Where’s Minnie Mouse in a Grass Skirt?

I love Disneyland, but the thought of Disney opening a resort in Hawaii left me cringing. I thought it would be cheesy and a tacky rendition of the Tiki Room. (Yes, the Tiki Room is tacky, but it’s make-believe and I thoroughly enjoy it.)

Disney Aulani Resort’s Grand Opening is this week. We didn’t know that as we drove up to their entrance in Ko’Olina. Apparently, media is already on site and the hotel is prepping in a big way. Colored search lights lit up the sky once it was dark. The beach has a stage set up with big lights; the type found on a film set. We stood above on the hotel grounds as hula dancers rehearsed under the watch of Disney choreographers. We were told Good Morning America is showcasing the grand opening later this week.

The property is nice, not cheesy at all. Disney really did their research. We ate dinner at Ama Ama restaurant, where Liane, our waitress, told us how Disney had a difficult time creating Aulani. This wasn’t a made up Disney, Cinderella-type story. Disney had to exemplify a real story, the Hawaiian story. Other than Chip and Dale playing games with the kids and the rock formation around the pool, not much that looks like Disney is visible. Hawaiian images of kapa cloth patterns, Pele on a building, torches designed to look like kukui nuts were visible. I missed the small details at first and I wondered who would drive all the way out here for a Disney escape. Halfway through dinner, I told Mark, “I feel like we’re on vacation.” Disney had done it. They had transported me to vacation mode while only a few miles from home.

A side note, our dinner at Ama Ama was excellent. Great flavors blended together in everything we tried. I had a delicious Burrata and tomato salad with sweet white corn dressing and tender smooth beef filet.

Okay, enough from me. I’ll be quiet now and let you enjoy the photos.

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