With ten restaurants on site, guests dining at Disney’s Aulani can get a variety of experiences on their vacation. From breakfast with Minnie to romantic meals by the ocean, there’s a place for it at Aulani. Want some famous Hawaiian shaved ice? They’ve got that too. Start planning where you’ll eat with this guide to the food at Aulani. We also have money-saving and allergy-friendly dining tips!
Food at Aulani: From Character Meals to Fine Dining
Disney’s Aulani is a true resort destination on the island of Oahu. With a gorgeous beachfront, daily activities, multiple pools, and of course a variety of restaurants, you can spend a week there and never leave property. For those of you planning a family vacation to the resort, it’s good to know what to expect for food at Aulani. Here’s my TravelingMom “we’ve been there” food guide: from character meals to fine dining, including our experience dining with food allergies.
Aulani offers two character meal experiences and both of them are at the Makahiki restaurant. Makahiki is a buffet restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating. It is in the main building and, in my opinion, the best breakfast option. However, the only breakfast option is the character meal, which comes with a price tag of $40 adults/$20 kids (3-9).
The character breakfast buffet is offered every morning/early afternoon. The buffet has the famous Mickey waffles as well as a made to order omelette station. The showcase of the meal is “Auntie” who sings and leads the diners in some activities. We ate here twice and each time Minnie was visiting the diners. We also had Goofy one day and Pluto the other day, plus everyone gets a photo with Mickey when you arrive before you’re seated at your table.
Makahiki also serves dinner, again in a buffet style and with a seafood and harvest focus. On certain nights (currently Sunday, Monday, and Thursday) Makahiki has a character dinner meal called “Menehune Mischief”. The Menehune are considered magical little people of Hawaiian legend. During the meal Uncle and his friends tell delightful tales that come to life through enchanting music, sing-alongs and interactive adventures.
Reservations are highly recommended for Makahiki. We found there was no availability for the character dinner during our trip when we called the same day. However, we were able to walk up to Makahiki for breakfast one morning even after we were told there were no reservations available.
Quick Service Dining at Aulani
The Ulu Cafe is a bit of a hodgepodge restaurant. You can get some grab and go items, like packaged salads, wraps, and fruit. You can also buy shelf packaged food items like cereal boxes and granola bars. There is also hot food counter. They serve breakfast here as well as lunch and dinner specials. My youngest liked getting fish with rice and vegetables from the Ulu Cafe.
One of the best deals we found was getting a pizza at the Ulu Cafe. They work well for eating while lounging by the pool. Now, a heads up about calling Ulu Cafe quick service… If you order hot food from the counter, or order a pizza, you’re going to have a wait. This can be anywhere from 5 minutes (during a non-busy lunchtime) to 30 minutes (pizza at dinnertime).
TravelingMom Tip: Ulu Cafe has limited seating, so keep it in mind as a grab ‘n go dining spot.
As with other Disney resorts, you can purchase a refillable mug. These come in some fun Aulani prints, and cost $18.99. You can refill your mug at the Ulu Cafe or Lava Shack. Lava Shack is another spot where you can buy prepackaged snacks (and gifts), as well as get your fix of soft serve ice cream, including the famous Disney Dole Whip!
Mama’s Snack Stop
If you’re hanging by the pool, Mama’s Snack Shop will be a good spot to grab some food. They feature a few hot dog options, some baskets like chicken strips and shrimp, as well as salads. This is a order window food shop with no seating.
Pāpālua Shave Ice
Next to Mama’s Snack Stop is Pāpālua Shave Ice. This is where you can cool off with some famous Hawaiian shaved ice. You can even Disney-fy your shaved ice by adding on the Mickey Head shape option, and can choose to add ice cream and/or condensed milk to your treat.
Little ‘Opihi’s – Beachside Kiosk
Another food shack that’s perfect if you’re hanging out at the beach is Little ‘Opihi’s. They have some wraps, salads, fruit, and even California sushi. This is also a great spot to grab a cocktail to enjoy from your beach lounge chair.
Off the Hook
Off the Hook is located next to the pool and Aunty’s Beach House. It’s both open air and open seating, so you just sit down and a server comes to your table. We enjoyed having dinner here, especially since you can eat in your swimsuits with no worries. They have some great fish tacos!
The ‘Ōlelo Room
Another casual dining spot is located next to Makahiki in the main building. We really enjoyed the happy hour menu at The ‘Ōlelo Room, the nachos there are delicious and have a Hawaiian flair. In the evenings there is live music on the patio. Seating is limited here and is more of a lounge, however families are welcome.
If you’re dreaming of eating beachside while watching the sunset, ‘AMA‘AMA is where you want to be. It’s the most expensive dining option at Aulani and does have a dress code. The lunch menu is different from the dinner menu, both in offerings and pricing.
‘AMA‘AMA has an open air patio and, in my opinion, the nicest dining atmosphere, both for lunch and dinner. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic dinner, but we also saw a lot of families dining at the restaurant. ‘AMA‘AMA is the other restaurant besides Makahiki where dining reservations are highly recommended.
KA WA‘A Luau
If you’d like to experience Hawaiian culture during your Aulani trip, you should book tickets for the KA WA‘A Luau. In addition to fun cultural activities that the whole family can do, there are many traditional Hawaiian foods served at the luau. They have a roasted pig as well as poi.
Aulani is a Disney Vacation Club property and we were able to stay in one of their one-bedroom units. These units feature a full kitchen, meaning you can buy groceries and cook some of your own meals if you’d like. If you have a car you can stop at the nearby Safeway or Costco that are only one highway exit away from the Aulani exit.
Island Country Markets – ABC Store
If you don’t have a car you can still shop for groceries while at Aulani. Across the street from Aulani is the Ko Olina Station shopping center. There are some restaurants here, as well as a popular Hawaiian chain store, Island Country Markets by ABC Stores. This market features groceries, tourist gifts, as well as a hot food counter and grab ‘n go food items.
Allergies at Aulani
Our family has a severe nut and egg allergy, and we’re always concerned about her safety when traveling. I can say that we had a great experience at Aulani with no reactions! When we dined at Makahiki, a buffet, I was worried. The chef came out to speak to us and show Mia what foods were safe for her on the buffet. I mentioned my worry over cross-contamination and he said he’d make her a plate from the kitchen. They even have Mickey waffles that were allergy-friendly!
At Makahiki, ‘AMA‘AMA, and the KA WA’A Luau, my daughter’s plates were brought out separately from the rest of our meals and with a special allergy food stick. Ulu Cafe and Mama’s Snack Stop did not seem to have special food handling for allergies, but we ate safely at both places by mentioning the allergies and choosing meals that were safe.
Our family loved our trip to Aulani and the girls already want to return. I do want to mention that there is not a Disney dining plan currently at Aulani. Some have mentioned that group vacation bookings are offered a dining option that includes one meal, but I can’t confirm that. The food at Aulani is priced in line with what I expect at other Disney resorts, perhaps slightly higher since food in Hawaii is more expensive that what some of us see on the mainland.