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Hawaii’s Disney Resort Expands Just Two Years After Opening

November 6, 2013 By: Joe Pike

Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa

Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, was the talk of the town when it opened on Oahu two years ago, representing Hawaii’s first new hotel in years.

RELATED: Our On-Location Report from Aulani's Grand Opening

But with news that Montage Hotels & Resorts will be opening a property in Maui, the recent opening of Andaz Maui at Wailea and the reopening of the Volcano House on Hawaii Island, Aulani’s buzz has wavered a bit.

Until now.

Just two years after its grand opening, the first Disney Resort located outside of the U.S. mainland is looking to give itself a shot in the arm in the form of a new expansion that will be sure to attract families around the world.

Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, welcomes clients to explore a new expansion of its popular Waikolohe Valley water play area: Ka Maka Landing. The new enhancement features a spectacular infinity pool with a realistic grotto, a dynamic fun splash zone for smaller kids, and a new location for poolside and beachside dining.

The resort is also home to Disney Vacation Club Villas, providing families with spacious accommodations and beautiful views of the island. Disney Vacation Club, a leader in vacation ownership, provides families with the flexibility to personalize their vacation experiences and the ability to choose from a variety of different accommodations at Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Aulani.

RELATED: Taking the Kids to Aulani

The expansion comes just two years after the resort first opened to guests on the island of Oahu and responds to the most enthusiastic request Aulani guests have made during their stays: more water fun and more food options to enjoy.

Waikolohe Valley is the recreational center of the resort. Located between Aulani’s two towers and flowing from the lobby down to the beachfront, it is home to pools, whirlpool spas and interactive water play areas. The new pool, splash zone and additional deck space will extend the sun and water fun to the very edge of the resort property, with the new pool’s “infinity edge” overlooking the adjoining lagoon.

In keeping with Disney's tradition of storytelling, the new Ka Maka Landing brings to life the legend of Māui, the great trickster demi-god, known to generations of Hawaiians through the re-telling of cultural legends.

Maui, according to the traditional story, brought the islands to the surface with his great fishhook, and elements of the legend are reflected in the design of the new family pool and kids’ splash zone, incorporating coral and lava, sea and earth, in the surrounding rockwork. A highlight of the family pool is an enchanting grotto that provides a relaxing view of the sunset over the Pacific. After dark, a magical starscape of glimmering lights appear on the grotto ceiling.

Even Aulani’s smallest clients have a place to splash around in at the new Ka Maka Landing. Keiki Cove, Aulani’s tide-pool-themed water play area geared towards toddlers, is a fun and safe spot where visiting tykes can cool off in a series of low-pressure water jets that gush up from below. Keiki Cove’s water jets are provided courtesy of a friendly he’e, or octopus, whose large tentacles stretch out across the cove floor in a bright and friendly blue mosaic.

Also open at the resort is a new food service location. Positioned beneath artist Harinani Orme’s towering exterior bas relief of Maui, Ulu Cafe is a poolside quick service restaurant that continues the celebration of the beloved trickster figure in casual-yet-elegant style.

Ulu Cafe offers quick service breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a variety of grab and go options as well as hot entrees, daily sandwiches and soups, and specialty coffee and soft drinks.

On the restaurant’s patio, Māui will be immortalized in a striking kinetic steel sculpture of by local artist A.R. Kupihea, scheduled for installation in December.

With lava formations, hot springs that blow off steam and misty caverns, the Waikolohe Valley landscape was designed by Disney Imagineers to appear as if it has been here for many, many years. In addition to reflecting the legends of Hawaii, the Waikolohe Valley magically mimics the Hawaiian landscape: wetter and more forested at the high end nearer the mountains, drier and more open as it approaches the sea.


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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | November 5, 2013
Just two years after its grand opening, Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, is looking to give itself a shot in the arm in the form of a new expansion. Here's what to expect.