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.’ 😉
Yes, 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.
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 🙂