Disney Goes Hawaiian, Part 14:
Expedition Aulani

August 29 is just six months away. At Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i, that’s the opening day for the first 209 hotel rooms and the first 119 two-bedroom equivalent Disney vacation Club (DVC) villas. (Eventually, there will be 360 hotel rooms and 481 DVC villas.)

Actually, August 29 would be six months from February 29—but there was no February 29 this year. So March 1 will have to do as the six-month mark.

A Yesterland reader took new photos of Aulani a few days ago. Thank you!

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, March 1, 2011

Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Pu‘u Kilo under construction, late February 2011

In my book review of The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak (now out of print), I counted 23 Disney mountains (or mountain rides) if you include the short-lived Holiday Hill and the never-built Candy Mountain and Thunder Mesa, as the book does:

  • Holiday Hill / Snow Hill at Disneyland (1955, bulldozed 1958)
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland (1959, updated in 1977)
  • Cascade Peak, part of the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland (1960)
  • Cascade Peak at Disneyland (1960, demolished 1998)
  • Candy Mountain at Disneyland (never built)
  • Thunder Mesa, site of Western River Expedition at Magic Kingdom Park (never built)
  • Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park (1975)
  • Space Mountain at Disneyland (1977, relaunched 2005)
  • Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland (1983)
  • Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris (1995)
  • Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland (2005)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland (1979)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park (1980)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Tokyo Disneyland (1987)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Paris (1992)
  • Mount Mayday at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (1989)
  • Mount Gushmore at Disney’s Blizzard Beach (1995)
  • Splash Mountain at Disneyland (1989)
  • Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park (1992)
  • Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland (1992)
  • Grizzly Peak, site of Grizzly River Run, at Disney’s California Adventure (2001)
  • Mount Prometheus, site of Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, at Tokyo DisneySea (2001)
  • Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park (2006)
Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Pu‘u Kilo within Aulani

Recently, the scaffolding came off Disney’s newest mountain: Pu‘u Kilo at Aulani, the Disney resort in Hawai‘i. (I had earlier construction photos of Pu‘u Kilo in installments 11 and 12 of this series.)

It’s part of a water adventure course called the Waikolohe Stream. Waikolohe is pronounced why-ko-loh-hay and is Hawaiian for “mischievous water.” Pu‘u Kilo is a volcanic lava outcropping—not a volcano. From its top, Aulani guests will begin a not-so-lazy river tube slide journey that will travel for 900 linear feet along a 321,000-gallon course. Riders will pass through misty caverns and will be surprised by hot springs and playful cold springs. Disney is promising “fantastic formations of lava rock.”

The Waikolohe Stream won’t be the only place to enjoy the water at Aulani. There will also be the Waikolohe Pool with a body slide and Wailana Pool with an infinity edge. Rainbow Reef will let guests snorkel in a manmade lagoon. The Conservation Pool will offer stingray encounters. And there will be four whirlpool spas—perfect places to enjoy the sunset.

Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Water features of Aulani in the model at the D23 Expo, September 2009

When Disney first announced their Hawaiian resort, the initial publicity art already showed elaborate water recreation. The detailed model displayed at the first D23 Expo in September 2009 showed the long water course in the center of the resort.

Aulani isn’t the only resort in Hawaii to offer such spectacular water fun.

The Grand Wailea on Maui, a part of the Waldorf-Astoria collection, boasts of their Wailea Canyon Activity Pool, “multi-faceted, 2,000-foot-long, 25,700-total-square-foot, 770,000-gallon pool,” with “nine free-form pools at six levels—beginning at 40 feet and dropping to sea level. The pools are connected by a river that carries swimmers along at varying speeds, from whitewater rapids to lazy currents.” There’s even the “the world’s first water elevator.”

However, when it comes to water play on O‘ahu, no other resort comes close to what Disney is building at Aulani.

Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Phase 3 Disney Vacation Club wing at Aulani, late February 2011

The exterior of the towers at Aulani looks even more complete than it did when I was published my own photos in early January.

Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Phase 2 hotel section at Aulani, late February 2011.

The grounds still have a long way to go until they’re covered with the lush tropical landscaping that visitors to Hawaii expect.

Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Aulani across Ko Olina lagoon 1, late February 2011

The green construction wall around the perimeter of the construction site still keeps people from wondering unto the grounds of Aulani.

But there’s now a way for ordinary people—not only construction workers—to enter Aulani. As of Tuesday, February 22, there are new models within the report itself. Tours lasting 60-90 minutes are available seven days a week at 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. Transportation from Waikiki is available. (DVC Guides are no longer taking prospective and current DVC members to the temporary model center near the beach walkway.) It takes an appointment. The number is 1-888-9-AULANI.

Aulani at Ko Olina at Yesterland.com

Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of O‘ahu, January 2011

If the water play area at Aulani isn’t thrilling enough for you, there are 20-foot waves on the North Shore of Hawai‘i each winter.


Now, if you’re interested, please take a look at any of the 13 earlier articles in this series:


Disney Goes Hawaiian, 15
Disney Goes Hawaiian, 13

© 2011 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated May 31, 2011.

Six photographs of Aulani construction: Late February 2011 by a Ko Olina guest.
Photograph of model at D23 Expo: 2009 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of surfer at Banzai Pipeline: 2011 by Werner Weiss.