Jason Castro, Hawaiian dancers bookend Disneyland Aulani Hawaii Resort preview hosted by Imagineer Joe Rohde

in Disney, Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Events, Hotel, Theme Parks

Concluding Disneyland’s 2011 “What’s Next” presentation, Imagineer Joe Rohde offered a preview of Disney’s Aulani Resort, opening in August in Ko Olina, Hawaii. The Aulani preview took place on the construction site of Carsland, following an Imagineering presentation about that ongoing expansion to Disney California Adventure.

“What’s Next” is Disney’s annual chance to update the press on what’s new around the Walt Disney Company, including theme parks, Disney Cruise Line, and for Aulani, Disney Vacation Club. And it’s always filled with surprises and entertainment amidst information and artwork.

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This year, kicking off the Hawaiian resort preview was a song by American Idol finalist Jason Castro, appearing on stage to set the mood, playing his ukulele.

Video: American Idol finalist Jason Castro sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

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Following Castro’s relaxing performance, Imagineer Joe Rohde took the stage to discuss all that is Aulani, explaining how the world of Disney is blending with the culture of Hawaii. Aulani will be a Disney resort in Hawaii, but Hawaii will be the star. Taking inspiration from the history of the area, Aulani’s artwork, decor, and design blend and support its beachfront surroundings.

Video: Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde previews Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii


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Each of Aulani’s many elaborately-decorated public areas, including the lobby, restaurants, pool, and lounges feature Hawaiian language names, notoriously difficult to pronounce, though made accessible through Disney’s integration with the resort.

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Maka’ala – Lobby

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‘Ama ‘Ama – Restaurant

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‘Olelo Room (To teach Hawaiian language)

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Laniwai – Spa

Guests won’t find Mickey Mouse around every corner in Aulani, but will certainly feel the Disney presence, as it’s Disney’s ability to achieve great storytelling that will come across throughout the resort. For children, the Menehune, part of Hawaiian myth, will be prominently featured in play areas and even in an interactive form, forming a connection with the legends of the area.

Concluding the “What’s Next” presentation were a small Hawaiian band and group of young girls dancing, offering a glimpse at the feeling Aulani will evoke.

Video: Traditional Hawaiian song and dance, joined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Disney’s Aulani Resort opens in Ko Olina, Hawaii on August 29, 2011.

More photos from the Disneyland Resort “What’s Next” presentation:
(Photos by Josh Daws and Ricky Brigante. Thanks to Jeremiah Daws for live-blogging the event.)

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