Disney’s Aulani: What it’s like to remain at Mickey’s Hawaiian getaway


It surprises many individuals that there’s a Disney resort in Hawaii, nevertheless it’s true. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa is on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, and it serves as a beacon for a lot of searching for the final word escape from actuality.

There are not any rides at this Disney resort (except you depend waterslides), however you will see Mickey in his trip outfit, in addition to a protracted listing of included actions, like animation lessons and night out of doors film nights, which are widespread at some Disney resorts. Along with these choices, there are additionally loads of issues to do and revel in that you will see solely at Aulani.


In case you are like me and adore not solely most issues Disney but in addition Hawaii, then here is what you might want to learn about Disney’s Aulani resort.


What’s Disney’s Aulani?

Aulani (pronounced ow-LAH-nee) opened in the summertime of 2011, and it is a 21-acre Disney-owned oceanfront resort that is part of the Disney Trip Membership. Nonetheless, you do not have to guide through the Disney Trip Membership to remain there (extra on that shortly).

Disney’s Aulani is not only a Disney-ized model of Hawaii; as a substitute, the structure and decor lean deliberately into Hawaiian patterns, tradition and custom. For instance, the foyer has a compass rose embedded within the flooring, however as a substitute of the North, South, East and West instructions you might look forward to finding, the instructions correspond to what was conventional to the Hawaiians: towards the ocean, to the mountains, and many others. Moreover, preserve your eyes on the carpet for the outlines of the leaves of the native taro plant.

Aulani can be house to one of many world’s largest collections of up to date Hawaiian artwork, to not point out that some components of the resort appear to be an architectural murals themselves.

But it surely’s not a museum — it is a enjoyable place to play. There is a 321,000-gallon lazy river, a 3,800-square-foot snorkeling lagoon, two waterslides, a plethora of every day actions, night storytelling, Mickey-shaped shave ice and a lot extra.

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How a lot is Aulani, and what are the perfect methods to guide?

Customary rooms at Aulani can simply price $600 and up per evening earlier than taxes, however fortunately there are a couple of methods to economize in your journey.

The best manner to economize when visiting Aulani is by renting Disney Trip Membership factors. You are able to do this through an proprietor (there are Fb teams for this if you do not know anybody) or David’s Trip Membership Leases.

It can save you 40% to 50% on the price of your keep by renting DVC factors to remain at Aulani, so this generally is a large financial savings. The “trick” is that the lower-priced DVC rooms promote out effectively upfront, so you might be greatest served by renting factors 11 months out if you’re touring on peak dates or need to make sure you get the lowest-priced DVC rooms.

Lease Disney Trip Membership factors from David’s Trip Membership Leases to save lots of as much as 50% on Aulani.

However, should you aren’t renting factors and also you simply pay straight with money, anticipate to usually pay $700-plus per evening for traditional rooms, extra throughout peak occasions. There isn’t a resort charge on prime of that, however if you’re reserving with money (as a substitute of DVC factors), then parking is $40 per day for both valet parking or self-parking. Self-parking is included when utilizing DVC factors.


The place is Aulani?

Aulani is on the island of Oahu, about 17 miles from Honolulu’s Daniel Okay. Inouye Worldwide Airport (HNL). It is on the western facet of the island in Ko Olina, which generally is a 30-to-40-minute drive from the Honolulu airport, relying on site visitors.

In case you determine to take a taxi from the Honolulu airport to Aulani, Charley’s Taxi presents a flat fee of $70 every manner. There’s usually no must set this up upfront when leaving Aulani, because it has a stand in entrance of the resort, however you may make advance reservations for pickups from HNL on-line. Uber costs will differ, however could be cheaper at some occasions of the day, so you may value that possibility out, too.


Since, for many of us, a visit to Aulani requires flights, listed here are ideas for the perfect methods to make use of factors and miles to get to Hawaii.

There are lots of room decisions at Aulani

Aulani has 351 resort rooms, together with 16 suites, in addition to 481 two-bedroom Disney Trip Membership villas and 21 Grand Villas unfold out over a few towers. We’ve executed each of our stays in one of many customary resort rooms with two queen beds.


A basic rule of thumb at Disney: Even when the rooms are costly, do not anticipate them to be the star of your trip.

The room at Aulani was utterly sufficient, nevertheless it was — because the identify described — customary. Your $600-plus per evening is not going to over-the-top room lodging with butlers and soaking tubs; it may the on-site actions, so regulate your room expectations accordingly.


The 2 queen beds had been comfy, and housekeeping was immediate every day. I’d have appreciated further shops by the mattress, however I am going to take that trade-off for the very cool air-con that labored higher than at lots of the inns we’ve visited in Hawaii.

Subsequent to the TV space was a small desk with two chairs, which was purposeful and enormously appreciated when ordering room service or bringing a pizza up — which is, with out query, the perfect worth dinner on the property.

My favourite a part of the decor within the room was probably the Hawaiian-themed Mickey lamp on the desk. Typically talking, Mickey was an understated factor at Aulani, although he’s actually there should you search for him.


Our rooms on each visits had a minifridge and a balcony. On our second go to, we had been even upgraded to a partial ocean view.

The toilet has a single self-importance, which in all probability would have been higher as a double, given this was a room for households.


Having a shower-tub combo, although, was the suitable name for a room with two queen beds. Disney’s H2O line is now not at Aulani, which is a bummer should you’ve come to affiliate that scent with all issues trip, however as a substitute, it presently has Malie.

Aulani’s swimming pools and seashore are the celebrities of the present

There’s a lot to do at Aulani. And that is the place the resort actually will get each nice and overwhelming on the similar time. Given the costs and the plethora of facilities, if you keep at Aulani, you might be in all probability staying put at Aulani. Until you are working with a bigger funds, this in all probability is not a resort you keep at to make use of as a house base to plan journeys from when you take pleasure in all that Oahu has to supply.

Aulani swimming pools

With that in thoughts, let’s begin with a dive into Aulani’s swimming pools, seashore and waterslides.


Aulani has a large 7-acre pool complicated that goes manner past conventional, fundamental swimming pools.

The Waikolohe Stream is 900 toes lengthy and features a conventional lazy river in addition to two tubing slides. On one, you may go in single or double tubes, and the opposite was a physique slide. And, sure, there have been lifeguards in every single place.

Professional tip: The road for the slide with the tubes is normally for much longer than the road for the physique slide.

There’s additionally the Menehune Bridge, with waterslides, splash options and extra.


Subsequent up are three swimming pools and a 3,800 square-foot snorkeling lagoon, Rainbow Reef, which is stocked with lovely fish and another underwater surprises to search out. In case you are an skilled snorkeler, this in all probability will not be very spectacular, however it’s a good way for youths to get their flippers moist snorkeling in a really managed atmosphere.


It prices $20-$25 for one-day snorkel entry (that features gear), or you should buy a length-of-stay move should you suppose you will go a number of occasions. Or, simply benefit from the view free of charge from these cool peekaboo home windows.

Throughout our March go to, the Rainbow Reef was a bit too chilly for our tastes because it is not heated, which made our periods further transient, so contemplate that in case your crew does not like chilly water.

Aulani additionally has an adults-only pool, a zero-entry pool, infinity swimming pools, sizzling tubs and loads of water actions to maintain your group busy. These swimming pools had been all a snug, regulated temperature.

We vastly want heading to the swimming pools both very first thing within the morning or round 5 p.m., when most individuals are leaving for the day. The slides and lazy river had been open till 8 p.m. throughout our keep, and the primary pool stayed open till 10 p.m.


Pool chairs are sizzling commodities throughout the center of the day, and you might want to choose up a coloured wristband on the towel hut every day. Sadly, if you’d like a “good” chair spot, that is a kind of locations the place you in all probability must both begin your pool day early or await the primary spherical of individuals to begin to go away. Cabanas and lined chairs can be found however expensive, so anticipate to spend a couple of hundred {dollars} per day if you wish to go that route.


Aulani seashore

Aulani is on the shore of Ko Olina seashore, with gentle sand and water that’s usually calm sufficient for swimming and excellent for images.


Life jackets, boogie boards, chairs and umbrellas are complimentary, however you can too lease snorkel units ($25) and stand-up paddleboards ($45) or dwell out your “Moana” adventures and guide a crusing canoe expertise for $119.

However no matter you do, do not miss the epic sunsets at Aulani, that are nearly cause sufficient to return all on their very own.


The sunsets are actually epic right here and I extremely suggest you make it some extent to be outdoors and attempt to catch a great one at the very least a couple of times in your journey.


There are Disney characters, Aunty’s Seaside Home and extra

Now, let’s discuss all of the non-swimming issues there are to do at Aulani, of which there are a lot of.

Aunty’s Seaside Home

Children ages 4 to 12 could make a reservation to play at Aunty’s Seaside Home, which is basically a children membership much like what you discover on a Disney cruise, simply on land and with a Hawaiian aptitude.


Throughout our 2019 go to, my children completely beloved Aunty’s Seaside Home, which was a critical draw to the property for us. Nonetheless, we could not go to Aunty’s Seaside Home this time for 2 causes. First, my oldest child has aged out. However my youthful kiddo could not go both, as the method to guide a slot there has modified throughout the pandemic, and also you now have to actually plan forward.


You guide 90-minute slots to play beginning three months out, they usually completely promote out. Don’t wait till you get to Aulani to determine the Aunty’s Seaside Home scenario — guide this a part of your journey months upfront or threat being disillusioned and annoyed with this function of the resort if you arrive.


Additionally of be aware is that there appear to now be extra premium (i.e., pricey) choices at Aunty’s Seaside Home than there was once, which additionally limits the “free” occasions to go. However even these replenish, so make these bookings for issues like video games with Moana or a dance social gathering with Disney buddies.

Meet Disney characters

Aulani is nice for assembly Disney characters with strains which are a lot shorter than what you’d usually discover at Disney theme parks. And so they haven’t solely a number of the traditional suspects, equivalent to Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Chip, Dale and Goofy, however some harder-to-find buddies, equivalent to ShellieMay, Duffy, Sew and Max.


The Aulani app is nice for telling you who shall be out at completely different occasions throughout the day, so make sure to set it up earlier than you begin your journey. We prefer to line up about 15-20 minutes earlier than the beginning time for the favored characters.

Lessons and actions

At Aulani, there are a lot of completely different actions and lessons you may participate in. A number of, like night storytelling by the hearth pit, are open to all who present up, however many, equivalent to making your individual Mickey ears, koi fish feeding, T-shirt stamping and animation lessons, have restricted capability and require you to enroll upfront.

A few of these actions are included, whereas some (equivalent to making ears or T-shirts) require an additional charge. You may guide within the exercise room on-site, however I like to recommend reserving actions within the Aulani app at the very least a couple of days earlier than your journey.


Laniwai Spa

I have not had the time or the funds to splurge on therapies on the Laniwai Spa, however from a walk-by, it seems (and smells!) incredible.

There are 15 remedy rooms, together with a household remedy room that sounded actually cool for these trying to loosen up collectively. There’s even a teen portion of the spa for these 14 to 17 years outdated and a hydrotherapy backyard.

If you wish to ensure you get the remedy you need on the time you need, you might want to — you guessed it — guide it effectively upfront. You may guide spa appointments as much as 90 days upfront on-line.

What to eat at Aulani

There are a number of eating choices at Disney’s Aulani, starting from the you-gotta-get-it Mickey-shaped shave ice to nearly effective eating at Ama Ama.



I like to recommend doing one breakfast if you are at Aulani at Makahiki, which presents a conventional Disney character breakfast. You may probably begin by assembly Mickey in his Hawaiian trip apparel, then get to say hello to Minnie, after which a couple of different characters will come by as you take pleasure in your meal.


This can be a three-course breakfast that begins off with a tropical yogurt parfait with fruit equivalent to coconut and pineapple, together with sugary and completely scrumptious malasadas.

You then have your choose of entrees, equivalent to varied omelets, French toast, pancakes and a Hawaiian-style loco moco, to call a couple of.

This meal prices $50 per grownup and $29 for youngsters ages 3 to 9, which you will quickly notice is a relative cut price for a sit-down meal at Aulani. This restaurant can be open for dinner with the identical three-course idea and priced at $75 for adults and $30 for youths, however with out the characters, as they’re solely there within the morning.

Reservations open up 30 days upfront — and you might want to guide precisely on that day to have the perfect probability of getting a breakfast spot as it is rather standard.

Ama Ama

The nicest restaurant at Aulani is the beachside, open-air Ama Ama. We ate there on a visit a couple of years in the past and definitely loved the meals. We had reservations to return on this journey, however as soon as we discovered that it’s now a four-course meal that prices $125 per individual ($55 for youths 3 to 9 years outdated), we opted to skip a return go to.


I can not say that I am thrilled with this transfer to the expensive set-course meals at so a lot of Aulani’s eating places, because it makes it robust for households and children who desire a nicer meal however aren’t going to get wherever close to their cash’s price out of a pricey multicourse dinner. Paying $125 for a 10-year-old to have dinner is only a entire lot, even for Hawaii.

Ulu Cafe

For a meal that does not prime $100 for 2 folks, head to Ulu Cafe, which is the place we have loved most of our Aulani meals through the years. This quick-service and grab-and-go venue had an assortment of pastries, muffins, drinks and packaged items along with a couple of sizzling gadgets at breakfast, lunch and dinner.


At lunch, you will get Mickey-shaped Spam musubi, which I believe is fairly incredible. It does promote out, so do not wait till too late within the day if you’d like one.

There are additionally build-your-own poke bowl and acai bowl stations, that are very stable.


From 5:30 p.m. to eight p.m., you may order a pizza for $24, which is the most cost effective household dinner on the property. You should buy a refillable mug to load up with gentle drinks and such at some point of your journey.

Off the Hook

Subsequent to the pool and seashore is an assortment of kiosks, snack retailers and a poolside cafe with desk service for lunch and dinner known as Off the Hook.

Children meals listed here are $15, a poke bowl was $25 and my teen’s burger was $23. Fortunately, this restaurant remains to be a la carte, so you may order as a lot or as little as you need. Additionally, reservations usually are not required, so simply head over there if you’re getting hungry.

Olelo Room

One spot we have not tried but however that was all the time intriguing with some night music was Olelo Room. Right here there was a sundown completely satisfied hour menu with appetizers, sushi and sashimi, together with drinks.


You possibly can additionally stroll to close by off-site eating choices equivalent to Monkeypod. Monkeypod has incredible completely satisfied hours with reductions on drinks, $12 pizzas and 50% off most appetizers from 3:30 p.m. to five p.m.

Luau at Disney’s Aulani

Aulani is house to a luau that I’ve heard excellent issues about, however I have not tried it but, as costs begin at $109 for youths ages 3 to 9 and $180 per individual for these ages 10 and up. The higher seats price much more.

Nonetheless, if you wish to do it, you might want to guide at the very least a few months upfront and understand it solely operates a couple of days per week.

Snacks and Mickey shave ice


You may’t go to Aulani and miss getting the shave ice from the poolside Papalua Shave Ice stand — simply ensure and add the Mickey ears for an additional greenback.

At Aulani, you can too get a Dole Whip from the Ulu Cafe, which was simply nearly as good because the one at Disney World … or perhaps higher.


Disney’s Aulani has wheelchair- and hearing-accessible rooms which you could reserve by checking the accessible rooms field when making your reserving. The massive outdoors pool space is paved for wheelchair entry, and there are ramps to entry many of the areas. Moreover, the swimming pools do have lifts accessible.

Causes Aulani may not be for you

  • Aulani is an costly trip vacation spot, and I am not simply speaking in regards to the rooms (once more, I extremely suggest renting DVC factors to assist there). However your on-property meals, drinks and snacks and any actions you guide will add up in a rush, which makes this not the suitable match for each funds.
  • Getting slots for some actions, Aunty’s Seaside Home and even breakfast is aggressive and requires advance planning or excessive luck, which is not everybody’s cup of tea.
  • Aulani could be very busy and, with a number of towers of rooms, can host many individuals, so if you’re trying to “get away from all of it” and have some peace and quiet, this is not essentially the suitable trip selection.
  • Aulani does have some Disney-themed actions and characters, nevertheless it is not a alternative for, say Disneyland or Disney World, so if you’d like an all-in Disney journey, you might not discover that at Aulani. On the flip facet, if you’d like a Disney-free a part of Hawaii, this is not that.


Aulani is a Disney resort in Hawaii, nevertheless it is not actually like most different resorts in Hawaii, neither is it precisely like most different Disney locations. I’ve discovered that liking one or each of these issues does not essentially assure that Aulani shall be a slam-dunk to your trip.

Honestly, on my first journey to Aulani, I did not take pleasure in it as a lot as I hoped at first. I discovered it too frenetic and it required extra planning and advance reserving than I needed out of a Hawaii trip.

However, by the top of that journey, I had adjusted my expectations and actually began to take pleasure in it. And now, with the good thing about understanding what to anticipate from previous experiences (and having children which are older), I very a lot loved Aulani the second time, and I am even plotting a 3rd go to.


That stated, should you actually need to maximize Aunty’s Seaside Home, your meals, and many others., then there’s simply no manner round planning and reserving at the very least components of your keep beginning 90 days upfront on-line.

However I additionally discovered that with my children now older, a few of that mattered a bit much less; we might go to the later-timed actions that the youthful households usually do not do, and it was simpler to have a extra laid-back Aulani journey that was fairly pleasurable.

Aulani was an amazing lesson that generally, when two of your favorites combine, what you find yourself with is not fairly what you had been anticipating, however that does not imply it will probably’t nonetheless be excellent.

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