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- Disney’s Aulani Resort
- On Which Hawaiian Island is Aulani Located?
- What Airport do You Fly into for Aulani?
- Should you Rent a Car to Stay at Aulani?
- How Many Days do You Need at Aulani?
- Is Aulani All-inclusive?
- How Much Does it Cost to Visit Aulani?
- Hotel Rooms at Aulani
- Transportation to Aulani Resort
- Food at Aulani
- How Can I save Money Traveling to Aulani?
- Free Things to Do at Aulani
- Is Aulani a Disney Theme Park?
- How Hawaiian is Aulani?
- Can Adults Enjoy Kid Free Time at Aulani?
- What Restaurants Are at Aulani?
- Is it Worth Leaving the Aulani Resort for Anything?
- What’s Worth the Splurge at Aulani?
- Is Aulani Worth It?
- TravelingMom Tips for Aulani
An expert shares her tips for making the most of a trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort. From rooms to food to fun, here is everything you need to know to plan your first visit to Mickey’s home in Hawaii.
Disney’s Aulani Resort
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is the creation of Walt Disney Imagineers who worked with Hawaiian artisans and cultural experts to create a special Disney experience. From airline travel to choosing the right hotel room, from getting to Aulani and special activities after you arrive, we have tips and answers to common questions about planning a trip to Aulani.
On Which Hawaiian Island is Aulani Located?
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is on the island of Oahu in Kapolei. This is part of the Ko Olina Resort, making what is already an exceptional resort even more special. Aulani sits on the first of four man-made lagoons that make up the 2 miles of coastal white sand beaches of Ko Olina Resort.
What Airport do You Fly into for Aulani?
Fly into the Honolulu International Airport, with the airport code HNL.
Unlike Walt Disney World, which is easily reached by the free and efficient Disney Magical Express (available for people staying at a Disney resort hotel), airport transfers are not included in the price of an Aulani stay.
So you will need to:
- rent a car (more on that in the next section)
- take an Uber (in October 2019, the Uber ride price averages between $40 and $60)
- use the Hele Hele Shuttle service. Book this in advance. Fees are $10 for children 2 and $24 for everyone else.
- take a Charley’s Taxi for a $55 flat rate from the airport to Aulani.
When you return, plan to arrive a full two hours ahead of your flight. The airport is older and covers a large area. If you have to drop off a rental car, make it three hours. The rental car lots are a good distance away from the airport. Three hours will allow you enough time to wait in line to return your car and get to the airport without worry.
TravelingMom Tip: When we visit Maui during our trip to Hawaii, we fly to Honolulu, then fly to Maui and return to the mainland from Maui because the Maui airport is a bit less congested.
Should you Rent a Car to Stay at Aulani?
This depends on whether you want to do anything else on Oahu during your visit. While there are lots of fun things to do on Oahu, staying at Aulani is expensive. And there is so much to do at this family-friendly resort — from lazy rivers and waterslides to character breakfasts with Mickey and Minnie — that you don’t need to leave. Therefore, you may need transportation only from the airport to Aulani and back, which is cheaper than renting a car for most families or groups traveling together.
Plus, if you rent a car, you need to park that car. Self parking and valet are both $37 per day at Aulani. DVC members staying with points get free self parking for up to two vehicles.
How Many Days do You Need at Aulani?
We have been Disney Vacation Club Members at Aulani since the resort opened and have stayed anywhere from three nights to eight nights. If you have children 12 and under, they will want to stay a long time and never go home, so plan on staying at least five nights. If you are traveling to other Hawaiian islands or have older children, three nights and four days will be enough time if you arrive early on the first day.
Is Aulani All-inclusive?
Aulani is not an all-inclusive resort. However, there are ways to save money to keep costs down. More on that in the next section.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Aulani?
The big expenses here are rooms, transportation, food and activities
Hotel Rooms at Aulani
A standard room at Aulani starts at around $400 per night (plus 14% sales tax) and goes up to $700 per night. One-, two- and three-bedroom villas with a full kitchen and one- and two-bedroom suites range from roughly $750 to $2950 per night. Hotel room rates are higher if the room comes with an ocean view.
TravelingMom Tip: Consider renting DVC points to get Disney luxury at a more budget-friendly price.
Transportation to Aulani Resort
Airfare rates will depend on your airline, your originating airport and how far in advance you book your trip. Booking early and off season will certainly help you save money! Round trip tickets from my home airport in southern California can be as low as $300 during the winter months compared to $500 per person during warmer months.
Food at Aulani
It’s safe to budget $200 a day for food for a family of four; special dining and character experiences are extra.
How Can I save Money Traveling to Aulani?
As we said, forgoing the rental car will save you a lot of money as will renting DVC points to book your room. Additionally, as with any travel, the food and extras add up when traveling to Aulani. Ordering groceries to be delivered to your room or, if you rented a car, stopping at the grocery store will help you save a lot of money. Buy some easy grab and go items for breakfast, Starbucks via for coffee in the morning, snacks, and fixings for adult beverages.
Limit room service, dining poolside or eating a full restaurant meal to one meal a day. Instead, choose cheaper eats from Ulu Cafe and Mama’s Snack Stop. If you don’t have a car, walk 10 minutes to the small market at the Ko Olina Center for easy lower cost lunch items.
Free Things to Do at Aulani
Be sure to look at the Daily ‘Iwa each day and take advantage of the countless free activities at Aulani. Aunty’s Beach House Kids Club has free experiences and times for children ages 3-12 years old. Free things to do can range from canoe races to ukulele lessons to animation drawing lessons.
And, of course, you are in Hawaii. Ko Olina Resort is home to beautiful sandy beaches and lagoons, all free.
What Age Group Activities are here at Aulani for Children?
Aulani does a great job of providing activities for all ages from preschool age to adults. There are some activities that are included with your stay and some that cost extra. Luckily, you are free to decide your own schedule and what activities you enjoy.
5 and Under
Preschoolers may enjoy Aunty’s Beach House, which is a Disney-style babysitting. Children ages 3-12 do crafts, watch Disney movies, and play games, and all under the watchful eye of Disney supervision. Keiki Cove Splash Zone is a splash park that is perfect for those hot paradise days. Mo’olelo Fire Pit Storytelling is another great activity for kids in this age group — gather around the fire as Uncle and Moana tell a story using puppets, props, and some Disney magic.
The older your kids are, the more activities Aulani offers. Waikolohe Pool is currently under construction, though it is scheduled to reopen in mid-December 2019. The pool area is the place for parties with Disney character appearances and interactive pool activities with cast members. Kids and parents together can hunt for clues and solve puzzles on the Menehune Adventure Trail. There is even a play area nearby known as Menehune Bridge. Your kids can also take a guided tour to learn about the landscape and imagineering behind the resort.
Tweens and Teens
Tweens and teens can participate in most of the above activities from the splash zone to the Menehune Bridge. Older kids are also welcome to play golf at the nearby Ko Olina Golf Club. Some days, they can even golf for free after 3pm.
The Painted Sky Teen Spa is just what it sounds like — a spa for teens ages 13-17 only. It is a great way to unwind from a busy school schedule back at home.
There are a variety of stores for shopping, restaurants to dine at, and pools to explore. Tweens and teens can even sign up for extra activities like snorkeling with the fish at Rainbow Reef, poolside cabanas, yoga on the beach, and so much more.
Is Aulani a Disney Theme Park?
So many people ask us about this when we tell them we are DVC members and that Aulani is our home resort. Aulani is not over-the-top Disney; it focuses more on the Hawaiian experience. Disney characters do not pop up everywhere you go. This is a luxury resort with top notch Disney service. If you want more Disney, you can choose to immerse yourself in Disney activities and character meet and greets as often or as little as you choose.
How Hawaiian is Aulani?
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, was designed and built with the Hawaiian culture at its core. Many Aulani experiences tell the story of Hawaiian culture. Disney worked with more than 80 local Hawaiian artists whose art is displayed throughout the resort and hired many people from Hawaii to work at the resort. The Hawaiian ambiance has been masterfully created at Aulani.
TravelingMom Tip: If you’re truly passionate about Hawaiian culture and history, don’t miss the fireside storytelling at the beachside fire pit.
Can Adults Enjoy Kid Free Time at Aulani?
One thing Disney does well is provide fun activities for all ages, even adults.The Aulani resort is designed to let parents take a breather while their kids are safely enjoying the resort and its activities. Aulani helps adults enjoy their time by providing safe, and supervised areas for kids and teens.
Once the kids are safe, head to the whirlpool spas, an adult-only pool known as Wailana Pool, golf, shop, dine, and more. Laniwai Spa is for adults and it has everything you could ever want from a spa.
Or venture out with one of the excursions on horseback, or a guided sightseeing tour.
What Restaurants Are at Aulani?
Makahiki: This is the Disney-classic breakfast buffet where Mickey, Minnie or Goofy will join you table-side. On select evenings, this restaurant is the place for an entertaining dinner show known as Menehune Mischief at Makahiki. It celebrates the story of the Menehune—the magical little people of Hawaiian legend.
Ama Ama: This is a contemporary, open-air restaurant with a modern twist. It’s where the tastes and flavors of Hawaii come to life.
Ulu Cafe: This quick service restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is perfect for days at the pool or beach when you don’t want to lose your coveted chairs.
Olelo Room: Drinks and appetizers and live music many nights.
Off The Hook: The poolside lounge that also offers pool and beach side service.
Mama’s Snack Shop, Papalua Shave Ice, and Little ‘Opihi’s Beachside Kiosk: These snack shops are sprinkled throughout the resort.
Wailana Pool Bar: For adults only, this bar serves cocktails and lunch right beside the adults-only pool.
Is it Worth Leaving the Aulani Resort for Anything?
This is a very personal decision, but I will share our family experiences. We have been to Aulani six times; airfare and the resort itself are not cheap so we really wanted to get our money’s worth. On our first trip, we left the resort only to walk to local restaurants off property. The second trip, we took a drive to the North Shore for one day and that was all.
What’s Worth the Splurge at Aulani?
At Aulani, we splurged on things we could not experience back home so no river paddling excursions or sea lion encounters for our family.
A water excursion is a must! Disney has a Catamaran Experience for ages 4 and over that is worth every penny! We booked this experience our first year visiting Aulani and to be so close to the water and see the wide open ocean was breathtaking.
One nice dinner at Ama Ama is also worth it over sunset. The view from the restaurant over the lagoons and ocean is Insta worthy for sure.
Is Aulani Worth It?
Without a doubt, yes, especially if you have children. The memories made at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, are so special, They will be remembered for years to come.
TravelingMom Tips for Aulani
- Make dining reservations when you book your travel. The restaurants fill up fast.
- Upon arrival, purchase your Disney Aulani refillable mugs for $18.99 to get free refills of non-alcoholic beverages at select locations throughout your stay. Take them home and and bring them back for your next visit!
- Get a copy of the Daily ‘Iwa. This is your Aulani Bible of each day’s activities.
- Google sunset times before your trip so you can book dinner reservations during sunset. Request oceanfront seating.
- Book a character dining experience. It’s is a must for your first trip. Be sure to book this in advance.
- Pack a small bag with pool and beach necessities if you’ll be arriving before the 3pm check in. Aulani will store your luggage so you can enjoy the resort while you wait for your room.
- Order groceries from Instacart for delivery to the hotel!
- Buy your own sand toys so your kids can play in the beautiful soft Hawaiian sand on the beach. Pass them onto another family when you leave and enjoy the smile on their faces!