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Disney Aulani Resort Hawaii: We take the first "hard hat" tour

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We went up a steel-cage construction elevator attached to the side of the building. ("This is the scary part," insisted Rohde. "Try not to think about how many job sites this elevator has been on.")

The reward for the ascent? The photo above is the view from the lanai of what will be an eighth floor room. None of the rooms are anywhere near finished, of course, no walls even, although in the small low-rise building in the bottom right of the photo, Disney has mocked up a couple of model rooms for demonstration purposes.

We also toured the main building, where there will eventually be a kid's center, named "Auntie's Beach House," complete with Disney "mongooses" running across the skylight.

The shell is up at the Makahiki buffet restaurant, which will have a lounge in which every object is labeled in Hawaiian and the entire staff will be able to speak Hawaiian as well as English.

Construction of the resort's 18,000-foot spa is also underway. None of these looks like anything more than concrete walls and loose connectors at this point. 

Here are the renderings of each:

Auntie's Beach House Kids' Club

The Makahiki restaurant by night

The spa rotunda, which has a reflecting pool designed like an ancient Hawaiian mirror—water in a black lava pool.

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Disney ready to book reservations for Hawaii Aulani Resort, Aug. 2
Disney gives its new Hawaii resort a name: "Aulani." New photos and video.
Disney Cruise Line set for first-ever Hawaiian Islands sail in April 2012

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