With all the beauty and wonder of a natural Hawaiian valley, Waikolohe Valley is the recreational center of the resort. Nestled between Aulani’s two towers and flowing from the lobby down to the beachfront, it is home to pools, whirlpool spas and interactive water play areas. Waikolohe also is the name of the meandering, mischievous stream that runs through this valley.
Waikolohe, which is Hawaiian for “mischievous water,” offers a playful nod to some refreshing surprises. Many of those surprises will unfold along the banks of a lazy river which carries tube-riding adventurers on a journey of discovery through the valley’s eye-catching lava outcropping called Pu’u Kilo.
In Waikolohe Stream, water slides twist in and out of the rock formations, taking guests on a ride through caverns and past “mischievous” fountain springs that surprise explorers with a bit of “refreshment.” Occasional hot springs blow off a little steam, too. In upholding a Disney and Hawaiian tradition that will play out in every aspect of the resort, there will be more to these lava formations than meets the eye.
A highlight of the Valley for the young and young-at-heart will be the interactive water play area known as the Menehune Bridge. The legendary Hawaiian Menehune (pronounced men-neh-who-neh), are said to be shy, diminutive beings who are gifted craftspeople, adept at building everything from temples to canoes. The Menehune Bridge brings the legend to life, featuring Menehune as statues … or perhaps frozen in plain sight in the act of cavorting, spilling and shooting water to the delight of even Aulani’s littlest guests.
Waikolohe Valley is also home to the Waikolohe and Wailana Pools, the private poolside cabanas, four whirlpool spas and Rainbow Reef snorkel lagoon. Amenities within the Valley include the Lava Shack for quick food service, and the Papalua Shave Ice station.
Ka Maka Landing, the latest enhancement to the resort, offers a delightfully themed family pool, a kids’ splash zone and a new dining location. Ka Maka Grotto, a mystical infinity pool and spa sits along the edge of Ka Maka Landing while Keiki Cove offers a fun place to splash around for Aulani’s littlest guests.
In addition to reflecting the legends of Hawaii, the Waikolohe Valley magically mimics the Hawaiian landscape: wetter and more forested at the high end nearer the mountains, drier and more open as it approaches the sea.
With lava formations, hot springs that blow off steam and misty caverns, the Waikolohe Valley landscape was designed by Disney Imagineers to appear as if it has been here for many, many years.
“What you can see right along this very stretch of coastline on Oahu is that, as the lava flowed hundreds of thousands of years ago, it cooled rapidly as it hit the sea, piling up on itself and creating fantastic shapes,” said Imagineer Joe Rohde, who grew up on Oahu. “That’s the inspiration behind the rock formations that shape our recreation area.
“We wanted the rock you come across here to appear to be the very rock that would be coming up out of the ground, as if it was real, only ours will be ever-so-slightly magical.”
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