KO OLINA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Disney is hot on Hawaii. "Lilo and Stitch" was just the start. Now, two major Disney productions are here: a blockbuster movie and a massive resort expected to pump big bucks into our economy.
A little movie magic helped Disney's team transform east Oahu's Cockroach Cove into the set of a shipwreck for the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick. And, Disney's carving out a more permanent home in west Oahu.
Aulani, Disney's first Hawaiian resort is now under construction in Ko Olina.
"I think it's important to us that we make this place, a place that's quintessentially Disney, but also quintessentially authentically Hawaiian" said Tom Staggs, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts chairman.
A perfect example? Mickey Mouse carved out of koa. It's taken an army of construction workers to turn Disney's vision into reality. It's a bright spot for Hawaii's economy during tough times.
"We're obviously for sure excited to be a part of Hawaii and of course a part of that is having a positive impact and from an economic standpoint, we are excited that we've recently got the results of a study that during construction alone, that would be $600 million of economic impact and 4,800 jobs created by this construction project.
About half of those workers are involved in building the property, but that's only part of the picture.
"We're also drawing on the local artisans, local farmers, craftspeople, and the fact is that the economic impact is widespread" said Staggs.
The hotel will ultimately employ 2,400 full time workers, half at the hotel itself and the rest spread throughout the community. Of course ,the state can expect an even bigger boost once the resort opens and families check in.
Aulani spans 21 acres with 359 hotel rooms and nearly 500 two-bedroom villas for vacation club members. It's a potential cash cow for Hawaii with a draw like Disney and this destination.
"We think this is an incredible great location and somewhere the families come to visit for many, many years to come."
The resort is expected to pump $300 million into our economy every year. Aulani will open in phases starting August 2011, and take the first reservations August 2, 2010. Rooms are going for 400 bucks a night; no word yet on if there will be a kamaaina rate.