First look: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to reopen this summer with “Moana” theme
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Editor’s note: This piece has been updated with additional information.
Disney World unlocked the gates to its theme parks in July of 2020, but that doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal at the Most Magical Place on Earth. From the elimination of free Magic Bands for resort guests, a pause on nighttime fireworks, completely altered character interactions and parades, an upcoming sunsetting of the free Magical Express Bus and more, the next time you visit Disney World may be very different than your most recent pre-pandemic visit.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, one of the original properties that opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971 (and my personal favorite), was set to fully reopen in October — but like a lot of plans during COVID-19, things changed. In fact, after shutting its doors due to the pandemic in March of 2020, the hotel remained at least partially closed for more than a year. It’s now scheduled to reopen in July 2021 — and we’ve gotten our first peek at its all-new look.
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Disney took advantage of the closure and decreased demand to give its Polynesian Village Resort a refresh. And now, Disney is giving us a first look. Here’s what we know about the revamp, which Disney rolled out today.
New “Moana” inspiration
This isn’t your standard makeover. The iconic hotel got an infusion of “Moana” theming, including “several characters and references to the story,” such as the heart of Te Fiti. Disney traditionalists shouldn’t worry, though, as the new look is “‘Moana’-inspired in places,” not a completely themed experience.
Today’s press release from Disney confirms these details, highlighting a “new color palette inspired by the Pacific Ocean and its many islands.” Guests will find new furnishings, fixtures and room details. “The sandy ocean floor inspires the bathroom tiles and vanity’s carved details, complementing the fresh, modern overall approach to these reimagined rooms,” according to Disney.
Beyond the rooms, the resort will feature “a dramatic new porte cochere that will enhance the arrival experience.”
Monorail service to the resort will also return in the summer after being suspended in early October, and even the station got a refresh.
If you had your hopes really set on a Disney Polynesian stay before the summer, there’s still a way to do that while the standard hotel rooms and some amenities remain closed for refurbishment. The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) rooms and villas at the Polynesian are open — and will remain open. Best of all, you can stay in those rooms even if you aren’t a Disney Vacation Club owner.
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At times, you can book these DVC rooms directly from Disney on the Disney website. You can find even more availability (and potentially a better price), however, by renting DVC points from a Vacation Club owner and having him or her book the stay.
I rented DVC points to stay at the property in July of 2020 after Disney transferred my original booking to the Contemporary, as standard hotel rooms weren’t going to reopen. If you have a room booked at the Polynesian that has been affected by the extended closure, I’d expect Disney will also offer to move your reservation to another deluxe hotel, such as the Contemporary.
But for travelers who do stay in DVC rooms during the refurbishment, an added perk will be far fewer people at the pools and using other amenities since only the DVC rooms are open.
Even in a pandemic, Disney is always up to something.
While some new Disney World offerings have been delayed or canceled, and the Polynesian Village Resort stayed in partial hibernation-mode longer than we expected, it has emerged on the other side even more enticing for travelers who want a touch of “Moana” and Maui to go with their Mickey and Minnie Disney getaway.
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