O‘AHU, Hawai‘i, November 19, 2008 – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts broke ground for its first family destination resort in Hawai‘i today with a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony on its 21-acre oceanfront property, located at the Ko Olina Resort & Marina development on the western side of O‘ahu. Scheduled to open in 2011, the new family friendly destination will overlook breathtaking crystal blue lagoons and white sand beaches and is planned to include 350 hotel rooms and 480 Disney Vacation Club timeshare villas.
“This Disney destination resort will provide a unique way for families to experience Hawai‘i,” said Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “By blending Disney’s high standard of guest service and creative storytelling, we’ll create a place where all family members can discover the wonder of these special islands.”
Rasulo noted that Disney chose to build a resort on O‘ahu due to the international popularity of Hawai‘i as a family vacation destination. Hawai‘i is among the top vacation choices of Disney Vacation Club members following Disney’s theme park destinations.
Several of Hawai‘i’s elected officials and community leaders welcomed Disney to O‘ahu at the ground blessing ceremony, including Lieutenant Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr.
“We’re excited for this project to begin, knowing the family appeal of both Hawai‘i and Disney,” Aiona said. “We’re confident this resort will attract guests from the mainland and Asia because of the natural beauty of Hawai‘i and Disney’s reputation for delivering unparalleled family experiences.”
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa also attended the ground blessing and said, “From the moment Disney announced that it was purchasing property on O‘ahu, they have shown an interest in our community and have demonstrated they understand the spirit of aloha that we hold dear in our state. I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Disney to Hawai‘i as a new neighbor and employer.”
Planned Resort Features Rasulo noted that plans call for the resort to be built to engage every member of the family, from parents to children, teens and grandparents.
“This resort will be a place where families can escape to reconnect and create lifelong memories,” Rasulo said. “We have kept this vision in mind throughout the design.”
Plans call for an expansive pool and water play area, an 18,000 square-foot spa, a wedding lawn, an 8,000 square-foot convention center, a children’s club and spectacular dining at two restaurants — one of which will provide a stunning view of the ocean.
The design also calls for activities and amenities that aim to engage every member of the family. At the resort’s signature water way, for example, family friendly tubes and body slides will weave through volcanic rockwork and engage an iconic caldera volcano, while a nearby wading pool gives parents with toddlers a welcoming alternative to the sprawling zero-entry fun pool. In addition, more adventurous family members will find vibrant fish species in a saltwater snorkel lagoon.
Beyond activities for the whole family, the resort is being designed to respect and connect with the local culture of the Hawaiian islands. During the past year, the Walt Disney Imagineering team has been researching Hawai‘i and working with local architects and cultural experts as part of the resort’s creative design process. The resulting design is a village celebrating the Hawaiian customs and traditions that lead to a life filled with joy and in harmony with the natural world. To further incorporate Hawaiian traditions, cultural programming in the areas of environmental education, music, dance, history, and arts and crafts; a story-driven, technology-enabled adventure game; and other surprises come together to create a Hawaiian destination that’s uniquely Disney.
Additionally, Hawai‘i’s aloha spirit will influence the many intricate details for which Disney resorts are famous, with stories woven into the architecture, interiors, art, graphics and three planned signature gardens all brought to life through carefully selected colors, patterns, materials and forms. Wood, thatch, lava stone and coral will be among the materials represented in the resort’s two 15-story guestroom towers, each oriented perpendicular to the ocean to maximize ocean views from the strategically angled guest rooms. Façade murals will add to the distinctive look of each tower and will begin to portray some of the stories and legends of the islands.
At the heart of the resort, an open-air lobby building — dubbed Hale Aloha — will draw its design inspiration from a traditional Hawaiian canoe house, visually connecting families to the sea and beyond. Window designs, wall graphics and other details will welcome families with tales of adventure, myth, legend and more, while twin streams flow through the building before uniting as a single cascade into the center garden below.
In October, Disney shared design plans for the new resort with Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who is looking forward to the opening of the project in 2011.
“From my first meeting with Disney executives in California, to subsequent sessions in Honolulu, I continue to be impressed with the effort and the time Disney has put into researching Hawai‘i,” Mayor Hannemann said. “Disney leaders have met with Hawaiian cultural experts to gain an understanding and appreciation of our host culture. The end result will be a resort that local residents will be proud to have on our island, and it will be a family attraction that our residents and visitors will find enjoyable and meaningful.”
Disney Vacation Club
Part of the Disney resort hotel in Ko Olina will be dedicated to Disney Vacation Club, a timeshare program that helps families enjoy flexibility and savings on vacations for decades to come. By becoming a member of Disney Vacation Club, families can enjoy vacations at Disney destinations worldwide as well as more than 500 other popular Member Getaways vacation locations around the globe.
Disney Vacation Club accommodations blend Disney’s famed attention to storytelling detail with all the comforts of home. From well-appointed studios equipped with convenient kitchenettes to sprawling, one-, two- and three-bedroom villas complete with full-size kitchens, washers and dryers, luxury tubs and other homelike amenities, Disney Vacation Club Resorts create flexible options to meet the needs of thousands of families from around the world.
Since its inception in 1991, Disney Vacation Club has grown to serve more than 350,000 individual members from approximately 100 countries and all 50 states.