Explore Oahu with Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa as your home base. Disney always goes above and beyond to make their guests feel special, and this Hawaiian experience is no different. Our Aulani Resort Review will include 5 things we loved and 6 things we’d pass on from our Hawaiian Vacation.
5 Things To Love About Disney’s Aulani Resort
If you’ve ever been to Disney World of Disney Land you know at least one thing, Disney does it big. The Aulani Disney Hawaii Resort is certainly no different. There is not a single detail missing from this beautiful Disney creation and we’re here to share exactly what we loved about it.
1. Absolutely Stunning Architecture and Decor
The architecture is meant to mimic Hawaiian cultural norms such as their open air lobby which was inspired by a traditional Hawaiian canoe house. From the moment you arrive you will be in awe as you look out at the resort and marvel at what looks like a Lilo and Stitch paradise.
Thankfully, the check in process was quick and easy and we were on our way. I was 20 years old at the time and could barely hold in my need to explore the entire resort. Could you imagine how young children feel? Everything from the food, music, history, and activities incorporate Hawaiian culture.
Our Aulani Resort Review could not have better things to say about the beauty in every detail, inside and out. There isn’t a single place you’ll look that doesn’t catch the eye and bring a smile to your face.
2. Friendly & Knowledgeable Staff
As soon as we stepped out of our rent-a-car we were welcomed and immediately lei’d by the Aulani’s friendly staff. From the check-in staff, to service staff, lifeguards and beyond, everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful.
This one’s pretty self explanatory. Disney staff knows how to sprinkle that Disney magic on everything. It’s no different here in Hawaii.
3. Your Favorite Characters are on Vacation with You
What would a Disney Resort be without characters? No need to worry because they’re here and dressed in their island best.
Unlike your typical Disney Theme Park or Resort, Mickey and Minnie Mouse are not your hosts, Lilo and Stitch are! All of your beloved Disney characters are visiting just like you. We had the pleasure of meeting Chip and Dale, Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Lilo, Stitch and more!
We attended the character breakfast as a family. Even at our pre-teen, teen, and recently post-teen ages, we loved every second of it. No matter your age, the Disney characters can always make you smile. The character breakfast is a great jump start to any day!
4. Rooms Designed for Family Travel
There are several different room options available at the Aulani. You can stay in a basic standard room, step it up to a suite, or live the life of luxury in an extravagant as a two bedroom villa. Although all the rooms look beautiful, the Two Bedroom Villa was a great option for our family because there were 9 of us and we wanted to be together!
It was incredibly relaxing to come ‘home’ to a villa, basically your own little apartment for the duration of your stay, after spending a day out exploring the island, or running wild through the pools and beaches.
What I liked most was the full kitchen. It allowed our family to wake-up and grab a bite to eat, in our room, before heading out for the day. Running upstairs to make lunch or grab a snack was quick and easy and perfect for our large group. The space was incredible and the view from our balcony was beautiful.
5. Endless Activities for the Whole Family
The resort towers surround a plethora of pools and activities with a opening towards Aulani beach at Ko Olina Lagoon. There are water slides, lazy rivers, playgrounds, pools and jacuzzis around every corner!
There are a dozen of free activities that are simply included in your rate of stay. These include, but are not limited to, playing in and around pools, listening to story tellers, a teen hangout space, kids camp with daily activities, evening shows with live music and entertainment, and fitness classes on the beach such as sunrise yoga and beach body boot camp.
There are also several snack shacks scattered throughout the resort for lunch and snack food items. Personally, I spent countless hours in the lazy river, racing down slides and dancing to the island music in the pools with my cousins.
3 Negative Aulani Resort Reviews
All great places do have a few negatives. What might not have been a big deal for our family, may be for yours so I want to make sure to share all angles.
1. The Beach
For some reason, my family did not spend a significant amount of time at the beach. We spent a majority of our time up by the pools. I swam the width of the cove/lagoon a few mornings for exercise but otherwise did not spend a lot of time here.
The pristine shoes of Ko Olina are kind of small for the size of the Aulani. It got very busy during the day which was a deterrent. It’s also a lagoon as opposed to open ocean which is less aesthetically pleasing.
You can check out boogie boards and sand toys, rent paddle boards and snorkeling equipment, or participate in ‘Ohana beach games. Please remember to check updated policies at the time of our visit for beach rules and regulations. Basic rules include the need of a wrist band to use Aulani amenities such as the pools, towels and beach chairs.
2. All Experiences Aren’t Included
Paid experiences are also an option at the Aulani. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be Disney if absolutely every cool thing was included. There are a variety of experiences you can choose to participate in for an extra fee.
Rainbow Reef is a private snorkeling experience right in the heart of the Aulani. I chose not to participate (that water was freezing!) but I was able to watch my cousins explore colorful marine life through the looking glass! A one day access pass costs $25 dollars for adults (10+) and $20 dollars for children (9 and under), this includes snorkeling equipment. You can also purchase a full-length pass for your entire stay for $45 per adult and $35 per child.
When we stayed here, we participated in the Makai Preserve which seems to be either permanently or temporarily closed. This provided an up close and personal Stingray experience! We learned a lot about Stingrays, were able to touch and feed them. It was really pretty neat to see how their trainers had worked with them and trained them to follow directions. I really learned a lot about the species and genuinely enjoyed the experience.
3. It’s Difficult To Leave
No, I don’t mean at the end of the trip although it’s difficult to leave then too. Its difficult to leave the resort and check out all Oahu has to offer.
Because you spend so much to stay at the Aulani Resort and there’s so much to do there, it can be hard to venture off the property to really experience the island. I suggest spending a few days enjoying all the Aulani has to offer, and then leaving to stay in a more affordable accommodation so you can explore more of the island guilt-free.
Book Your Stay At Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa
There is truly not a single detail spared at the Disney Aulani Resort. Mickey Ice cream bars, Mickey Mouse shaped waffles, friendly and knowledgeable resort staff, beautifully lit night swimming and so much more contribute to the magic that is Disney.
I hope this short and to the point Aulani Resort review helps you make an informed decision on your next Hawaiian vacation!