Disney's new Aulani resort brings out unique side of Hawaii

KO OLINA, Hawaii

"People are going to walk away with this great understanding of Hawaii, potentially a place that they've come to time and time again. They're going to see through a different set of eyes," said Djuan Rivers, Vice President of Aulani.

Disney's Aulani resort is set on 21 acres of oceanfront property on Oahu's western shore. There is clearly natural beauty there, but the people who created the island paradise also want you to see the real beauty in Hawaii's rich culture.

"Aulani is very much about the stories and the traditions of Hawaii through the eyes of Hawaiians, so it's really worth paying attention to," said Joe Rohde, senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering.

The Aulani offers plenty of playful activities for adventurers of any age. There's also time for arts and crafts, dress-up and interactive fun.

After taking a time-out to watch the sun slowly disappear into the horizon, it's time for some family entertainment - Hawaiian style.

You also get some of the moments you expect when it comes to the Disney name: hugs from Mickey and Minnie.

There are lots of things to do at the resort, especially for children. But if you just want to get away on your own, there's a pool area just for the grownups.

The hope is to also give vacationers a richer Hawaiian experience.

"I like to think of Aulani as a portal to Hawaii," said Rivers.

Hawaii is very much a part of the opening celebration. Hawaiian Airlines, which partnered with Disney, flew its original 1929 carrier over the property.

The Aulani operates as both the hotel and the timeshare, and if it's gotten it all right, it's also a place for making memories too.

"Some of those who come are children, and they're not extra. They didn't come along for the ride. They are our guests," said Rohde.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

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