I’m sure that anyone going to Disney World is aware of the attack on the child by an alligator in June. While this did not happen at the Polynesian it was the same body of water and not far from the beaches of the Polynesian Village Resort. We all have strong opinions about what happened and who was responsible. It has been debated more than any other subject especially on my Tikiman Facebook Page. In my opinion Disney did not discuss or warn guests enough of the dangers that they were well aware of. I am sure putting up signs that there were gators in the lake seemed too harsh to the image they were trying to portray at the resort so the signs just said to stay out of the water. Well unfortunately we know that people ignore rules and signs unless they find them justified.
With that said I don’t see Disney as being responsible for my kids. There are two people on this planet responsible for my kids and that is me and my wife. I personally have to educate myself about any place I take my kids and be aware of any dangers that might be around them. This is why I have been posting for years that people need to stay out of and away from the edge of the lakes at Disney World. I think the first article I wrote that showed a gator I took a photo of was from 2007. I have mentioned it in many articles since then and it is even on my activities page with a photo of a gator and the sign to stay out of the water. Weeks before the attack I posted photos sent to me of gators in the water and on the beach of the Polynesian Village. When I am there I mention it to parents that sit back and let their little kids play in the water that it is not a good idea. I usually get told to mind my own business or other choice words.
Even before this Disney has done a very good job of trying to locate the gators and catch them. The one I shared the photo of weeks before was caught shortly after that. TMZ and other news agencies took the photos from my Facebook page (with no permission) and used them in articles including some that I don’t believe the story for a second. I think I will believe the moon landing was faked before I believe the one about the gator chasing the family across the beach during fireworks. As hard as Disney works towards reducing the risk they can’t be expected to get rid of all alligators in the waters. I have seen them on property since my first visit in the early 80s. The call to add an underwater fence is ridiculous because that would limit boat traffic and alligators are not fish. They can walk on land and often do.
Even with as many as they find and catch they don’t take long to come back. Right after the attack they caught 5 and even with that effort to find and catch them the day after someone went on a fishing excursion and sent me a photo of a gator that came right up to the boat in Bay Lake.
We have seen a fence go up around the edge of the beaches at all Disney Resorts. Most of us understand that this is not to keep gators in but to keep people out. Signs are obviously not good enough to accomplish that. What I was told is these fences are not permanent and will be replaced with something else. I have heard different things so I really don’t have a good feel for what the permanent solution will be. It could be a new fence or it could be removal of the beach and replace it with a board walk.
We all feel for the family and their loss. I think Disney responded appropriately and we all have a responsibility to be more aware of where we go. There is no place that does not have some danger to be aware of.
4th of July report
The 4th of July at the Polynesian Resort can be a very exciting time. It can also be a little chaotic. I use to go every 4th of July until it became so over run with locals and those from other resorts that we could not even sit on our patio and watch the fireworks. The last few years have been the worst and many times the resort management has come up with some ideas to reduce the traffic and have failed or even given up on even trying to execute the plan.
This year was not perfect but much improved. Officially the pool and beach area is for registered Polynesian Village Resort guests and there were signs around property stating this. When I asked if it was still the official policy I was told yes but it is not enforced except on days they call a “hard close”. These days that they do a “hard close” include the 3rd and 4th of July and New Years. There may be other days but I am not aware of when those might be.
I will say that the plans they put on paper are well thought out on how to handle a hard close but in the past the people making the decisions have seem to let the plan collapse early in the day. This year was much improved and I hear that the new GM (Victor Yordan) wanted to make sure things were more pleasant for the paying guest.
During the hard close extra staff and extended shifts for Cast Members were in place. The security kiosk at the parking lot had added check points to turn away cars before they even got up to the guard shack. If you did not have a room or dining reservation, there was little chance your car would even make it up to the guard shack.
For Club level guests they again set up an area of the beach to be able to sit and view the fireworks. Special food was offered in the lounge that day and people coming into the Hawaii longhouse (club level longhouse) were scanned individually to make sure non-club guests were entering the building. Guests with ground level rooms in Hawaii, Samoa and the luau side of Fiji had their chairs put inside their rooms for the evening so that others would not come and take them off their patios. During the fireworks staff made sure that no one was sitting or standing on the grass area between the Hawaii longhouse and the path. Some of the club level guests reported that they did a very good job making it a more enjoyable evening.
The pool had Cast Members checking people from a list of registered guests and they needed to provide ID that matched a name on the list. Then they were issues additional bands to show they were guests of the resort. Some even reported being checked on paths around the resort that day. They Polynesian staffing chart listed many people to work on the 3rd and 4th as “crowd control”. Additional staff was listed as “beach and club crowd control”
While I think more can be done to reduce the non-guests traffic, I think the management and the staff did a much better job this year. I would like to see them continue to address the issues with non-guests entering the pools and people parking in the parking lots all year and from the feedback I get, this is one of their biggest complaints.
I see a lot of improvements coming to the resort and I think some of the new people in place including the new GM are doing a good job of making this better for the guests of the Polynesian Village Resort.
Shave ice at Pineapple Lanai
We all know and most love the Pineapple Lanai. It is the location that serves the famous Dole Whip and Dole Whip Float. Last 4th of July they tried out serving Shave Ice at Kona Island (outside Kona Café) and it remained after its trial run. Now this year they added Shave Ice to the Pineapple Lanai. It makes sense because of its location near the pool and outdoor seating and it goes well with what was being served from the Pineapple Lanai already. The new Shave Ice has blue raspberry, pina colada, strawberry, passion fruit mango as flavors and you can have condensed milk added to it also to make it more creamy. You can get one of these for $5.29
(update) they did eventually remove it from the Pineapple Lanai. When I was there at the end of July they no longer were offering it anywhere. It is too bad because it fits the resort theme and seemed to be popular with the guests.
Renovations around the resort
As old as the Polynesian Village is, most people would be surprised how often things are renovated or replaced at the resort. It is obvious when they add something new like the pools, room renovations or some of the other changes around the resort over the last few years. Other changes are not so obvious. If you follow my Tikiman Facebook page you will see more of what is going on around the resort like the replacement of the supports on the longhouses (still ongoing from last year) and the water outages lately to update the boilers around the property.
Disney works hard to make sure that the Polynesian Village Resort is kept in good condition. Along with a lot of renovations in the last few years we have seen permits for other projects. Here are some of the projects that are in process or will be starting.
Exterior Column repairs to Longhouses 1-8 and Great Ceremonial House and out buildings October 2015- December 2016: Replace fiberglass bamboo on GCH. Remove lower 3 feet of each wooden column and replace with concrete base. Modifications to monorail platform and stairway.
Longhouse Boiler Replacement June 2016 – January 2017: Replacement and upgrade of boiler in each longhouse along with associated components.
Moaoa Merchantile carpet replacement June 13 – 26: upgrade carpet in Moana Merchantile
Monorail deck board replacement June 2016 – July 2016: Replace deck boards and structural beams to monorail station.
'Ohana carpet replacement July 2016 to October 2016: Upgrade carpet in ‘Ohana restaurant.
Kona Café carpet replacement July 2016: Upgrade carpet in Kona Cafe restaurant.
Dock Metal Roof replacement July 2016 – August 2016: Replace the metal roof and support beams on loading dock.
Replace doors in Niue and Rarotonga Longhouse August 2016 – September 2016: replace doors to longhouse to eliminate sealing problem.
‘Ohana HVAC Replacement August 2016 to September 2016: upgrade and replace HVAC for ‘Ohana Restaurant.
‘Ohana hard goods replacement October 2016: Replace dining room chairs, table tops and bases.
Some have experienced the water being shut off to the longhouses during their stay the last few months. This was part of the process of installing the new boilers. The electrical outages were due to a malfunction to a transformer that was supplying power to Tokelau, Pago Pago, Mo’orea and the Oasis pool. There were a few more outages after that to repair the electrical to those areas but all have been fixed in June.
Some of the above renovations show the original expected date to be done but not all were done as expected. Some things are still waiting to be started and completed.
Some of you might have heard of a party we have put on called Tikifest. It originally was a way for fans of my web site and the Polynesian can all get together and talk about the Polynesian and Disney. Many of my longtime friends I met at past Tikifest. We had been talking for a while about doing something again. Last year while Michele (owner of Magical Vacations Travel) was out at the Polynesian she met the General Manager at that time (Norm Noble) and he was generous enough to offer up Trader Sam’s for use to use for 3 hours to have a party. It was an amazing opportunity for us thanks to Michele and Norm. This time it was sort of spread over a few days with people getting in on Magical Vacations amazing deals for rooms and showing up at the Polynesian to hang out. We got to spend some time around the resort outside of the events planned for the weekend. We had some unofficial meet-ups at the bars' pools, and for dinner as well as the Trader Sam's VIP event and the Polynesian Themed dessert party that was one of many dessert parties Magical Vacations does throughout the year.
Even though Michele did all the hard work to arrange this, she allowed me to use this event as a thank you to some of the many people who have helped me and supported me with my Web Site dedicated to the resort for the last 17 years. The tough part was picking only so many to not exceed the max occupancy of 51 that is allowed inside Trader Sam’s and that would include a limited amount of agents. We were able to get last minute approval to have a newly wed couple to join the group. Congratulations to Katie and Adam. I hope this made your honeymoon an even better experience.
I have met so many great people over the years and so many have helped me. It was a secret invitation only event but I still knew it would be known about at some point and it was hard to come up with the list. The list really included a mix of some people who have been on this journey with me from the beginning and inspired me to continue along with people that more recently have welcomed me into the East Coast tiki culture that I have loved since I was a kid. We had the inside of Trader Sam’s and the outside Tiki Terrace for the event but I wanted to make sure we did not have more people than could fit inside. I did not want people to have to stay outside until there was room. It turned out that other than a quick interview with the Big Fat Panda (John Panda) we never used the outside. I felt bad for the lonely bartender out there.
It was tough not being able to invite more and tell them thanks for their support but my friends know me well enough to know I would have had them all there if I could. It turned out to be a great time and an amazing group of people. I could tell them thank you every day for the rest of my life and it still would not be enough.
It was important to me to let them all know how much their support of my efforts and their friendship meant to me and that can only be done in person. Some of these people I have communicated with for years and never seen face to face. Others are friends that I see every once in a while and it’s never enough.
As with all events, I never feel like I can spend enough time with each person but I hope (despite the amount of tropical cocktails I had) that my speech to them thanking each one of them helped them understand better how important they all are to me. I know there is much more I wish I said to each person that I did not remember until later. It was one of my favorite and most memorable times with friends.
There were 3 people that could not make it and I did say a few words to the group but I wanted to say thanks to them here also.
Mike Lee of Widen Your World (http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/wyw.htm ): Mike was there in the early years of my site with some amazing old photos and history on his page. He really inspired me to grow my page and share the history of the resort with my readers. He was and is well respected by people in the Disney community and a really cool guy. He was very helpful and friendly to me even back when my page was not much. He also finds some incredible stuff about Disney from long ago. It was unfortunate he was not able to attend and I know he was bummed too but I know many of us there would have enjoyed having him with us. Thanks Mike for all your help and inspiration over the years.
Deb Wills of All Ears (http://allears.net/): Ever since the beginning she has treated me like a very good friend and happy to see and talk to me. She has been such a big part of the Disney community for so long and works hard with her staff of people to get information for people to help them with travel to Disney. She gets the same type of enjoyment out of helping others that I do. As a person they just don’t get any friendlier. I feel honored to call her a friend and I know if she had not been in Europe she would have been there. She has always been there when I needed help and I told her long ago that if I stopped doing my site I would give her my content….but I think she is doing fine without it. Thanks for your help and being a great friend. We missed you Deb.
I also want to thank Disney Imagineering Art Director Kyle Barnes. Even though he was unable to be out in Florida for the event we took time to appreciate his efforts in many of the great additions to the Polynesian Village Resort. Hopefully next time he can hang out with us and enjoy the party. See you soon Kyle.
To all those who attended I want to tell you it was such a great day for me to share with all of you. It was a great location to hang out in but it was the people that made it so special. I could not have thought of a better way to spend my afternoon.
Tara Seifert for her support over the years and allowing me the time to work on my pages and answer all the questions that come in every day. I am glad she was able to be there to experience this day with me.
Michele DeNofa ( www.magicalvacationstravel.com ) for setting up the Trader Sam’s event and a great Hawaiian dessert party the next day. Thank you also to Sarah Gregorek for her hard work in setting up the dessert party. Along with running one of the best travel agencies out there, Michele worked countless hours setting up this event for us. Working with Bobbi Kirby to get this event planned (thank you Bobbi) it really turned out to be an awesome afternoon for us all. I am no expert on Disney discounts or the best way to book trips so I rely on Michele and her agents for that information. Magical Vacations has for years been the best resource for travel discounts and helping out so many of my site visitors with their travel plans. Michele’s agents are amazing and I know people I send their way are in good hands.
The Magical Vacations agents who attended (Holly, Vickie, Kristen, Debbie, Sharron, Jodi, Shelly, Brandi and Meg: You guys do a great job and I was very happy to meet you all.
Mathew and Edith Turk: You have kept my site going and done an amazing job with the design. If it was not for you the site would have shut down long ago.
Len Testa: We have been friends for a long time and like a true friendship we are always there to help each other with our different projects or just hang out and have fun. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you all the great things Len has done for the Disney community but he is the type of person that will work hard to get you the best information in everything he does. One of the most usefull things Len has been involved with over at www.Touringplans.com is the room request fax. Yes it works very well. Make sure to go over and check it out.
Disney Artist Kevin-John: KJ worked on an amazing piece of artwork just for this private event. I know how his workload and it was amazing that he had time to make this piece. He had one for everyone that attended the event and even took the time to sit with each guest and chat as he personally signed each one. Not only is he a great artist but he is just a great guy to hang out with. Thanks for your hard work KJ and thanks for being part of the event.
Duane Lingle: Thanks for being there and all your hard work to support the DVC part of my web site. If anyone knows about DVC it is Duane and once DVC became part of the Polynesian I needed to get help from an expert. Duane did not hesitate to step up and help.
Jim and Susan Hayward (www.atomicgrog.com): Jim has really welcomed me into the East Coast Tiki scene and we have really developed a great friendship from that. Along with being my resource for Tiki Drink recipes over on his site we also share a love for the Polynesian and the details that go into it. I am glad he was able to make the trip up with Susan to experience the VIP event at the Grotto.
Christie Tiki Kiliki White: Founder of the premier East Coast Tiki Event the Hukilau and just an incredible person, I could not imagine doing an event like this and not having Christie there. I first met her in person at the Mai Kai and she made me feel like royalty. Along with the great friends that were there that night and the amazing staff who showed me around all of the Mai Kai, it was a perfect evening. I know our event was not the Hukilau but thanks for being part of it.
Lou Mongello: Lou has been given me support since the very early years of my Polynesian Web site and has been a friend for many years. He entertains and informs the Disney community with his shows and is just a fun person to be around. If you have not already discovered his show make sure you check out www.wdwradio.com
Scott Deeter and Kim DeGarmo Oelke: Both worked for Disney and both have a love for all things Tiki. They have welcomed me into their home (bring your own towels) and Scott even drove me 3 hours to visit the Mai Kai. It was an amazing memory with amazing friends that night and I look forward to doing it again.
Jeff Lange / Denise Preskitt ( www.mousesteps.com ): These two have never failed to help me when I need someone to check out something at Disney. They are everywhere that something is happening and do such a great job of documenting it. It was a pleasure to finally meet them in person. Thanks for all your help over the years Jeff and Denise.
Ashley and Cory Coggins ( www.acupofcharming.com ): Ashley and Cory are like my brother and sister. Ashley has supported my effort for a long time and has become a great friend along with her husband Cory. Thanks for all your help.
John Big Fat Panda ( www.bigfatpanda.com ): John was such a fun guy to hang out with and I am glad he was part of the event. He also is a big contributor to the Disney community. We have been trying to meet up for a long time so this was a great place to finally meet and hang out. John, I promise next interview I have less tiki drinks first.
Shawn Tucker: I call this guy the most interesting man alive because he is just everywhere that the fun is going on. I told Shawn if I ever had an event like this he would be invited, also if I needed a bouncer he would have been perfect. Thanks for being there and great to hang out with you and Brad.
Andy Panda Montero ( www.apandatikipod.podbean.com ): Andy is another Tiki community friend who is always helpful with getting me photos for my site and just a great guy. We share a love for all things Tiki and the Polynesian and I knew he would love to be a part of this event. It was great to have him there and meet his family and hopefully we will share tropical drinks again soon.
George Borcherding: George is a huge fan of Tiki and the Polynesian and is always running over to the resort to get me photos and information when I need it. This event would not be the same without him there and I am glad he was able to be a part of it. How can you not invite a guy who has the Polynesian logo as his Facebook profile pic?
Last but not least I want to give a big Mahalo to the staff that worked the event. I will be honest that I thought that we were not going to get the best team working at Trader Sam’s for this. I figured they would save the A Team for when the opened to the public but I was wrong. David Wize was the Team Leader organizing the event and he was so helpful and friendly. The staff we had was the best I have encountered at Trader Sam’s in all my visits. Thanks for doing an amazing job putting up with all of us and making sure we were never without food, drinks and entertainment. Erica, Jon, Kim, Natalie and Stephanie, you guys were the best.
I will never be able to express how much I enjoyed this event and all the people that were there. There are so many more people I wish I could have invited to be part of it. Thanks again to Michele for helping me spread the Aloha Spirit.
To purchase one of the prints made for the event or other cool artwork you can go to
Many of you have read about problems with the air conditioning units that were designed into the bungalows. The information I got was the units were not sized well for the bungalows and at times can have problems keeping the bungalows cool enough. Temporary units were being installed in the bungalows this summer to help until the main units can be replaced.
I can tell you from my own experience that we were in a bungalow during an extremely hot time in August 2015 and we had no problem keeping it cool inside.
The 45th anniversary of the resort is Saturday October 1. A special pin will be put in the rooms of the guests staying during this day and Cast Members will have their own pin to wear to celebrate the anniversary. The Polynesian Village was the first to open (hours before the Contemporary) on October 1 but its official birthday is October 24 when it had the ceremony to dedicate its grand opening.
On a Wednesday October 5th, the staff headed to the Polynesian knew they were in for a long shift. Most would be there at least 24 hours and some much more. As much as over the years there have been reports of less than helpful or friendly Cast Members at the resort, this was an event that seem to bring out the best effort in those who staffed the resort during this storm.
It was a very stressful event for guests and staff but I really have to side with the staff this time. Guests had the choice to not be there while this storm went through but staff had to work or were at least willing to come in to a situation they all knew would be difficult at best.
Before the storm everything outside the resort that was not strapped down was taken inside somewhere. I’m picturing Tangaroa Terrace full of lounge chairs. They had a plan to make box lunches available to help elevate the lines at Captain Cook’s and the other restaurants. The box lunches were about $12 but they were quick and easy to grab instead of waiting for something to be cooked up. At one point on Thursday night I was told that reservations for the restaurants were not being honored unless you were a resort guests. If this was true than I applaud Disney for this move. It was getting nasty out and there were a lot of hungry guests that could or should not be going anywhere. If you were crazy enough to drive from another resort or offsite to eat at ‘Ohana then too bad. These guests needed to be able to feed their family while they were stuck at the resort. With the parks closing at 5 and the monorail and ferry shut down, there were no other alternatives to eat for these people. On Friday once they reopened the Great Ceremonial House after being closed for a while they had a special buffet style meal at 'Ohana at a reduced price and again this was for guests of the resort only. Another amazing idea by Disney and the Managment of the Polynesian Resort. It was such a nice experience for those stuck at the resort.
They provided some entertainment with having the Spirit of Aloha show cast preform in the lobby and even had some characters in the lobby. Some comments from people at the Grand Floridian on my Facebook page made it sound like other resorts were not doing as much to make this easier on guests.
A generator was brought in at one point for Pago Pago but as of Friday there was no power outage. Flashlights were also put in the rooms for guests. Early Friday morning the Great Ceremonial House was closed and people were asked to stay in their rooms. They were also notified that food and beverage was not available until further notice. They were staffing up to get Captain Cook’s open by 10 am.
The parks remained closed the Friday after so the staff was working extra hard to support a full resort. Remember what they are doing to support you as guests and be gracious and understanding. They have to be tired and stressed and I am sure have put up with their share of hostility. I told people on my Facebook page to buy a Cast Member a cup of coffee. I know many of them that stayed there only got hours sleep and are running on caffeine.
By Saturday things were back to normal operations but I am sure there was some clean up as there was years ago with the last big hurricane to come close to the resort.
Back when the Polynesian had the plans to gut two of the longhouses to make room for Disney Vacation Club Studios there was something interesting in the plans. A few of the Handicap Accessible rooms had a special feature. Instead of a sliding glass door to go out on your patio or balcony, you had a door that would swing open and no track to get over like with the sliding glass door. The construction details also showed on the balconies that they stuck out a little farther. After they were built I went to check this out and I did not see that this had been done. All the balconies looked to be the same depth. Recently someone asked me why a few of the rooms had double supports on the balconies and appeared to stick out farther. I discovered that the rooms in Moorea that were set up with Tub Rails or roll in showers had these extended balconies added to the rooms on both the Lagoon Side and the Garden Side. It seems that these were finally added. It is nice to see that they did this to better accommodate someone that may need the extra room to get out onto the balcony. Good job Designers.
For more information about the rooms with special amenities for those with disabilities you can go to my page and also on each longhouse page shows the location and type of room each one is. I still have to update the maps to show the rooms in Moorea with the extended balconies. That will be coming soon. http://www.tikimanpages.com/poly/mobility
New Menus for Trader Sam’s and the Spirit of Aloha
There are often menu changes over the years. If you read my articles or my Facebook Page you know that this has happened many times. I am sure they like to change it up to keep things different. Sometimes the changes are good and other times not so good. Also some people start to look forward to certain items and they may go away. Many items have come and gone from ‘Ohana that some people really liked.
The Spirit of Aloha Show (many call the Luau) just had a slight change to its menu only a few months ago. As of a couple weeks ago they changed the menu at the SOA again.
The changes that I can see are:
Removal of the Honey-Lime Slaw from the Appetizers
The Ribs went from pork to beef
The dessert is now Pineapple-Coconut Guava Cake with Chocolate Crunch
The changes at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace menu is to the food items. They have introduced a Thai Chicken Flat Bread with peanut sauce, bacon and tomato, Wings similar to what they have at ‘Ohana and a Wonton chips with duck sauce. I hear that all are very good but have not tried them myself yet.
In other Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto news you probably heard about the Hitchhiking Ghost mug making its way out to the Grog Grotto a little over a week ago. It showed up with a blue color instead of the black details that were on the one out west. They also limited it to one per person. It came with the Fog Cutter drink that not many were much of a fan of. Typically a Fog Cutter can be a strong and sour drink for those looking for something more tropical and fruity. As I write this article it seems that the mugs are about to run out. There is word that the West coast will get more but I have not heard of any more showing up at the Grog Grotto after these are gone.
New food offerings to those in Tonga Suites
The Polynesian has 6 suites located in the Tonga Longhouse. These have their own small lounge with food offerings and have access to the lounge in Hawaii longhouse. You often won't see these on the Disney Web site and have to call to get pricing and to book. Discounts are almost never offered and these rooms run in the thousands of dollars per night. They started offering a menu of items that you can order and have delivered to your room at no additional charge.
For more information and layouts of the rooms in Tonga you can go to my Tonga page.