The more I think about the situation has we understand it, the less it makes sense.
Why would Disney remove the popular waterfall fountain, AND not replace it, AND various WDI employees have acted weirdly defensive or smug about the decision to do so?
We know that Disney has announced a major renovation of the resort's main lobby AND the pool area. We only have concept art of the former.
What if something grand is in the works for the pool area and the surrounding grounds, something that will echo the original waterfall feature in the lobby, to the extent that it would make it thematically redundant and cheap-looking when completed?
If there's one area where Disney's resorts have always marched forward, not backward in terms of scope and quality, its their swimming pools. I know this is speculation on my part, but what if Disney's overall plan for the Polynesian is to completely redo the main pool area with a large series of volcanic rock waterfalls that stretches all the way to where the also-rebuilt Captain Cook's quick-service restaurant will be? A master plan for the resort that would increase its status, but can't be revealed just yet would explain both the apparent "downgrade" of the lobby and the out of character behavior of WDI's staff.
This makes sense. I really want to believe that this rendering is just a small glimpse of changes and not all encompassing of the changes being made. The entire outdoor area is a mystery. It could be something completely grand and blow away what the waterfall feature was to the Poly. We really need to wait and see how this plays out.