A Disney-inspired Hawaiian celebration launched the official grand opening of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Thursday night with music, sparkling colored lights and the ceremonial mixing of sand with pixie dust. Aulani combines the magic of Disney storytelling and guest service with the beauty and traditions of Hawaii, creating a family vacation experience on a beautiful lagoon along the coast of Oahu.
The official opening ceremony comes nearly a month after Aulani first opened its doors to the public, unveiling just what it means to have Disney in Hawaii.
Video: Highlights from the Aulani grand opening ceremony
Bob Iger, president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, and Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, joined Hawaiian officials for the grand opening event at sunset. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse added to the fun at the beachside event. In addition to invited press, guests of the hotel were also invited to watch the opening ceremony. In traditional Hawaiian fashion, all were encouraged to attend barefoot. The festivities concluded in true Disney style with a Hawaiian rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
“Aulani is a stunning resort that offers something unique in the vacation industry,” said Iger. “It’s an incredible family paradise that combines the beauty and culture of Hawaii with a touch of Disney magic and we are confident that guests from around the world will continue to enjoy it for many years to come.”
Aulani serves as a gateway to the islands of Hawaii, noted Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “Aulani truly has something for everyone,” said Staggs. “With specific spaces and experiences created for kids, teens and adults, as well as places where families can relax and make memories together, Aulani is just the answer for families who want to experience the incredible storytelling and great guest service of Disney while enjoying all that Hawaii has to offer.”
At Aulani guests, can customize their experience – relaxing on the beach or in Laniwai, a Disney Spa, playing in the pools and snorkeling at Rainbow Reef, or discovering the island on a specially planned excursion. Among the experiences at Aulani are the Makai Preserve stingray adventure, the Painted Sky teen lounge and spa, and the Menehune Bridge, a water play area full of surprises.
In time for the opening cermeony, Disney announced it has resumed time share sales on Aulani, after issues surrounding the cost of dues caused them to temporarily halt. They have since raised fees by 33% to cover the costs of operating the new resort. Under the previously-calculated dues, Disney would have been running Aulani at a loss, the discovery of which cost several Disney Vacation Club executives their jobs.
When all phases are complete, Aulani will include 359 traditional hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club villas in two towers, each featuring rooms that offer thrilling views of the ocean, mountains and the magnificent, lush surroundings.
Click here to learn more about Aulani’s creation and inspiration from Disney’s Imagineers and designers and take a look inside a few of its lavish rooms.