FREE at Disney – THAT is not an oxymorom. Big H little D – Big Hawaii little Disney is the phrase that Disney execs used to describe their approach to designing Aulani. You will find Disney characters at certain times around the property but not everywhere all day.  The entertainment is free and the quality you would expect from Disney.


It’s true and bound to start a trend in the hotel and resort industry.  All you moms who have passed on a spa treatment because it was too expensive once you added in the cost of child care – GET OUT THAT CREDIT CARD!  Aunty’s Beach House is fuuuureeeee!  Yep, your $160 Lomilomi massage or $150 surf lesson with Hawaiian Fire won’t cost you more than that thanks to Aunty.

There’s more:  storytelling around the fire pit, ukelele lessons, bracelet making, movies on the lawn, hueys (better than a luau), and a private lagoon.

Teens have their own spa and community at Painted Sky where they can create their own body scrub or frozen yogurt concoction.  They can play Xbox, get a mani/pedi or facial or participate in some of the group activities.

Everyone will want to check out the 2 water slides, lazy river, pools and private lagaoon.

If that’s not enough you can sign up for Adventures By Disney excursions like sea kayaking, surfing, hiking and more to be added.

The atmosphere is relaxing, the cast members (aka employees) love to share information about their culture and the whole vibe shouts Big H little D.  The bartender at Oleoni who got his degree in Hawaiian language,  loves explaining how  his bar is decorated with picture words – wood carvings with their Hawaiian word underneath.  So you can drink and learn Hawaiian at the same time.

Disney vacation club has a tower of 2 and 3 bedroom apartments that include a pull out couch, pull out chair and other bedding so large families can fit comfortably.  Room rates are not cheap but the DVC rooms have equipped kitchens, which will save families with ravenous teens some money on food.

Speaking of food, it’s expensive.  I split the fresh catch entrée and appetizer with a friend and my bill was $60 – not including wine.  So prepare yourself for the potential food bill.  There are other places nearby to eat and a resort shuttle that will drive you off site.  I expect a lot for a $60 half dinner.  And I have to say it was good but not great.  It came with a tamarind sauce that was a very close cousin to ketchup. I would like to see more price options and Hawaiian inspired dishes  that are true to their emphasis on farm to table.