Are you looking for the best family resort on Oahu? I highly recommend the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii. Want to find out a little more information on what is offered?
Awesome, we just went and I am excited to tell you all the things I learned and what to expect when you book a trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.
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Where is Disney's Aulani Resort
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 definitely a place of joy.
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 pool at Aulani.
Benefits of the Staying Near Ko Olina
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 paddle boarding. The water tends to stay smooth as well.
Airports Near Disney's Aulani Resort?
The Honolulu Airport is the main airport on Oahu. When searching for your flight you will enter HNL.
How to Get to Disney's Aulani Resort
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.
Parking at Disney’s Aulani Resort
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
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 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 bell man can come and get your bags and store them while you play.
Rooms at Disney's Aulani Resort
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
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.
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, a aquatic playground, and a tot splash zone.
Gaining Access to the Pool
Only those staying at the Aulani Resort have access to the pool. To gain access you will need a band. This band comes in many colors. The colors indicate which days you are staying at Aulani. You will pick up your bands at a booth near the children’s splash pad.
Towels are provided for the pool area. You will pick up your towel in the same place you get your bands.
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
For children that are younger, 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.
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Pools and Hot Tubs with a View
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.
There are two water slides. One is a single rider slide with no tube and the other you can do single or double tube. They are both really fun! The more weight on the tube the more fun! It goes a lot faster. These slides make Aulani the best family resort on Oahu.
Restaurants at Aulani
The main restaurant is called Makahiki- The Bounty of the Islands. This is where the character dining breakfast is located. There is also a dinner available without the characters at night.
Character breakfast is available every day except Thursdays.
ULU Cafe is a counter service restaurant that has a variety of snacks and entrees.
Restaurants and Snacks by the Pool
Off the Hook offers pool side 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.
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.
Luau at Aulani
The luau is a mix of entertainment and dinner.
Book early if you want to attend the luau. It 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.
Book a Garden View Room
Our hotel room overlooked the 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.
Activities at Aulani
There are daily activities at Aulani. Some are included in your stay and others cost an additional fee.
These daily activities include:
- Adventure Trail Scavenger Hunt
- Star Gazing
- Make your own Mouse Ears
- Shirt Stamping
Character Meet and Greets
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
The location to meet the characters are in the same area where the 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
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 that change daily. Be sure to look at the schedule.
Ko Olina Beach
The public beach that is located steps away from Aulani is a fun lagoon. Kids can build sand castles, snorkel, or rent paddle boards. Equipment is available to rent at the beach.
Sailing Canoe Experience
If you want to sail on the ocean you can easily book an excursion from the Ko Olina cove. It is $99 per person ages 4 and up.
Sunset Mele is for teens and is live entertainment at the beach during sunset. Unfortunately, they did not do this when we went.
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!
Aulani offers a family spa which 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
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
There are truly so many activities to do for families at Disney’s Aulani Resort. However, if you want to venture away from the resort there are many options for activities.
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.
Ko Olina has an 18 hole golf course located nearby. This is a fun addition to your stay at Aulani.
Best Family Resort on Oahu - Aulani
Hopefully, this gave you a good overview of what to expect at Disney’s 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 pool is fantastic and the sunset on the east side of the island is beautiful.
Have More Questions
Join the Families Who Love Disney Facebook Group. This is a great group that can help you answer your questions.
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