By Joe Quattrocchi
If you are a fan of Walt Disney World and you follow what is going on in the parks and resorts, over the last year or so, one of the hottest topics featured on message boards and podcasts has been the refurbishment and conversion of the Tahiti, Rapa Nui and Tokelau longhouses at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort from standard rooms to Disney Vacation Club Villas and Bungalows. Along with these conversions and the makeover of the Nanea Volcano Pool, the Great Ceremonial House saw its much-loved waterfall replaced with more seating area, a much smaller water feature, and a statue of an unnamed Tikiman/TikiGod. But with this resort gaining so much attention recently with not only it becoming a DVC resort featuring waterfront bungalows, but also reverting back to its original name (Polynesian Village resort). What we also saw was the return of a certain logo or symbol that had originally dawned the resort dating back to its early roots in 1971-72.
Many guests have wondered what was the name of this symbol or logo? This symbol or logo was depicted in a large statue which now sits above the new water feature in the Great Ceremonial House. Was the name of this statue Tikiman or TikiGod or just plain Tiki? As a long time Disney World fan and for someone who stayed at the Polynesian Village dating back to 1984, I also have wondered myself if this Tikiman had a name? I mean, after all, this is Walt Disney World, where everything has a back story.
I recently spoke with How Bowers, Co-Host of the RetroDisneyWorld.Com podcast about this. How had posted a picture on his social media feed that he had discovered some literature printed by the Walt Disney Company from 1972 about the “Legend of Maui.” How stated that while scrolling through eBay one evening, he had purchased an old Polynesian Village Gift Bag from the 1970s. Contained inside the gift bag was a souvenir card that has the Tikiman logo depicted on the side of it with an explanation of the “Legend of Maui.” This card was given to guests at the Polynesian Village to explain to them the story of the TikiGod who can be found throughout the resort.
The card states, “Maui, born of the gods, lived among the people of the South Seas. His Pranks and tricks provided the Islanders with a constant source of new tales…” “How Maui, with his magic fish hook, pulled the islands of Polynesia from the depths of the sea…” “How he discovered the secret of making fire and taught it to his people…” The card continues to state, “And happiest of tale of all, hos Maui achieved his greatest feat – capturing the Sun with a specially woven net, refusing to release it until he secured a promise that the Sun would pursue his course across the sky more slowly.” “This, of course, means more daylight for all…for all who live in Polynesia.” The card concludes by stating, “So now you know why the people of every Polynesian Village remember “the mischievous one – the playful god of the people, Maui.”
How stated that his logo which over the years has had three different versions was found all over the Polynesian Village resort itself, but back in the 1970s and 1980s was found on a multitude of items ranging from room service folders, bars of soap, resort signage, trash cans, matchbooks etc. Even to this day, the three different versions of Maui can be found at the Polynesian Village. The first version of Maui depicts him with wider eyes and legs. Today, this version of Maui can be found in the Great Ceremonial House next to ‘Ohana where he sits above the menu boards for the Polynesian restaurants. The second version of Maui (which is the more common and current version) is found on top of signage throughout the resort as well as in the four diamond outline. The four-diamond outline of Maui was featured in the original entrance sign to the resort before it was replaced recently as well as throughout resort signage, trash cans, resort literature etc. The third version of Maui according to How Bowers can be found also in the Great Ceremonial House on an original mailbox. This mailbox is located out the back doors of the Great Ceremonial House and depicts an original/organic version of Maui.
Unfortunately, as the early 1990s rolled around, the use of Maui and his likeness started to dwindle away. Maui could still be found on most major signage around the resort, but Disney started to go away from the use of the traditional Blippo style font for the resort and went more with a modern contemporary style while utilizing the characters Lilo and Stitch as well as the mascots for the resort. In my opinion, I believe that Disney World fans of my generation who are now starting to bring their children to the World have had a push for more retro or throwback feel to not only the parks but resorts as well. Now, with essentially a new beginning to the Polynesian Village, as the saying goes, sometimes something old is something new and the resurgence or Maui back into the fold with his giant statue in the Great Ceremonial house to greet the guests to his resort along with all of the new merchandise which his likeness is featured on, its great to see an old friend make a big comeback.
So there you have it. A small mystery solved as to who that little TikiMan that we all saw throughout the years is. Now, when you visit the new and improved Polynesian Village, when you see the giant statue of him in the Great Ceremonial House, you don’t have to wonder who he is or what his name is. He has a name; its Maui and he is the mischievous one – The playful God of the People.
On one last note, How Bowers asked me to reach out to Looper Nation to see if anyone reading this article had any information about this. How stated that in the 1990s, it is believed that the Polynesian Resort had a song written exclusively for it. This song was believed to be taught to cast members working at the resort by a resort General Manager who was brought in from Hawaii. How is asking Looper Nation if anyone knows if this song existed and if it did, if anyone has any additional information about it to please contact him. How can be reached at @GoAwayGreen on twitter or through his podcast at www.retrodisneyworld.com.
A resident of the great state of New Jersey and nicknamed the “Original Super Looper,” I am a Disney Vacation Club Owner and runDisney Enthusiast. I am a 2X finisher (2014, 2015) of the Walt Disney World Marathon as well as the 2015 Dopey Challenge. I also enjoy not only the Disney World Parks and Resorts, but also the Disney World Golf Courses as well.