool that you can sit in and relax while watching the lagoon. Before they closed off Rapa Nui there were a few test rooms in the longhouse to test out things for the bungalows. Since these rooms are not the same layout as the bungalows they will not represent the form or size of the bungalows but they were used to see how some of the items will look. Also these photos are of rooms that were not completed so things like mirrors and other decorations were not installed yet. You can see the photos on my DVC page.
With Disney Vacation Club construction in full swing, other projects around the resort are getting a late start. The schedule to have all things completed in the Great Ceremonial House was going to be the second week of December but that was also when it was scheduled to start in March. Things did not start until April and the walls going up around the waterfall did not start until mid May. May 28th was the last day you could still see the waterfall. Overnight they added the last section of wall blocking off the waterfall. Along with closing off the waterfall the wall closes off the area where the kids activities and movies was located just inside the entrance. As I discussed a few months ago, this area will be the temporary check in. Once the temporary check in
As the paths around the rest of the resort are torn up to be replaced, some rerouting of traffic is happening. The paths at the east end of Rarotonga and next to the Kids club are closed off. While this is happening they have had to create a unique exit on that end of Rarotonga. They changed the stairway from the upper floors to go toward the pool side of the longhouse. This leads to a path across the grass. Access to the bus stop and laundry will have to be done from the main path out near the drive into the resort. If you are on the first floor of Rarotonga and want to exit the east end you have to walk through room 1814 that has been cleared out (furniture can be found on Ownthemagic.com).
The path over to the Transportation and Ticket Center will be closed off due to construction in that part of the resort. To access the Transportation and Ticket Center you will have to take another route that is towards the parking lot of the Polynesian, so you will still be able to walk over to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
Once the Nanea pool closes at the end of July to be renovated, getting around the resort will be difficult. For those in west side longhouses (Fiji, Aotearoa and Tuvalu) will be the most affected. I believe there will be access to the dock and boat launch but to get to the other side of the resort or pool you will have to go through the maze inside the Great Ceremonial House. This will also be a problem for people in the east side longhouse to get to the boat to the Magic Kingdom. There will be a lot less people on the east side with only Hawaii, Rarotonga, half of Samoa and half of Niue open. Construction is expected to close off everything from the Great Ceremonial House out to the beach. Once the Nanea pool reopens in late March 2014 it was described to me that it will be gated all the way around the pool deck and close off that section of beach. The pool bar will have access to people outside the gate on one side but the rest of the bar will be inside the gate that you will need a room key to access. Once the Nanea pool is done the East pool will close to be redesigned with a bar and grill added. For more details on changes coming, you can read my last article.
I'm sure by the time I submit this article more things will have happened but you can check out my Facebook page for that. Just do a search for "Tikiman"
Just between you and me
This process of renovating the Polynesian is not even half way over and it has been difficult for many of us so I thought I would write up some commentary. It’s my web site so I can do that…HA! This is just between me and the 12 of you who actually read my articles. Yes I know I am not the best writer out there. I would not even get top honors in the writing category of people who have a web site about the Polynesian with the name “Tikiman” in the title but I try and get the information out there. Notice I did not call my site a Blog. My site has been around since 1999 and in 1999 there were no Blogs, there were web pages. Now that we cleared that up, let’s get back to my rant.
I obviously have a passion for documenting the history and current events at the Polynesian. While I don’t think Disney did their best with every change that is going to happen or has happened, I think they took the budget they were allowed and came up with some nice additions to the resort. With the information I have I may be able to picture what is coming better than some but even so, there are things I need to wait and see completed before I pass judgment on them.
We all know that the three major changes are Disney Vacation Club, Great Ceremonial House changes and the re-theming of the pool area. All of these types of changes and expansions are things the resort has gone through in the past and survived so I have no worries that guests will still be filling these rooms when all the dust settles but let’s look at these a little closer.
Disney Vacation Club is taking over more than 40% of the resort. It is also taking out all the larger rooms that were offered at the resort and some of the best views and locations. Tahiti ranked #1 outside of Hawaii for Theme park and Lagoon view rooms and Tokelau ranked #1 for Standard View rooms. Who ranked them…..me. Rapa Nui was not a big loss. While it was a nice enough location (I stayed in one of its rooms once) it had some rooms with the worst view looking directly at the parking lot. Now those DVC rooms on its east side will be even closer to the cars with the redesign of the parking lot bringing the cars right up to your patio. So what is the good news? Well DVC rooms going in will give new room categories to stay in and I think once they are done you will be surprised at what they do with the floor plan. These will be the largest single rooms in the DVC collection outside the Grand Villas. For me and my family, looking at purchasing DVC maybe our only way to keep affording to stay at the Polynesian. I am sure we are not alone in that. There are other amenities going into the resort for all to enjoy that I don’t believe would have ever happened if they had not been adding DVC.
Some of the changes that will happen that I think can be attributed to addition of DVC would be things happening at the pool. Finally adding the hot tub I think had something to do with getting DVC. For sure the changes that will happen to the East Pool (we can stop calling it quiet once this is done) have something to do with DVC going in. The expansion of the pool deck was just a necessity since I don’t see much of an effect on increased numbers due to DVC adding on 20 bungalows. Also with the pool being gated off I think that will cut down on quite a few people using the facilities who are not staying there. I love the Polynesian but when I am not staying at that resort I have no problem being blocked from parking there or using parts of the resort. I'm sure if the club lounge was not behind locked doors but you were told you were not allowed to enter, people would be flooding in there. Since people don't like to follow rules they need to lock things up.
The addition of the new kids wet play area I think was to keep up with the other DVC resorts that have them. I think when the pools are both done they will have much more to offer and more room to offer it in. I still have to wait and see what I think of the new area going in outside the back doors to the Great Ceremonial House. This is where they are clearing out the area to make a new area to have torch lighting, hula lessons, movies and camp fire. Yes the new fire pit is coming out and a new one is going in over in the new area. My guess is they are moving that stuff over to the other side of where access to the beach and pool will be gated off. The movies and camp fire are described as offered to any Disney Resort guest but the pool and beach are described as for Polynesian Resort Guests only. This will allow people to access these amenities without having to use a room key.
Now the most controversial change right now is the work that has started in the Great Ceremonial House. I love the water fall, I will miss the water fall but as I talked about before I agree with the reasons that Disney has for removing it. Even if I did not agree I am not going to waste my time or have sleepless nights over them changing things. I totally understand people being upset and voicing their displeasure but at some point you need to just deal with it and move on. The lobby will be different but different can be good. Not Tikiroom Under New Management different, just different. There won’t be an animatronic Iago perched in the corner where the Macaws once were but for some people the change is that devastating. I guess the tiki goddess from the Tikiroom did make it into Trader Sam’s but let’s not go there. There will be some things added to the new lobby and especially the front entrance that will be great additions so all I can say is be patient. You will have a new spot to take your family photos. Part of the change will be coming into the resort and how it looks on the drive in. With LL Cool J ringing in my head…DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK, but it is. The Polynesian once again will be called Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (as I first mentioned in September 2013) and with that name change brings a new sign to the entry but I am told that the current sign will be reimagined into something else at the resort. Notice I did not call it the old sign because the old sign did say Polynesian Village.
I have been putting off saying much of anything but I set up my Facebook page for my Tikiman Pages site so I could post news quicker than you waiting for me to write and submit an article on my site. I also wanted people to contribute photos, information, reviews and just be able to comment. For the longest time it was under 2000 likes and in the last year or so it has gone past 8000. I think it is great to reach more people but I think some of the people that fill the message forums have come on over to just create chaos, rant and put down Disney or anyone who disagree with them. I have not gotten to the point of deleting posts (unless adult language is used) because I don’t want to censor people out of the discussion. I want us all to know the good and the bad and feel free to share opinions (hopefully not at the expense of others feelings). I would ask that we use a little bit better judgment. Some of the posts from adults sound like whiny little kids or like they are just trying to put down other people who post an opinion. Most of the time I hope people are joking because some of the postings are just ridiculous. I think we need to try and write the way we would speak if we were in a room with these people face to face. Have some respect for others. I know some of the things posted get me upset but I just move onto the next post. If anything the stuff people write lets others know what type of person they are.
I will tell you I am not a fan of how many people are treating DVC members as some other class of citizen. They are people that love to travel to Disney just like most of us and what is happening to the resort is not their fault. Other things I am noticing are the same people responding in almost every posting with the same negative comment, even if it is off topic. We get it that you are angry at Disney for the changes but we don’t need to read it in 50 different places. I know Disney reads my site and Facebook but honestly they are not going to change their minds no matter what you say on my page so let’s not turn every posting into a rant. It’s not my fault they are doing these things either so can we not make my page a negative or hostile place to come and share stuff about the Polynesian? This does not mean I don’t want people to share negative feelings but use better judgment about where you post it, what you say and how often you keep saying the same thing.
We also have to understand that working at the Polynesian during all this may be the toughest time it has ever been to work there. Be mindful of this when you visit the resort. NO ONE at the resort including the managers onsite are responsible for the changes, closures, disruption or lack of communication to guests about what to expect during their visits. These things are decided outside the Polynesian. I believe even the notifications signed by the GM are written and approved outside of the resort. If you were not notified of what to expect at the resort for your stay it is not appropriate to take that anger out on someone at the resort. They had no part in making that decision. Put yourself in their shoes behind the desk before you start screaming at them. Some of the hostility being directed at Cast Members at the resort have caused them to leave or consider leaving. This affects their whole life, the affects to you are just a vacation. I also want people to consider still enjoying the restaurants at the resort. The people that work there don’t make huge salaries and they depend on tips to pay their bills. If you cancel your reservation because of some walls up in the lobby, you are missing out on a good meal and supporting those people so they can continue to work and pay bills. They need your support more than ever before. Taking it out on them will not send a message to the part of Disney that decided to do all this. I think my overall point here is two things. The first being that this is just a hotel so let’s not let it cause so much grief. Also we should all be kinder to one another when we are replying online or dealing with staff and other guests on vacation. Use some common sense and be respectful to others and treat them like you would a friend. We can respectfully disagree with friends and not have to bash them over the head with our opinion.
I do want to thank all of you who contribute with photos, information and comments (good and bad).
This is going to be a rough 14 more months until everything is done. Let’s help each other through this time. I look at it this way, even if the changes to the resort are a complete disaster we will still have Trader Sam’s.
New items at Tangaroa and Trader Sam's
With a new Captain Cook’s opening in the summer and Trader Sam’s opening next year I am not only looking forward to the new drinks but some food changes. Back when Captain Cook’s expanded and added new food items in 2005 I tried one of each of the things on the menu. I enjoyed each new offering. Even the standard chicken strips and hamburger had improved from what it was before. While I hope they still keep many of the items that are on the menu, I hope they get some inspiration from Tangaroa Terrace out at the Disneyland Hotel. When we first visited Tangaroa Terrace at Disneyland I found it to be a smaller but improved version of Captain Cook’s. I tried one of each item and found all of them to be very good. Even the Tofu salad was good. It also offered some great new breakfast items that you cannot find at Captain Cook’s but now Tangaroa Terrace is getting some new items that I can’t wait to try in July. One of the additions to the breakfast menu will be the Loco Moco. This use to be my favorite breakfast when staying in Maui. It sounds strange but it so good. Not for those that want a healthy meal. It is a beef patty on top of rice, covered in a fried egg and smothered in brown gravy. It comes with a side of fruit to make you feel better about taking in 5000 calories. If you want to start off more healthy you can go for the apple cinnamon steel-cut oatmeal with coconut whipped cream and island fruit.
For lunch they have added shrimp tacos with tropical slaw. Two new sandwiches were added also a slow-roasted kalua-style pork sandwich is on a sweet Hawaiian roll topped with tropical slaw and a teriyaki chicken breast that comes with fresh caramelized pineapple, Havarti cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a multi-grain bun. Over at the Bar they have a new Murky Mojito with rum, fresh lime juice, mint and organic agave nectar topped with a splash of Angostura bitters. Or the Passionate Python with dark and aged rums, red passion fruit and tropical juices, garnished with an orange peel “python.” Trader Sam’s has many non-alcoholic drinks that are great. Added to that list is the Polynesian Punch, a mix of Sam’s Gorilla Grog with hibiscus grenadine. Thanks to Jay at Love the Mouse Travel for the info on the menu additions.
With all the great things they have added to the bar and quick service at Disneyland, I look forward to what they will offer out east when all the construction is done.