HONOLULU -- Honolulu's old city incinerator has been transformed.
After years of planning, construction, expansion and exhibit
development, the facility has taken on a new life as the Hawaii
Children's Discovery Center.
The 37,000-square-foot non-profit museum opened in December at
Kakaako Waterfront Park, between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.
Costing $12 million, it replaces the children's museum that
operated at the Dole Cannery shopping center from 1990 to 1994.
However, it is seven times larger.
There are a gift shop at the entrance and five main exhibit
areas on three levels, which provide a range of learning
experiences for youngsters.
Visitors enter the Welcome Court, which has many displays from
the old discovery center. Included are a puppet show and "Fantastic
You," a human body parts exhibit, where kids walk through a huge
Your Town includes a bank, a diner, a theater, a gas station and
a post office. Kids drive a pretend fire engine and can slide down
the pole at the fire station. They practice interviews and do the
news at the television station, one of the museum's many
interactive video exhibits.
The reception area and most of the ground floor exhibits are in
a new extension to the incinerator building. New construction added
20,000 square feet of space to the 17,000-square-foot
Hawaiian Rainbows, on the second level in the old incinerator
building, is about living in Hawaii. Here, kids can steer a ship,
learn about Hawaii's fish or sit in a mock up of a plane complete
with Aloha Airlines seats and, with the help of videos, experience
flying to the neighbor islands,
Children also can watch themselves swim with fish on a video
The third level, Your Rainbow World, explores the world and the
ethnic groups that make up the islands. House interiors featured
are from Portugal, the Philippines, China, Korea, India, Japan and
the U.S. mainland (complete with white picket fence). Kids can
dress up in costumes, play ethnic games and even pretend to bake
Loretta Yajima, the center's president, hopes the museum will
become popular with tourists as well as residents.
At its Dole Cannery location, the center's 2,500 visitors a
month included a large percentage of tourists, she said. Although
the exhibits are designed for toddlers and pre-teens, the earlier
center, she said, "attracted all age groups, especially senior
"We say we are for the young and young at heart," she explained.
However, the new location, at 111 Ohe St. in Kakaako Waterfront
Park, is not well- known, even among residents.
Kakaako Waterfront Park, which opened several years ago, can be
seen from Ala Moana Boulevard, before reaching Aloha Tower
It is part of the state's redevelopment of the Kakaako
industrial district. Hawaii Children's Discovery Center's hours are
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays; 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays
through Fridays, and closed Mondays and holidays.
Admission is $8 for adults and $6.75 for those under age 17. The
price is $75 for an annual family pass for two adults and all
children under age 17.
Yajima said hours will be expanded through the year as more
volunteers are trained. The center depends exclusively on
volunteers and its membership. Currently, it has only one paid
employee, a secretary.
The next step is to raise another $3 million as an endowment, to
hire staff and for operating expenses. Planning for a new discovery
center began before the Dole Cannery facility closed. The state
leased the incinerator site to the center for $1 a year for 40
Hawaii Children's Discovery Center
Phone: (808) 592-KIDS (5437).