Disney Resort coming to Hawaii, It’s Official

Disneyhawaiiresort

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts has announced plans to build a 800-unit resort at the Hawaiian resort district of Ko Olina. Plans include both hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club units. Ko Olina is a resort destination on the western side of Oahu, near the city of Honolulu. 

This is the first stand alone mixed use resort from the Walt Disney Company. Judging by the concept art, it also looks like this resort will feature a water park and possibly some other sort of ‘attraction’ beyond just the Disney brand.

Hawaii has been a popular request from current DVC Members. So I can see the logic of building there first. Groundbreaking should occur in 2008 with the first units scheduled to open in 2011. (Read) Thanks to Amy!

The full press release is available below the cut

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced
today that the company has finalized plans to purchase 21 acres of
oceanfront property on Hawaii’s island of Oahu.

The property, located on the island’s
western side in the picturesque Ko Olina Resort & Marina,
Honolulu’s premier resort destination, will be home to Disney’s first
mixed-use family resort outside of its theme park developments. The
expansive resort, scheduled to open in 2011, will have more than 800
units including hotel rooms and villas for Disney Vacation Club, which
is Disney’s rapidly growing timeshare business.

"This resort hotel will give our guests
another way to visit an exciting part of the world with a brand they
trust," said Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.
"In fact, Hawaii has been among our most requested Disney Vacation Club
getaway locations beyond our theme parks. We are looking forward to
building a special family resort that honors the cultural diversity of
Hawaii and reflects the spirit of aloha that makes this location so
unique."

Consistently ranked as one of the top
family destinations in the world, Hawaii’s natural beauty and extensive
offering of family activities make it an ideal location for a Disney
resort.

"Disney and Hawaii have something special
in common, and that is the recognition of the importance of ‘ohana,’"
said Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. "We are pleased that a company known
for providing families with a way to spend quality time together is
investing in Hawaii. This is a wonderful opportunity for our residents
who will develop careers at the new resort as well as people from
around the world, who will visit our state to stay at this exciting new
destination. Disney’s presence in Hawaii opens new opportunities for
innovative partnerships in non-tourism-related sectors, including new
media and digital technology."

Upon completion, the resort hotel is
anticipated to create more than 1,000 new jobs on Oahu and
opportunities to develop long-term professional careers. Disney was
recently named one of the top places to launch a career by Business
Week magazine and is a competitive employer.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said, "As a
mayor who works out of Kapolei on a regular basis and who has launched
numerous economic development initiatives there, I know people in West
Oahu will be excited that Disney has decided to build its new resort in
Ko Olina. My family and I have visited most of the Disney parks and
resorts around the world, and are huge Disney fans. I believe that
Disney can help our city build a livable community in Kapolei where
people can live, work and raise their families. We look forward to
welcoming Disney to Honolulu as our new corporate neighbor."

Ko Olina

The new resort hotel will be the latest
addition to the Ko Olina development, known for its sweeping ocean
views, picture-postcard white sand beaches and tranquil crystal blue
lagoons.

Jeff Stone, President of The Resort Group
and master developer of Ko Olina, has been working closely with Disney
on the land acquisition and project. "Ko Olina means ‘place of joy,’
and I can’t imagine a more perfect fit here than a Disney resort that
will bring joy to people from around the world," Stone said. "For many
years, it has been our vision to continue to expand Ko Olina as a
premier vacation destination for families and business travelers, and
this new Disney resort hotel is making that vision a wonderful
reality."

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said,
"Disney is known for making dreams come true, and the choice of Disney
to build its new resort on the leeward side of Oahu sends a positive
message to our youth. This will be a place that residents will be proud
to see built, and having Disney as a neighbor has the potential to
inspire our youth to dream about the possibilities for the future right
here in our own community."

Disney Vacation Club

Part of the Disney resort hotel in Ko Olina
will be dedicated to Disney Vacation Club, a timeshare program that
helps families enjoy flexibility and savings on vacations for decades
to come. By becoming a member of Disney Vacation Club, families can
enjoy vacations at Disney destinations worldwide as well as more than
500 other popular Member Getaways vacation locations around the globe.

Disney Vacation Club has grown to serve
more than 350,000 individual members from more than 100 countries and
all 50 U.S. states.

"We are delighted to create a place in
Hawaii that our Disney Vacation Club members can call home," said Jim
Lewis, President of Disney Vacation Club. "We know that both our
existing members and new members will be thrilled about this resort in
Ko Olina."

Design Work

Designs for the resort are still being
finalized by Walt Disney Imagineers, who have been traveling
extensively throughout Hawaii for the past several months as they
garner ideas to develop a resort celebrating Hawaii’s vibrant culture
and rich heritage. The team is working closely with local architects,
engineers and cultural advisors, conducting research and exploring the
region, building on a tradition that has long been a hallmark in the
creation of everything from Disney films to Disney vacation
destinations.

Plans for the resort hotel are expected to be finalized and revealed in early 2008.

Disney’s Hawaiian Heritage

While the announcement marks Disney’s first
resort hotel development in Hawaii, the company’s love affair with the
islands began in the company’s infancy with founder Walt Disney. From
the 1937 Mickey Mouse animated short "Hawaiian Holiday" to the Hawaiian
setting of Disneyland’s groundbreaking Enchanted Tiki Room attraction,
which debuted in 1963 and established the Audio-Animatronics art form,
to the inclusion of Disney’s Polynesian Resort at the Walt Disney World
Resort, Walt often pulled inspiration from the popular islands.

Walt Disney Pictures continued the Hawaiian
legacy in 2002 with the hit animated film "Lilo & Stitch," an
original story about a Hawaiian girl who tames a seemingly untamable
alien by teaching the meaning of "ohana," the Hawaiian tradition of
family. The Walt Disney Company also does extensive film work in
Hawaii, including on-location production for the hit ABC series "Lost."
The feature film "Pearl Harbor" was also shot on location in Oahu.

"We are very excited about becoming part of
the Ko Olina community," Rasulo said. "Clearly, Hawaii already has a
special place in our hearts and in Disney’s history. Building a resort
hotel in Hawaii is the next chapter in our effort to create immersive
Disney experiences that allow families to reconnect and recharge in the
areas of the world they most long to visit."