I get it.

I usually try to avoid too many opinion posts, because honestly, in my 30 years of life, if I have learned one valuable lesson, when it comes to opinions: everyone is entitled to one. When opinions are expressed, there are some that agree (or disagree) and move on, but in many cases, there are conflicts – which in themselves, can be healthy – but often, they turn the way of personal attacks and full-blown wars of words – but this topic, for some reason, is one that I cannot seem to get off my mind, so I had to share.

So, what earth-shattering subject could I possibly be talking about? Political crises? Eh, no thanks. Human Rights Violations? Too deep for this blog. World Conflict? Well, kind of – if by ‘World,’ you mean, ‘Walt Disney World.’ 😉

IMG_0245Yes, folks, this post is my response to the outrage expressed at the recent announcement of changes to Disney’s Polynesian Resort. In addition to a nostalgic name-change, and the introduction of a well-done concept in Disneyland, there have been renderings of a facelift to come to the lobby of the resort. Read more about it here, if you haven’t yet.

These changes, presumably foretold in artist renderings, create a more open concept at the entrance of the lobby, with updated fixtures, furniture, and, to the apparent outrage of the Internet (see that posts’ comments, for starters), a removal of the large, tropical fountain that has resided in the lobby since the resorts’ opening in 1971.

Now, I don’t say these words to discredit the beauty, and the tranquility of that lobby water feature, because believe me, I enjoy it, too. I remember the first time I walked in that lobby; it was the Spring of 2007, and I was celebrating with some fellow cast members by dining at ‘Ohana – and I was instantly mesmerized by the lovely sounds of water, the faint chlorine smell, and the rush of tropical flowers. It actually smelled like the Honolulu International Airport, and that was so welcoming, as I had spent many summers visiting the islands with my family when I was growing up. After that visit, I returned several times – sometimes just meeting friends to scope out the Kona Cafe, others stopping at the Tambu Lounge for one of those fabulous Lapu Lapus, and still, other times (back when I was a local) just reading or spending quiet moments, seated on the built-in seating adjacent to the fountain.

You might say that my limited exposure to the fountain may also double as the reason why I feel indifferent about its departure, and to that point, I might agree. I didn’t grow up with Walt Disney World, that fact is true – my first visit was in 1998, and back then, our trip consisted of two stops: the Magic Kingdom, and Disney-MGM Studios. The fact that dozens of Walt Disney World Resorts even existed, or what the heck, or where the heck that monorail went – those facts were lost on me. I would return to the Lake Buena Vista area again, in 2005 – my first visit to Epcot, and Animal Kingdom, which prompted me to pursue the college program in the Fall of 2006, which opened my eyes to the beauty, majesty, and sheer size of that kingdom of magic, the Walt Disney World Resort.

So yes, you would be correct that I don’t have that long-standing relationship with the Polynesian Resort – or the Polynesian Village Resort, for that matter. However, my relationship with Disney Parks does, in fact, go back much farther than 1998 – about 13 years, as a matter of fact. You see, I grew up in Japan, just a few hours drive from Tokyo Disneyland (see more about that here) and so, that was my “home away from home.” Even when my family lived across a sea from Japan, in South Korea, I was fortunate enough to have grandparents who delighted in taking me to my favorite, most magical place, where I would revel in the happy melodies of it’s a small world, swashbuckle with the best of them in Pirates of the Caribbean, and look on, in wonder, at the majestic Electrical Parade as it passed down the wide streets from Cinderella Castle. I am fortunate that those attractions still exist, so that I may relive those wonderful memories.

My "Poly Fountain."
My “Poly Fountain.”

There is, of course, one major exception to these nostalgic trips down memory lane – and it involves three words: “Mickey Mouse Revue.” Yup, that attraction, consisting of dozens of audio-animatronic Disney characters, singing songs, playing music, and scene changing on a giant stage, that was shipped all the way from Walt Disney World, to be a Tokyo Disneyland opening day attraction? Yes, it was one of my most favorite things ever. I loved the pink waiting area, with the tromp l’oeil Mickeys, and the admittedly hokey pre-show filmed at Disneyland – just everything. I loved hearing the songs switch from English to Japanese almost as much as seeing the little movements of each character.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and on my last visit to Tokyo Disneyland, I was met with the crushing sadness that Mickey Mouse Revue had performed its last set, and the 3-D animated “Mickey’s Philharmagic” would be replacing it. As you can see from the image above, it was a sad moment for me – but here I am, more than three years later – and you know what? I’m fine.

In changing the attraction to a more updated, presumably more crowd efficient and modern show, Tokyo Disneyland made a move to keep in line with Walt Disney’s forward thinking quote:

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

This quote reminds me that we might not always agree with changes to some of our most beloved and cherished places, but sometimes, such shifts may allow us to be thankful for the memories we were able to make, and embrace what the future holds – not to mention, things get old. Seriously. While some things might seem amazing and wonderful in our minds, sometimes we need to channel Elsa (yes, I went there) and just let it go.

To me, soon-to-be “Polynesian Village Resort, 2.0” is another opportunity to increase the staying power of a fantastic piece of Walt Disney World history. By renovating and enhancing the resort, and its features, it ensures a prosperous future, for both repeat guests and enthusiasts, as well as those experiencing the magic for the first time. While I do believe it is important for Disney to keep close to its roots, they are also a company, and I’m sure it can be dismaying to read negative comments from high-paying guests regarding its aged appearance.

I welcome any comments or differing opinions, but please, be respectful to other commenters if your view is different 🙂


  1. Aw this makes me sad too! The first Disney vacation that I remember (I had been a couple times when I was like 4) we stayed at the Polynesian and it was an amazing vacation. I was back last month staying somewhere else but we had brunch at Ohana and the fountain brought back all those memories from that first trip there. Boo.

  2. I did grow up going to Disney World. My parents split when I was 5 and my mom moved to the Tampa area. Disney was something we did every summer. However, we never stayed on property. The first time I actually stayed there was with my now husband back in 2005. He told me to pick whatever hotel I wanted and I picked the Poly. Why? I don’t know but it just appealed to me (yes even over the GF) and we stayed there exclusively for years. We even stayed there 10 nights when we got married. I have wedding pictures there too. It has always been a favorite. Having said that, I AGREE with the renovations. The water feature was very nice and all, but I don’t think you got that big wow factor when you first walked in. Like you do at the GF, AKL and such. The Poly is an old resort and Disney has progressed so much that I think any change will only make it that much better. It is sad and I will miss it, but I can’t wait to see what the new version looks like in person!

  3. I totally agree with you. I’m known to be overly sentimental and goodness knows nostalgic but I’m not resistant to change. When I worked for The Disney Store and saw Winnie the Pooh encroaching on my beloved Fab Five gang, I would joke that I would quit when they put Pooh on the bags and boxes. I quit before that happened – but it did happen and I’m fine with it.

    The fact that the parks change is one of my main motivations to visit relatively frequently. I’d hate for something to come and go between visits and never get to experience it.

    Yes I miss Horizons. But I’m fine.

  4. Well said.

    Disneyland is my home Park. My first visit might have been around 1957. Many things have come and gone, and I miss them. When the Magic Kingdom opened, the Carousel of Progress left California for Florida. It was a favorite of mine. The PeopleMover was replaced with the short-lived and ill conceived Rocket Rods. CircleVision was removed at the same time. Etc.

    But I get to cherish the memories (Rainbow Caverns, Mission to the Moon, Mission to Mars, Flying Saucers, the Skyway, Monsanto’s House of the Future, etc.) AND I get to enjoy the new attractions that have come in their place.

    Plus, Walt Disney World will soon become my home Disney park, and I’l get to relive several ‘lost’ rides, like Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Country Bear Jamboree, and the Electric Light Parade.

    Change is not always comfortable, but is a fact of life. Cherish the memories and enjoy the present.

    • Rick –

      I love Disneyland so much. Have you ever visited Yesterland.com? It’s a fantastic site to check out all the extinct attractions 🙂

      I also agree with you about change and love your statement: “Cherish the memories and enjoy the present.”

  5. So i’m not sure I understand this. Do you mean that they are not just renovating the Poly? Are the re-designing it and changing the name? It sure is a shame that they are taking out the fountain/ waterfall in the lobby.

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