Best Family resort in Oahu - Disney Aulani Resort
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Visiting Aulani Resort- The Complete Aulani Guide

Are you thinking about visiting Aulani – Disney’s Resort in Hawaii? Awesome! I highly recommend the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii.  Want to find out a little more information on what is offered?  

We just went and I am excited to tell you all the things I learned and what to expect when you make a Disney’s Aulani reservation in Hawaii.

In this post, we will review if Aulani is worth it, what the best time to visit Aulani is, all the things to do at Aulani, and list the activities at Aulani your family will love.

This complete Aulani guide will prepare you if you decide visiting Aulani is worth it.  

Let’s begin our complete Aulani guide! 

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Contents hide

Is Aulani a Disney Theme Park in Hawaii?

Visiting Aulani

Unfortunately, there is not a Disney theme park in Hawaii.  Disney’s Aulani Resort is just a beautiful resort right on the beach, geared towards families. 

Visiting Aulani entails lots of kid activities at Aulani including a kids club where you can drop your kids off for a fun and entertaining experience (think cruise ship).  There is a fabulous pool, luau, and in Disney, fashion character meet and greets.  

What Island is Aulani On?

Aulani Resort on Oahu

Disney’s Aulani is located on the island of Oahu.  It is about 25 minutes from the HNL Airport.  The part of the island it is on is called Ko Olina and is on the leeward side of Oahu (west).  In Hawaiian Ko Olina means “Place of Joy”. Ko Olina is beautiful and a place of joy.  

Aulani Lagoons of Ko Olina

There are four lagoons.  The Aulani Resort has direct access to one of the lagoons. It is a public beach, however, it is located within walking distance from the Aulani pool. 

Benefits of the Staying Near Ko Olina Lagoons

The east side of the island does not have big waves, in fact when Disney decided to build a resort they went in and designed man-made coves or lagoons.  These lagoons are very nice.  There is a beach area along the coves.  The coves are great for paddleboarding.  The water tends to stay smooth as well.  

The Aulani Lagoons are perfect for younger children who want to build a sandcastle and play in the ocean.  The Aulani Lagoons are also a great hang-out area for teens and adults. There are a lot of activities that you can enjoy at the Aulani Lagoons.

Best Time to Visit Aulani

Visiting Aulani Resort

Hawaii is perfect all year round.  The best time to visit Aulani is when they are offering a discount.  Always check the promotions.  Aulani can sell out so once you know your dates go ahead a book your stay.  

Airports Near Disney's Aulani Resort?

Airport near Aulani

The Honolulu Airport is the main airport on Oahu.  When searching for your flight you will enter HNL.  It is the closest airport near Aulani Disney Resort.

How to Get to Disney's Aulani Resort

Directions to Aulani Disney Resort Oahu

Once you arrive in Honolulu you have a few options for transportation to Aulani.  Let’s review what will work best for you.  

Renting a Car

Renting a car at the airport is probably your best option.  The drive is easy and it is nice to have a car so you can get out and explore other areas of the islands.

Disney’s Aulani Parking 

There is a $37 daily parking fee.  Valet service is the same price as the regular parking fee.  This is nice because you do not have to worry about parking the car. (although you will be paying a tip)   

If you are a Disney Vacation Club Member or rented through one (like David’s Vacation Club) parking is free for up to 2 vehicles.

Aulani Shuttle Bus

Disney does not have a “Magical Express” from the airport.  If you do not want to rent a car you will have to hire a private shuttle service These shuttle services cost well over $200 for 5 people one way. (Each additional person is $25) We found it was cheaper to rent a car. 

Arriving at Disney's Aulani Resort

Aulani Pool in Ohau Hawaii

Aulani Check-In Time

Check-in time is at 3:00 pm for standard rooms and 4:00 pm for Villas. 

Check-in is a process.  I think this is mostly due to Covid and the restrictions in Hawaii.  When you check-in you are required to show your Hawaii-safe travel form on your phone.  You will also be asked to show the paper copy of proof of vaccination for those over 12 or a negative test that has been taken within the last 48 hours.  (This is so that you can enter the restaurants.) It is a Hawaiian-mandated rule. 

The front desk will give you a bracelet.  This allows you to eat at all the facilities onsite.  

Can I Arrive Early on the Day of Check in to Use the Facility?

Yes,  You can come early and start having fun.  When your room is ready they will let you know.  You can store your luggage with the bellhop.  

Can I Stay After Aulani Check-Out?

Check out time is 11:00 AM

Yes, you can use the facility the entire day of check out.  You will need to have all things removed from the room. The bellman can come and get your bags and store them while you play.

Rooms at Disney's Aulani Resort

Disney Alani Rooms

There are a few different room types, depending on the size of your party, you can choose a standard room or a villa.  Some of the rooms offer kitchens and more than one bedroom.

We got at a 2 bedroom villa with a kitchen.   It was nice.  

Disney Aulani Discounts/Promotions

Disney Aulani often offers special promotions.  I often see 20-30% off.  You might be able to find a stay for 4 days get the 5th free.  

David's Vacation Rental

Aulani Resort Rooms

We actually decided to go with David’s Vacation Club Rentals.  This service allows you to rent DVC points from a Disney Vacation Club Member. 

The process is super simple.  But the best part is, it saved us over $1000 on the 2 bedroom villa we wanted.  I 100% think it is the way to go if you need a bigger room.  We had 8 people in our group. 

Davids Vacation Rental

Aulani Pool

Disney Aulani Resort Pool

The pool is the main reason that Disney’s Aulani Resort is the best family resort in Oahu.  It is perfect for children.

One of the main reasons we wanted to stay at Aulani was the amazing pool.  We knew our kids would love it.  The pool is huge.  There are 3 big pools, 4 hot tub areas (including an 18 and over one), 2 water slides, a lazy river, an aquatic playground, and a tot splash zone.

Let’s answer one of the most asked questions about Aulani…..

Can I Get A Day Pass to Aulani?

Unfortunately, no there is not a Disney Hawaii day pass.  You have to be a guest staying at the resort to have access to the pool and amenities Aulani offers. 

Pool Hours at Aulani

The main pools are open from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM.  The Aulani water slide, lazy river, and splash areas are open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Gaining Access to the Aulani Pool

Aulani Pool Area

Only those staying at the Aulani Resort have access to the pool.  To gain access you will need an “Aulani Magic band.” This band comes in many colors.  The colors indicate which days you are staying at Aulani.  You will pick up your bands up at a booth near the children’s splash pad.  

Towels

Towels are provided for the pool area.  You will pick up your towel in the same place you get your bands.  

Aulani Lazy River

Pool at Disney's Aulani Resort

The lazy river is fun. Both single and double tubes are provided.  It is not too deep.  It is the perfect depth for walking around or just relaxing on a tube.

Aquatic Play Area – Splash Pad

Aulani's play splash zone

For younger children, the jungle gym splash pad is an added bonus.  You must be under 48 inches. My son is 6 and was able to play but my daughter who is 9 and is extremely tall was past the height restrictions.  

Hours

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

 Pools and Hot Tubs with a View

Aulani pool on oahu

There are a few pools with incredible views of the ocean.  The hot tubs have even better views!  

Over 18 Hot Tub

There is one adult-only hot tub.  It has the best view of the ocean.  It is a double-layer hot tub with a waterfall.  It is very relaxing and a great place to enjoy the sunset.  

Aulani Water Slides

Water Slids at Aulani

 

There are two water slides.  One is a single rider slide with no tube and the other you can do a single or double tube.  They are both really fun!  The more weight on the tube the more fun!  It goes a lot faster.  These Aulani water slides make Aulani the best family resort on Oahu.

Disney's Aulani Restaurants

Restaurants at Aulani

Is Aulani an all-inclusive resort?

No, visiting Aulani does have benefits and great amenities but it is not an all-inclusive resort like you would find in Mexico (food, entertainment,….) Food must be purchased separately. 

Aulani Dining Plan

There may have been an Aulani dining plan years ago but it is no longer offered.  

Aulani Character Breakfast

The main restaurant is called Makahiki- The Bounty of the Islands.   This is where the Aulani character dining breakfast is located.  There is also dinner available without the characters at night.

The Aulani character breakfast is available every day except Thursdays. 

Aulani Dining Reservations

Reservation can be made up to 30 days in advance.  Aulani is a popular destination, so book early.  

Counter Service

ULU Cafe is a counter service restaurant that has a variety of snacks and entrees. 

Restaurants and Snacks by the Pool

Aluani food

Off the Hook offers poolside service.  It is a restaurant and a bar.  

There are four snack stops by the pool:

  • Mama’s Snack Shop
  • Papalua Shave Ice
  • Little OPIHI Beachside Kiosk 
  • Wailana Pool Bar

Olelo Room Bar and Lounge an adult area available from 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm.  There is live music, drinks, and hot plates.  

Hot Tip

Disney's Aulani Best Family resort on Oahu mickey and Minnie

Disney Aulani’s prices are extremely expensive.  The Makahiki dinner was $140 before tip for 2 people. 

Because of Covid restrictions, Hawaii hadn’t turned on water fountains when we went, so the only option was to buy a $4 bottle of water.  It was more expensive than other resorts.  

One advantage to having a villa with a kitchen was that we could go to Costco and buy pre-made meals and cook them.  

If you are planning on staying at Aulani the entire trip, I would go and buy a huge case of water at Costco and lots of snacks.  

 

Aulani Luau

Aulani Luau

The luau is a mix of entertainment and dinner.  

Book Early

Book early if you want to attend the Aulani luau. Aulani Luau reservations fills up fast. I booked my tickets to Hawaii for October and the next available Luau was December.  So plan on at least booking  2-3 months ahead of time.  

This is another dining option for dinner.  The luau is about the same price as other luau’s in the area.  This dinner includes food and a show.

How Long is the Luau?

The luau is 3 hours.  

Book a Garden View Room

Our hotel room overlooked the Aulani luau (Garden View Villa).  We were able to watch the entire show from our balcony.  There are dancers and fire throwers.  It is an impressive show.  I actually think we had a better view of the show than those seated at the luau. 

One thing I did notice is that there weren’t many children at the luau.  Mostly couples.  My younger kids watched the show for a few minutes and then got bored and went back inside to play.  

Visitin Aulani - Activities at Aulani

Activities at Aulani Resort Oahu Hawaii

You will love all the things to do at Aulani. There are daily activities at Aulani.  Some are included in your stay and others cost an additional fee.  

These daily activities at Aulani include:

  • Adventure Trail Scavenger Hunt
  • Star Gazing
  • Make your own Mouse Ears
  • Shirt Stamping

Aulani Character Meet and Greets

Character Meet and Greet Aulani

Character meet and greets have different times every day.  Depending on the day, character meet and greets end before 4 pm.  We were able to see 

  • Duffy
  • Turtle
  • Moana
  • Stitch 
  • Mickey
  • Minnie
  • Daisy
  • Donald
  • Goofy
  • Pluto

The location to meet the characters is in the same area where Aulani Luau is located.  It is on the backside of the resort.  It is a long walk and hidden.  We ended up relaxing in the area and waiting for the characters to come.  

Aunty’s Beach House

best family resort on Oahu

Aunty’s Beach is what makes Aulani the best family resort on Oahu.  It is a 5,200 sq ft area of fun.  It is designed for kids.  There are dress-up clothes, movies, video games, activities, and more.  Each day there is a themed activity. It is included in your stay but you will need to make reservations to get in. 

There are also activities that you can pay an additional fee for that are available.  

Teens and tweens will love it too!  Aunty Beach House is cool for kids!

Unfortunately, when we went to Hawaii, Aunty’s Beach House was closed. I am so sad we missed out on all the fun! 

Arts and Crafts 

For an additional fee you can make mouse ears or take a painting class.  There are lots of activities at Aulani that change daily.  Be sure to look at the schedule. 

Ko Olina Aulani Beach

Best resort for family on Oahu - Ko Olina Beach

The public beach that is located steps away from Aulani is known as the Aulani lagoon.  Kids can build sandcastles, snorkel, or rent paddleboards.  Equipment is available to rent at the beach.  

Sailing Canoe Experience

If you want to sail on the ocean you can easily book an Aulani excursion from the Ko Olina cove.  It is $99 per person ages 4 and up. 

Sunset Mele

Sunset Mele is for teens and is live entertainment at the beach during sunset. Unfortunately, they did not do this when we went.  

Aulani Snorkel Experience

Best Family resort in Oahu - Learn to Snorkel on Site Aulanie

There is also a special reef where you can pay an additional fee and snorkel.  There are hundreds of fish in the reef.  If you don’t want to snorkel you can view the fish from the pool. 

Great for Kids

This is a great area to learn to snorkel.  Snorkeling is hard for little kids but in a controlled environment (no waves or currents)  it is a great place to learn.  This activity is another reason Aulani is the best family resort on Oahu! 

Disney Aulani Spa

Aulani offers a family spa that includes normal spa treatments but also offers princess and prince make-overs. It is one of the only spas that caters to families.  

Adventure Trail Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt at Aulani

The Adventure Trail Scavenger Hunt is a really fun activity that is included in your stay.  You can check out an Ipad and that is where the adventure begins.  There are different markers located throughout the property.  You will solve riddles and answer questions. At each location, something magical happens.  

Once you complete the hunt you will get a special prize at the end.  

So Many Activities at Aulani

best family resort in Oahu Aulani Activited to do

There are truly so many activities at Aulani for families. However, if you want to venture away from the resort there are many options for activities. 

Aulani Excursions 

Oahu has a lot to offer. You can book your excursion with Aulani or if you want to do it yourself I highly recommend using Viator.  These tours will pick you up from your hotel.  

Golf

Ko Olina has an 18 hole golf course located nearby.  This is a fun addition to your stay at Aulani.  

Aulani Souvenirs

Aulani Sovenirs

There are several souvenir shops near the main lobby of the hotel.  A great Aulani souvenir idea is pin trading

Pin Trading

If you are a Disney fan you may already be into Disney pin trading.  We always bring our lanyards and pins with us on every trip.  From 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  There is a pin trading event that takes place every day.  

Hot Tip

We usually will buy cheap pins off of eBay or local sites before any trip.  These usually cost around $1 a pin.  These pins are perfect to trade.  

Aulani Souvenirs

We like to buy souvenirs on vacation.  The Aulani souvenirs are more expensive than Disneyland or DisneyWorld.  If you want to save a little money you might want to buy a few Disney-themed things on Etsy ahead of time to give to your kids. 

Is Aulani Worth It?

Aulani Resort Family fun

Yes, if you have kids visiting Aulani is worth it! 

Hopefully, this gave you a good overview of what to expect when visiting Aulani Resort.  It really is the best family resort on Oahu! There are so many fun things to do and see at this resort. I highly recommend it if you have young kids.  The Aulani pool is fantastic and the sunset on the east side of the island is beautiful.  

Explore More of Oahu

Do you need help planning your Oahu Hawaii trip?I have a great Oahu Itinerary, with some of the Best Hikes in Oahu, and Best snorkeling in Oahu,.   There are so many things to do in Oahu with kids like visiting Pearl Harbor.  We loved doing all the things on the North Shore including the Dole Pineapple Plantation, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the Jurassica Adventure Tour.   

Have fun reading all the exciting things there are to do on the Island of Oahu.

We also went to Maui for a Day and had an adventure driving on the road of death in Maui.

Also, do not forget to get your Hawaii Souvenirs

Facebook Community

If you have any questions be sure to join my Facebook Travel Community.  This great community can help answer any questions you may have about your upcoming trips. Plus, I try to add any great deals or promotions that companies send me!

Have More Questions

Join the Families Who Love Disney Facebook Group.  This is a great group that can help you answer your questions. 

Also, the latest and coolest Disney news, products, and vacation tips are posted here weekly!

 

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33 Comments

  1. This is definitely on my “someday” list! I can’t wait to go to Hawaii and get the Disney magic. I know we’ll love it!

  2. I will share this with my friends with kids. Being single I tend to surf and hang out at the beaches and do plenty of exploring/hiking. So much great information.

  3. Any Disney vacation is guaranteed to be wonderful: they pay so much attention to detail! We flew through Oahu on our trip to Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. We really regret not going to Pear Harbor. Looks like a return trip is in order, and the Disney Aulani Resort looks like a great place to stay!

  4. We just returned from Ko Olina and stayed next door to the stunning Disney Resort. The area is gorgeous, the golf is spectacular, and the local cuisine is devine.

  5. I had no idea that Disney had a resort in Hawaii but I should have known. I will definitely try this resort the next time I visit. Your review was excellent. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I would love to stay at Aulani resort the next time we are on Oahu. We really want to go back and I know my older daughter would love the lazy river. I don’t think I will get her out of it to eat. 🙂

  7. Heading there next month – can’t wait! This is a great overview. And you are right about the Luau – I’m going to have to try to find another one as the Disney one is already sold out.

  8. Woah! I had no idea that Disney had a resort in Oahu. It looks like an incredible place for a family vacation. Definitely keeping it in mind for my next trip to Oahu!

  9. This looks like a great resort for kids with tons to do. I love that the kids can learn to snorkel in a safe environment. I also like that only those staying at the resort are allowed to enter. It keeps the crowds down a bit.

  10. Seems like this would be a great family trip with young kids. Lots of fun things to do! Thanks for all the practical info.

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