When my family and I left the small, humble island of Kauai we moved on to bigger, more populated places on the island of Oahu. Here we stayed at the Aulani Disney Hawaii Resort. If you have ever been to Disney World or Disney Land you know at least one thing, Disney does it big; the Aulani is no different. There is not a single detail missing from this beautiful Disney creation.
The architecture is meant to mimic Hawaiian cultural norms such as their open air lobby which was inspired by a traditional Hawaiian canoe house; everything from the food, music, history, activities, arts and crafts incorporate Hawaiian culture. I plan to share with you my favorite aspects of the resort.
As soon as we stepped out of our rent-a-car we were welcomed and immediately lei’d by the Aulani’s friendly staff. You will be in awe as you look out at the resort, from the open air lobby, 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?
What would a Disney Resort be without characters? no need to worry because their are plenty of them here! 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! They’re dressed in their island best every day!
We attended the character breakfast as a family, even at our pre-teen, teen and recently post-teen ages, and loved every second of it. No matter your age the Disney characters can always make you smile. The breakfast runs from 7:00 AM until 11:00 AM and consists of a large breakfast buffet and live entertainment from the Disney characters. Aunty played me a birthday song on her ukulele while Goofy danced along. The character breakfast is a great jump start to any day!
There are several different room options available at the Aulani. You have some as basic as a standard room or suite and as 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 preparing dinner was also an option which helps save money instead of eating out for every meal. The space was incredible considering the three ‘teenage’ girls who needed to get ready every day and the view from our balcony was beautiful.
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.
For some reason, my family did not spend a significant amount of time at the beach. We spent a lot of 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. Despite not spending time there, it is beautiful! At this white, sandy beach 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.
Paid experiences are also an option at the Aulani; it wouldn’t be Disney if absolutely every cool thing to do was included. 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 $20 dollars for adults (10+) and $15 dollars for children (10 and under), this includes snorkeling equipment. You can also purchase a full-length pass for your entire stay for $39 per adult and $29 per child.
I participated in the Makai Preserve while at the Aulani 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.
There is truly not a single detail spared at the Disney Aulani Resort. There are so many minor details that made the stay amazing that I can’t even begin to explain. 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.
If you have any additional questions please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible!