According to the people familiar with details of the investigation, it focused on the annual dues that Disney Vacation Club plans to charge buyers of Aulani time shares. Those yearly fees are used to cover ongoing expenses such as the resort's maintenance and repairs.
Those people said Disney concluded that Vacation Club executives had calculated dues amounts so low that they would not generate enough money to cover the cost of maintaining Aulani. The inadequate dues amounts were included in legal-disclosure documents submitted to the Hawaiian government.
Disney said Aulani's operating costs were underestimated, leading to the inadequate annual dues. It said the mistake was unintentional.
The low fees prompted concerns within the company that Aulani would eventually face a significant operating shortfall, the people familiar with the investigation said. The company also feared the possibility of a brand-damaging backlash from Hawaiian regulators or consumers should Disney attempt to significantly raise Aulani's annual dues in future years to plug any deficit.
All of the people familiar with the events spoke only on the condition that they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Disney suspended Aulani sales on July 9, a little more than one year after it started selling the project to consumers. The company says it is accepting "deposit reservations" in the interim from buyers who wish to lock in current Aulani prices, though there is no penalty for consumers who cancel such reservations.