The Polynesian Village Resort Lobby has just come out of a long refurbishment in the middle of a resort wide set of improvements and DVC addition. We take a look around in this new video (note, stick around to the end for a little bonus):
I get what Disney’s hotel designers were trying to do with the remodeled lobby of the Polynesian. It’s lighter, more open, and, best of all, has this amazing vista of Cinderella Castle from the moment you park in valet all the way out the rear doors of the lobby heading toward the pool. It’s a wonderful effect and was totally worth getting rid of the giant waterfall for.
But that doesn’t mean they needed to go as generic as they did with the new water feature. It’s pretty basic. In fact, the whole thing feels slightly generic. The stores give some excitement around the edges, but the central part of the lobby feels very similar to every other large hotel on the planet.
I’ve never been to Africa, but upon entering the lobby of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I immediately feel like I’ve been transported to a lodge on the African savannah somewhere. You don’t get that feeling in the new Polynesian Village lobby. At the most, I feel transported to a Marriott or Four Seasons. Yes, the tropical patterns are there, creating a layer of details, but there is nothing transporting about it. No big story being told.
Now, to be fair, it’s possible the lobby is still in line for some additional decoration. The rumor is a large tiki statue will soon adorn the rather plain fountain in the middle of the lobby. But it will take more than that. They made it to second base in the initial design, but now they need to come around to home plate, finish the job and score. Disney needs to revisit the lobby and add more elements so it feels like you’re at a Disney resort instead of a Hawaiian Airlines airport lounge. It probably needs some additional water features. Think of the natural springs that starts inside the Wilderness Lodge and goes outside. A tiki-grotto that also serves as a performance area for dancers and musicians and a lot less of that generic hotel lobby feel.
What do you think of the change?
While being able to see the castle is nice, that also is a bit of bad show that helps pull people out of the Polynesian theme to begin with. So, that might explain the more generalized state of the new lobby, it isn’t about transporting people to the islands, it is all about being a Disney hotel.
When I first walked into the Polynesian, I truly felt like I had stepped into a hotel in Hawaii. It was remarkable, I had just come from my honeymoon there and it immediately struck me how well they captured the island experience. We went to dinner at Ohana a few weeks back, so I saw the lobby changes in person and I have top say they left me cold. It feels so generic. What they had before was so…I can’t think of another word except…Magical. Sorry to see the change.
Hey I like my Hawaiian Airlines airport lounge!
But I like your story… just compare this to Aulani’s lobby. Now thats Polynesian!
It looks nice. No, it doesn’t have the big waterfall, but it’s a change I’m willing to accept.
I was there the day they removed the “wall” and showed the new Polynesian lobby…guys asked what I thought – I told them- “It’s awful!” We have stayed here many times in the past 35 years…it had been our favorite palce…but no more. When you used to walk in…the site and sounds and smells of the giant waterfall made you feel like you were in Polynesia…now? It is no different than walking into any of the chain hotels..Hilton, Hyatt. Marriott….It has lost its charm. The openness? Makes it feel cold and impersonal. Those ugly hanging balls from the ceilings? What is that about?This was an awful, awful mistake.
It looks so boring! Where is the wonderful Disney theming we’ve come to expect?