Looking Back: Disney World's Polynesian Village Resort Hotel

What we know as Disney World's Polynesian Resort has been at WDW since the beginning in 1971. But in the beginning, it was known as Disney World's Polynesian Village.

The original logo for the resort, at left, was recovered from a matchbox and posted online.

But for some reason, the name was altered a bit. Parkeology reports that in the 1980s, "village" was dropped from the title.

Aside from the zapping of the word "village," many other things have changed at the Poly.

Many dining locations have changed. What we now know as Kona Cafe was once the Coral Island Cafe. 'Ohana was once the Papeete Bay Verandah. And Tangaroa Terrace closed in 1996, and is only used for group functions today. If you once hit the buffet at the South Seas Dining Room, well, no luck doing that today. It was remodeled into the BouTiki store in 2005.

Luaus have existed at the Poly from the beginning. What's known now as the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show has existed over the years as the Polynesian Revue, Kaui-Pono Polynesian Revue, South Seas Luau and Polynesian Luau. Disney characters were featured in Mickey's Tropical Revue, which ran from the mid-1980's until June 1999.

If you went to any of these shows in the 70s, 80s or early 90s, odds are you saw fire knife dancer Homer "Homa" P. Leapai. See more about Homer and the changes at the Poly over the years at Walt Dated World.

Do you have a favorite Polynesian memory? Did you visit the Polynesian Village Resort Hotel in the 70s or 80s? Leave a comment below!

Jeffery Terrell wrote on Wed, 03/09/2011 - 23:09:

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In the late 70's and 80's our family went to WDW for spring break every year, and we always stayed at the Polynesian Village. The year my grandmother died, my grandfather wanted us to take him to WDW and to stay at the Polynesian Village during Christmas. We enjoyed it so much during Christmas, that we spent several more Christmas's there, instead of spring breaks.

bet-c wrote on Thu, 03/10/2011 - 18:41:

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I remember getting the Shell necklaces. I still have mine!

Kristen H wrote on Mon, 03/14/2011 - 01:49:

Kristen H's picture

Wow, those are some wonderful Polynesian Village memories! Thanks so muc for sharing.

JeffC wrote on Wed, 03/16/2011 - 02:19:

I know that we took a family vacation in October 1971 to the park. We stayed at the Contemporary, and I do remember we did the Polynesian dinner show thingie.

I was only 8 though and honestly, don't remember much other than to recall I was there! I really wish I could remember more of that...but these days I am lucky to remember where I put my reading glasses =:o

jennifer p wrote on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 23:05:

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i remember spending christmas at polynesian villiage with my grandparents and mom its was the best ever and a wonderful memory of my grandparents the waitress in the resteraunt always had a bowl of oatmeal and hot chocolate for me in the mornings it was the last christmas i had with my mawmaw before she died.

Dee wrote on Wed, 06/01/2011 - 02:20:

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I remember bringing our children on many trips and my husband and oldest son as the only ones old enough to pilot the boats they rented. The younger children rode with them. We would walk through the garden and the fragrance of gardenias was heavenly!! Now they are all grown and bring their children to Disney for family fun. My husband & I have visited with two of our sons and their families; but, I can't deny it...we love visiting just the two of us, also. We were down last year in early Dec. and stayed at the Polynesian for the first time!! So beautiful...no words to describe! We have dined there many times before and went to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show a few times...very enjoyable to say the least!! Was talking to a friend who remembers the Luau shows of the past having a roast pig on a spit as part of the dinner extravaganza. Does anyone else remember that? Thanks for the help. Can't wait to return to Disney and hopefully the Polynesian again late this year or early in 2012!!

Jack Biz wrote on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 00:08:

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I have a great memory of WDW. It was a huge time for our family. My sister died at the age of 14 in 1971. My other sister was 10 and I was 7 we were so sad. The family was fractured. In August of 72' family went to WDW for a convention. We stayed at the Contemporary. I remember my Mom was still in morning. I remember she was always wearing black. I vividly remember opening the closet only to see all these dark clothes hanging. I turned to me Dad and said we have to save Mom. My Dad said you are right. We all went to the Poly and bought her at least 5 new Hawaiian Dress and sandals. We went back to the room and packed up all the black clothes and had them shipped back home. When my Mom came back from her business meeting we had a beautiful flowered dress laid out on the bed. My Dad told her we had decided it was enough. This place in magic and that is what we need. We went to the Luau at the Poly. My sister and I laughed and sang and mom and dad drank.. It was the first and last time I ever saw them "tie one on". After that we made a trip back to WDW at least every other year until I was 18 or so. I will always remember and still believe WDW helped my family stay together.

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