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

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:

Comments

  • How insightful. Mahalo!

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