Over the years, I have noticed that most Disney collectors amass their collections by carefully, sometimes painstakingly, working to acquire varying types of a similar object, such as Disney pins, popcorn buckets, postcards, or Vinylmation figures. I have seen some fantastic collections in terms of value, rarity, quantity and quirkiness. While focusing on one particular thing is the more common way of collecting a cohesive group, it is not the only way. Most people close to me know that I tend to find unique ways of doing things. So, for them, it comes as no surprise that my favorite Disney collection does not consist of similar items, but instead, it is an eclectic mix of pieces that, on face value, may seem to have little in common. However, they share one characteristic: they are all from my favorite place in all of Walt Disney World, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
While some items with logos emblazoned across, are obvious mementos of Walt Disney World‘s inaugural resort, others are so understated that my memories alone identify them as Polynesian mementos. As with any collection, amongst the many items, there is also a cherished piece, a rare find, and the illusive item. They, along with many other items, make up my Polynesian Resort Collection.
The Cherished Piece
“Lover’s Trail” Print—My husband and I decided to splurge on our honeymoon, and purchase this limited edition, framed print at the Wyland Gallery that was located on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian. The exceptional sales representative offered to hold the painting for us until the artist, Dan Mackin, visited, at which time, he could personally add a heart in the sand with our initials and wedding date. Now our print is a one-of-a-kind, and my most cherished piece of my Polynesian Resort collection.
The Rare Find
Coconut Purse—Long ago, on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House, there was a shop known as News From Civilization. This merchandise location featured authentic items from the South Seas islands as well as a wide array of Polynesian Resort logo gear. At the time, I was young and far more interested in the character-driven merchandise found in Trader Jack’s upstairs. My mother, on the other hand, always looked forward to visiting the—exclusive to the Disney Polynesian Resort—shop where she would purchase understated tropical items. On one of our trips, she acquired this purse made from a hollowed, highly-polished coconut. While these relatively unusual purses are a bit more common in places like Hawaii, the one I now own is rare (even priceless) to me because it came from the long-gone shopping location known as News From Civilization, and my Makuahine (Mother).
The Illusive Item
Longhouse Sign—If I could have any item from the Polynesian Resort, I would love to add the original sign from outside the Rarotonga longhouse to my collection. With the resort’s recent major refurbishment, the signs denoting the guestroom buildings were traded out for a new style. Many of them could be found on eBay following the renovations, and I lament the fact that funds and display space made my dream unattainable.
The Rest of the Collection
Apparel and Accessories
T-shirts—For many years, resort logo gear was hard to come by with the exception of the occasional embroidered polo. But in recent years, resort and attraction t-shirts are making a big comeback throughout the Walt Disney World property. The orange tee was purchased on my last visit to the Polynesian in 2013, and the brown throwback became available for a limited time via the disneystore.com when the resort name was changed from Disney’s Polynesian Resort back to the original Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Bracelet—This bracelet did not begin its life as a piece of jewelry. It was originally a charm-style keychain. But instead of hiding it in my purse, I wanted to wear it proudly, so I purchased a stainless steel rolo-link bracelet and used some jump rings to transform it into a bracelet.
Keychain—This poor keychain has seen better days, but it has proudly served its duty for almost eight years. It was purchased in Boutiki on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House.
Luau Necklaces—Years ago, adult guests at the Spirit of Aloha dinner show received leis made of tiny seashells as opposed to flowers. My mother gave me the leis that she and my father were given, and now, they are draped amidst black tumbled river rocks that sit on our television stand.
Pins—When you are a huge WDW fan, family tends to catch on quickly. They join in on the fun of gathering special items from the vacation destination. Such was the case with these two pins. Both were given to me for Christmas 2011 (the holidays following the 40th Anniversary celebration). The round button was given out on October 1, 2011 at the three opening day resorts: Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. The other pin is a reproduction of the classic Polynesian logo.
Luau Bowl—Sold at WDW in 2013, this bowl is a replica of the ones that sat in the center of the table at the original Polynesian Luau.
Trashcan Christmas Ornament—You are truly a diehard WDW fan if you possess home décor items representing WDW trashcans! The hugely popular series of salt and pepper shakers has been followed up this year by a series of Christmas ornaments.
Mickey and Minnie Bobble Heads and Photo Frame—Moana Mercantile on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House used to be known as Trader Jack’s. It was the go-to for character merchandise and carried a large number of character figurines. Exclusive to this shop were the hula Minnie and ukulele-playing Mickey along with the accompanying photo frame.
Gourd and Tassels—Two more items, a dried gourd and a set of hula raffia hand tassels, found in the aforementioned News From Civilization, are imported pieces that my mother discovered there. She has since passed them along to me, and now, they are a mainstay in my home decor.
Decorative Plate—I was young when WDW celebrated its 25th Anniversary, but I remember seeing advertisements for these plates in the Disney Magazine. Since the Polynesian Resort also opened in 1971, it was featured on one of the 12 plates in the set.
David Doss Print—This print by Disney Fine Artist, David Doss, was purchased at Boutiki and is an ever present reminder of beautiful times spent on the Polynesian beach.
Postcards and Stationery—In the case of the Polynesian, it pays to check the drawers of the guestroom furniture. On three separate trips, I found postcards and stationery tucked inside for guests to use to send notes to family and friends. I could never bring myself to actually use them. I loved the artwork too much!
Maps—Each family checking into Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort receives a map depicting the longhouses and amenity locations. Over the years, buildings have been removed, pools renovated and names changed. It is fun to look back at old maps to see which buildings we have stayed in and what refurbishments have been made across the resort property.
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
Do you have a Disney collection that is centered on a theme instead of a particular type of item? Do you have a Walt Disney World Resort collection? Let us know in the comments section below!
Kendall is an editor and contributing writer for WDW Radio. She began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. Her home-away-from-home is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and she believes a perfect day at WDW includes a dip in the Lava Pool, a ride on Splash Mountain and a Pineapple Dole Whip. Follow her on Twitter @kl_foreman.