Sunset Over the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Five Places to Explore on O’ahu During Your Vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on July 16th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


One of the greatest opportunities during a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is the chance to explore the beautiful island of O’ahu. From the beaches to tropical rainforests and a bustling metropolitan city, this island of Hawai’i has something for everyone. A highlight of my visit to Aulani was driving along the coast with a stop for Hawaiian shave ice, a hike to Waimea Falls and a beachside lunch. Today, I wanted share five fantastic destinations on O’ahu that are not to be missed during your Aulani vacation!

1. North Shore - Stretching for more than seven miles along the O’ahu coast, the North Shore attracts surfers from around the world. If you are hoping to see some big waves, I recommend visiting the North Shore between November – February. However, if you have any new surfers in your ‘ohana, the waves in May – September are more tranquil and perfect for beginners. After a day along the shore, stop by the town of Haleiwa to pick up a delicious meal from a shrimp truck and save room for Hawaiian shave ice for dessert!

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2. Waimea Falls - Waimea Valley is a living example of a traditional Hawaiian ahupua’a (land division that extends from the mountain to the shore.) If you want to visit this legendary location, I strongly recommend the excursion available through the Aulani tour desk. This exclusive adventure includes transportation from the resort and a guided tour of Waimea Valley by a local expert. Learn more here.

3. Waikiki - Known in Hawaiian as “spouting waters,” Waikiki is O’ahu’s main hotel and resort area, featuring world-class shopping, dining and entertainment! Your keiki will have a blast exploring the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. You can also learn how to surf along the shores that legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku grew up surfing. At night, Waikiki turns into a bustling and energetic hot spot, ready for anyone looking to dance the night away.

4. Pearl Harbor – Exploring Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is at the top of my must-do list for anyone visiting O’ahu, and Aulani offers a fantastic excursion to explore this historic harbor. Transportation to Pearl Harbor, as well as access to the Navy vessel that transports you to the USS Arizona Memorial is included. Learn more here.

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5. Diamond Head – One of most iconic monuments on the Hawaiian islands is Diamond Head, located just a few miles from Waikiki. This crater was named by 19th century British sailors who thought they discovered diamonds along the slopes. Unfortunately, these rocks turned out to be calcite crystals with very little (if any) value! While a little strenuous, the hike to the top of Diamond Head offers one of the most breathtaking views of the island.

Where is your favorite place to explore on the island of O’ahu? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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Enjoy a Fourth Night Free at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, with Special New Offer

posted on July 9th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


I recently shared some useful expressions for your visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Today, I’m pleased to pass along a fantastic offer, to give your `ohana the chance to try out these useful phrases during a vacation to the recently voted Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2014 Top Hotel for Families in the United States!

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Purchase a consecutive four-night stay in any room at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, now through October 30, 2014, and receive the fourth night free! This amazing offer is available for stays most nights from August 15, 2014, through December 22, 2014. In addition, upgrade to a one- or two-bedroom villa and receive a $100 per night resort credit, in addition to your free night. These villas are truly homes away from home, featuring accommodations like a full kitchen, laundry amenities and plenty of room for your keiki to spread out and relax.

A resort credit can be applied to spending the day relaxing in the 18,000-square-foot Laniwai Spa or enjoying a savory meal at `AMA`AMA, overlooking the ocean. Your keiki might want to even snorkel in Rainbow Reef – O`ahu’s only private snorkeling lagoon!

Ready to book right now? Visit www.disneyaulani.com for booking and more information!

*Reservation must be booked between July 9, 2014 and October 30, 2014 for stays between August 15, 2014 and December 22th, 2014. Block-out dates of 11/26/14 through 11/29/14 apply. 4th Night Free Offer applies only to stays of four or more consecutive nights all between August 15 and December 22, 2014, excluding any nights from 11/26/14 through 11/29/14. The free night savings is distributed across total room nights and is reflected in a reduced nightly rate, based on the non-discounted rate. Offer excludes suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas. Resort Credit Offer of $100 is applied per room per consecutive night of your package stay for reservations booked in 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom villas only. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited and room availability may vary by dates of stay. Resort credit may not be redeemed for cash in whole or in part, transferred, refunded or applied towards room rate. All resort credits will expire at midnight on package departure date. 4th Night Free Offer excludes Resort Fees and taxes. Not valid in combination with any other discounts or offers.. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room. Limit two rooms per reservation and subject to room occupancy limitations. Advance reservations required. Subject to additional restrictions and change without notice.

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Tips for Viewing the Starlit Hui at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


Today, I’m taking inspiration from one of my favorite Disney Parks Blog series, “Disneyland Resort Viewing Tips,” and sharing tips for enjoying the Starlit Hui at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. During the Starlit Hui, Uncle takes you on a magical journey of Hawaiian traditions and culture, filled with music, dance and most importantly … fun! Here are some tips I found most useful, from my own experience and from Aulani cast members:

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  • Arriving for the show -To reach the Halawai Lawn, enter via the pathway between Aunty’s Beach House and ‘AMA ‘AMA. Once you arrive, pick up a lauhala mat and find a spot on the grass underneath the island stars. Beverages are more than welcome on the Halawai Lawn, so make sure to fill up your Resort-refillable mug before the show!
  • Discovering island-inspired activities before the show - Once you’ve found your place on the Halawai Lawn, your keiki won’t want to miss the variety of island-inspired activities available before the show starts. Local artisans demonstrate traditional Hawaiian arts, like weaving and lei-making. You can also learn how to do the modern hula – which you’ll see later in the show!
  • Dancing with your favorite Disney characters – Following the Starlit Hui, be sure to stick around for a high-energy dance party! Some of your favorite friends like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy may even make a special appearance as your ‘ohana dances the Hawaiian night away.

One last tip I wanted to share with you if you’re heading to Aulani this summer: Now through August, the Starlit Hui will be offered on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (weather permitting)!

Have you seen the Starlit Hui? If so, what are some of your tips? Leave your answers in the comments below.

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Travel + Leisure Readers Recognize Disney Cruise Line & Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Once again, we have readers and fans to thank for more amazing awards. Today, Travel + Leisure announced its World’s Best Awards 2014, and Disney Cruise Line and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa earned top distinctions.

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Disney Cruise Line was named the Top Mega-Ship Cruise Line for the first time and the Top Mega-Ship Cruise Line for Families once again. Readers rated cruise lines on several different criteria, including cabins, food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities and value.

On land, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, was named the Top Hotel for Families in the United States. That’s no surprise, given how many families continue to tell us how much they love this beautiful Disney resort in Hawaii.

What do you and your family like best about Disney Cruise Line and Aulani?

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Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Imagineer Joe Rohde on Design and Inspiration

posted on June 27th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Rohde, creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, about his inspirations for the design of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Joe’s career has included such iconic projects as Disney’s Animal Kingdom; Expedition Everest; Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; and the upcoming AVATAR-inspired land at Walt Disney World Resort. Today, Joe shares some of the magic and tradition behind what makes Aulani unlike anywhere else in the world.

What is the significance behind the arch logo for Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa?

The curved arch is based on a traditional Hawaiian canoe house as echoed in the framing of the Maka‘ala lobby as well as in the resort’s physical layout.

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What was the inspiration for the Maka‘ala lobby?

Maka‘ala does several things all at once. It is a warm and welcoming place that expresses the spirit of aloha, acceptance and inclusion. But it also announces that this place – where you have arrived, Hawai‘i – is a special, unique and important place, and that there are stories to be learned here that you may not know … and LOTS of them. Lastly, it also suggests a feeling of elegance and artistry, which is consistent with true Hawaiian culture.

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What was the inspiration for the overall shape and design of Aulani and the Waikolohe Valley?

The resort was designed to reflect the sense of a Hawaiian valley opening out toward the ocean from highlands to lowlands. This organization has many connotations. One is the ahupua’a, the traditional organization of land that followed a watershed from the mountains to the sea and knitted all members of the community together in a working relationship and a functional sustainable relationship to the land.

Another is a Hawaiian concept of time itself as flowing – like fresh water – from the past, which is in the mountains, to the future, which is in the sea. The architectural statements of Aulani tend to follow this organizational layout.

You know, of course, that Waikolohe means “mischievous water.” That name is simply meant to connote the playful aspect of the springs, which spray you from unexpected directions, and the presence of the Menehune. It is true that, along this part of the O’ahu coast, fresh water comes from springs, and we wanted to reflect that but in a fun, mischievous way.

Hawaiian canoes are seen throughout Aulani. Why are canoes such a key aspect of the design?

We wanted to use little clues here and there to celebrate the great canoe tradition of Hawai`i, because these canoes are at the very heart of what makes Hawaiian culture Hawaiian. Without these canoes there would be no Hawaiians at all. They express the highest form of artistry, engineering, symbolic meaning, purposefulness and social cooperation that Hawaiian culture stands for. In particular, we wanted to celebrate the Hokulea, the canoe that awakened the Hawaiian cultural revival in the 1970s and continues today on its worldwide voyage.

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New Pins to Collect and Trade Coming Summer 2014 to Disney Parks

posted on June 19th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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With the start of summer just around the corner, I caught up with Erin Catalano, merchandiser for Disney Pins. You may remember Erin when she wrote articles for the Disney Parks Blog as a member of our Merchandise Communications team. Last December, Erin transitioned to her new role and has since kept busy creating many new pins that are coming to Disney Parks this summer. In this first article of a series of three stories for the Disney Parks Blog, I asked her about the number of pins guests can soon expect to find.

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“This summer will be an exciting time for guests who enjoy collecting or trading pins,” exclaimed Erin. “In the next three months, we will have about 250 new open edition pins that will be introduced at locations such as Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort or Disney Cruise Line. We know that finding pins of favorite characters, shows or attractions at Disney Parks is an important part of pin collecting. With these new pins, guests will have even more options to collect or trade what they like.”

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Erin’s favorite pins this month were created especially for Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa at Ko ‘Olina, Hawai’i. They include a multi-pin set and some beautiful logo pins featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

I selected a few of my favorites for the top image in this story. Being a Donald Duck fan, the “I Don’t Tweet, I Quack” pin is outstanding. I was also happy to see Mr. Toad and Rapunzel included in the mix.

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Some other pins that caught my eye include chalkboard art-inspired pins that reminded me of products in Disney Centerpiece at the newly opened Marketplace Co-Op at Downtown Disney Marketplace and online.

I’ll check back with Erin in a couple of weeks to see other new pins. Meanwhile, you can see the latest pin release information by visiting http://www.DisneyPins.com.

Happy Trading!

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Learning at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Educational Activities for the Whole ‘Ohana

posted on June 11th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


There are opportunities for every member of your ‘ohana to learn or even pick up new talents during a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa! One of my favorite activities is Ho‘okani Pila – Learn to play the ‘ukulele. I was amazed at how easy it was for me to learn such a unique instrument. I spoke with Daniel Hee, Family Program Manager at Aulani, to ask which activities offer a fun learning experience for the whole family.

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  • Ho‘okani Pila – Learn the ‘Ukulele: Families can learn how to play a song or two on the ‘ukulele and also learn how the instrument became so popular in Hawaii. Even if you have never played an instrument before, this introductory lesson is simple and perfect for beginners of all ages!
  • ‘Ohana Hula: For me, it wouldn’t be a trip to Hawai’i without a lesson in hula dancing. Aulani features a weekly lesson about hula – Hawai‘i’s unique dance. During this activity, your ‘ohana will learn fun hula moves like the ‘ami hip roll and more. Some of the classes include Premium Experiences that teach you even more about the Hawaiian culture and the tradition of hula dancing.
  • Disney Family Fun Animation: Disney animated films have delighted generations. While at Aulani, your family can learn how to draw a favorite Disney Character and even take home your very own masterpiece. Trust me, I’m not an artist, and was pleasantly surprised how simple each step was while creating my own piece. Don’t forget to sign your sketch when you’re finished!

TIPS: When you check in at Aulani, a cast member will give you The Daily ‘Iwa, a listing of the wide variety of activities taking place around the resort, which will help you plan your day. Keep in mind that some of the activities do require reservations. The Daily ‘Iwa also lists activities for specific age groups, like the Teen Ho‘okani Pila (just for teenagers at Aulani) and Keiki Hula (just for kids)!

What is your ‘ohana’s favorite activity at Aulani? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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Kailee Kauai Jewelry Sparkles Like the Ocean at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on June 5th, 2014 by Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort


I love discovering hidden treasures. Recently, I did just that. In fact it was a collection of hand-crafted jewelry from Kailee Kauai which is available in Hale Manu at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.

What started as a hobby, and gift-giving idea to family and friends for over a decade, quickly turned into a something more for designer Yunah Lee Joseph.

“The collection is named after my daughter, Kailee. In the Hawaiian language, ‘Kai’ means ocean, while ‘Lee’ derives from my family name,” says Yunah. “It is my daughter’s love of our beautiful, pristine ocean, and the life that inhabits it, that lends inspiration for each unique piece.”

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One of the things I love most about the collection of earrings, pendants and bracelets is that each bead and stone has been carefully chosen to represent the striking blue and green tones of the ocean, while each shell has been hand-picked from the beautiful shores of Hawai`i.

One of the most popular pieces that can be found at Hale Manu is the Twist Oval Aqua Chalcedony.

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I hope that on your next trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, you discover a treasure to add to your own collection!

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Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Kapa Name Tags

posted on May 27th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


Today we continue our look at some of the unforgettable details at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, with an iconic tradition passed down by Walt Disney himself – cast member name tags. Starting with Disneyland park, Walt wanted to make sure every guest was on a first-name basis with cast members. Distinctive details make each of the name tags worn at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts around the world a little different. I met with Aulani Cultural Advisor Kahulu De Santos to ask her to share with me what makes the name tags at Aulani unique and special.
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The name tags worn by cast members at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa are inspired by kapa, traditional Hawaiian barkcloth. An intricate design process of creating and decorating Hawaiian bark cloth makes each kapa distinctive. Designs may be unique to an ‘ohana or linked to other significant ancestral traditions. At Aulani, name tags featuring kapa designs are an extension of the story and traditions passed down through the ‘ohana – family — of cast members working at the resort.

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If you look closely, you’ll notice differences in colors and designs between the men’s and women’s cast member name tags. They feature two different sections of the same kapa. For female cast members, the name tag has a unique design with a brownish-reddish color and the shapes are more round and smooth. The male name tags have more sharp and jagged shapes, and incorporates blue. Another distinctive feature of the Aulani name tag is the ‘Olelo Hawai`i language designation, worn by cast members who are fluent in the Hawaiian language.

What is your favorite name tag you have seen at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts around the world? One of my favorite details of cast member name tags was the “Class of … “ during the 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Disneyland Resort. Leave your answer in the comments below!

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Five Hawaiian Expressions to Know for Your Visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on May 13th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Social Media Content Coordinator


Aloha! Are you ready for your trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? One of the travel tips my mom passed down to me was to always learn five key expressions that are used in the place you are visiting. In that spirit, I asked Aulani Cultural Advisor Kahulu De Santos to recommend the five most useful expressions that every Aulani guest should know.

1. Aloha – “Hello”

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Aloha is the Hawaiian word I used most during my visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. From the moment you arrive, the spirit of aloha is alive in every cast member interaction. A fun tip about this Hawaiian word is that also can mean “goodbye.” So, you can start and end a conversation with aloha!

2. E komo mai – “Welcome”

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Just as Walt Disney said at the dedication of Disneyland park, “To all who come to this happy place: Welcome,” a welcoming spirit is the foundation for all Disney Parks & Resorts, and Aulani is a beautiful example of that spirit.

3. ‘Ohana – “Family”

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There are so many activities available for your entire family to enjoy. A few of my favorites include Disney Family Fun Animation, ‘Ohana Hula and of course, the Aulani Starlit Hui.

4. Keiki – “Child” or “Children”

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Disney Characters, Aunty’s Beach House and Keiki Cove are just three of the options available for your keiki (pronounced kay-key) to enjoy at Aulani. Even as keiki grow older, there are daily tween and teen activities that allow every member of your ‘ohana to meet new friends and take home treasured experiences.

5. Mahalo – “Thank You”

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Mahalo was another Hawaiian word I used frequently during my visit. You’ll often hear cast members thanking you for visiting Aulani by saying, “Mahalo!”

I hope these expressions help you and your ‘ohana feel at home during your visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa! Do you have any other Hawaiian words or phrases to recommend to new visitors? Leave your answers in the “Comments” section!

Aloha!

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