A 2003 article in the Pacific Business News details a proposed development plan between Ko Olina Resort & Marina and Norwegian Cruise Lines. At the time, the goal was to expand Ko Olina's Oahu-based marina to accommodate Norwegian's cruise ships and create a Disney-style development on land for guests. Now Ko Olina may be poised to bypass the Disney-style project and go straight to the source.
In that 2003 article, developer Jeff Stone describes his disucssions with Norwegian as being something that would mirror Disney's Castaway Cay: "Their interest is based on activity. For us to be a day port we must have something here — ideally, they want a Disney-island kind of activity center to anchor other resort activities. Until then, there is nothing for them to do."
While the Norwegian partnership never came to fruition, rumors continue to swirl that Ko Olina is on the verge of signing a similar deal with Disney. Television station KITV reports that its own sources have confirmed discussions between Disney and Ko Olina, and believes that an announcement is imminent. This comes on the heels of a similar report published last weekend in the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
Details of the project are unclear but given Ko Olina's prior discussions with Norwegian, it's conceivable that this development could emerge as a combination resort hotel, Disney Vacation Club facility and port for the Disney Cruise Line. The Disney Cruise Line currently has two new cruise ships under construction and schduled to launch in 2011 and 2012. Given Disney's recent experimentation with itineraries launched from the west coast, an Oahu-based port may fit right into their plans.
In recent years Disney has repeatedly told investors that they are looking for new ways to expand the Disney Vacation Club beyond its theme park operations. It's properties in Hilton Head, SC and Vero Beach, FL were branded something of a disappointment due to lackluster sales. However, the ecnomics of a Hawaii-based timeshare may be more palatable given its status as a premier vacation destination and potential synergy with other Disney business units.
The KITV report includes links to a satellte map showing the locations under consideration. The map can be viewed by clicking HERE.
A Disney spokeswoman refused to confirm the reports, instead making a fairly open-ended statement that "we've got nothing to announce today."