Part 4: Moving on Up…into the trees, and that “new” park
Atrium in the Great Ceremonial House at The Polynesian Village
For three nights our family relaxed in the lush tropical atmosphere (if not always the ambient temperature) of The Polynesian Village. Waking on day 4, we prepared for our move to a Treehouse Villa at the “WDW Village Resort,” which appears to encompass anything that wasn’t the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, the Contemporary or Polynesian Village Resort.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Per usual, let’s start with breakfast! After making sure we were all packed and ready to go, we headed over to the Papeete Bay Verandah (presently the home of ‘Ohana) for their breakfast buffet.
My mother is obviously thrilled to be having breakfast with us at the Papeete Bay Verandah
If I’m reading our picture correctly, the lush fauna behind us is where ‘Ohana hosts its open kitchen.
Did you know, 30 years ago, the Polynesian Village was already serving one of today’s most popular dishes, although not at Papeete Bay Verandah. Birnbaum’s 1983 edition advises that, at Tangaroa Terrace (on the eastern side of the resort) “word is spreading about its star breakfast offering, banana-stuffed French toast made with sourdough bread.” So now you know the history of the perennial favorite, Tonga Toast (presently served at Captain Cook’s Quick Service and the Kona Café.) I highly recommend it if you have the time for a sugar coma after breakfast. So good.
At the Polynesian, it is tradition to throw a penny in the pond when you depart, as a wish to return to the resort. After breakfast, our family said “Aloha” to the Polynesian Village…I didn’t know then, but it would be 14 years until my wish was fulfilled.
From the very popular Hawaiian song Aloha Oe (pronounced Oy):
One fond embrace, a hoi ae au (before I now depart)
Until we meet again, until we meet again
O ka halia aloha kai hihi mai (Thus sweet memories come back to me)
Ke hone ae nei i kuu manawa. (Bringing fresh remembrance of the past.)
Taken outside the room, our last morning at the Polynesian Village. (Still my favorite resort.)
The recent opening of EPCOT Center (later shortened to Epcot) was the reason my father split our stay between two resorts. The Polynesian Village was our home during the days we visited the Magic Kingdom. Then, we would call the (old) Treehouse Villas home during the EPCOT Center portion of the vacation. The new Disney Vacation Club tree houses (part of the Saratoga Springs Resort) are located in the same area as the old tree houses.
The new tree houses are (on average) $1,100 per night. But in 1983, four adults and two children stayed in a 2-bedroom villa, with full kitchen and laundry, for only $140 per night! My favorite feature of the old tree house was the centrally located spiral staircase. Much like climbing the trunk of a tree to reach a real tree house, the spiral staircase beneath offered similar access to the villa.
My Pop taking a break in the tree house
We had only just settled into our new home, when we headed back out to EPCOT Center, which had opened only a little over a year before in October of 1982.
After approaching the iconic geosphere, we boarded our “time machine” at (what was then called) the “Spaceship Earth Show.” Spaceship Earth didn’t yet feature Walter Cronkite (presently Dame Judy Dench) or “Tomorrow’s Child,” the anthem written for the attraction’s 1986 rehab; but the ride track and many of the scenes from 1983 have survived since its opening. From that day, I would forever associate the smell of burnt wood with EPCOT (and the burning of Rome.)
Waiting in line for the “Spaceship Earth Show”
But Spaceship Earth was only the beginning. That same day we would “Listen to the Land” (now Living with the Land) and get moving in a “World Of Motion” (now Test Track.) World of Motion looked back at “man’s desperate attempt to replace foot power,” and the futuristic finale offered guests a peek at the transportation of tomorrow.
At the conclusion of World of Motion, instead of the now obligatory gift shop, guests were given an opportunity browse GM’s latest models. We liked this “family truckster.”
The last stop in Future World was Journey into Imagination (Now Journey into Imagination with Figment.)The original attraction told the story of how Dreamfinder and a small purple dragon named Figment used imagination to “spark” creation. In 1983 the visual effects were cutting edge, Figment and Dreamfinder were charming, and the melody, “One Little Spark,” (written by the Sherman brothers) was catchy.
One of my favorite photos from this trip, I really do miss Dreamfinder
In 1999, to complement the new Honey I Shrunk the Audience show, Imagineers removed the later 2 elements. The popularity of the attraction suffered so that, only 2 years later, the ride closed for another major rehab. Thankfully, Figment and “One Little Spark” were worked into the new show. Sadly, Dreamfinder did not return and has only been seen at a handful of Disney events since.
Photo Courtesy of Birnbaum’s 1983 edition of The Best of Walt Disney World
Image Works, a playground at the end of the attraction, was a highlight of our day. I remember my dad pitching it to us by reading from Birnbaum about this “new fangled fun house,” where we would paint using a “Magic Palette,” conduct music via the “Electronic Philharmonic” and play instruments on the “Stepping Tones.” While these were new and exciting in 1983, the current ImageWorks houses (basically) the same technology. Perhaps they could use Dreamfinder’s dream-catching machine and capture some “sparks” to create a newly re-imagined space?
After Journey into Imagination, we left Future World and started working our way around the World Showcase (counter-clockwise) at the Canada Pavilion. There we watched a CircleVision film called “O Canada” (later updated with Martin Short in 2007, and still showing today) and posed for a photo-op at the pavilion’s waterfall.
Out of focus, but nicely composed shot at the Canada Pavilion
From Canada, we traveled to the United Kingdom, the pavilion my mother was most anticipating. From a young age I was taught the history of the English monarchy and was probably the only 7 year-old in Alabama who could tell the difference between Tudor and Georgian style architecture. Thank you mom.
In addition to being an Anglophile, my mom is a fan of the arts and was excited to learn the pavilion featured a restaurant named for a famous English theater called the Rose and Crown. I’m told that’s where we ate dinner that night. I honestly don’t remember our meal, but then again, the UK isn’t exactly known for its cuisine. (I’m joking of course…or am I?)
Standing outside the Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room after dinner
France was our destination after dinner, where we watched another film. But, I seem to recall that we left early. I don’t remember the circumstances, but I do remember being happy to head out of the theater and to the boat landing (by the future home of Morocco.) While today I can appreciate these films for their beauty and message, at 7 – I was really just bored.
Aboard the Friendship V
Tired from a long day touring Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, we boarded a Friendship boat and were returned to the edge of Future World. From there, we headed back to our home in the treetops.
Up next – Aboard the Empress Lilly, and some of our favorite things!