Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Mural Panels

Tyler Slater

by , Public Relations Manager, Disney Parks, Experiences & Products

Walt Disney Imagineering creative executive Joe Rohde played a pivotal role in the development of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. He and his team worked with the local community to ensure every unforgettable detail showcased the legacy of the Hawaiian people. Traditional stories are shared at every corner of the resort, including the exterior facades. Joe said, “precious things would often be enfolded by kapa bark cloth in the time of the old Hawaiians … and Aulani is sort of wrapped like a precious object, because it is important.” Today, the “Unforgettable Details of Aulani” series continues with a look at the towering mural panels that embrace guests with the spirit of aloha.


Native Hawaiian artist, Carl Pao, created a pair of boldly geometric bas-reliefs that pay tribute to the genealogy of this particular area of O’ahu – of Ko Olina and the district of ‘Ewa. The two exterior facades reference the rising and setting of the sun and the moon and have been appropriately placed facing east and west. Like the rest of Aulani, these panels evoke the balance between masculine and feminine, day and night, sun and moon.

Another local artist, Harinani Orme, created a bas-relief mural panel that pays homage to the Hawaiian seafarers through the image of a single outrigger canoe plying open ocean waters. Celestial bodies are present in the sky above, because the positions of the sun, moon and stars are critical navigational tools for the Hawaiians.

Be sure to ask cast members questions about details you discover during your vacation to Aulani; you never know what unforgettable story you may take back home!


  • Hi Tyler,

    What a spectacular photograph! It brought back so many unique memories of our trip during the summer of 2012!

    I was truly mesmerized by all the attention to details and the re-creation through accurate story-telling and equally impressed to learn that local historians and artisans were consulted during the construction and design of this magnificent resort. From the minute you walk into the lobby, you’re transported right in the heart of Hawaiian culture and history from the vaulted ceiling and rich local woods used.

    I’ll never forget those cross-breezes sitting in the main lobby looking up at the spectacular friezes of drawings or seeing an actual coconut wall downstairs at Makahiki!

    Unbelievable yet real!

    Thank you,

  • Just got back from week at the beautiful Aulani resort. Loved how the imagineers built so much Hawaiian culture into the design of the property. There are signs and symbols everywhere You look. Staff is amazing and true Disney representatives. As the article suggests, I did ask three different staff about the 1923 reference on the bridges crossing over the lazy river. One lifeguard assured me that was Walt Disney’s year of birth (not). A second told me she thought it was the clearance needed to pass under the walkway!!! 1,920 for clearance? The last one I asked told me that was the year the parks opened- when mr Disney was all of 22 years old!
    Still don’t know what the reference is.

  • Aloha Tyler,
    Thank you for sharing a wonderful view of Aulani. Someday, when dreams come true, our family would love to catch a wave, see the splendor of the Hawaiian themed island oasis, and make another unforgettable story, with Disney.

  • Excellent post Tyler. The artwork at Aulani is incredible, among many of its other fine features and offerings. The rock work, in particular is impressive– last time we were there for brunch my DW found the facial profile of an ulua, my favorite fish! Needless to say she made me pose with said profile rock work…. Mahalo!

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