[trip style = adventure + sun + beach] It appears Disney is playing on their 'family fun' and 'adventure' pillars to expand their business beyond theme parks and cruising, and into the adventure travel and resort sector with the announcement of their first family resort.
Disney Vacations' Newest Property Now you can hang out with Mickey and Mini Mouse in Paradise. The upcoming Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii just got a name: "Aulani" or "the place that speaks with deep messages." Located 20-miles outside of Waikiki, Oahu, Disney's $800-million resort is expected to open in 2011. This mega-property will include 350 hotel rooms in two 15-story hotels, two restaurants, a Disney kids' club, a lazy river where guests can weave their way through volcanic rockwork and a caldera, a saltwater lagoon for snorkeling, an 18,000-square-foot spa and an 8,000-square-foot conference center. Sales are expected to start in summer 2010.
Adventures by Disney Another major Disney undertaking is their foray into guided family travel with 'Adventures by Disney.' Offering a multitude of trip options (over 24) spanning the globe, the tours promise families "expertly planned" opportunities to become "active participants in incredible stories, experiences and cultures."
Rates are not cheap. You're paying for: Disney's Name; a targeted, itemized itinerary; an adventure you don't have to plan; food and accommodation. Flights are extra. In trying to choose the itineraries that looked most appealing, I gave up. They all look interesting and enriching. Commenting on the "Viva Italia" adventure, one Trip Advisor ddd said this: "It was fantastic and worth every penny. You get a lot for your money so be sure to compare apples to apples if you think it looks too expensive. Our kids are 13 and 11 and had an absolutely fantastic time. It was great for us 40-something adults, too."
In the future I'd be more likely to book an Adventure by Disney than a stay at Aulani. The resort mock-ups look beautiful, but I'd prefer to have a more authentic Island experience elsewhere in Hawaii.