11/19 Disney breaks ground in Ko Olina
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts officially broke ground today on a family-oriented resort expected to open in Ko Olina on O'ahu's Leeward Coast in 2011.
The resort — earlier estimated to cost about $800 million — is planned to include 350 hotel rooms and 480 timeshare units.
The theme-park experts marked the ceremonial beginning today with a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony on its 21-acre oceanfront property,.
"This Disney destination resort will provide a unique way for families to experience Hawai'i," said Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "By blending Disney's high standard of guest service and creative storytelling, we'll create a place where all family members can discover the wonder of these special islands."
Rasulo said that Disney chose to build a resort on O'ahu due to the international popularity of Hawai'i as a family vacation destination and believes the project will succeed despite the current slump in tourism. Hawai'i is among the top vacation choices of Disney Vacation Club members following Disney's theme park destinations, he said.
The company also announced it is donating $100,000 to four West O'ahu high schools to support academic programs there.
The schools who will receive $25,000 each are: Campbell High School's engineering and robotics program, Kapolei High School's Science and Technology Academy, Nanakuli High School's theater program and Searider Productions at Waianae High School.
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who represents the area and grew up nearby, also attended the ground blessing and said, "From the moment Disney announced that it was purchasing property on O'ahu, they have shown an interest in our community and have demonstrated they understand the spirit of aloha that we hold dear in our state."
Kumu hula Kaleo Trinidad's halau — Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La — performed at the blessing and the ceremony after included performances by Halau Hula Olana under kumu hula Olani Ai; and Kamehameha Schools Children's Choir.
Resort plans call for an expansive pool and water play area, an 18,000 square-foot spa, a wedding lawn, an 8,000 square-foot convention center, a children's club and two restaurants — one oceanfront.
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Hong Kong and Tokyo Disneyland Resort June 2007, Walt Disney World December 2007, Disneyland (Original Anaheim Kingdom) May 2009, Disneyland Paris Resort October 2008.
Veteran of all 11 global theme parks