Make Your Own Kukui Nut Lei At Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

While most guests stay at a Walt Disney World Resort because you can't beat the location and park access, travelers looking for a more relaxed vacation will be happy to know that the Disney Resorts offer a wealth of activities right at your hotel. On my last visit, I spent some time talking with the cultural representatives and creating my very own Kukui Nut Lei at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort.

Make Your Own Kukui Nut Lei At Disney's Polynesian Village ResortMake Your Own Kukui Nut Lei At Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Lei are garlands of flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, or bone that have been strung together with the intent to be worn. This treasured Polynesian island custom has come to symbolize aloha. Often used as a gift of greeting, lei have a way of drawing you in and offering peace, love, and affection. I have always been entranced by this island custom, and was thrilled to discover lei making was one of the activities scheduled at the resort during my last vacation.

Resort activities at the Polynesian Village vary from month-to-month and day-to-day. If you are looking for a specific activity that you don't want to miss (such as campfires, movie nights, pool parties, and lei making) sure to check the activity sheet in your room for the latest information.

Make Your Own Kukui Nut NecklaceMake Your Own Kukui Nut Necklace

The Kukui is Hawaii's State Tree, and has spiritual significance to the people of Hawaii. For thousands of years this symbol of hope and renewal has been used to produce traditional crafts including wood carvings, canoes, paints and dyes, cosmetics, medicines, and even as lamp oil.

When Disney's Polynesian Village Resort opened, the people of Hawaii offered the resort a gift, the first kukui nut tree to be planted on the mainland. Today that tree towers over the activity lawn behind the Great Ceremonial House. Disney's kukui tree has been hit by lightening three times and endured countless hurricanes. None the less this symbol of hope stands strong at the resort, and could reach upwards of 80 feet high when it reaches maturity.

Polynesian Village Kukui TreePolynesian Village Kukui Tree
Kukui Nuts GrowingKukui Nuts Growing

Kukui nut lei were worn by island Chiefs and Kings known as Ali'l. These were prized possessions and gifts of honor reserved for royalty. It's easy make your own lei, and the Disney activities team makes sure you have all the supplies you need.

First you pick the colors of the kukui nuts you want to use in your lei. Adults get to pick out 30 nuts from a rainbow of color choices and designs. Since I had watched a YouTube video about making kukui nut leis before I left on vacation, I decided that I would try to use a simple pattern in blue and black. You are also given the option of knotting between the nuts, or using small shell separators. I chose to make knots.

Colorful Kukui Nuts To Choose FromColorful Kukui Nuts To Choose From
All You Need To Make A LeiAll You Need To Make A Lei

Once you have your supplies, a cast member will show you how to thread the nuts unto your ribbon using threading tool. It is really easy to do, and I found the whole process quite calming and meditative. With each knot I tied between the nuts I whispered a blessing for the lei to carry.

As I sat under the tree and strung my lei I listened to Auntie Keiwa telling children the tale of the God Maui. While not an official Cast member, Auntie Keiwa volunteers at the Polynesian by spreading aloha and teaching guests about the island culture. I enjoyed watching her teach a few other guests how to spin poi. She and I talked for some time about island life, lei, and the kukui nut tree. I felt honored to be given a Hawaiian name by her.

Auntie Keiwa Gave Me My Hawaiian NameAuntie Keiwa Gave Me My Hawaiian Name
Knots Between Nuts Tie In BlessingsKnots Between Nuts Tie In Blessings

Overall it took me about an hour to create my kukui nut lei, but there was plenty of talking and fellowship between stringing the beads. While it's far from perfect, I was thrilled with my finished necklace and got many compliments on it throughout the evening. I was glad that the thought I had put into making mine before my arrival seemed to pay off.

My Finished Kukui Nut LeiMy Finished Kukui Nut Lei

I thought this activity was well worth the time and effort that I put in, plus I came home with a one of a kind piece to cherish for years to come. If you don't see lei making on the activity sheet during you trip, stop in to the Boutiki Gift Shop where you can find an assortment of pre-made Kukui Nut Lei to purchase.

Have you made your own Kukui Nut Lei at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort? If not - be sure to put it in your plans for your next visit today!

JeffC wrote on Mon, 08/12/2019 - 02:02:

I absolutely love this. Your Kukui Nut Lei is beautiful. What a fantastic momento.

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 08/13/2019 - 15:35:

Kristen K.'s picture

It was really a fantastic experience, I would do it again.

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