Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World debuts new lobby

| December 21, 2014 | 49 Replies

Disney’s Polynesian Village in Walt Disney World took down the construction walls in the lobby recently. This project had a lot of the Disney community upset because they were getting rid of the large waterfall area in the lobby. The lobby has been unveiled but won’t be considered finished until the rest of the construction projects are done later in 2015.


There is still plenty of work going on at the resort. Most of the projects will not be done until later in 2015.



















The guest check in area is still in the old location but they now have separate check in stands so the cast member can easily come out from behind the counter to greet you.


The lobby is brighter and more open but I miss the intimate feeling of the old lobby.  I didn’t see a lot of people using the new seating areas. I guess it has to grow on you.  What do you think of the new lobby?

See you in the parks!

Tags: , , ,

Category: Disney World

  • shelbytnmom

    The new decor is okay. It basically looks the same to me without the lovely greenery in the middle. The flooring is distracting. They left the skylight which changes the color of the flooring directly underneath the light. It does not look too good. I prefer the former design. Thank you for posting pictures.

  • yankeesusa

    They tried to match the looks and feel of akl and fwl. Although it’s great I really miss the fountain.

  • IndyDVCGF

    The lobby remodel looks great to me! Change is hard, especially when nostalgic for great vacation memories, so I can understand if some people are not happy about the remodel. But, I love the lighting and color. The lobby seems warm, inviting and cheerful. I appreciate open seating areas and can imagine the lobby full of families excited to arrive and sad to leave the beautiful Polynesian!

  • richh19191

    Other than the tree it looks Holiday Innish. I don’t mind change at Disney, but it needs to be for the better, this change like so many recent is not.

  • Goofy_Guy

    They definitely need more seating at Walt Disney World, so this is a plus. The magnificent signature water feature in the middle will be missed, although I must admit it was much too spacious. Too bad they couldn’t have come up with a small water feature to compromise, without one, it’s just a lobby with seats. When the Christmas tree comes down it will be quite nothing. I would think that since there were waterworks already built into the area a wonderfully beautiful, abet small, water feature could have complimented the area nicely. I’m thinking something maybe 10′ long by 5′ wide and 4′ tall with TVs built into the 4 sides of it, a fusion of technology and island serenity.

    • Goofy_Guy

      Maybe a miniature version of the original? Most resort hotel lobbies feature something luxurious, whether it’s a piano/band/glass elevators/fountains/sculptures, this however is just some plants and chairs, are they planning on downgrading this to a low end resort?

  • Eileen Gessig Coalson

    Whatever changes that were made cannot compare with the beauty of the original lobby area

  • Lisa Bell

    Sad to see the waterfall gone.

    • Kathy Werling

      There is a small waterfall in the lobby.

      • Lisa Bell

        Change is always hard. It was a beautiful lobby to begin with. I hope when we visit this summer I will like the new changes. By the way, can’t wait for your new show on the DIS. You are my favorite:)

        • ljc

          I do not mind change, it fact, I usually welcome it…. but this change is really no different than many other hotel lobbies. The former lobby had the kind of impact that keeps Disney above all others – now it looks like so many other high end hotel lobbies, I am afraid.

  • Rafael

    I loved the old lobby, but I think the new one is quite nice as well. The more I think about it and see the pictures, the more it grows on me. I haven’t seen it in person yet, but it seems to make the lobby looks brighter and more alive somehow. The colors are great and the open space lets the architecture shine. The light fixture is awesome and I think when the Tiki statue is added to the fountain, everything will come together.

  • J Wills

    I was a bit apprehensive when they said they were making changes as changes at Disney aren’t always for the better. Having said that, they did a great job, keeping the spirit of the original while adding many nice touches. It also seems brighter in there which is nice.

  • Rianne

    While I agree more seating is a good thing, that seems to be a bit too much. I think they could have compromised and designed a smaller water feature that paid homage to the original lobby with plenty of room for seating left over. But that’s just one engineers vision. Haha. Maybe once the tree comes down after the holidays we’ll get a better perspective. And who knows, maybe they have plans from there!

  • Brent

    Hey Disney, thanks for taking away the most distinctive feature of the Poly and making the atrium look like a generic hotel lobby!

  • Sherry Rini

    I loved the old lobby and think the new one is okay. So much seating – it’s almost as if they are expecting busloads of people to arrive at the same time and they just have you take a number and be seated until its your turn to check in.

    • Marla R. Stevens

      Just like the airport lounge it looks like.

  • Erik Olson

    I think Disney looked at the space as totally inflexible, given the massive installation that dominated the space. The original lobby gave the hotel very little flexibility for temporary exhibits or experiences. Many of the new seating areas are moveable, which gives the resort many more options for configuring the space when needed.

    In my mind, they went a little too far in the opposite direction, but I think that’s why they did this.

    • Marla R. Stevens

      They had plenty of moveable, usable space. This was totally unnecessary.

  • Kim gray

    i am mortified. We have been going since 2000. we have been vacation members since 2009. My family and myself go every summer for two weeks. We would spend days eating, shopping,or just hanging around the waterfall. We would come back with pictures full of the waterfall. Disney has made it look like other hotels. they took away the distinctive look. They took away the beauty and awe of the hotel. They should replace the Christmas tree with something else . I thought the whole idea of changing things was to represent history of Hawaii and its natural beauty. i cant believe they changed it … :( wheres the waterfalls???

    • Kathy Werling

      There is a small waterfall in the new lobby.

      • ljc

        Many hotels have small waterfalls in the lobby – the Polynesian used to have one like no other.

        • Kathy Werling

          I agree with you. I preferred the old waterfall.

  • Jenny

    I just got back! I was there for the big reveal… It was a little disappointing however it was nice to see the lobby opened up. The natural light is nice and the seats do prove useful, they had “carolers” perform in front of the tree and character spots there too so I guess I am okay with the change but maybe for my next trip it will be time to try another hotel.

  • Snidely Whiplash

    What’s “Polynesian” about this lobby now? It actually looks MORE outdated. The plain beams were never as noticeable when you had a fountain to distract you. The whole lobby needs re-imagineered now. Does this still feel like a premium (based on what it costs) resort? No.

  • ljc

    I will miss the waterfall and the luscious plants. They really took you to another world. Now it looks like all other deluxe, Disney resort lobbies. The others are beautiful, but the Polynesian was extra special. Sorry to see this “improvement”.

  • Stefanie Bartolomeo

    Did they take away the water feature just outside the lobby on the lake side? I used to love sitting there hanging out w/some friends & a Lapu Lapu! :)

    • brian

      Yes and it’s sad. That awesome creek out the back door is grass now! Just went there and lobby is generic and the new water feature is really cheap looking. It’s solo small …we were all disappointed and our 10 year tradition of going to that hotel will likely be broken. I think Disney wants people to sta off property so vacation club members can stay.

      This is just a hotel now…it used to be a magical island…no more…just a plain resort hotel now. I’m shocked by how plain it is now

  • Guest 1

    I think the designer who did this also did the renovation for the Villas at Wilderness Lodge and the upcoming Beach Club Villas renovations. Bland and the theme has been lost.

  • Snidely Whiplash

    If you were blindfolded and dropped here, would you think Disney or I-Drive?

  • Cindi

    It has a very retro 70’s mod look. It certainly isn’t very inviting. Where is the water feature? I just think it looks Brady Bunch meets the resort. Maybe I expected too much.

  • jjw5nh

    It’s hard to tell from the pictures but I would put this in the EPIC FAIL category. Disney has always gone where others can not. The water feature has been my best memory of Disney for 39 years. I have stayed at every property but, on each trip, make my way to the Poly to see the masterpiece. Disney, you have to innovate but also recognize that a masterpiece can not get old. Stop changing for the sake of changing. It’s just another hotel now.

  • bond24seven

    Don’t like it anymore….Looks like just a hotel and not a Disney Resort… There is just not much “Polynesian” about it …

  • Joe Momma

    I think they really screwed up & needlessly spent a ton of $$$.

  • Kim gray

    My husband who has been going to Disney World since 1970 told me [ It looks like they took away part of my home] . He also said it looks nothing like the picture they said it would look like . Again I am in awe, Just sooooooo very sad.

  • Disneynut

    It is just fine. It is just a hotel people and one that is never filled due to its high price per night. As a DVC member I am excited to finally be able to stay there. I could never afford to before. They needed more room when the DVC members descend upon the hotel. 2/3 of the rooms are getting upgraded to DVC standards. You should be happy about that. I have been in the original rooms. Yuck. Small beds and small rooms. That elevator needs upgrading to one that can hold more than one person in a scooter or wheelchair. Rooms are way more important than a sculpture in the lobby. The feel of the place is still the same. I will be there in a few weeks to check it out. I am sure one of the gift shops will sell an expanded food selection now to accommodate the DVC. That is a plus right there over the old look. Be happy! It is still disney Magic!

    • Julianne5759

      Polynesian standard rooms are some of the largest on-property, with queen beds. My first visit to the Poly was in 1977, when I was 7 years old. I was here most recently in June 2014, when I was fortunate enough to be in the Tokelau Building. I will never get to stay in that building again, because it is now DVC. So I am definitely NOT happy that DVC is coming, and that the lobby is now so sterile. The whole thing really is LESS magical.

  • Kristin Moore OCallaghan

    I have to say that I am underwhelmed by the look of the lobby. I think it looks nice, but it doesn’t have that WOW factor. I do LOVE the light fixture. I only wish they brought more of the orange and red colors into it, from the furniture below, to make it more cohesive. Too much pastels for the colors scheme below. I’m not sure if it’s the underwhelming tree that is throwing it all off for me. It is far too small, not themed well and seemed put there because it was the only place it could go.
    My other issue is the waterfall (if you can call it that). It looks more like a pile of dinosaur droppings, from the Jurassic Park movie, than a waterfall. I would have preferred that they took that wall with the long orange bench and put a beautiful wall waterfall there with a narrow catch pond at the bottom. Water could have streamed down the wall of uneven rock and tropical flowers planted on it could have given it some color. Water falling down the length of the wall would give that wonderful sound and smell, while keeping the lobby open and airy. This would also give a proper area for a larger tree, in the center of the lobby, during the holidays.

  • john

    How much did it cost to destroy the lobby no more wow factor

  • styxfire

    Compared to previously, this new look is ugly. Certainly not above average. And why did they make the water feature look like a enlarged pile of bear or moose scat? How unfortunate. I am SOOOO glad I had the pleasure of staying there in Apr 2014, before the spirit of the place was destroyed.

  • C. Drake

    I’m sorry, but I hate this new look. The luscious vegetation, flowers and cascading water was what made the lobby look fantastic. It transported you to a different world – which I think is the object of a themed resort. Now it just looks ordinary, cold and insipid.

    • Marla R. Stevens

      You said it perfectly. The old place was fascinating. We used to enjoy looking at that central waterfall garden for hours and it certainly made waiting for dining anything but boring. There was a sense of mystery, too, that this rather generic open plan lacks. This could just as well be a Ramada in Peoria. Disney really screwed this one up.

  • January Seventeenth

    This definitely isn’t ugly, but I preferred the old look. I was there on January 4th and it was just average. The decor is nice but lacks the “Polynesian”feel.

  • fuzzyiron .

    The new water feature looks like a big dump bring back the koi

  • Sadmom

    Disney took a creation with a big Wow-Factor and reduced it to a few sticks of furniture and a strange rock formation. The old lobby needed a little bit of a face lift but this is the equivalent of botched plastic surgery. Was there some reason they did this? How could the number of people involved in a renovation be so wrong? It really does look like one of the Disney evil-doers has played a mean trick on the Polynesian.

  • Mariab

    It looks so much like a “time share” resort now. So sad. The lobby was amazing before and I just couldn’t wait to see the renovation….but so so disappointed. I am just happy me and the family have a picture with the old waterfall.

  • Sue

    I laws just in WDW a few weeks ago and went over to see the new lobby. I have to admit I liked it more then I thought I would.

  • KJEB

    Although I think it needed a facelift, more seating, and the noise level reduced (I didn’t love how loud the old lobby was), I think they went too far and now there is no “wow” factor-it is a plain vanilla lobby. I wish they had kept the original concept with an impressive water feature/garden and just made it smaller and cleaned it up/updated, or better yet, wow’d us with something new. Maybe they were trying to achieve that with the unique chandelier, which I don’t think works in the space because it doesn’t go with the other decor. They should have gone to Hawaii and looked at some of the amazing resorts like the Westin at Kaanapali Beach etc, or better yet, they could have incorporated a lot of the ideas from Disney’s Aulani Resort! Why didn’t they hire those people? If you look at the other Disney Deluxe resorts, they all have major wow factors in their lobby. That is what really sets the tone of the resort and draws guests in and makes them want to sit and enjoy the lobby and most of all makes them want to return. They did not create that here and I think that was a big mistake. They still need a big, impressive water feature inside of some kind to balance out the chandelier. They could have even done 4 sections of small water features and plants around each seating area to keep it intimate and the noise level down. My guess is that the designers thought the outside grounds with the atrium entrance, the massive pool/volcano, and new villas that can all be somewhat viewed from inside would create the wow factor and they were probably trying to draw the attention up and out the windows with the unique chandelier and more basic lobby. But it didn’t feel balanced and they forgot to bring the outside in too. The small volcano area inside does look like a mound of dung. Not a good design plan.

  • Anthony

    Once again Disney pays more attention to the dollar than the vision of Disney. I’ve been going since age 3 when the Orlando park opened in 1971. There was a time when Disney was about the truly magical feeling that could be instilled by one man’s vision to inspire people that anything was possible. Now Disney reminds us that the bottom line is more important than anything else. Walking through those front doors and seeing that massive display with waterfalls (and yes…I go back to when there were tropical birds there as well) and that aroma was something I’d look forward to every time. Sitting on one of the comfortable couches and reading a book while having a drink and listening to the waterfalls is something that can’t be replaced. I have no problem with innovation and new ideas as long as they’re innovative. I welcome and look forward to new rides and attractions but I also look forward to the things that preserve Disney past. I understand it was more expensive to maintain the center atrium with the waterfalls and humidity levels etc. but with Disney raising prices almost every year, they couldn’t keep the centerpiece of the Polynesian in place? I’d like to meet the unimaginative person who came up with this design. Please tell me you don’t call yourself an Imagineer. Anthony Casale Clifton NJ