PHOTOS: New Lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Unveiled

This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

B5OBWUHCEAA0obb

After several months behind walls, the lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was unveiled today. While not officially finished, the lobby is now functional, but will not be considered complete until the spring when the entire remodel of the hotel is finished.

B5OBLAZCUAADlaG

B5ODa-cIQAADHqN

The tiki icon will be added in the center when the project is completed in the Spring

B5ODa-YIgAECXEh

B5ODa-QIUAAmLKj

B5ODa-OIcAAe3VI

B5OCTQ6IAAACi_Z

New furnishings

B5OCTQrIIAEGhDE

B5OCTQcIUAEq-on

B5OCTQOIcAAuPkr

B5OG5poIAAAr0zw

B5OHBiFIgAA6X9l

The hidden Mickey remained

B5OEUeLIEAEZBpH

From the second floor

B5OD6SbIYAAtEeA

B5OG5poIAAAr0zw

B5OFRk1IQAAW2bZ

Some great new art in the lobby, this piece from the Disneyland Submarine Voyage

B5OFyW3IMAE8gcx

“it’s a small world”

B5OFtagIgAEdHvw

Some art is near the elevators

B5OFyWbIYAAAOkw

Enchanted Tiki Room

B5OFyW4IgAAO03i

The remodeling of the lobby is part of a multi-year refurbishment of the resort leading to the opening of the Polynesian Resort Villas and Bungalows in 2015.

So, what do you think?

Photos found on @Schmoofy on twitter.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when planning a Disney vacation can be overwhelming! There are so many options, where to stay, when to go, is this the best price. So, I want to introduce you all to Cindy Minor and the team at Small World Big Fun. They will help you plan your Disney vacation for FREE. Contact them today!

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

51 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Although the remodel seems to have given a lot more room to move around the lobby, nothing, I mean nothing will ever be as iconic and beautiful as the waterfall that stood before. Still very heartbroken that it is gone. Disney, sometimes change is not always a good thing. Think about that next time you do away with something that people hold near and dear to their hearts.

      • I have read numerous websites. People are overwhelmingly DISAPPOINTED or angry with this renovation. In actuality it was a demolition. Steve at a Tikiman pages claims that the reasons that many have speculated was the reason for the the removal was NOT the true reason at all, but says he cannot discuss the real reason. He says that neither codes, UV levels, leaky roof panes, asbestos, maintenance, moisture which causing leaks or bacteria, foundation problems, more space and circulation -NONE of these was why they tore down the waterfall according to him.
        I thought at least some of these reasons were part of the collective rationale that led to the decision to demo the waterfall, but not replace it with a new comparable feature of scale or dramatic effect. Whatever the true mystery reason, I came to the conclusion it must ultimately somehow be about $. Whether liability risks and costs, or the cost to solve a problem or challenge, money is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions.
        I am just puzzled that even if the original waterfall had to be removed, why was there no new dramatic water feature designed in its place. There were so many possibilities. I think that is what makes people so disappointed.
        For the people who say others should not whine about it, that’s a simpleton response. The debate is over a Disney standard of WOW effect. It’s not about trying to find something positive. Bottom line people unanimously do NOT like the result. If you are a Disney creative team leader, how do you feel about your product? Are you satisfied that the majority think it stinks??! I speculate that somebody does care, but are strapped by the bottomline. That’s all I can conclude. Otherwise I would be figuring out a way to add another dramatic water feature even if you had to add a special lighting system because there is not enough UV light anymore.

  • Understanding why the fountain/waterfall had to go, and happily accepting it are two completely separate matters. I’m glad we finally got a chance to stay there a few years back. I’ll miss the original setup. That said, it does look like they did a really nice job with the remodel.

    • I don’t understand the real reason it had to go. I thought I did. Can you or anyone else explain? If you read my post above you will see that I have been told the actual reason people think the fountain had to go us not the reason at all. I have been told the reasons many others thought was misinformation.

    • The vast majority of people are disappointed or not impressed. I think most believe that the waterfall had to go for some reason, but that the replacement is far from a nice job by Disney’s standard. Sure, it’s ok by regular hotel standards. ( although I have seen normal chain hotels just as nice or nicer.) There is little creativity or wow effect in this remodel. Additionally I don’t see where all this “extra” seating is. There is obviously more but when you really add it up it’s not that much more. Who is going to relax in a straight stuff red bench? I’m not reading there. There is a wasted ratio down the middle. Where there could have been a creative water feature down the core with maybe skipping or cascading waters around polynesian figures…

  • It’s not acceptable to just discard a tradition that brought joy to so many people, Disney is beginning to worry me with their ‘improvements’: Test Track, this, now Maelstrom we hear…there must have been some way of keeping the waterfall whilst removing the problem…

      • I agree, it is geared for the new age and attracts all ages now.

        Remember Disney is an entertainment giant and wants to remain that way and must make changes from time to time, otherwise why would you keep returning?

    • Disney is constantly improving and updating their resorts and attractions. If you visit the Tikiman Pages website and go through the history section, you will see that the Polynesian has changed a lot through the years. Sometimes change can be good for the resort experience overall.

    • I am trying to weigh the pros and cons here. The old lobby lacked seating and gathering areas, and the large fountain was loud and intrusive to a natural flow. The new lobby, unfortunately to me, looks like an indoor mall and I just cannot get past it. Now the seating lacks intimacy and the fountain looks fake and sad. With the new Villas being built, they were obviously going for a more “resort like” experience. But the Poly is one of those odd love it or hate resorts that had an almost cult following of guests who continued to stay there based on that love. For us, everyday after a long day in the parks, we looked forward to coming back to the GCH. Entering into the sounds, smells and ambience was like home. Let’s face it, no one is staying here for the awesome pool! LOL. All jokes aside, we are still in love with this resort and will surely book another stay here and give it a chance. Who knows, maybe we will grow to love it even more!

  • cheap and crappy? are you kidding me? I think it looks beautiful. Different for sure but very well done. The old lobby was SO showing its age, not just the waterfall but every element of it. Yes I’ll miss the waterfall too but I thin they have done a great job of reimagining this space to work for today.

  • No matter what they do it will never replace the iconic fountain…. Funny I never heard anyone complain the space was not functional for today? Sure it looks nice and a generation from now it will matter. Had the genius imagineers put their minds to it they could have corrected, they made a choice, poor it seems to many, to go another direction. Remember Disney is all abt ROI not our memories and happiness

  • I do love the artwork. I cannot say the same for the new look of the space in general. Possibly a bit melodramatic, but I think I’m going to need to mourn the loss of the old for a while. I don’t do well with change and “improvements”.

  • I have read numerous websites. People are overwhelmingly DISAPPOINTED or angry with this renovation. In actuality it was a demolition. Steve at a Tikiman pages claims that the reasons that many have speculated was the reason for the the removal was NOT the true reason at all, but says he cannot discuss the real reason. He says that neither codes, UV levels, leaky roof panes, asbestos, maintenance, moisture which causing leaks or bacteria, foundation problems, more space and circulation -NONE of these was why they tore down the waterfall according to him.
    I thought at least some of these reasons were part of the collective rationale that led to the decision to demo the waterfall, but not replace it with a new comparable feature of scale or dramatic effect. Whatever the true mystery reason, I came to the conclusion it must ultimately somehow be about $. Whether liability risks and costs, or the cost to solve a problem or challenge, money is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions.
    I am just puzzled that even if the original waterfall had to be removed, why was there no new dramatic water feature designed in its place. There were so many possibilities. I think that is what makes people so disappointed.
    For the people who say others should not whine about it, that’s a simpleton response. The debate is over a Disney standard of WOW effect. It’s not about trying to find something positive. Bottom line people unanimously do NOT like the result. If you are a Disney creative team leader, how do you feel about your product? Are you satisfied that the majority think it stinks??! I speculate that somebody does care, but are strapped by the bottomline. That’s all I can conclude. Otherwise I would be figuring out a way to add another dramatic water feature even if you had to add a special lighting system because there is not enough UV light anymore.

  • I thought they removed the waterfall to make room for the DVC desk/checkin area. I loved that waterfall. I am so thankful that I got to stay there with it. As a kid, I had dreamed of that waterfall and what it would be like to stay there. When I finally did, it lived up to the dream. It’s okay looking now, but not really magical anymore.

    • Nope. Not the reason at all according to Steve, the administrator of Tikimanpages.com. He has the most up to date and informative info on the Poly.
      Does anyone know the real reason Disney tore it down. The space and counter had was what people have assumed, and it’s an “official” reason but not the real reason according to Tikiman.

      • If Steve really had the inside story, he’d tell it. He owns a blog about the Polynesian Resort, he’s not under some kind of confidentiality agreement with Disney. Regardless, it’s gone. Is the reason even relevant at this point? If you’re this upset about a fountain, then show them your dismay with your wallet and stop going to the Walt Disney World Resort.

  • People would do well with change if the change didn’t replace things they like with things that are overwhelmingly unlikable. This sucks, Disney. SUCKS. And it’s far beneath your creative intellect to call this an “improvement.”

  • The new lighting features are very pretty but I too will miss the wonderful sound of the water running down that majestic waterfall.

  • What do you expect? Your feelings and memories mean nothing to some huge multinational corporation! It’s the bottom line and maximize profits. If you want a real mid century tiki experience head down to the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale for the best Polynesian experience that remains from that era. The waterfall and some of the tikis might be a bit run down, but the restaurant is a Tiki Mecca, the drinks are ambrosial, and the food is good.

  • Looks nice. It opens up the main lobby space, which matches the open-air style of most Disney Hotel spaces.
    Love the fabrics and color patterns.
    The lighting fixtures are lovely.

    • The fact that it “matches the open air style of most Disney Hotel spaces” is exactly what the problem is here. The Polynesian lobby was always unique among Disney hotels and that is what set it apart. Now it is just another lobby. It’s going to kill me a little inside the first time I walk through those doors and see this abomination.

      • Well, to bad for you. I love the open-air feel to it with the beautiful lighting structures. And I love the pop of red on the seating…with the other color patterns/fabrics.

  • Beautiful art work and hanging lights. The seating looks good too! I don’t care for the lava rock center piece in the pics but I’ll see it in person next week and perhaps it looks better in person. I too will miss the waterfall, but whatever the reason, it’s gone

  • It looks fine and would be acceptable to anyone who didn’t remember what was there before. My husband saw the poor little heap of rocks that is left and said “awww, I used to be a waterfall”. We took pictures there on our first trip.

  • this was all about money. more room for dvc guests. that was the only motive, not repair. If the fountain was in need of repair or replacement then thats what they should have done. Would you remove cinderella castle because it needed repair? no. This was all about the awful dvc. Its a shame, so many people wanted the fountain to remain. The hanging lights are a nice touch , but the fountain should never have been removed.

  • It looks like they took the original waterfall and miniaturized it. The whole renovation, from top to bottom, just breaks my heart. There are some things you just don’t eliminate….upgrade, yes…..eliminate and completely transform the landscape and feel of the entire resort…..NO!!!

  • This is a TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT. It does not exhibit THE DISNEY QUALITY at all. I hope there’s still more to come. The waterfall replacement is not an improvement at all. It is looks like we’ve gone backwards instead of forward. Disney’s moderate and value resort’s look much better. For the price we pay at a deluxe resort, the lobby does not match what we have become accustom to. Not to slam the design team, but this was a miss. Please tell me there’s more.

  • I have read that they may be updating the front entry, increasing the water feature out there. This may be compensation for the loss inside the lobby. I do miss the waterfall a lot and wished they included a little more of that element in the new lobby, but the removal seems to have brightened up the lobby a lot.

  • Disney wants you to be able to see straight through to the water right when you walk in the front door, as if you were in an actual Hawaiian hotel on the beach. Mission accomplished. In the process, they have made the lobby look plain and boring, certainly not fitting of their second most expensive resort. Disney is on construction overload and, in the process, ruining the magic that had made it stand apart.

  • This looks painfully commercial. I would expect to see this in an airport lobby or a mid-grade hotel. Certainly not from a luxury resort and definitely not from Disney. A massively underwhelming change to what could have been a spectacular update.

  • What’s so sad about change? The first time we ever visited Disney, there were flamingos freely roaming the park. There were fabulous topiaries and hardly a stroller in the park. We loved it. We made great memories then and will continue to make great memories every time we go. It’s because there IS change that we can create new memories. I think the new Polynesian is lovely.

  • I get the sense that alot of people are hating on this simply cause its not the same as the old lobby. I can admit to the fact the waterfall was lovely, I’m happy I got to see it one more time during my second ever trip to Florida. But it doesn’t look as bad as everyone makes it out to sound. It’s still a very lovely looking lobby with a lot of nice touches like the new lighting from above. And this is before the resort is finished so who knows what other small changes might come about. Those large rock works look unfinished, like something is going to go ontop of them.

    I don’t know, just feels like its a bit over reacting to me. The waterfall will be missed, for certain, same as the Disneyland resort waterfall. But I think over time things will work out. Where something is lost in one location, something new may be gained in another location is my way of looking at it.

  • I think your imagineers need to rethink the Polynesian. Good thing you have until spring to finish, because these photos show a very blah, boring hotel lobby. There used to be a WOW factor whenever you would enter the lobby with the waterfall… there is nothing now to wow anyone.. even the first time visitor. So, maybe in the next few months you can go back to the drawing board and do something better. Bad move DW… this is a failure.

  • That new lava rock area looks like a total after thought. Looks like the Poly got a lump of coal for Christmas.

  • What in the world were they thinking? I’ve been staying at the Poly since 1972, so I have my memories of the once unique and breathtaking lobby to always remember. This transformation doesn’t even come close to Disney standards. Guests expect “Magical”. I don’t believe they will find that at this resort any longer. Nothing will ever replace the Waterfall, which is a shame. I think long-time guests may re-think their Resort choices in the future and decide on other fabulous options that are available on property.

  • We visited the Poly on April 12th. Couldnt wait to see the renovation. My reaction was a little like the reaction I had when Geraldo unveiled nothing in Al Capones vault. The decor was little “Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii” and lastly the long sofas have been built with a little lift so you can sit but it’s uncomfortable and I guess the purpose in this is to make people or kids not want to lay down on them. It pales in its former glory.

  • I just found out about the demo of this beautiful water feature. It was a staple and a mainstay of the resort. No matter where you wandered in the GCH you could listen to that water. That along with the occasional squawking parrot were the soundtrack of the poly. It is awful that they took that away from us.

  • I really liked this article. To show different points of view which had very compelling points, There are really informative information here. Thank you

Fantasy Strollers
Lost Bros
TeePublic

Latest Videos