On 29th August 2011, at approximately 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time, as the sun came over the mountain, the doors to the Maka‘ala lobby of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, opened and the first guests entered.
The big pre-opening event at Aulani this weekend was a Community Preview on Saturday evening. It was a great opportunity for neighbors of the resort, many of whom have made significant contributions to its successful completion, to get together and enjoy seeing Aulani in its finished state. Guests included political figures, community leaders and many of the artists whose work at Aulani is now part of the largest collection of contemporary Hawaiian art in the state.
Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney Parks & Resorts, and Djuan Rivers, Vice President of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, each took to the stage to welcome and thank the guests and to pay tribute to the Aulani team. Local performers, including the gifted young singers of the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus and the talented keiki (children) of Hula Halau Olana, provided the entertainment, and other guests included leaders of the community organizations with a focus on family and children which the Disney Aulani team has supported over the past year.
The preview also celebrated the ways in which Aulani has benefited and will continue to benefit the community, through job creation, economic stimulus, cast VoluntEARism and charitable donations. In the past year, cash and in-kind contributions have totaled more than $300,000 to organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of Hawai‘i, the Bishop Museum and (as you may recall from a previous blog post) the KaBOOM Playground build at Ka Waihona o ka Na‘auao Public Charter School.