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Mickey Checks In

Disney and Hawaii: A match made in heaven?

(page 3 of 3)

From a policy and planning standpoint, West Oahu is the place for new development. “Obviously, both Kapolei and Ko Olina are developing slower than everyone had thought back in the ’80s,” Apo says, “but something like this fits within making Kapolei a true city and not just a bedroom community.” Apo is familiar with his district’s developments. One wall of his Honolulu Hale office has zoning key maps, while another wall displays more than a half dozen o‘o sticks to commemorate each groundbreaking he’s attended. On the shelf is a framed Disney photo; in the picture the councilman is standing next to a group of people including Jay Rasulo, chairman of Disney Resorts and Parks, and cartoon figure Lilo.


Of course, other big plans at Ko Olina have been proposed, but have ultimately stalled or failed. A $75 million state tax credit, meant to entice developers with grand plans to the area, has to be spent by June 2009. But with nothing on the board, the credit is apparently dead. So what makes the Disney project different from the others?

“This project is much further along than the others,” Apo says. “The others were talked about when they were still in the conceptual level, especially something like the Grand Ko Olina.”

And, of course, this is Disney. Experts speculate it’s the right time for this project for a company with so many resources. Current economic conditions allow for better pricing on construction and consulting contracts. Interest rates are lower than normal. Full build out is expected in 2013, by which time the tourism and financial market will presumably be up. With a low cost base, the profit margins could be very high.


Disney expects it will employ 1,000 people, and not just in housekeeping jobs. “We’ll have your traditional jobs that every other resort will have,” Rivers says, “but, because of our entertainment overlay and the technical pieces that will be infused into the resort, I think you’ll probably see a few more unique occupational roles than you may see in other locations.”

Just how much of an impact all this will have can be debated, but, as Apo points out, “You compare it with what you’re sitting with today, which is an empty piece of land … versus putting in an operating hotel and timeshare. It’s a huge boost to the area.”

Most agree that, whatever is built, it must benefit Hawaii, culturally and economically. Disney seems to get the message. “It’s really about [making] sure that you tell the appropriate story in the appropriate context,” Rivers says. “Disney’s all about entertainment, but we really need to be careful [not to] Disney-ize Hawaiian culture, but really create a spot where people can understand and learn and appreciate.”

The BIG Business of Disney

It started with a cartoon, but The Walt Disney Co. is no longer just Mickey Mouse. The following is a list of all affiliated companies.

The Walt Disney Studios: Walt Disney Pictures (Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios), Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Disney Theatrical Productions (Disney Live Entertainment and Disney on Ice), Disney Music Group (Walt Disney Records, Hollywood Records and Lyric Street Records).

Parks and Resorts: Disneyland Resort (Anaheim, Calif.), Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.), Tokyo Disney Resort (Urayasu, Chiba), Disneyland Resort Paris (Marne La Valle, France), Hong Kong Disneyland (Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island), Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club.

Disney Consumer Products: Disney Toys, Disney Apparel, Accessories & Footwear, Disney Food, Health & Beauty, Disney Home, Disney Stationery, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Disney Libri, Hyperion Books for Children, Jump at the Sun, Disney Press, Disney Editions,, Disney Store (North America and Europe only).

Media Networks: The Disney-ABC Television Group (ABC Television Network [ABC Daytime, ABC Entertainment, ABC News], Disney Channels Worldwide, ABC Family, SOAPnet, ABC Studios, Stage 9 Digital Media, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Disney-ABC International Television, Radio Disney Network, Hyperion, Lifetime Entertainment Services, A&E Television Networks), The Walt Disney Internet Group (,,, mDisney mobile entertainment).

ESPN Inc. is 80 percent owned by ABC Inc., an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corp. holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Feb 19, 2009 10:18 pm
 Posted by  joyjoychocolate

Aloha Disney!

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