While many people know that the Polynesian was built using the same modular construction technology as Disney’s Contemporary Resort, there are still many fascinating tidbits to learn about the Poly.
Here are six fascinating facts about the Polynesian Village Resort:
1 – Walt Liked The Polynesian Vibe
Sources report that Walt and his wife Lillian began vacationing in Hawaii in the mid-1930s. It was around that time, after World War II, that American’s interest in Polynesian culture began to grow. Walt’s interest in it grew as well. In the 1950s, Walt enjoyed visiting Polynesian supper clubs that were all the rage. Disney is quoted as saying that he wanted to build his own Polynesian-themed restaurant, complete with talking birds and flowers. Of course, that dream eventually became The Enchanted Tiki Room (which represented the birth of audio-animatronics), and Walt got his Polynesian-themed restaurants at the Polynesian Village Resort.
2 – The Hotel Was Supposed To Be 12 Stories High
Some of the early architectural renderings for the original Polynesian building showed it as a twelve story high-rise structure with angled sides – a design every similar to the resorts being constructed in Hawaii back in the 1960s. Fortunately, we ended up with the current (and much more timeless) long-house design.
3 – The Polynesian Was Cheap
Of course, cheap is a relative term. When the Polynesian Village Resort first opened in 1971, you could get a room for between $29 and $44. That $29 in 1971 terms is about the same as $167 in 2015 terms. And while $167 is still a relatively pricy room, it is downright cheap when compared the starting price of $475+ per night that the Polynesian charges today.
4 – You Could Catch A Wave At The Poly
Dick Nunis, who was both a surfer and the Disney Vice-President of Park Operations at the time, thought it would be cool if guests could catch a wave and surf near the Polynesian. So at a reported cost of more than $400,000, Disney installed a huge wave-making machine across the lagoon from the Polynesian. It worked! Actually, it worked too well. The huge waves not only made it hard for boats to navigate the waters, but they also eroded the beach. In addition, the machinery kept breaking down. Disney eventually removed the equipment.
5 – Name Changes
Originally the hotel was called the Polynesian Village Resort, but in the 1980s the name was changed to Disney’s Polynesian Resort – removing the word “Village.” However, it seems that everything old is new again: Disney recently announced it would change the name of the resort back to the Polynesian Village Resort. Over time Disney added buildings, increasing the room count from the original total of 492 rooms to 847. Disney also renamed the buildings with island names.
6 – The Beatles Broke Up At The Poly
According to a book about John Lennon by May Pang, the famous band, The Beatles was officially dissolved at the Polynesian Village Resort. Ringo signed the legal dissolution papers in the UK, and Paul and George signed that paperwork in New York. But John failed to show up to the meeting in New York. In late 1974 the lawyers shipped the documents to Florida, where John was staying, and at the Polynesian he became the final Beatle to sign the papers that officially broke up the band.
Are you a fan of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort?