More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Have You Seen Disney’s Kukui Nut Tree?

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

When Disney’s Polynesian Resort opened in 1971, it debuted with many details and offerings inspired by Polynesian culture, including a beach luau and architecture based on a Tahitian assembly lodge.

Kukui Nut Tree at Disney's Polynesian Resort

But one of the resort’s living, breathing nods to Polynesian culture that you may never have noticed is its Kukui nut tree. The tree originally was brought here from its native state of Hawaii and is a rare sight in the state of Florida.

Kukui Nut Tree at Disney's Polynesian Resort

The tree, which stands tall just outside the resort’s Great Ceremonial House, plays a meaningful role in Hawaiian culture, as it is regarded as a symbol of protection and peace. For centuries, leis made of kukui nuts were considered to be prestigious and sacred, and were worn only by reigning kings of Hawaii. Later on, oil was extracted from the nuts and used as a fuel source for lamps. The oil content of these nuts also played a part in natural remedies for many physical ailments, as well as moisturizing oil for babies’ skin.

Today, Kukui nut trees are given as precious and meaningful gifts among friends. Unlike a flowered lei, a Kukui Nut tree is a gift that will last forever.


  • You said it Robert! The effort and detail that is used all throughout the Disney Resort is is the reason behind that “magic” feel we all have when on WDW property. There has never and will never be anything that even begins to compare!

  • Kukui nut oil is great for grownups, too. I grew up in Hawaii, and I have to say that the way the Poly is now is extremely respectful to Hawaiian/Polynesian culture, while maintaining Disney’s sense of fun and adventure.

    • Have you seen any of our posts on Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, that is opening in Hawaii? I’ve heard stories behind the scenes that a lot of research went into incorporating the Hawaiian culture into the resort in many different – and special – ways.

  • As kids growing up in Hawaii we used to roll the nuts from that tree under cars of passing-by tourists. Plus all kinds of other fun. That will definitely remind me of home when we visit there next!

    • Thanks for sharing, Lindsey. I’m happy the resort will bring back fond childhood memories for you!

  • Perhaps even more remarkably, the tree survived being struck by lightning – a true testament to the longevity and power that this unsung tree has. Today, certain Cast Members at Disney’s Polynesian Resort wear kukui nut leis that represent their ability to lead and help light the path for others – definitely brings things back full-circle to the kukui nut tree featured in this story.

    • Lovely. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow…I will definitely seek out this tree the next time Im at the Poly! Always amazes me the detail all around us at WDW that most of us miss….. its a good reminder as to why we should all slow down and take time to enjoy ALL of what we see….there is so much more to WDW than a ride or a fireworks show… and it will take several lifetimes to see it all…

    • The Imagineers are great at adding those small touches that make a place so special and authentic!

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