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Disney In Hawaii
christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2011-08-28 8:30 pm   Permalink

Opening day is August 29th.

 
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VanTiki
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Nov 25, 2005
Posts: 1019
From: Hawaii
Posted: 2011-09-19 12:56 pm   Permalink

Last Sunday Ms. VanTiki and I decided to take a look at the new Disney Resort and see how it came together. I am a huge fan of 2 Disney “Grand” resorts (the Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Californian), and I was extremely curious how the imagineers would tackle a hawaii theme.

I’ll be honest - I was very worried. I have become a tad burned out on the rainbow colored luau visions that most resorts represent as an accurate picture of the island. I also read a lot of the press in this thread about Disney’s hopes and plans for the resort, and they seemed rather grand. Could they pull off a Hawaii themed resort that was respectful to the culture and people of Hawaii and still have that feeling of escape and exotica that travelers seek?

We took the looooooong drive out (The Ko’Olina resort complex is really in the middle of nowhere on Oahu - kind of like Las Vegas springing out of a dessert), parked the car in the non-descript parking garage, and stepped into the lobby. Wow. Wowie-doubble-wowie-wow! Such a refreshingly new and yet amazingly familiar place. I can’t tell you how impressed I was by the textures and details sprinkled around the resort that reminded me of growing up on the island. Plantation irrigation ditch stonework, abandoned sugar cane mills, a color palette of stone, red earth, and greens. And there was also a great sense of the fantastic. By fantastic, I mean the sense of South Seas adventure that Tiki Bars and the like exude. The great thing about the Aulani is that the design was so completely different from what I am used to - they incorporated traditional elements together in ways I’ve never seen.

I want to go back with a better camera - but here are a few shots I took with my phone.


So many interesting surfaces and details! The lashing, the adze shaped support for the beam on the right, and the adze-chipped texture on all the faux timbers (yep - they are all fiberglass). Of special note - the rain gutter styled after an outrigger canoe!


Hawaiian language school themed bar. Really a unique concept. Beautiful carvings - amazing interactive lighted bar tabletop, and school desk chairs.


Amazing weathering of a wood wall in classic old plantation house/store exterior style with a collection of vintage HI plates. This is in the alcove to the entrance of the pool bathrooms.


Love the butterflies in the wood paneling. A subtle detail that really evokes hawaiian woodworking - perhaps not necessarily pre-contact style - but definitely the style that I have come to know growing up here.

So - Overall I was quite impressed. But there is some bad with this review. First off, I’m wrestling with the same question that I had when the California Adventure park first opened. Yes, it is an amazing compact and unique vision of Hawaii - but why put in in Hawaii? Can’t I just step outside the resort and experience the real thing? I almost wish they built this resort in Disneyland or Disney World.

Secondly, the location is a rough one for me. There is NOTHING around the resort, and you are looking at quite the car ride to get to most of the things tourists like to see. If you are heading into town in rush hour, you will be in for some of the worst traffic the island has to offer. Now - I’m not one to lounge at my hotel all day. Ms. VanTiki points out that if you are planning on spending your stay entirely on the Hotel property, the location is actually nice and isolated.

Since this is Tiki Central - I should review the bars! There are 2 that we found. The above Hawaiian Language bar (which was closed) and Off The Hook by the pool. We had drinks and split a burger there. The decoration is amazing - the bar is modeled after (I’m guessing here) an abandoned sugar mill (like the classic Kualoa sugar mill) with a wonderful huge thatched roof. Plantation era bottles decorate some of the upper beams (bottle digging is a big hobby for some out here). THe only thing blowing the decor was two big plasma TV’s showing sports (ug). Fortunately, they were muted. I had a mai-tai, and it was a typical resort fruty mai-tai. Sadly, no souvenier mugs. The burger was good - and (another nod to plantation days), the food is brought out in stacked bento boxes.

Whew! Curious to see what other folks think - both Local and Mainlander!

Henrik “VanTiki”

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tigertail777
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 25, 2004
Posts: 670
From: Oregon
Posted: 2011-09-19 11:30 pm   Permalink

Great photos Vantiki. That place looks awesome. Regarding your question of why the Hawaii theme in Hawaii: I went to both Maui and Oahu several years ago for a friends wedding, even though I was born in Honolulu and had not been back since I was little I was HORRIFIED of what had become of the place. It was to me like someone had plopped Las Vegas on island... the only part I did enjoy was the windward side of the island mainly due to the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the unspoilt areas. Maui was much better in my opinion because it was not so overly developed. I looked in the town area of Honolulu for areas that had an older island vibe and could not really find much...maybe that is just because I was a tourist and didn't know where to look.

So that is my long winded way of saying, I think there is a niche for people like me who want a more "authentic" Hawaiian experience than what is currently being offered by the majority of the developed part of the island. Something that harkens back to the kind of paradise we are all told Hawaii was, (or at least I was told, and saw lots of old slides growing up).

Now the big question for me about Aulani is: are there any tikis anywhere at all?

And as a Disney fan, I generally feel I can trust Disney to provide the experience I am looking for down to every detail. DCA was a misfire; I think the idea COULD have worked had they utilized the old California theme in such a way that portrayed things of California's past that are now long gone, or were fantasy and gave them an interesting new spin. Still think they should have had a full Zorro "land" with a dark ride...but I an getting off topic so I'll stop there.


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2689
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-10-26 10:09 am   Permalink

This is Hawaii. Do you really need Disney?...

"In the end, the Aulani was not unlike going to Disneyland: It's a fun-filled fantasyland that ends up being far more expensive than you expected. At least you go home with memories that can last a lifetime."





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tigertail777
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 25, 2004
Posts: 670
From: Oregon
Posted: 2011-10-26 11:13 pm   Permalink

John-O are you angry about the whole Disney thing? Did you really expect Disney not to do some kind of "Hawaiian Fantasy"? After all everything they even remotely get involved with is laden with fantasy and story it's what they do. To Disney's credit though they toned their usual over the top fantasy down and consulted with and listened to locals for the final design of the place. To me it is really nothing all that new even pushing Disney aside, ever since tourists started arriving Hawaii has always catered a fantasy version of itself to them. Honestly even the Polynesian Cultural center is more theme park than true tradition in how it is presented, especially the big finale night show which is something worthy of Las Vegas. Personally I was hoping to see the fantasy side of Hawaii that I constantly ached to see that was presented in the Elvis movie "Blue Hawaii". Much to my sheer disappointment there is little to nothing in Oahu even remotely like in that movie it seems to have all been swallowed up by a concrete jungle of commercialism except the windward side of the island.

Hell, the whole idea of Poly-pop in ANY form is really just a fantasy version of cultural tradition. Nothing wrong with that, just in the degree to which you take it away from its roots and how much respect you give those original roots.

On a side note again: I am dying to know if there is absolutely ANY Tiki whatsoever in this whole joint? Anyone know?


 
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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 280
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-10-27 12:32 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-10-26 23:13, tigertail777 wrote:Personally I was hoping to see the fantasy side of Hawaii that I constantly ached to see that was presented in the Elvis movie "Blue Hawaii". Much to my sheer disappointment there is little to nothing in Oahu even remotely like in that movie it seems to have all been swallowed up by a concrete jungle of commercialism except the windward side of the island.

Too bad you didn't know about the secret of Punalu'u, a little town just down the road from the PCC. Tucked behind a row of hau along the Hwy., across from the beach park was the real Hawaii fantasy come to life on about an acre fronting the mountainous backdrop, all from the hands of Prince David Kaapu. Google it, and check out ebay for some recent pix of the man and his way. Truly incredible and special, nearly beyond description. Tiki freaks, this was the real McCoy, and I don't remember even seeing any tiki.


 
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tigertail777
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 25, 2004
Posts: 670
From: Oregon
Posted: 2011-10-27 01:24 am   Permalink

WOW. Punalu’u sounds like it is just the ticket of what I was looking for but couldn't find. If I can ever afford to go back it will be one of my first stops. Thanks so much for sharing that I really appreciate it, Msteeln it means a lot to me.

I admit I might be a bit biased anyways, having grown up watching slides practically every weekend of Oahu taken in the late 60's early 70's and craving the chance to go. When the chance finally came and I saw all of the commercialization that had happened it was devastating to me. I felt I was denied the beautiful paradise that the rest of my family remembers. I was too young when we left Oahu to remember very much so this was to be my one chance to see what I always heard everyone talk about in my family for years, and they always had a permanent sense of joy and admiration in their voices when they spoke of it. I wanted to be a part of that. It looks like some of that paradise may still exist, it just takes a lot more looking to find it which was time I did not have as our trip was quite limited due to our budget. One day I will make it back there and this time by god I will find some of that paradise so I can finally understand that eternal joy and admiration my family has for Oahu. The closest I ever came to that sense of joy and wonder my family had is when I saw the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, so naturally I am probably just a little too defensive of Disney's fantasy version of Hawaii.


 
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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 280
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-10-27 03:11 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-10-27 01:24, tigertail777 wrote:
WOW. Punalu’u sounds like it is just the ticket of what I was looking for but couldn't find.

If I can ever afford to go back it will be one of my first stops.

I admit I might be a bit biased anyways, having grown up watching slides practically every weekend of Oahu taken in the late 60's early 70's and craving the chance to go.

The closest I ever came to that sense of joy and wonder my family had is when I saw the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, so naturally I am probably just a little too defensive of Disney's fantasy version of Hawaii.

It was back in the day, and still was while in quasi-preservation when I discovered it, but that was all over by the late '80s and I doubt the family maintained it. I enjoyed visiting with his personable and intelligent wife immensely, she was delighted to tell both their whole stories. That they aren't fully chronicaled is tragic, it was the epitome of the almost surreal Hawaiian love story, the type legends are made of. I wish not only you, but anyone with a Hawaiian soul could have enjoyed the opportunity those few decades offered by the Kaapu's, it sure opened my eyes.

I'd be quite reluctant to venture onto the grounds post-Myrtle, they must have been ransacked long ago. Archivists might have a field day, but I'll stick with my memories.

Treasure those now vintage visions, you can often feel a bit of the times when Aloha meant something real to a lot of people. I always tell people to toss the other 49 and head to Ka'a'awa, otherwise known as Paradise, and it sounds like what you're looking for. Why wait? Take a cruise on google maps satelite and dig the Kamehameha Hwy. sites.
www.kualoaranch.com The entire island of Oahu is awesome, just in a topographical sense, a very impressive rock.

That last quote is the funniest thing on this forum from my pov, thank you!


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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2011-10-27 10:56 am   Permalink

Quote:
On 2011-10-26 10:09, JOHN-O wrote:
"It's a fun-filled fantasyland that ends up being far more expensive than you expected. At least you go home with memories that can last a lifetime."


Tsk tsk, there goes Disney again - building something that integrates romanticized artificialities into the experience, while failing to adhere to the "authentic" Hawaii feeling. As much as Disney may try to keep with the times and be all sensitive and politically correct, they just can't help themselves with a little fantasy. As the reviewer points out, that a-frame lobby is far more dramatic than something that real Hawaiian fisherman could or would build (and this is bad?). The fishermen must be outraged.

But when this reviewer gives them points for avoiding "the clichés of tiki torches, totem poles, bamboo furniture and tacky luaus", I am starting to think that his point of view may differ from mine. I think I'm on the same page as him about the Electric Slide part of the entertainment - that sounds pretty awful to me. Too bad most kids don't have the highly cultivated sense of taste that I do (or this reviewer does). Parents must teach children to root out and reject thematic inconsistencies!

BTW, a post one page back links to an
disney.go.com/news/2010/08/aloha-from-hawaii/" TARGET="_blank">article mentioning that "two towering statues — gorgeous examples of an authentic centuries-old wood-carving tradition crafted by Hawaiian carver Rocky Jensen — will act as cultural greeters" in the main lobby. I wonder why it never uses the word tiki though.

-Randy


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VanTiki
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Nov 25, 2005
Posts: 1019
From: Hawaii
Posted: 2011-10-29 6:36 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-10-26 23:13, tigertail777 wrote:
I am dying to know if there is absolutely ANY Tiki whatsoever in this whole joint? Anyone know?



Well, not really. As mentioned a move - there are "greeters" - two carved images. Reminded me very much of extremely minimalist native american totems. They come across as spiritual objects - but, at least for me, don't read as very polynesian. They are quite nice, though. There are also little stone "menehune" all over the grounds - hiding in neat places. Fun for the kids to find. I didn't get any shots of them - but they too are very stylized and don't really reflect any existing tiki carving. There is also a carved "tiki style" Stitch from Lilo and Stitch by the pool. Looked very temporary, and may only come out as a prop for character appearances.

Henrik
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2012-05-30 07:50 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-09-19 12:56, VanTiki wrote:
Last Sunday Ms. VanTiki and I decided to take a look at the new Disney Resort and see how it came together. I am a huge fan of 2 Disney “Grand” resorts (the Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Californian), and I was extremely curious how the imagineers would tackle a hawaii theme.


Good review, Van Tiki.
My "two coconuts" is that recreating the Hawaii theme in Hawaii is very necessary because the true Hawaiian architecture, culture and motif are, sadly, being lost. I will just give just two examples: (1) the International Market Place is to be gutted for a shiny new mall and (2) the Hula Hut, last remaining unaltered Spencecliff venue (from 1970) is now gone (and it was incredible).



 
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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 280
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2012-05-31 7:52 pm   Permalink

Quote:
Recreating the Hawaii theme in Hawaii is very necessary because the true Hawaiian architecture, culture and motif are, sadly, being lost. The International Market Place is to be gutted and the Hula Hut is gone.



The vast majority of people that will ever go to this particular and expensive Disney resort are from elsewhere and have little to no clue about Hawaii's multi-glorious past, and very few will be interested enuf or have time to find out to even the slightest degree. Even in it's cool '60s hey day the IMP was largely a caricature of Hawaii, and The Hut was just a neat dining bar. Sadly both are going/gone, but mere fluff compared to what used to be and actually mattered, and Disney is just more fluff. Hawaii has thrown it's incredible history and heritage away, and no developer today will be doing anything to bring back a single worthy lick. You can tiki, rebuild, motif, theme, and reenact into infinity, and it means very little. Vital Hawaii now resides solely within the individual, and that's fading fast as well. Facts and reality are a bummer.


 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3813
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2012-06-03 1:33 pm   Permalink

Msteeln: Certainly, I defer to Kama'aina in all matters related to Hawaii, yet I am not sure it is that dire. While bruddah IZ Hawaii 78 laments development, the Iolani Palace, Waikiki's oldest hotel, the Moana, the Bishop Museum and, for what its worth, the PCC, all remain. Hula has not been outlawed, UH still has its excellent Hawaiian Studies program and there is not mining on Diamond Head.

While you are right about the Aulani's cost, and most tourists are not there to get a Masters in Hawaiian culture, the Aulani does contain "outrigger" Hawaiian style architecture, an "Auntie" to spread the culture, features Hawaiian art and its website expressly acknowledges its desire to preserve cultural heritage.

[ This Message was edited by: christiki295 2012-06-03 13:58 ]


 
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AceExplorer
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 975
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2012-06-04 08:27 am   Permalink

I'm reminded that, for better or worse, Disney is the entry point for many people into the world of tiki, whatever it may be for them at that moment. Sometimes Disney hooks 'em, then a casual observation of a tiki bar, an advertisement for a tiki event, or even another friend draws folks into the tikiness which we celebrate and enjoy so much.

There will be many who visit Aulani and will come home with life-long memories of the decor and the ambiance of the place. I suspect they will be pleasantly surprised when they notice (or discover) similar things when they get back home. Just buying a Disney tiki mug can lead to much more.


 
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VanTiki
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Nov 25, 2005
Posts: 1019
From: Hawaii
Posted: 2012-06-05 5:42 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2012-05-30 07:50, christiki295 wrote:
the Hula Hut, last remaining unaltered Spencecliff venue (from 1970) is now gone (and it was incredible).



Ahhhh yes - the Glorious Hula Hut. Late Saturday night on October 6th 2001 I saw Don Tiki perform there. My first taste of exotica music, my first visit to a tiki bar, and the first time I sipped a mai-tai from a themed restaurant tiki mug. To say the least, it had quite an impact on me
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