Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Changes: Good or Bad?

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This year Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort completed a number of changes. Clearly as with everything Disney, some people will love it, and others will hate it. We just visited the resort for the first time since the changes were made. Here are my opinions, and feel free to share yours on the comments at the bottom of the page (remember to stay Disney polite).

Prior to the changes, the defining characteristic that we loved most about the Polynesian was the lushness of the property. Everywhere you looked there was beautiful foliage and water features. Now we find the property to be on the stark side.

While it’s still a fantastic resort in many ways, it doesn’t appeal to us as much as it once did because of these changes. Like us, those who have stayed here before may not be happy with the changes, but I’m sure that many first-timers will still love the entire property.

We’ll look at the changes in the lobby first.

The lobby of the Polynesian Village Resort before and after changes

Here’s the old version – Keep in mind that you’re looking down from the second floor, and this scene fills the entire central portion of the lobby:

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort before 2015

To us, this was lush and beautiful. We always enjoyed walking into the resort lobby.

Here’s a video of the lobby prior to the change made by Mousesteps:

The lobby updates were clearly designed to provide seating and lounging areas for guests, and while that’s an understandable move, the lushness of the lobby is now gone.

Here’s a video of the new lobby posted by BigFatPanda.com:

 

Pool area at the Polynesian Village Resort before and after the changes

In the past, the path leading to the pool had a stream by it with tons of tropical foliage everywhere. It lead to a pool that was full of trees, beautiful greenery and flowers. You could sit by the pool in a tropical paradise, looking out at an unblocked view of the beach and lake. You could also sit on the beach and watch the magnificent view, and then walk right into to the pool from there. It was a little slice of heaven.

Here’s what you’d see standing by the pool looking back at the resort BEFORE THE CHANGES:

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort pool before 2015

Here’s a video with the outdoor view the BEFORE the changes. Notice the way the pool is flooded with trees and greens, and the way the pool area opens right to the beach:

Now there’s very little greenery left, compared to what used to be there. The majority of the trees have been cleared, the stream by the walkway is gone, rows of lounge chairs are stuffed into the pool area, and a fence blocks access to the pool, beach and lake.

Here’s a look at the NEW POOL AREA:

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort pool after 2015 seats

That same fence also blocks the pool view for many of the resort rooms.

We had a room once, facing the pool. It was wonderful to just sit out on our patio taking in the peaceful, tropical view. Now you basically see a sidewalk and fence from where we were.

Granted, I can see that Disney has its reasons for the changes. It’s understandable that they wanted to to be able to get more guest seating by the pool. They also wanted security so that people who are not staying at the resort can’t access the pool. And on the up-side, the new kids Kiki Tikis Splash Play Area is great and kids will love it. However the feel of the resort has radically changed.

Here’s a video with the view of the pool and grounds AFTER THE CHANGES:

On the upside, the new bungalows on the water are amazing. However keep in mind that they’re blocking the view from the Hawaii building. You’ll see a small patch of water, and then the bungalows. Although the bungalows look fantastic, I wouldn’t want to pay extra for a water view to end up in the Hawaii building.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort bungalows on the water

Also the beach area is much, much smaller. However you still have a straight-on view of the Magic Kingdom castle from there.

Also on the upside, those in wheelchairs will find the resort easier to roll through, as the outside walkways are generally smoother rather than textured.

So this is our opinion, but what’s yours? Feel free to post your thoughts (remember, be Disney polite).

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About Author

I'm Stephen Ashley. My wife and I are huge fans of Disney World. I'm the author of Walt Disney World With Disabilities. I also wrote a book called Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone, but rather than have it published, at this point we've decided to place all the material from the manuscript on this website so everyone can have access to it! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it makes your day just a little bit brighter and easier.

3 Comments

  1. Unfortunately Disney lost track of the original ideals Walt had in mind of bringing families together, not that he did not want to make money, yet now all I see is exploiting a good thing to increase profits. The fence is horrid. The loss of plant life is horrid. I can see changing tile, carpeting, etc, but they want to pack in more in higher priced accommodations at the expense of the experience. Those who have never gone will not care but those of us with so many memories may be sickened. They absolutely ruined what we loved about the Polynesian. After five straight years at the Polynesian we avoided WDW and went to Disneyland this year to avoid the decision of where else to stay. Next year if we go we may try Beach Club and spend more time in Epcot or I may find something besides Disney to look forward to. I look forward all year to our Disney vacation and I can’t do that anymore.

  2. Your article captured the changes very well. We ADORED the Polynesian. It wasn’t just a very nice hotel. It was a dreamland to us: highly unusual, over-the-top lush, fascinating walk into romantic Polynesia of yesteryear. Sort of like an extension of the tiki birds show from MK. The AMAZING humongous waterfall exploding with tropical vegetation and wild-eyed tiki gods and, at one time, live birds that engulfed the lobby. Walking building to building was an adventure — kinda like exploring a tropical jungle — the paths forming a sort of a maze winding through gorgeous flowers and every possible shade of green. We all loved participating in the hula dancing right off the lobby, and enjoyed the somewhat tacky Polynesian music seemingly piped everywhere. We guests spent $$$ to wander around in our most casual shorts, bright flowery shirts, sporting leis. The pool was a Polynesian fantasy of water encircled by huge and beautiful tropical flowers and such. And yes, I sure did enjoy how the pool opened up directly to the beach. The Tahiti building was our fav. Every night, my dd and I climbed into the hammock on what seemed like our own private beach and enjoyed the fireworks display. Frankly, we can’t afford the Polynesian. So we scrimmped and saved and went in August when the weather was broiling but the deals were exceptional. It was … yes … very very much a let down. It is now just a very nice hotel. It is upscale. The restaurants are very good, the pool nice, the beach nice but somehow, the wild jungle tiki god uber casual slightly hippy feel is just gone. It’s not horrible. It’s very nice. Upscale but more ordinary. Some will like it. For me, to end on a positive note, at least I can stop scrimping and enjoy using my husband’s points in town or stay at a nice moderate in Disney. Sigh. Thanks for the lovely videos and pics.

  3. Thank you for that update! I heard that they had just finished renovations thinking it was just the rooms but I have to agree with you it is a huge letdown! We too enjoyed the beautiful lush lobby and the lovely flowers. We are planning a trip next year and my daughter suggested staying there again. Once I saw your videos it really turned me off and broke my heart. Yes, it looks nice but the atmosphere is gone and the room rates have skyrocketed. Sorry Disney, but you won’t be getting my money for that one any more!

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