I recently had the magical opportunity to be a part of the media’s first glance of Disney’s brand new Aulani Resort, on Oahu. We went on a “hard hat” tour of this Ko’Olina resort that is due to open August 29 2011.
We all know Disney and their amazing ability to inspire awe and excitement at their theme parks, cruise line, hotels, and media. But, Aulani takes Disney’s magic to a whole new level through education and cultural awareness.
The word Aulani means: “One who delivers a message from a higher authority.” So what is this message and who is delivering it? The messenger is Disney and the message is authentically, truly Hawaiian.
Being a Kamaaina and having taught in the Hawaiian school system, I have a love for the culture and the people of Hawaii. The spirit of “Aloha” is contagious and this atmosphere is unlike anywhere I have ever traveled. I am thoroughly impressed that Disney isn’t just building a resort on Hawaii’s land but they are truly fostering an appreciation for the Hawaiian culture and values. I have learned over the past few days that Disney wants Hawaii to shine along with Hawaii’s artists, traditions, and language.
Aulani is a gateway to allow you and your family to experience Hawaii.
Disney has truly done their homework. There is a tremendous attention to detail in making their gardens, art work, draperies, bedding, mats, and architecture all authentically Hawaiian. When you walk in the entry hall known as Makala (open your eyes and look), the Hawaiian art, story telling, and fauna will transform you to a traditional, yet modern paradise.
The Waikolohe valley (mischievous waters) will create curiosity and joy with it’s waterfalls, rocks, and spouting waters. Children can discover hidden menehune and also will be able to “talk story” or communicate their experiences here. Aunty’s Beach House will be a warm and inviting kid’s club where children can have fun and learn at the same time (warning: it looks like so much fun even parents will want to stay). Families can snorkel with Hawaiian fish, and adults can relax and enjoy the sunset in their cascades of Jacuzzis. Even their cocktail lounge will highlight the Hawaiian language by having everything right down to the coasters labeled in Hawaiian and the bartenders will be fluent in the language. Talk about a unique experience!
The creativity and ingenuity of Walt Disney Imagineering is making Aulani a fantastic resort that will be filled with Hawaiian fun for the whole family. The resort will have two restaurants, Makahiki and ‘AMA ‘AMA, a fine dining experience.
“The story of the Makahiki Festival will come to life inside the restaurant in a series of elegantly composed, jewel-toned murals, which depict scenes of feasting, games and celebration,” said Joe Rohde, Walt Disney Imagineer. And yes, Mickey and other Disney characters will be there donned in Hawaiian apparel to dazzle children at the Character Breakfast.
Aulani has already made a powerful impact on the community of Oahu. “During construction, the resort is expected to generate about 4,800 jobs and more than $600 million in economic activity. Upon reaching stabilized operations, the project will generate an anticipated 2,400 full-time jobs in Hawai‘i, of which approximately half will be located at our Aulani resort in Ko Olina.”
Disney is also interacting with some local schools and getting children involved in creating the Children’s Digital Image Rainbow Project as well as maps for the visitors that will be displayed in the lobby. Djuan Rivers, the Vice President of Disney Vacation Club® and Resort, Hawai`i is committed to working with the community and to “green” the resort through the design and construction to include environmentally friendly initiatives.
Aulani will include a hotel as well as 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club villas offering many of the comforts of home and provide plenty of space for families and extended families. Members and guests will delight in the amenities available in most vacation villas, including full kitchens, washers and dryers, separate living areas and more.
I knew that Disney would impress me with their design but what I am most excited to share with you is their sincere commitment to Hawaii. This premier oceanfront resort & spa is a place for families to gather, reconnect and immerse themselves in the stories of Hawai`i.