When word came of the changes coming to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, many of you were excited about some of the new offerings including a version of Disneyland Hotel’s own Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. But long before the thought of sipping amazing cocktails amongst the dry humor and antics of the new grotto ever crossed your minds, the thoughts of Polynesian’s staple and beloved lobby being part of the proposed changes ripped any chance at endearment for the project. With good reason too. There are few families that have ever stayed at Disney’s Polynesian Resort who don’t have a story, memory or photograph that revolves around the indoor tropical oasis that the jungle centerpiece provided. And now its gone forever, boarded up behind construction walls, never to be seen again. Disney may have good reasons for the change but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to prove to show guests that the new decor of the Polynesian Village Resort’s lobby is an improvement over what came before. So far the concept art that has been previewed doesn’t appear to satisfy that basic tenant much in the same way New Fantasyland’s original meet and greet fiesta left a lot to be desired before being upgraded with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train after the considerable backlash that arose after that announcement. Here the voices of opposition seem to be resigned to the inevitable and so what you see is probably what you will get, so that leaves us to wait to see how it all ties in once it is complete. For now our focus is squarely on the guest experience which is severely undermined during this transition period.
From the moment you turn in to Disney’s Polynesian Resort the signs of construction surround you. When you arrive to check in you are greeted with construction walls. The lobby is now instead of an airy and open environment a series of darkened hallways both on the first and second floors. Disney has tried to beautify the construction walls as best it can by painting an island-styled pattern and adorning the wall with various pieces of concept art to excite the guests with the potential for the future even as they bear the considerable burden of the present work that is underway. The Polynesian Resort lobby is the hub for mostly everything at the resort and therefore there is little that isn’t affected by the construction once you step inside the lobby’s domain. Even the greeters for ‘Ohana have now taken residence just outside the elevators on the second floor to help guide guests who otherwise might be confused by all the wood blocking the usual lines of sight. Despite the overbearing inconveniences that outside of the temporary Captain Cooks, is mainly visual, guests could be seen making the most of it and carrying on with their vacations as you’d expect. Still we would recommend that you look for another place on property to stay during this transition period as what is currently being offered just doesn’t feel luxurious as a “Deluxe” Disney Resort should. It’s the price one pays for change, now we just hope the changes that come to Disney’s take on Polynesia feels like paradise once its all completed circa 2015.