Walt Disney World - Disney's Polynesian Resort
One of the biggest disappointments on the trip was when we visited Disney's Polynesian Resort. It seemed as if nearly the entire resort was under construction.
The Polynesian dates back to 1971 and the opening of Walt Disney World. This Magic Kingdom resort located on the monorail line is (or at least it *usually* is) one of the finest resorts in central Florida. From the tropical theming to the luxurious accommodations to something only described as "the spirit of aloha," this has always been one of our favorite resorts to visit.
We knew ahead of time that part of the resort was under construction and being converted to the Disney Vacation Club time share system (a bad move for the resort, BTW). What we did not know was that most of the Great Ceremonial House (the main building) was also under construction as well as the volcano swimming pool, part of the beach and luau point, the waterfall outside of the Great Ceremonial House, and even the resort's arcade.
While inside of the Great Ceremonial House and when walking around the resort, there is ZERO feeling of aloha. Absolutely none. It's a complete waste of time until the massive construction project is complete. We felt sorry for the people staying there and could only hope that they still weren't being charged full price. With most of the resort being refurbished (including the main swimming pool), visitors should be avoiding this resort like the plague.
Inside of the Great Ceremonial House you're greeted with a huge construction wall that surrounds the central display in the building. Unfortunately, this is a rather large display and the walls really create an enclosed and claustrophobic atmosphere. This area used to have a large waterfall. In the earlier days of the resort this was also where you could find some parrots.
According to the concept artwork on the construction walls, the central waterfall is going to be replaced with a smaller version, one that will also have what looks like a Polynesian tiki god (like in the resort's signs). That doesn't explain though why the waterfall outside of the resort was turned off and emptied, why one of the stairwells was blocked by walls, or why the former arcade was also behind construction walls.
Behind the Great Ceremonial House you'll quickly notice the large area of construction in the middle of the resort. This enclosed area includes the famous volcano pool as well as the entire creek that flowed into the pool. If you had plans on swimming at the Polynesian, you'll have to instead use the small side pool.
When it was announced that Disney's Polynesian Resort would be the next resort to feature (more or less) the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), one of the biggest questions was where would they add it? All of the other resorts had new structures built for the DVC (like at Wilderness Lodge, the Beach Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Contemporary, and most recently the Grand Floridian). But the Polynesian doesn't have a whole lot of extra space for that kind of an expansion.
It turns out that Disney is taking the three buildings on the west side of the resort and converting them into DVC accommodations. The three buildings are greyed out on the right side of the resort map. Considering the size of those buildings, it looks like the Poly might be losing about a third of its total rooms to the DVC.
All is not lost.
Just off the beach you'll notice a series of buildings at the Polynesian Resort. These are bungalows, just as you would see at some upscale resorts in the South Pacific.
This new snack stand was also spotted at the Poly. Just outside of the rear exit doors of the Great Ceremonial House is the Pineapple Lanai, a small refreshment stand that appears to sell the popular dole whip frozen treats from Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom.
The best experience at Disney's Polynesian Resort was the monorail station. Sadly, monorail yellow was the only ray of sunshine this time at the resort. I know that this resort is going to look outstanding once all of the construction is finished, but there's simply too much construction at the resort right now. There's zero magic or spirit of aloha for the guests. It's incredibly bland and depressing.
Once again, I can only hope that Disney still isn't charging the guests full price to stay at the resort during this construction. Too much of the resort is closed behind the construction walls for it to be anywhere close to being an enjoyable experience.
Walt Disney World - miscellaneous
Not even the Magic Kingdom was excluded from construction or eyesores. Here we can see a very large crane obstructing the skyline of the theme park.
While on board the Epcot monorail we saw that there were two areas of construction in Future World. A large area by Innoventions was under construction, and a second (and much smaller) area by the American flag was also behind the construction walls.
On a side note, is that a new paint job that I see on Innoventions? Interesting.
Throughout Epcot were the decorations and extra facilities for this year's running of the Food and Wine Festival. We could see only some of the decorations from the monorail.
The Disney buses have slowly been given new paint jobs. I did see some buses having a paint job specifically advertising the Disney value resorts (All-Star Resorts, Pop Century, etc.).
It's always a pleasure to visit Disney's Contemporary Resort. This Magic Kingdom resort is on the monorail line and is one of the original resorts that opened back in 1971. At the Contemporary, the prestige for most people is staying in the Tower and facing Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom.
This time around we took a walk by the pool and then the South Garden Wing. The pool was busy as daytime temperatures were reaching the low 90s. After that we toured the Grand Canyon Concourse and did the obligatory view of the Magic Kingdom from the hotel's balcony.
Construction is finished at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and the new Disney Vacation Club villas are open for guests.
Just how much does it cost to use Disney's new Rapid Fill souvenir drink refill cup program?
If you only want to use the cup for one day, it's $8.99. Two days cost $11.99, three days have a fee of $14.99, and four or more days (length of stay) costs $17.99. Obviously this is a better deal the longer that you plan on using the refill cup at the resorts.
Starting about a year or so ago, Disney changed its drink refill stations throughout the resorts. The drink stations are still self-service, but now they all have sensors that require a special cup to activate. It used to be where you could purchase a drink cup for like $2.50 to use with your meal, and then have free refills for the rest of your meal. That policy has ended and now you need a special souvenir cup with a sensor that will activate the machine.
Personally, I don't like this change, but it was brought about by all of the people abusing the system by using alternate cups to get free drinks out of the machines.
Walt Disney World - 2014 T-Shirts (and Sandals) of Disney
It looks like Disney has really stepped up with creating new batches of t-shirts each year. Many of the shirts look good, especially the retro ones. I hope that Disney continues with this tend.