Ala Moana Shopping Center – Shop Until You Drop in Honolulu

A Little History

Walter Dillingham purchased 50 acres of unwanted swampland in 1912 from Bishop Estates for $25,000. Actually Waikiki was mostly swampland as well into the 1800′s.

Plans were announced in 1948 for the shopping complex. The Ground breaking ceremony occurred in 1955 and construction began in 1957.

When it first opened in 1959, it was the largest mall in the entire United States with 89 stores and 4,000 parking spaces. The Mall of America built in Bloomington, Minnesota became the next mall to become the largest in America. Today Ala Moana is one of the 15 largest malls in the U.S.

In 1966 the mall doubled in size and added J.C. Penney and Liberty House.

In 1987 a food court with 19 restaurants and 900 seats was added.

The current owners of Ala Moana (General Growth Properties) use it as a template, and have invested a billion dollars to remodel other centers across Canada and the United States.

The Ho’okipa Terrace was opened in 2005. It has ten incredible restaurants all in one place including Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., California Pizza Kitchen, Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, Mai Tai Bar, Pearl, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Ruby Tuesday, Tanaka of Tokyo, and Tsukiji Fish Market and Restaurant.

Ala Moana Shopping Center Today

The mall is very close to Waikiki, so it is convenient for tourists. A shuttle runs every ten minutes from Waikiki seven days a week. It also has plenty of parking for those who are driving, and it is within walking distance of the Ala Moana Beach Park.

For the locals, the mall includes a grocery store, post office and a night club (Pearl Ultralounge). For all, it includes a huge international food court. You can also find fine dining facilities.

Interesting facts about Ala Moana Shopping Center:

“Ala” means street, and “Moana” means ocean in Hawaiian. The Developers chose the name “Ala Moana” because it explained the location of the center.

Hawaii became the 50th state eight days after Ala Moana Center opened Hawaii in August 1959.

Eleven of the original mall retailers from 1959 are still at the mall today, although they may not be in the same location.

  • Sears
  • Longs
  • Foodland
  • Slipper House
  • Crack Seed Center
  • Reyn’s
  • Shirokiya
  • Watumul’s
  • Territorial Savings
  • U.S. Post Office
  • Dairy Queen

Unique to Ala Moana

The mall features open-air corridors, which are lined with palm trees and tropical vegetation including real banana trees.

There is a center stage for performances which feature local entertainment including dancing, singing, and much more. The Royal Hawaiian Band (accompanied by hula dancers) frequently plays at Center Stage, which is one of the most popular amphitheatres in Hawaii.

They often have fashion shows on the center stage and since it is open air, they can have fireworks for special celebrations.

Down the center of some walkways are koi (fish) ponds with lilies where you can sit on the rocks and relax. There are also amazing waterfalls to enjoy.

The mall has high-end shops including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace and Armani, as well as department stores like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.

Ala Moana covers 2.1 million square feet and has four levels of shopping and dining options.

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