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Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: What’s in the Name?

posted on November 20th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


In Hawaiian culture, names are very important. So today, our “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series continues with a look at the meaning of the name ‘Aulani,’ and how Hawaiian culture and Disney storytelling came together to create a Hawaiian experience like no other at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.

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Aulani has a full time Cultural Advisor on staff, Kahulu De Santos. She explained to me that when Disney started this Hawai’i project, Walt Disney Imagineering established a Hawaiian Cultural Committee which worked side by side with Imagineers to create the experiences at Aulani. Their discussions surrounded the art work, architecture and themes that would be built into the resort.

“As the story is told, one morning, while the committee was working on coming up with a name for the resort, one of the members shared that he had a dream about the name ‘Aulani,’” explained Kahulu. “Aulani means ‘messenger of a chief’ or ‘messenger of a greater authority.’ So the committee quickly determined that this would be the name it would present to Disney as the name for this new resort.”

The important significance of Aulani is that the resort serves as a location that shares the messages and stories of the Hawaiian culture, its chiefs and its people, while recognizing and honoring traditional and contemporary Hawaiian practices, she explained.

Aulani celebrates Hawai‘i’s rich legacy of storytelling combined with the magic of Disney. The name Aulani invites guests to ponder and listen to the many-layered stories or “messages” found at this beautiful resort on O’ahu.

One of my favorite examples of these unique stories at Aulani involves the significance of the kapa design in the cast member nametags. Have you seen these? What’s your favorite story found at Aulani? Tell us in the comments below.


For more from the “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series, visit the posts below:

Wasabi’s Tuna Poke, Inspired by Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

posted on November 14th, 2014 by Rachel Brent, Food & Beverage Marketing Communications Coordinator


Happy Friday, Disney’s “Big Hero 6” fans! I’m excited to share the second recipe in our Disney’s “Big Hero 6” series, Wasabi’s Tuna Poke, inspired by Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.

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Filled with lean protein, this dish will give you the energy you need to save San Fransokyo. Just try not to spill any of the wasabi sauce on your shirt.

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Celebrate Thanksgiving at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on November 3rd, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Family and food are two of the best things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, and what better way to celebrate than on a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? In fact, Sunset Magazine recently voted Aulani as one of the “top ten warm-weather Thanksgiving getaways.” So envision your ‘ohana spending November 27 floating down the Waikolohe Stream or exploring the Menehune Adventure Trail and then enjoying a delicious array of food and fun at the Aulani Thanksgiving Feast.

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The Kaiona Ballroom will be transformed into a celebratory feast full of Hawaiian holiday traditions sprinkled with Disney magic. You’ll enjoy familiar Thanksgiving favorites … but with an island twist. For example, start with the heirloom tomato salad with Maui onion and micro basil and then follow that scrumptious starter with the longboard-braised boneless beef short ribs. Of course, no Thanksgiving meal is complete without turkey or ham – so be sure not to miss the guava- and pineapple-glazed ham and roasted turkey with sage stuffing, giblet gravy, and fresh cranberry-orange chutney. Also, live music from local entertainers will be featured, as well as a special Disney character greeting experiences exclusively for Aulani Thanksgiving Feast guests!

This “pumpkin pie” perfect feast will have two seatings: the first seating is from 4-6 p.m. and the second seating is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Aulani Thanksgiving Feast costs $84.99 for guests ages 10 and up; $42.99 for keiki ages 3 to 9. Please keep in mind that this event has limited seating, so be sure to call (808) 674-6200 to book your reservation today. Find more information and more menu details here.

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments below!

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Announces First-Ever Disney Ambassador

posted on October 30th, 2014 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa


Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is a Hawaiian experience with that touch of Disney magic that makes your island vacation unforgettable. Todayʻs exciting news highlights that touch of Disney magic here in paradise. For the first time in history, Aulani will have a Disney Ambassador to represent our Disney resort and engage our guests, cast and communities. For those of you who may not know the role of a Disney Ambassador, the tradition dates back to 1965 when Walt Disney first selected a cast member to serve as the official spokesperson and representative at Disneyland park.

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Janelle Sanqui, Aulani’s first Disney Ambassador, currently works in Workforce Management at the resort and was born in Hawaii. She lived in California before returning to to the islands nearly 10 years ago. Her previous experience includes two years as a parade performer at the Disneyland Resort, and she was part of our Aulani entertainment team when we opened in 2011.

Our announcement was recently made along with news of the first-ever Disney Ambassador selections for Shanghai Disney Resort. Also earlier this month, new 2015-2016 Disney Ambassadors were named at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Disney Ambassador Program.

Please join me in saying hoʻomaikaʻi, congratulations, and giving a warm “e komo mai” to Janelle!

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And the 2014 Orbitz Best in Stay Elite Award Goes to … Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa!

posted on October 24th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


The magic of a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is at the top of any must-do list for families looking for a once-in-a-lifetime getaway. With included amenities designed for every age like Aunty’s Beach House, Painted Sky and the Aulani Starlit Hui, it’s no surprise that Orbitz recently recognized this beautiful Hawaiian resort with the 2014 Orbitz Best in Stay Elite Award!

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The 2014 Best in Stay Awards recognize up to five properties in each category, and Aulani earned the Elite Award for being the highest-rated hotel in the Family category. Each of the winners were selected based on hotel reviews submitted by Orbitz customers and travel experts, spanning 75 of the most popular destinations in the world.

If your bags aren’t packed yet, there is still time to book a consecutive four-night stay at this award-winning resort and receive the fourth night free! This offer is available to book through October 30, 2014, for most vacations to Aulani through December 22, 2014. Don’t forget – you can also upgrade to a one- or two-bedroom villa and receive a $100 per night resort credit, in addition to your free night. Learn more about this limited-time offer here!

What does your family love most about a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? Tell us in the comments below!

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‘This is Halloween’ at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

posted on October 17th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Disney Parks Blog authors have recently shared details about the Halloween tricks and treats taking place this year at Disney Parks & Resorts around the world. Today, I’m excited to “carry the banner” and pass along details about the festivities materializing at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai`i! And the best part? Like most activities during a vacation to Aulani, these special Halloween events are included with your stay!

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  • Keiki Halloween Party – On October 17, 24 and 31, the Halawai Lawn transforms into a frightfully fun party perfect for the entire family. Adults and keiki staying at Aulani are encouraged to dress up for craft activities, game stations and face painting. Be sure to bring your cameras and autograph books as well because some of your favorite Disney characters are making special appearances!
  • Hallow “Teen” – Teens ages 13-17 celebrate the Halloween season on October 24, 26 and 28 with their own exclusive party. They’ll meet up at Makiki Joe’s Beach Rental and then head to the beach for a pumpkin sand sculpting contest and other surprises.
  • Trick or Treat – If you are vacationing at Aulani on Halloween, don’t miss the chance to go trick-or-treating! A special map showcases all the treat locations and you can show your “Disney Side” by wearing a Halloween costume.

Be sure to check The Daily ‘Iwa upon your arrival for any more spooky surprises taking place during your vacation this October!

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First Disney Ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto Welcomes New Ambassadors

posted on October 11th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Walt Disney Parks and Resorts celebrates 50 years of the Disney Ambassador program, which was first introduced as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Disneyland. Walt Disney needed someone to act as a representative of Disneyland to audiences in the community and around the world, as well as host VIP guests and foreign dignitaries. Julie Reihm Casaletto, a tour guide for the park at the time, was selected by Walt to be the first Disney Ambassador.

A half-century later, in a ceremony in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park, Julie joined more than 50 former Disney Ambassadors yesterday morning to welcome the 2015-2016 Disneyland Resort Ambassador team, Jessica Bernard and Allie Kawamoto.

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The 50-year tradition continued at Walt Disney World Resort yesterday, as Caitlin Busscher and Nathaniel Palma were announced as the 2015-2016 Disney Ambassador team, receiving the golden opportunity of sharing the magic of “our world” – and representing nearly 70,000 fellow Cast Members – with the Central Florida community.

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Rounding out the global anniversary celebration, Disney Ambassadors also were announced recently at other Disney Parks around the world. At Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Sara Hui was selected as the next Ambassador to represent the Asia-based theme park, and Tokyo Disney Resort chose Riina Imaeda as the first ambassador to serve a two-year term in Japan. Sonia Demay and Romina Grochow were welcomed as new Ambassadors at Disneyland Paris earlier this month.

The Disney Ambassador family will grow this year, as Shanghai Disney Resort, scheduled to open in 2015, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, will for the first time name Disney Ambassadors.

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Stay Longer, Save More this Winter at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, with Choice of Special Offers

posted on October 9th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Winter is just around the corner and what better way to escape the cold weather than with a tropical vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Ko Olina, Hawai`i? If that is not tempting enough, the longer you stay and enjoy snorkeling at Rainbow Reef or relaxing at the infinity pool in Ka Maka Landing this winter, the more you’ll save! Take a look at the video below and you’ll see why Aulani has become a favorite destination for families around the world.

Starting today, book a 4-night stay at Aulani and enjoy the 4th night free with a complimentary breakfast at the Ulu Cafe! Click here to learn more. Or if you’re thinking your keiki will need more time at Aunty’s Beach House, our signature complimentary kids club, or you’ll need an extra day at Laniwai Spa, enjoy 30% off a 5-night or more stay – plus complimentary breakfast at Ulu Cafe. Click here to learn more.

You can book either of these special offers October 9, 2014, through February 23, 2015, for most nights January 4, 2015, through March 23, 2015. Visit www.DisneyAulani.com or call 866-443-4763 for more information.

*Stay 4 nights and get the fourth night free with daily breakfast offer for stays of four consecutive nights. Save 30% with daily breakfast offer for stays of five or more consecutive nights. All stays must be booked between 10/9/14 and 2/23/15 inclusive, with all nights between 1/4/15 and 3/23/15. 30% savings based on the non-discounted price of the same room. Number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited, and room availability may vary by dates of stay. Package includes daily breakfast for all Guests booked per room per night of your package stay. Breakfast is only redeemable at Ulu Cafe during normal breakfast operating hours, and includes one entree and one coffee or fresh rotating juice. Breakfast entitlements may not be redeemed for cash in whole or in part, sold separately, transferred or refunded and will expire at midnight on package departure date. Excludes Resort fees and taxes. Not valid in combination with any other discounts or offers. Offers exclude suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas. 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 changes without notice.

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Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Menehune Bridge

posted on September 30th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


If your little ones love water, the Menehune Bridge will be a favorite destination at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. This 2,200 square foot interactive water play zone designed for keiki under 48 inches features two junior-sized water slides, spinning gourds and a climbing wall! As with most water activities in the resort’s Waikolohe Valley, it is free to guests.

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During a visit to Aulani, Cultural Advisor Kahulu De Santos shared with me the Menehune legend that provides the inspiration for this aquatic play structure. I’m excited to pass the story along as part of our “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series.

According to Hawaiian legend, a boy named Laka went searching for his chief-father after his mysterious disappearance. His grandmother told him to “go to the mountains and look for the tree that has leaves shaped like the Hilo moon – such is the tree for a canoe.” He took his grandmother’s advice and found and fell the tree just before sunset. When he woke the next day to work on his new canoe, the tree he cut down was mysteriously gone! This trickery happened to Laka several times, until he decided to dig a small trench and hide alongside the tree trunk.

While hiding, he found the culprits taking his trees – a pair of Menehune! Once caught, they pleaded forgiveness for their mischievous actions and promised to build Laka a canoe. That evening, a multitude of Menehune carried the canoe down the mountain to Laka’s beachside home. Upon their arrival, a marvelous feast ensued and the mischievous Menehune were forgiven.

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Menehune Bridge celebrates the legend of Laka’s canoe but also encourages aquatic mayhem – inspired by the Menehune, of course. If you want to get a fun view of Laka’s canoe, stand beneath it as it fills with water. Be patient – you’ll be in for a surprise!

What are your keiki looking forward to most during your vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? Tell us in the comments below!


For more from the “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series, visit the posts below:

A Home Away From Home at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: 1-Bedroom Villa

posted on September 23rd, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Planning a vacation usually includes the following questions: Where are we going to eat? How much clothing do we need to pack? Who is going to sleep where? Well, I’m happy to report that a vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, has an easy solution to all three with its spacious villas. The 1-Bedroom Villa, 2-Bedroom Villa and 3-Bedroom Grand Villa are all designed to comfortably accommodate larger groups and offer just-like-home amenities. This new series will spotlight these beautiful villas, beginning with a look at what is included with a stay in a 1-Bedroom Villa.

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With more than 750 square feet of living space, a 1-Bedroom Villa is perfect for up to five guests. When trying to decide where everyone is going to sleep, remember that the 1-bedroom villa has a separate bedroom and living room. So if you have little ones that need to go to sleep earlier, the family fun can still continue in the living room! Also, don’t worry about packing extra clothes because a washer and dryer is available inside the room.

One of the best tips to maximize the villa’s amenities is to pick up select food offerings at Kalepa’s Store and prepare them in the kitchen in your room. Dinnerware, glassware, pots and pans – everything you need to prepare a delicious meal – is already in your room! Have leftovers? A 1-Bedroom Villa features a full-size refrigerator as well. My fellow Disney Parks Blog author, George Savvas, recently vacationed in a 1-Bedroom Villa at Aulani, and told me that complimentary dishwasher soap and laundry detergent are included with your stay – so no need to worry about packing those necessities!

Ready to book your villa at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa? Reserve a consecutive four-night or more stay, now through October 30, 2014, for travel between August 15 and December 22 (excluding November 26-29), and receive the fourth night free! Learn more about this great vacation offer here.


See the posts below for more about Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa:

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