A Moment for Aunty Kau’i

We were sad to hear last week that Cast Member “Aunty Kau’i” (Kau’ihealani Mahikoa Brandt) passed away. Aunty Kau’i was well loved by her Disney Polynesian Resort family as well as regular guests to the Polynesian Resort. DisneyParksBlog shares her touching story and a life celebrated below:


The spirit of aloha ran deep at Walt Disney World last week, as we received the news that, surrounded by her loving ‘ohana, Kau’ihealani Mahikoa Brandt—known to our cast and guests alike as “‘Anake Kau’i” (“Aunty Kau’i”)—had peacefully passed away.

Aunty Kau’i was a kumu hula (hula master) performing in Hawai’i when Disney talent scouts recruited her to come to California and dance the hula three times a day in Adventureland.

In 1971, she traveled to Florida as an Opening Day cast member to launch the first dinner-show luau at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It was supposed to be a three-month assignment, but Florida agreed with her and—punctuated by occasional returns to Hawai’i to participate in hula festivals—Aunty Kau’i stayed on.

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In time, she became a Cultural Ambassador at Disney’s Polynesian Village, greeting guests with her handmade leis and grass skirts and teaching guests and cast alike to dance the hula as she happily swayed in her brightly colored muʻumuʻu and strummed her ‘ukulele. A photograph with a smiling Aunty Kau’i became a coveted treasure for hundreds of thousands of guests, and children sought her out when their families returned for vacations.

The day after she passed, Walt Disney World Resort President Josh D’Amaro visited her home resort with Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president of Resorts and Transportation. Together with cast members of the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, they gathered at sunset to remember their longtime friend in Hawaiian and English and song.

Afterward, in longstanding Hawaiian tradition, they cast their funeral leis upon the water—an illustration of the cycle of life. 

A peaceful woman who lived a life of balance and harmony, Aunty Kau’i encouraged everyone she met to embrace the joy in life.

Mahalo nui loa, ‘Anake Kau’i. Your legacy lives on.

Source: DisneyParksBlog

About Mike and Jamie Sylvester

We are Disney nerds. Two kids at heart who love the magic and the memories of Walt Disney World! We follow all things Disney and have great experiences with Disney Vacation Club and RunDisney events in particular. We enjoy the vacations, day trips, weekend getaways and geek out over the planning of such events. From lodging to dining to Fastpasses we have a spreadsheet for every occasion. Mike’s frivolous Disney goal is to acquire a magic band of every style while Jamie’s goal is to experience as many Disney desserts as possible. Usually there isn’t a day that passes without some discussion of the master plan of our next trip to the happiest place on earth. Most people think we’re normal – until they travel to Disney with us. We have been married for 15 years and are blessed with a daughter and a son who have already learned the importance of planning ahead! As a family we thoroughly enjoy the magic and the memories at Walt Disney World and are here to help others experience the magic as well.