Friday, May 10, 2024

Island Tower at the Polynesian to Open December 2024

Disney today announced the opening month for the newest DVC resort on property, the Island Tower at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows (Disney loves a good long name - I'll probably just refer to it as the Island Tower whenever I talk about it here).  There's some new concept art, notably of the inside, as well as discussion of what types of rooms are available and when they can be booked.  We'll talk about that here, as well as some brief commentary.

The new artwork as well as an opening (sort of) date are really the only new things here, and I've mostly said my piece about this resort here.  Not much has changed here, including the concept art, so one has to assume that the final product will resemble these pictures pretty closely (right now it's mostly a concrete tower).  Oh, I guess the name is new too, as I think this is the first time I've heard the term "Island Tower" used in conjunction with this resort.

The interior photos look nice, though it doesn't really change my opinion that this is a rather sterile property, being built at the intersection of two unique resorts.  Blog Mickey reports that the Polynesian longhouses recently received a new paint job, and that the colors are more in line with the new Island Tower's plan.  So in that way it sticks out like a sore thumb a little less than before, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense to build something like this here.

Actually, it does make some sense, and it has more to do with the color green (as in, money) than it does any color related to the building itself.  The Polynesian is probably Disney's most popular resort (and remains my favorite, to this day) and there is sufficient demand to build something else there in order to meet that demand.  I just don't know why it's not another longhouse (or multiple), instead of this tower.  I can't find any capacity listings yet, so maybe this was just a more efficient way to pack more people into this resort.

Disney's DVC properties have been a little soft when it comes to sales lately.  I think that's mostly because all of the most desirable areas have been taken already - most anything else that gets built will be further away from the parks, and therefore not spark as much interest (I suppose Reflections - A Disney Lakeside Lounge that would exist between Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge would still qualify as "close" to the parks, though I'm not even sure that project will ever fully see the light of day).  The best way to get people excited about a new DVC property is to expand on one of the flagship properties that already exists.

Artwork courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

I just don't think this tower screams "Polynesian" to me.  Maybe because I've recently read a book that makes note of the Michael Eisner era at Disney, where his biggest legacy is probably themed design, but none of the recent hotels have really been all that special when compared to those that have come before.  They're mostly just "safe" designs and not all that interesting.  I generally don't care, but this is the Poly we're talking about, and I feel like it was a missed opportunity.

The Disney Parks Blog post linked above also tries to shoehorn some Disney history into the Island Tower by saying that "a prominent tower at the heart of the resort" was in the original plans, and the Island Tower will "complete the vision created by Disney Imagineers decades ago."  I would rather they have not said anything than try to placate the longtime fan with this kind of spin.  I could only find one picture of the original tower plans when the resort was built.  I have to say, if this had been the current plan, it would have been more palatable.  The Island Tower is not as unique or interesting as it could have been.  

In terms of actual details about the new Tower, Disney says that they will include duo studios, one and two bedroom villas and two bedroom penthouse villas.  Interestingly, the press release doesn't mention "deluxe studios" by name (the regular studios that all other DVC properties have, that sleep four to five people, the ones we usually stay at) but Scott Gustin on Twitter mentions them.  So either he's wrong (which would be unusual) or the Disney press release simply didn't include it.  I'll assume they're there, unless I hear otherwise.  

For all of my complaining about the Island Tower, I'll come out and say that I would still likely stay here.  It's still the Polynesian, and more opportunity to stay at my favorite resort will be nice.  I have no idea what the cost will be, as Disney didn't release any of those details today.  But the Poly is generally the most expensive resort on property, so it's hard for me to believe that these new rooms will come in any cheaper.

I still worry about how this Tower will make the Poly feel in general - the Tower includes all rooms and doesn't appear to have any restaurant amenities.  This means that more people will be staying at the Poly at any given time, and there's only so much beachfront, pool, seats in restaurants, etc to go around.  If this makes the Poly feel overly crowded going forward, that would be a big loss for me, though a win for Disney's pockets.

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