Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Walt Disney World, Polynesian Resort 1971

Here are more very early photos from Walt Disney World, circa November 1971! All three of today's examples feature the Polynesian Resort - if you weren't staying at the Contemporary Hotel, you were probably staying at the Polynesian. (Can't I do both?). Mr. X took some neat pictures of the shops in this general area, but we'll see those in a future post.

As usual, my knowledge of all things WDW is next to nil, so I will have to rely on you guys! For instance... check out this parking lot. I like those lights! And there's enough avocado green for everyone. I think I can see a Monorail through the wooden slats, so this must be the station on WDW's Monorail loop. It all feels very sunny and inviting.

Tropical plants, tiki torches, and a lovely splashing waterfall are all things that I want in my own personal Polynesian-style estate. As is often the case, I have this strong urge to jump into that water, especially the upper pool, where I could relax with an ice-cold tiki cocktail while everyone else sweats it out in the heat.

Next we're looking toward more Polynesian resort structures, from the Seven Seas Lagoon. Where is everybody? Maybe November in Florida isn't as warm as I always thought. I presume that this was taken late in the afternoon - or else it was just a hazy day. My understanding is that, like the Contemporary, the Polynesian has been expanded considerably since these early days, increasing its capacity, but losing much of its original charm.


Unknown said...

The first picture is the great ceremonial house where the front desk, shops, restaurants and, yes, the monorail station is located. Walking in, there are water features on both sides of the sidewalk. The second picture is of the water feature on the right side of the sidewalk heading inside. it has expanded and interior colors have changed over time, but I feel it still retains its original identity much better than the contemporary has over time.

Nanook said...


Well, well, well - it's motoring time at GDB. I can't figure out the white car. I want to say Ford, but... And then, an avocado green 1968 Pontiac [possibly GTO]; then another 'green' I want to say Chevrolet station wagon; then a white (w/ "wood" side panels) 1966 Ford Country Squire station wagon. Peeking-in from the far right is a blue, 1957 Ford Fairlane.

Hey Major - please move over - you're not the only one who wants to while away the hours in the upper pool-!

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

No less than six station wagons. I am avocado green with envy.

I've said this before, but I really love how the angled rooflines, coloring, and landscaping do a fabulous job of hiding the fact that the Polynesian's buildings are really just a very cleverly-disguised modern, rectangular, modularly-constructed hotel. And I love it for that.

Looking forward to more Polynesian, Major!

Pegleg Pete said...

Great photos today, Major – thanks! Oh how I wish my family had stayed at the Polynesian back in the '70s. Alas, we always stayed off-site back then. And yes, as 'unknown' pointed out above, despite the changes in the decades since, the Polynesian today remains truer to its original conception than the Contemporary.

Alonzo P Hawk said...


The station wagon was truely the SUV of the 60's and 70's. The Griswold's are probably pulling in the lot in the Deluxe Queen Family Truckster as we speak.
Nice photo's. Many thanks to Major and Mr. X.

P.S. I love how the monorail looks all stealthy behind the station facade/cover.

DrGoat said...

We had a 1958 Chevy Nomad station wagon which brought us to Disneyland many times. There were about 6 station wagons on our block of varying makes.

K. Martinez said...

Nice shots of the Polynesian Village. Always liked the look of the Great Ceremonial House at the first shot is awesome for the various shades of green. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful hotel. Good to hear it hasn't been ruined with remodeling.

@Chuck, that's the magic of architecture, making efficiency look good.

Our wagon was a big teal-blue Oldsmobile (1962 or 63 i think), I always wished it had the viewliner windows in the roof, but we were always grateful for the air conditioning, which the older Buick did not have.

Those green cars are really great to see. Dad replaced the wagon in 1968 with a Thunderbird in dark green metallic, just like the monorail. It was a great car.

Someday, Major, I will go to Florida and see Disney World.


Patrick Devlin said...

Man, I'm drooling over that tropical garden landscaping. Me want.


In June of 1976 my family with my grandparents on my dad's side stayed at the Contemporary Resort - I was eight. We attended the Lua show ( Spirit of Aloha I think it was called ) and I remember All the guests were dressed in Hawaiian- Polynesian clothes. On the trip my grandma bought my cousin (a mu-mu , she was 7) and me a Hawaiian shirt - the rest of the family brought attire with them.
In the 1990's as a Disney employee we would get incredible cast rates at Walt Disney World - in their off season ( this lasted till about 2000 when WDW stopped having "off seasons") we always opted for a tower room at the contemporary ..... this was usually January each year. Sometimes it would be so DAMN cold. One year we were having breakfast at the Polynesian c. 1992, and suddenly gardeners were placing these blanket things around the bases of all the palm trees and setting up heating smudge pots all over the resort!!! While waiting for the monorail I was wearing a leather jacket at the extreme cold made the jacket turn into a "hard shell"

Anyway, I didn't get to to the Polynesian Lua show till March of 1998 .... it was warm and I was excited to re-experience 1976 as an adult. My friend Debbie and I were the only two guests wearing Hawaiian clothing for the show and Lua ..... we were expecting EVERYONE to be in Tropical garb like a Hawaii episode of the Brady Bunch!!
Sadly the 1976 Walt Disney World guests were long gone now and never returned .....in our tropical attire sitting next to people in oversized sweatshirts, light blue stone wash jeans and 1990's tourist clothes we looked more like performers than attending guests.

Major Pepperidge said...

Unknown, I am glad to hear that the Polynesian has retained some of its original atmosphere. I think you are going to really enjoy the photos of the shops!

Nanook, as I rule I tend to love cars from a few years before these, but I have to admit that they look pretty great to me. And they remind me of the cars my mom and dad had when I was growing up. They were partial to Buick station wagons for some reason, and those things were pretty sweet.

Chuck, like you I was noticing the way that the wooden exoskeleton disguised what would otherwise have been a very non-Polynesian structure. It worked great!

Pegleg Pete, don’t thank me, thank Mr. X! I know that as a kid I always dreamed that I would get to stay at the Contemporary - at one point, while living in Pennsylvania, it looked like we might actually make the trip to Florida (the park was only four or five years old at that point) - but it just didn’t work out.

Alonzo, does anybody even make station wagons anymore??

DrGoat, oh, the ’58 Nomad was a good wagon! I wouldn’t mind having one, refurbished to look like it just drove off of the lot.

K. Martinez, one of the things I like about photo #1 is that I have never seen that building from the parking lot before. It looks very inviting!

JG, I’ve seen photos of a fountain that used to be inside the Polynesian that has been changed (many people say it’s not as nice now), but it is definitely great to know that the place has not been ruined. I asked Mr. X about if they stayed there, but they were at the Contemporary. Nowadays he prefers the Grand Floridian.

Patrick Devlin, yes, that brings out my inner desire for a very tiki household, complete with tropical pool area, waterfalls, and even a tiki bar (though I barely drink!) - one with a rainstorm every 15 minutes!

Mike Cozart, thanks for sharing your great memories. It’s hard to think of Florida as being cold, but, as this year has proven, it definitely can get REALLY cold. In a way it would have been amazing to see that huge place when it was so uncrowded. Plus I’m not into extreme heat and humidity, which I have been told is just the way things are for most of the year. When you went to the Luau I hope you had a curly perm just like Mr. Brady! And I hope you didn’t have that cursed tiki idol.

Melissa said...

My parents had a Plymouth Fury that same shade of avocado green. It was sixteen miles wide and built like a tank. The bench seats were a darker shade of green, and the back seat was big enough for my sister and I to lie fully stretched out and side by side. One time, you were in a collision with a Volkswagen Rabbit; the rabbit was totaled while the Fury (and passengers) was barely scratched.

I've never stayed at the Polynesian, but I have lovely memories of visiting. Possibly the best breakfast I've ever had was the Tonga Toast (banana-stuffed, deep-fried French toast with fresh strawberry compote) and Kona press Pot Coffee in the Kona Cafe.

Useless WDW trivia: John Lennon signed the paperwork that broke up the Beatles while staying at the Polynesian Resort.


At one time TONG TOAST was the most requested recipe in all the Vacation Kingdom!

Tonga Toast ofcourse was created by the devil .

Melissa said...

I've got the recipe for the sweet cornbread from the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review. It's my go-to dish for potlucks.

Dean Finder said...

In the last picture, you can see the lantern that was given to Roy O. Disney by Emperor Hirohito in celebration of the opening of WDW. It was moved to the Japan pavilion at EPCOT Center a few years later.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, it sounds like the Plymouth Fury was very similar in color to our Buick Estate wagon. I remember how HOT those dark green vinyl seats could get in the summer time! I’ve heard of Tonga Toast - unluckily for me, I don’t like bananas in things. I can eat a banana and be happy, but put bananas in anything, and I can’t go on.

Mike Cozart, I wonder what the most requested recipe is today??

Melissa, yum, sweet cornbread. I also like cornbread with jalapeños!

Dean Finder, wow, what a great piece of info! Thanks!