Showing posts with label August 29. Show all posts
Showing posts with label August 29. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2011

Aulani- it's now open!

Phase One of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, Ko’ Olina, Hawai’i opened Monday, August 29, 2011. The doors opened to the lobby for check-in at 6:30 am… way before the official hotel check-in time of 3 pm. But true to form, Mickey and Minnie, in their Hawaiian vacation clothes were there to welcome the first guests. Fortunately opening day speeches were kept short and the Mahi Family was given the honor of being the First Honorary Family to check in to Aulani. You can see an interview with them on the official Disney Park Blog site by clicking here.

I have kept up with the construction of Aulani largely through Werner Weiss and his website, His 20th Aulani article is on Opening Day with pictures taken by former Disney Imagineer, Mark Hickson, who now lives in Hawaii. These are some wonderful pictures so take time to visit them here.

There are already some good videos posted on of opening day too. Just search for “Aulani opening” and you can take an “unofficial” tour.

Aulani’s opening has not been without some pain. Jim Lewis, president of Disney Vacation Club, was one of several Disney cast members who lost their jobs over the project just a few weeks ago. It has been reported the dues were miscalculated and set way too low to pay for maintenance and operations of the resort. DVC suspended sales at Aulani in July and will not resume until new dues rates are set and approved by the state of Hawaii. Claire Bilby, who started with Walt Disney World marketing in 1988, has been name to the top post to replace Lewis.

One other minor change I have noticed. The Disney web sites have changed the way they refer to the resort. It has been shortened to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa removing the “Ko’ Olina, Hawai’i” from the name on the website. Not much, but since Disney always has a reason for every detail I thought it was worth noting.

Aulani’s opening brings to 12 the number of Disney Vacation Club resorts. In an interview I saw with someone checking into Aulani, they were so excited to check into the “first Disney resort not associated with a theme park”. This is true as long as you don’t count Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. I’ve been to both of these and think they are both well worth counting. But neither are in Hawaii, so maybe he was just so excited to be in Hawaii?

Sorry for all the links to other sites, but there is no way I could put all the pictures here.

Amy has already posted she thought it would be a good place for wedding vow renewal. Mom has already told me she wants to celebrate our 40th anniversary (2013) there. I can’t wait to visit “Island” Mickey & Minnie in their new vacation home.



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Monday, February 14, 2011

Aulani - Getting Closer

Have you got your reservations for Aulani yet? No? Phase one opens August 29th, 2011 so you better hurry if you’re going to be there for the Grand Opening.


You are like me and it will be a while before you can save up enough to visit Aulani let me update you on what is going on. Like you I have to get my information from the web as I don’t have an “in” with anyone on site. The closest I have to having a friend on site is reading Werner Weiss, Curator of He visited the construction site in January and has posted some wonderful pictures of the construction and of the on-site model rooms. has done a wonderful series on Aulani and has some great pictures of the progress. Check out latest pictorial on Aulani here.

For a Disney Vacation Club member there is a familiarity in the layout as it appears similar to other DVC properties. The themeing is totally Hawaiian with a touch of “mouse”. The artwork and d├ęcor is representative of Hawaiian culture. Imaginers have added their touches with Hidden Mickeys and some unique furniture. One such piece the stand for the TV in the DVC Villa living rooms, as the bottom hides a bed for a child.

The other site with lots of information, but not a lot of construction pictures, is Disney’s official Aulani resort site - If you haven’t seen Aulani’s web site recently, take another look. In the photo gallery there are new videos of Aulani including one of the creation on the beach of a sandsculpture of Mickey on a surfboard with construction in the background. See the video here.

There are some great 360 deg pictures of the DVC villas under the Accommodations section. Take a few minutes to examine the rooms. Disney says the resort has all you would expect in a luxury resort with what they describe as “Magical Room Details”: (Visit the DVC Villas here.)

"Aulani offers all of the standard room amenities you would expect from a world-class hotel. The real magic of the Disney Vacation Club villas is in the details:

Kapa cloth artwork appears subtly in the tone-on-tone, ivory jacquard weave of the duvet covers.
Atop the task table, a carved table lamp depicts Mickey Mouse on vacation in Hawai`i. Flanked by a surfboard and a ukelele, Mickey wears brightly colored shoes and a traditional lei.
Distinctive kapa patterns form the carved wooden frame of bathroom mirrors and bedroom side tables.
The large, wooden carved armoire features an intricate fish pattern depicting many of the indigenous fish of Hawai`i.
Dining area lighting fixtures are inspired by Hawaiian calabash bowls.
Master bathrooms feature wall sconces that resemble the claw-shaped pandanus sails, which powered Hawaiian outrigger canoes.
Other bathroom wall sconces resemble traditional Hawaiian fish traps. "

This is much what Walt Disney would have described as “plusing" it. That is the something extra that makes something ordinary magical. I think the extra Disney “touches” will make this a resort guests will want to return to again and again.

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