Today Sarah and I had a tour of Disney’s newest resort, Aulani. It’s set to open in just under four weeks, on August 29th, and is still under construction. But there was plenty to see, and plenty to assure us that it is going to be an amazing place. Our guide was great and answered tons of questions and even encouraged us to take pictures.
So, we did! Here’s the porte-cochere and entrance to the lobby. The building is designed by the same architect that did Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, and the similarities were obvious. Those two Lodges are favorites of mine at WDW, but they don’t have the view that Aulani has.
You can see there’s still plenty of work going on around us. Stepping into the lobby, you’re overwhelmed by the view outside.
The lobby is still very much under construction, but the work so far is beautiful.
It looked like a story was about to be stenciled onto the walls above us.
According to our guide, a “Kim Possible” style game starts here in the lobby, with a genuine 3-D hologram bird emerging from the lobby floor and flying out the window! It sounds so cool, it’s all about Hawaiian native culture and should allow kids to learn without realizing it.
The landscaping outside looks beautiful, as it should in Hawaii. Can you spot the lazy river going around (and under) the volcano? There will be two slides in the volcano as well.
Also, there’s a snorkeling area here with glass walls so you can watch your kids snorkeling!
The Hawaiian style graphics in the windows keep the feel very local. Our guide said that Disney has relaxed many of their rules to fit the Hawaiian lifestyle. For example, tattoos are fine, and cast members can wear slippers (flip-flops). He said his trainer came to work one day shirtless even! Now that’s Hawaii!
Here’s a Hawaiian Hidden Mickey in the hall carpeting (a surefire place to find a hidden mickey).
This wallpaper is amazing, the detail up close is beautiful. More hidden mickeys here, too, if you’re looking.
Looking out a pool view room on the main floor to the kids’ water playground.
From the same balcony, looking towards the lagoon behind the resort. The little red shack is where you will be able to get Hawaiian Shave Ice, and it’s also the meeting spot for Teen get-togethers. The green waters in front of the shack are for the snorkeling pool, I believe. The thatched room at the far end of the opposite side of the hotel is the fancy table service restaurant. there’s also a more casual table service restaurant below the lobby.
In the 1-bedroom villa, the entertainment center has a fold-out Murphy bed below the TV! When the bed is folded up, the panel is carved wood with angel fish, gorgeous.
Another hidden mickey in the upholstered kitchen bench. This kitchen reminds me of other DVC Villas, very nice.
Pull-out couch in the 1-BR Villa and balcony.
I’ve been really into learning about Hawaiian quilting while I’m here, this just tickled me pink!! A Hawaiian Quilt hidden mickey!
And one last hidden mickey in the bathroom artwork for you:
All in all, it was a great tour. The Ko Olina area will thrive with the new business Disney is bringing, and it sounds like Disney is really trying to do it right, and do right by Hawaii at the same time. I was disappointed we weren’t able to see the spa at all, but it is still under heavy construction according to our guide. They are expecting it to be fully ready for opening day, but no photos have been released yet, our guide hadn’t even seen it. Typical for Disney, it’s elegant and luxurious enough for the savviest adults, but also completely welcoming for families and children.
Posted from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, United States.