Disney’s Hawaiian Roots

Disney’s Hawaiian Roots

With the opening this month of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina on the island of Oahu, it seems appropriate to take a moment to look at Walt Disney and explore for a moment his history with the islands. Walt and Lilly Disney took their first Hawaiian trip from August 10 to September 1, 1934. They sailed on the Matson liner, Lurline for an approximately six days. Their visit to Oahu during this trip was decades before Hawaii became a state! Walt insisted that he wasn’t interested in attending a lot of activities, stating to the local newspaper: “I don’t want to do anything except to lie on the beach in the sun and wiggle my toes in the sand.” However, he did attend a regular meeting of one of the “Mickey Mouse Clubs” that were popular Saturday gatherings for youngsters at many U.S. movie theaters, and at that meeting asked the audience: “Would you like Mickey to come to Honolulu on a surf board?” The audience yelled and applauded.Based on the response Walt continued, “I am pleased and happy to be here. I am glad to see this enthusiasm for Mickey. When I go back I will make a Mickey on a surf board as I have been on and off one since coming here, and I know just how he feels.” Keeping his promise, the Disney short cartoon Hawaiian Holiday was released in 1937. In this cartoon Mickey Mouse and the rest of the “Fab Five” (Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto) take a vacation in Hawaii. While Walt had told the audience in Honolulu that Mickey would go surfing, it turned out that it was Goofy who struggled in his attempts to master a surfboard, perhaps mimicking some of Walt’s own misadventures.This was followed in 1952 by another Disney Cartoon short –  Goofy in “Hello Aloha.” Walt visited the islands again in 1939, 1948, 1962 and in 1965. The 1965 trip was for the filming of Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N which saw some of its filming done in Kauai. More recently of course Lilo and Stitch and its various spin-offs from a television series to straight to DVD sequels has been done to George of the Jungle in 1997 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides released 2011. As you can now see the Aulani resort is just the latest Disney connection to the State in what has been a long history of Disney connection with Hawaii.

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on Aug 15, 2011

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