Two little girls could hardly contain their excitement when they noticed a cashier who closely resembled Maui from the popular Disney movie.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 22, 2022. It has since been updated.
Two young sisters were extremely excited when they thought they'd run into their favorite animated character from "Moana." Little Ryley and Rylyn of Oahu, Hawaii, were in for a tremendous surprise when they went to the store in Kapolei with their mother, Rella Rivera, on a grocery trip a few years ago. The sisters could hardly contain their excitement when they noticed a cashier who closely resembled Maui from the popular Disney movie, reported PEOPLE.
Soon, the girls began leaping up and down, exclaiming, "That's Maui!" while looking at William Va'ana, who bore an uncanny resemblance to the character with his tall and stocky build, and Maui's distinctive long locks of wavy hair. The girls were certain that they had discovered Maui working as a Costco cashier. When he realized what was happening, Va'ana himself joined in on the fun and sang Maui's signature catchphrase "Chee-hoo!" with the girls.
Rivera, the girls' mother, said, "It brought so much joy to my face to see how excited the girls were. Before I could get my phone out to video, he had already let out a loud 'chee-hoo.' And the girls lit up even more." She recorded the special moment and posted it to YouTube, writing in the description, "Each time my daughters come to Costco, they search for the ‘real life’ Demigod, Maui." She added, "Will, featured in this video also does character appearances as Maui for parties and previously at Aulani Disney resort. Thank you, Will, for bringing a smile to our daughters' faces at each visit!"
She said, "Every time he sees my daughters, he yells out to them with a ‘chee-hoo!’ and they love it." Meanwhile, Va'ana revealed that he hadn't intentionally tried to resemble the character. He told Hawaii News Now, "I've grown out my hair just to try something different and then after the movie, I was like, 'Wow, I kinda look like that guy.'" He had no idea he had gone viral until his coworkers informed him the next day at work.
He explained, "I'm not that great on phones honestly. I'm barely on social media. I came to work yesterday and everybody was like, 'Eh, you went viral.' I'm like, 'OK. What does that mean?'"
The video has gathered over 5.5 million views on YouTube and more than 16k likes. Unfortunately, around a year and a half after the video of Va'ana was released, it was stated on his Instagram that he had been diagnosed with Moyamoya, a rare brain condition. The announcement read, "Posting on behalf of William Vaana!! Asking for prayer mercies over William (a.k.a. Maui) Vaana as he goes in for brain surgery on Tuesday!"
Two days later, the family revealed in an update that his operation went well. On January 20, 2020, another Instagram update stated that he was well on his way to recovery. It read, "William is doing great. Surgery is healing & his memory is coming back slowly, as this is a normal process." Va'ana is now working to raise Moyamoya awareness and even dressed up as Maui to visit a little boy's first birthday party in August this year.
Watch the video here: