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Plans for a Re-Imagined Disney’s Polynesian Resort Include a Nostalgic Name Change

Michelle Baumann

by , Walt Disney World Public Relations


Earlier today, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis announced some news about one of our most iconic resort hotels – Disney’s Polynesian Resort. As part of a complete re-imagining, Disney’s Polynesian Resort is returning to its original, 1971 opening day name: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.


The sweeping renovation, happening now, also includes a new food and beverage experience opening for guests next year, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto — based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. There’s going to be lots more updates on this beachside family favorite, so stay tuned.


  • I am glad the Poly is getting well deserved attention, but I don’t know if I will be able to bring myself to stay there with the loss of the water feature in the GCH. That is one thing that made the Polynesian what it is and stands for. Disney PLEASE listen to you guests and fans, let the water feature stay!

  • I for one are happy they are taking out the waterfall. I like the new original logo Tiki and smaller waterfall as pictured. Looks great! Great they are going back to the original name. However, the best news is I am absolutely ecstatic that a Trader’s Sam is being added. The Polynesian Village needed a classic tiki bar desperately. Tambu Lounge never really cut it in terms of atmosphere, long over due!

  • Hopefully, it’ll go back to being the resort I remember from my nostalgic 70’s trips–
    Nowadays, the resort is almost literally HALF DVC villas, and it’s harder to get rooms for the rest of us who just want to spend a week on the beach.

  • I would also hate to see the beautiful lobby water feature gone! It is a family favorite.

  • It seems like today has been a big news day for Walt Disney World and I’m excited for some of the changes announced for the Poly. However I would be very sad if the lobby water feature were totally removed. It gives the lobby a certain sound and aroma(one of my favorite Walt Disney World smells) and I would really miss it if it were gone.

  • Please don’t take out the waterfall in the lobby! That just MAKES your arrival at the Polynesian. It’s one of the things that makes the Polynesian what it is. It makes me incredibly sad to see it go.

  • As has been said more than once by previous posters, I am very disappointed that WDW is taking out the iconic waterfall and garden feature of the Polynesian. It brings back such great childhood memories of staying there throughout the 70’s and 80’s while growing up. To this day nothing makes me feel at home at Disney like the smell of that lobby. It is nice to know that WDW is going back to the original name, and also doing some much needed updating to certain areas. Wish they could leave our waterfall alone though.

  • I’ll add my voice to the chorus lamenting the loss of the water feature. We’ve been fortunate enough to stay at the Polynesian annually for about ten years now, and it will be sorely missed. I had held out hope that somehow they would equal, if not “plus” the existing water feature (to use one of Imagineering’s terms). There are ways they could have done so while opening up floor space and achieving the “look-through” effect from the entrance to the pool & lagoon that they wanted. That said, I’ll give it at least one stay when all the work is done before swearing the resort off. It is still “the Poly”, after all.

  • I have never stayed at the Polynesian Resort however, we do go there every time we visit Disney, which is every year, to see the beautiful lobby. The highlight of the lobby is the waterfall. Our cherished memories are those of the beautiful waterfall. Please let others have those same cherished memories of seeing an actual waterfall in a lobby of a resort.

  • The new name and signage looks great and I am really excited about Trader Sam’s Grotto. However, I am heart-broken to see the water feature go. It is the most iconic and favorite part of this resort. The sight, smell, and sound is very nostalgic for me.

  • I had to re-read this 10 times, but I still do not see where you guys all see that they are removing the waterfall?

  • I think change can be a good thing BUT please do not remove that beautiful waterfall!! My family and I have visited the Poly on many occasions and every time we walk into that lobby it just takes my breath.

  • My family has been going to Disney World every year since before I was born. I am now 27 and the tradition has continued. Each trip does not “officially” start until a trip to the Polynesian. The water fall in the lobby always brings back memories of my grandparents and trips as a kid. The loss of this icon and special place is greatly disappointing and I hope the powers at be listen to everyone here and reconsider. The rest of the changes look great and I always look forward to what is next for Disney to roll out, just leave the waterfall.

  • The image could be of the lobby of the DVC property.

  • My first Walt Disney World memory is of being in awe of that waterfall in the lobby of the Polynesian. That was in 1980. I was six. Even though 34 years have passed and I’m now 40, I still gaze in awe at the waterfall every time I enter the Polynesian. Please don’t remove this amazing water feature and deny millions of future guests the same memories I have.

  • Oh, no…this can’t be true! We’ve been coming to the Polynesian every year since it opened. There is such a special feeling when you walk into the lobby. It feels like you are really some place special. The sound, the smells and the visual effect is truly something to experience. Please don’t remove the waterfall!

  • I love the name change (and the return of the original font!), but i agree with everyone here that the removal of the waterfall is heartbreaking–I still remember seeing it for the first time as a child and having my mind blown.

  • Please!do not remove the water feature. I’ve enjoyed sitting next to that fountain since I was very young. I’ve been to Disney over 20 times and always go by there (if not staying there) to sit and relax and enjoy the environment.

  • Polynesian is our ‘coming home’ resort. We stay here every time we come to Walt Disney World. Without the waterfall in the main lobby, this will no longer feel like home to us. I can’t bear to return without this iconic symbol intact. We will miss the Polynesian.

  • I know that the humidity must be wreaking havoc on all the wood, but that waterfall is what MAKES the Poly such a unique experience! You immediately feel pulled into a completely different world, just as a Deluxe Resort should! Our favorite tiki idol is certainly cute, but he makes for a very poor weenie.

  • I’m confused…. where does it say they are removing the waterfall?? That is just a drawing and we all know that things never end up the way they start out in a first draft. And besides I still see a fountain in that drawing…. maybe they just plan to make it a little smaller?!

  • I sense a recurring theme in all these comments. And I join the sentiment: the waterfall is one of the most beautiful things on property, and a highlight of my previous visits. I hope it stays.

  • Sad about the waterfall going away 🙁 It’s my favorite lobby!

  • I am very much hoping that Disney changes their mind about the removal of the water feature and garden! This concept art makes the lobby look so sterile; like a copy of a million other hotel lobbies. The magic that made the Polynesian special is definitely not there! Please reconsider! Love the addition of Trader Sam’s though.

  • Please do not remove the waterfall.

  • Sad about the waterfall removal. (Everybody agrees on that!) But, another Trader Sam’s is really great.

  • Please leave the lobby waterfall and beautiful plants!!!

  • PLEASE! Please do not take out the water feature! We have annual pictures of our family for the last 8 years in front of that (and mine as a child!). The waterfall is part of “coming home” to the Polynesian!!

  • I am very sad that you are removing the waterfall feature in the lobby. It is what made me excited to go to the poly walk in just to look at it and smell it. I wish that you would not take it away.

  • Hopefully these are some of those renderings that are NOT exactly what the end product will be. We were at the poly this week, water fall is alive and well. Hopefully they will realize this is the icon of the poly and not remove the waterfall.

  • No more waterfall in the lobby? Oh that just breaks my heart. I loved the smell and the sounds when you walked in!

  • The loss of the waterfall is heartbreaking. This has been my Disney “happy place” for 30 years. So sad to see it go 🙁

  • I’ve been hearing for months of the removal of the water feature and hoping it wouldn’t happen. Please Disney, listen to your fans! Leave the fountain! I hate to see you go back to the original name but lose the original vision. Please leave it!

  • Oh No! Change anything, but please don’t take the lobby water fall!

  • Sad to see the waterfall go, since it was really nice, but overall these improvements look fantastic. I loved my visit to Trader Sam’s at DL last year and am very excited that Sam is expanding his business out to Florida.

  • I love that we’re getting a Trader Sam’s, but it breaks my heart to lose the waterfall!

  • I do miss the waterfall in the lobby this will best for all!

  • I love the change back to the classic name, but am deeply saddened that the waterfall and planter which is the heart and soul of the Poly’s lobby will be removed.

  • Our family calls the Poly our “home away form home.” So many family photos are centered around the atrium at the Grand Ceremonial House, and the waterfall. I understand progress happens, and improvements need to be made, but this doesn’t seem like either to me. Very saddened by this loss.

  • Also incredibly sad to see the waterfall go. Back when we could afford Polynesian Village, we stayed there every year. And yes, we still call it Polynesian Village, so I am happy that the name is returning. BUT, losing that waterfall is devastating…truly. I am sure y’all will come up with something nice, but I have a hard time believing it will ever replace that waterfall and garden.

  • SO excited Trader Sams is coming to Walt Disney World! It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Disneyland, and the Polynesian is the perfect home for it! Will it be an intimate lounge like the original, or something on a bigger scale?

  • Wow!! Great to see Polynesian getting a refresh… though I surely hope they find some way to maintain some of the beautiful garden/waterfall. I mean… please don’t sterilize that area too much! (re: Concept Art shown here).

    On the other hand.. BRING ON TRADER SAM’S! That lounge in DLR is SO fun! Very excited to see a new version here!


  • Dear Imagineers: Do not remove the water feature… this is a mainstay of the resort.

  • Trader Sam’s was one of the highlights of my trip to Disneyland a few years ago. I hope the new location is just as amazing!

  • +1 disappointed in the loss of the water feature – that MADE the Poly lobby! Very sad to see it gone in the renderings.

  • I’m all for a little change. I think Trader Sam’s will be great.

  • This is nice, and I am sure first-time visitors will enjoy the new lobby. However, the Polynesian Resort has been my home away from home for twenty+ years, and I will forever lament the loss of the beautiful lobby waterfall.

  • You can’t really be removing the rainforest/fountain from the lobby?!

  • I am very happy they are putting some effort into the Poly, a family favorite for us since 1973.

    But the loss of that beautiful garden and waterfall is heartbreaking. The Poly IS our “Happy Place”. I would just sit for hours in that lobby enjoying the flowers and the tranquil waterfall.

    SO, SO saddened to see it go. 🙁

  • Awwww… Goodbye lobby water feature. 🙁

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