From Hawai’i, drift southward across the Equator into the South Pacific and you’ll discover the tropical paradise of the Polynesian Islands. Palm trees sway in the warm breeze as waterfalls cascade down rocky slopes and tumble into crystal pools. Sunshine, sand, and surf replace weary travelers’ worries with hulas, fire pit feasts, and tantalizing tikis.
Only one thing is missing in this “real-world” paradise: the magic and adventure of Walt Disney World Resort!
Disney’s Polynesian Resort opened in 1971 with the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, and the Grand Floridian. One of the original deluxe Resort hotels, it is still a Guest favorite! It’s also one of the smaller properties with only 853 Guest rooms housed in 11 buildings, or longhouses, that represent various islands in the South Pacific.
Lush vegetation, white sandy beaches, and a volcanic pool provide relaxing ambiance to this facility. Guests can lounge in hammocks, jet ski in the marina, or catch the evening fireworks here where “Aloha!” is a way of life. Even getting around the World is stress-free, because the monorail stops directly at the Poly and the Transportation and Ticket Center is a short walk away.
‘Ohana, located on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House, features a Character breakfast and a family-style Polynesian feast of skewered meats that are grilled over an open fire pit. For a complete Polynesian experience, though, book a reservation at The Spirit of Aloha Dinner. The family-style all-you-can-eat meal includes roasted chicken, barbeque ribs, rice, veggies, fresh pineapple, and a special volcano dessert. Dine while onstage women in grass skirts hula, fire dancers perform breath-taking feats, and Lilo and Stitch appear to complete the celebration.
The eleven longhouses of Disney’s Polynesian Resort are named for various islands in the South Pacific: Tuvalu, Hawai’i, Tahiti, Figi, Samoa, Tokelau, Aotearoa, Tonga, Niue, Rarotonga, and Rapa Nui. (Although Hawai’i is really North of the Equator, it shares similar culture to the other islands in the region.)
Print off this map of the South Pacific islands and have your children locate the islands listed above (I could not find all of them.). (Click on the map to enlarge.)
Then, research the following information about any three of your choice:
- Is the island an independent nation?
- Is the island a territory of another nation? If so, which one?
- What is the population of the island?
- What is the native language?
- What type of government exists on the island?
- What is the major industry of the island?
- Give a one or two paragraph history of the island.
- Discuss the native culture.
Then, get a real taste for the islands with this traditional Hawiian dessert, Haupia! Recipe from Allrecipes.com.
You will need:
- 5 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 Cup white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 Cups coconut milk
What to do:
Place the cornstarch, sugar, and salt into a saucepan; stir in 1/4 of the coconut milk to make a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened so that it coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish; refrigerate until cold. Enjoy!
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Geography; Home Economics
SKILL LEVEL: Middle Grades
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