Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hope for Disney Aulani Opening Ceremony

Trains have always been an integral part of the Disney Company. When Disneyland opened to the World on July 17, 1955 the opening scene on TV was of the Main Street Train Station with Art Linkletter standing on the tracks and platform. The first shot you see of Walt Disney is him wearing an engineers hat and scarf in the engine of the EP Ripley with a stuffed Mickey Mouse sitting in a window with him. Some will argue that the real seed for the idea of Disneyland was planted at his Holmby Hills home in early 1950 when Walt built the Carrolwood Pacific Railroad in his back yard. When Walt asked Herb Ryman to draw up the original plans for Disneyland, Walt asked for it to be surrounded by a train. Since then, each of the Magic Kingdom style parks have been built each with a train circling the park. Well, expect Tokyo Disneyland, theirs circles just the west side of the park starting and ending in Adventureland and going through Westernland and Critter Country.

On August 29 of this year, Disney enters into the Hawaii Tourism market with the opening of Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa within the Ko Olina resort in Kapolei, Hawaii. This resort will mix Disney Vacation Club villas along side regular resort rooms on the 21 acre beach side location immersed in Hawaiian lore, lifestyle and culture. Recently Lianne Maeda the Recruiting Manager for Aulani made the prediction that 'Ama'ama restaurant will not only be the place to eat at Aulani, but for O'ahu as well.

So why the mention of Walt's love of railroads and the opening of Aulani? During the days when sugar was the king of the economy for not only O'ahu, but the Hawaiian Islands, the O'ahu Railway & Land Company hauled people and sugar cane between the fields and the factories. Across the street from Aulani are tracks for the only active railway on O'ahu. It is currently used by The Hawaiian Railway Society based out of 'Ewa Beach for two excursions on Sunday afternoons. For the opening ceremonies for Aulani, it would be great to incorporate the two together.

Disney DVC Aulani Update 2010-08-26
It would be fitting for Disney to use the Hawaiian Railway Society's engines and cars to start off the ceremony. CEO Bob Iger, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs, Aulani Executive Imagineer Joe Rohde and Aulani General Manager Elliot Mills along with Mickey, Minnie and the gang could ride into Ko Olina and stop near the Ko Olina Station, get off the train and walk across Aliinui Drive and into the resort. As they enter, the dignitaries will be passing taro gardens paying respect to story of Haloa, the direct ancestor of the Hawaiian people.

Disney DVC Aulani Update 2011-01-27 Disney DVC Aulani Update 2011-01-27 Disney DVC Aulani Update 2010-12-29
Disney DVC Aulani Update  2010-10-13 DVC Update Oct 7, 2009

After the resort is opened the tie in with The Hawaiian Railway Society would hopefully remain in place. The sugar and pineapple plantations across Hawai'i were important to the history of the islands. With Aulani showcasing Hawaii and Hawaiian culture, it would make sense to include what was a significant economic force in shaping Hawai'i. It's responsible for bringing immigrants into the islands as workers. The plantations became the reason for the pidgin language to come into existence. The political landscape was changed due to the plantations. Leaving the plantations aside, the ride on the train is a beautiful scenic tour on and of the leeward side of O'ahu.

Here's hoping that the two events, the opening of Disneyland and the opening of Aulani can be tied together through one of Walt's great loves, the railroad.