Disney Opens Hawaii Resort

Ko Olina Welcomes Newest Addition

 UPDATED 6:32 AM HST Aug 30, 2011
HONOLULU -

Following six years of planning and nearly a billion dollars spent in building it, Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa in Ko Olina officially opened to guests on Monday morning.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse attended the blessing.

The 21-acre hotel holds 460 villa time-share units, 359 hotel rooms, four restaurants, recreation facilities and a conference center. It is Disney's only resort without an amusement park.

The resort is offering kamaaina rates for Hawaii residents that are 25 percent off the hotel rates.

"It is fantastic to see all these people coming in walking inside Makaala, the lobby, to see this completely finished. It is wonderful to see," senior Imagineer Joe Rhode said.

The hotel tells a very Hawaiian story. There is a volcano, a water slide and lobby that resembles a canoe hale with a Hawaiian mural and tapa cloth.

Guests are not only encouraged to relax but to take in the Hawaiian culture. There is a loi, or taro patch, where guests can plant taro and then learn how to pound poi afterward.

"It is so pleasing to see a multi-national company like Disney to come to Hawaii and really do all their homework and meet with the community and to apply that to the resort and share that with guests especially for me as a native Hawaiian," Elliott Rivers said.

John and Cathy Minard from Makakilo spent $18,000 for their time-share unit.

"I thought it was awesome already. You walk through the entryway, unreal," John Minard said.

They and the other guests are excited to start their vacation in Disney's $800 million playground.

Nearby local businesses hope the new resort will mean more customers for them. Read more.

Earlier this month, Walt Disney Co. temporarily stopped sales of time-share units at Aulani on Oahu and fired some top mainland executives after discovering it was charging time-share dues here that were not high enough to be profitable, according to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

Disney suspended time-share sales at Aulani on July 9, but is still taking deposits and reservations from people who want to lock in current prices. Read more.

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