Imagine a week filled with Disney magic and a tranquil escape to Hawaii, all in one. When staying at Disney Vacation Club’s Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, guests experience just that.
This resort is perfect for a couple’s getaway, a family vacation, or a friend’s trip. Located in Oahu’s Ko Olina development you’re not too far from Honolulu International Airport, but far away from the crowds of Waikiki.
Let’s look at all Aulani offers, including on-site amenities, accommodations, nearby attractions, how to join in on the magic, and more.
What’s In a Name?
Aulani means “a messenger of a chief – one who delivers a message from a higher authority.” The name Aulani is fitting, as the resort serves as a messenger of the Hawaiian spirit, people and culture.
“The name ‘Aulani’ expresses a connection to tradition and deep storytelling – and its roots are in this land right here,” said Joe Rohde, senior vice president and creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, who led the design of the resort.
“This resort destination reflects the vibrant culture that surrounds it. We believe in artistry, in excellence, and in the beauty of a well-done thing. Our commitment to excellence mirrors the cultural values one sees in the arts of Hawaii.”
Amenities at Aulani, the Hawaii Disney Resort
Known for its world-class experiences, this luxurious resort is well-planned and well-designed for maximum activities and entertainment. If you’re traveling to Hawaii with kids it is one of the best resorts, recognized time and and time again for families.
Now that you know you are in good hands as far as accommodations go, let’s look into the amenities. Adults and children alike are sure to be satisfied.
Beach and Water Activities
Oahu is a beautiful island, so it’s no surprise that Aulani has a fantastic beach! You can relax on the golden sands during your day at Ko Olina Lagoon. A huge bonus to staying at this Hawaii Disney resort is their complimentary rentals of beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, sand toys, and paddleboards. You’ll forget all your worries while you soak up the sun or watch a stunning sunset at the beach.
Guests also enjoy the resort’s seven-acre water play area. The Waikolohe Stream, the resort’s mysterious (yet fun) tube-floating watercourse, enchants guests with bubbling water, a cloaking mist and several hundred feet of additional surprises.
For those who love waterslides, Tubestone Curl, the resort’s tube slide, and Volcanic Vertical, Aulani’s tunnel slide, provide thrills galore. Guests will also interact with dazzling marine life, including angelfish, butterfly fish and tangs, in the 3,800-square-foot Rainbow Reef snorkel lagoon, the only one of its kind on Oahu.
Aulani’s water features are heated year-round, so you can always enjoy a pool day. If you like swimming, you’ll appreciate Aulani’s lazy river, infinity pool, numerous whirlpool spas, water slides, and its private lagoon with snorkeling. Plus, if you are traveling with the kids in tow, they will love meeting new friends while playing at Keiki Cove, an interactive splash zone.
Looking beyond its own magical grounds, Aulani offers a menu of discovery excursions with the aid of local experts. These include exploring tropical forests, hiking local mountains, sailing aboard catamarans, surfing lessons and more.
The entertainment on-site is never-ending. Pau Hana Room is a great place for you to embrace the magic. Some of the fun activities that take place here include Disney games, crafts, and movies. Make sure to set time aside for their high-tech scavenger hunt throughout Aulani. You can also create your dream mickey ears and take ukulele lessons, all included with your stay.
It wouldn’t be a Disney vacation if you didn’t get a picture with your favorite characters. This Hawaii Disney resort offers character experiences with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and more. You won’t want to miss out on saying Aloha to any of these fabulous Disney characters.
If you want to experience and learn more about Hawaiian history, make sure to make a reservation to KA WA’A – A Lū‘au at Aulani. For three hours, you will be fully immersed in the culture by watching traditional Hawaiian dances, food, and demonstrations.
Laniwai – the Disney Hawaii Resort Spa
The main reason Aulani is one of the best Disney resorts for adults is its spa. Laniwai allows guests to be pampered and relaxed while on vacation.
At Laniwai, you’ll discover a diverse selection of fantastic spa and salon services. Treatments include massages, facials, exfoliation, and even couples packages. A manicure or pedicure can also be arranged so that you can look great throughout your vacation. In addition, Laniwai offers the only outdoor hydrotherapy garden in Oahu. You are in luck because purchasing any full-service spa treatment gives you access to the healing powers of hydrotherapy at its finest.
If the children want to get in on the fun, treat them to a fun makeover at Painted Sky. There’s nothing more magical than experiencing pixie dust magic firsthand. HI Style Studio gives boys and girls ages three to 12 a brand new look and outfit they are sure to enjoy.
Whether you want to treat yourself on vacation, pick up a souvenir, or forget one of your vacation essentials, there is something for everyone at the Aulani shops.
Kālepa’s Store is located in the front area of Aulani. If you need some groceries to cook in your timeshare kitchen, want to grab an item to commemorate your travels, or need to replace an essential item, Kālepa is the place to shop. When you are relaxing at the pool and need a quick snack, ice-cold beverage, or beach gear, the Lave Shop has you covered. Hale Manu is a cozy boutique for shopping on-site, including gifts, goods, jewelry, and apparel.
Lastly, after a day at the spa, you might want to purchase some of the fabulous products, and you can do so at the Laniwai shop.
Dining Options at Aulani, the Hawaii Disney Resort
We already touched on the traditional Hawaiian cuisine buffet served at the luau, but that isn’t the only way to grab a delicious meal at Aulani. In addition to the food at Paradise Cove Luau, nine locations across the resort offer quick bites to eat, sit-down meals, bars, and lounges.
Try out Mama’s Snack Stop if you need something to eat but don’t want to fully stop your pool day. The Snack Stop is the perfect place for a quick fish dish, savory snack, or dessert. They also have a keiki menu with smaller dishes if you have a small appetite.
You can’t go to Hawaii without indulging in Hawaiian shaved ice. Pāpālua Shave Ice is on-site by the pool and is perfect for a fruity, refreshing snack after a day outside. They have abundant flavors, including mango, guava, orange, and lilikoi.
Little ‘Opihi’s is a beachside kiosk with sweet treats, fresh fruit, and delicious beverages. Guests over the age of 21 can indulge in all the classic beach cocktails, including Pina Coladas and strawberry daiquiris. Make sure to try out the Dole Whip sundaes.
Another quick option is Ulu Cafe. This is a ready-to-go convenience store with freshly made entrees daily. The cafe is one of the cheaper options for dining on-site and includes poke bowls, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
Sit Down Meal
The vibrant atmosphere of Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands restaurant makes for a perfect dining experience for breakfast or dinner. The menu has the perfect combination of local foods paired with international cuisine, so even the pickiest of eaters will be satisfied.
‘Ama’Ama has a vast menu with local-inspired dishes. The menu is almost entirely gluten-free and offers plant-based options to assist every dietary need. Not to mention, this oceanfront restaurant is open for dinner only.
Bars and Lounges
Off the Hook is a lounge in the Waikolohe Valley pool area. During the day, grab some poolside favorites, including burgers and sandwiches. Or, at night, try out Hawaiian Bento Box or Braised Short Ribs. Regardless, enjoy a refreshing beverage.
Sip a delicious cocktail while munching on a savory appetizer at the ‘Ōlelo Room. ‘Ōlelo is the most extensive bar on-site, so you are bound to find something to satisfy. The menu features specialty cocktails, wine, sake, and local beers.
Another great option for grabbing a cocktail or refreshing drink is Wailana Pool Bar. Guests love sitting at the bar or unwinding by the pool with a drink. Wailana is a full bar, so you can get your favorite drink and indulge in a pizza, wrap, burger, or salad.
Being comfortable and having space for everyone in your party to stretch out and relax is super important. Disney Vacation Club understands that. When staying at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa, guests can rest assured that their accommodations will be not only upscale but really thought out for the traveler in mind.
Accommodations range from deluxe studios to three-bedroom grand villas. In addition, four different views are offered, including a standard view, an island garden view, a poolside garden view, and an ocean view.
Deluxe studios allow up to four guests and one infant, three years or younger. The studio offers one queen-size bed and one queen-size sleeper sofa. Deluxe studios are the only Aulani DVC room without a fully-equipped kitchen, but there is a kitchenette that sets the room apart from an average hotel room. Guests will have access to a refrigerator, microwave, toaster, tea kettle, and coffee maker. There is one full bathroom in the deluxe studios.
If you are traveling with a slightly bigger party or looking for more space, one-bedroom villas at Aulani might be the one for you. One-bedroom villas allow five guests and one infant to have a one-king bedroom, one queen-size sleeper sofa, and one pull-down bed. Each one-bedroom villa has a fully equipped kitchen, including everything from the kitchenette, plus a stove, oven, pots, pans, and utensils.
There are two types of two-bedroom villas: standard two-bedroom villas and two-bedroom lock-off villas. They both sleep up to nine guests and one infant. In addition, they offer two bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and laundry machines.
The main difference between the two is the sleep arrangements. A standard two-bedroom villa has a king-size bed, two queen-size beds, one queen-size sleeper sofa, and one sleeper chair. In contrast, two-bedroom lock-off villas have one king-size bed, one queen-size bed, two queen-size sleeper sofas, and one single pull-down bed. Picking between the two depends on your personal preference based on who is in your party.
Three-Bedroom Grand Villa
Three-bedroom grand villas sleep up to 12 guests and one infant. This is the perfect villa for you if you are traveling with a big family or a group of friends. The villa has one king-size bed, four queen-size beds, one queen-size sleeper sofa, one sleeper chair, two bathrooms, and one-half bath.
Similar to the one-bedroom and two-bedroom villas, you will feel right at home with a fully-equipped kitchen, living area, and dining area. This villa only offers two views, including an ocean view and a standard view, whereas all the other options have all four views. If you can splurge a little extra, the ocean views from your fully furnished balcony are worth your while.
Other Oahu Attractions to Consider
Oahu has many fabulous attractions that are easy to get to from Aulani, the Hawaii Disney resort. Whether you want to spend the day golfing, trying something out of your comfort zone, or exploring a new area, Oahu is the place to be.
Ko Olina Golf Club
If your idea of the perfect vacation includes a day out on one of Hawaii’s best golf courses, you will love Ko Olina Golf Club. This championship 18-hole course is right next door to Aulani and is recognized as one of the Top 75 Resort Courses in the U.S. according to Golf Digest. Not to mention, Aulani guests can take advantage of discounted rates, golf clinics, and special packages. Guests will also love the clubhouse with locker rooms, steam rooms, and Jacuzzis.
If you haven’t had a chance to explore Pearl Harbor, you should add it to your itinerary.
There are many exhibits commemorating the events leading up to the United States’ tumultuous entry into World War II on display in the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri Battleship. On-site museums, information booths, and ship tours are among the free and paid activities. Whether you are a history buff or just along for the ride, you are bound to learn something new on a tour of Pearl Harbor.
North Shore Beaches
The North Shore is known for surfing and even hosts world-renowned surf competitions every winter. If you are visiting anytime from May to September, the waves will be calmer. In fact, the North Shore is the perfect setting for beginner surfers, swimming, and tanning.
Whereas between November and February, you can cheer on the pros as they ride 30-plus feet of waves at Waimea Bay. In addition, the North Shore has fabulous opportunities for shopping and eating, as well as art galleries and demonstrations.
It’s Actually A Timeshare Resort. Really!
Many people who stay in Disney Vacation Club resorts don’t realize that they are actually timeshares. But don’t worry if you don’t know own one, you can still stay here!
You can book from the resort direct or you can book one from a timeshare owner who isn’t using theirs and save big– between 25 to 50% off resort direct prices. This premium resort does cost a lot of money, but timeshare rentals can help bring it closer to your budget. There are many secure, highly rated options, include DVCRentals, DavidsDVC, and Redweek, which has rooms listed starting at $190 a night.
If you are a timeshare owner with an Interval International affiliated resort, it is possible to exchange into this resort. However, it will be one of the hardest exchanges to get in their whole system, as most owners use or rent out their DVC timeshare ownership. But yeah, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?!?
This article originally appeared on Hello Sensible.