My family recently took our first trip to the Aulani Disney resort and we had an incredible time! It was the perfect place for the whole family. There were plenty of activities geared toward our kids, but with lots of nice elements for adults as well. We were welcomed "home" with open arms the minute we walked in to the resort (leis and all). Since we had such a blast, I wanted to share some travel and money saving tips at Disney Aulani.
The resort and spa is in beautiful Ko Olina, Hawaii. It's away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, but close enough to the city center. Aside from the natural beauty of the island, and some amazing options for your stay, one great thing about Aulani is how much was included. There are lots of great activities from ukulele lessons, to fire pit storytelling, movie nights and swimming, to live music. We booked an ocean view villa which included a kitchen and washer and dryer. Can you say convenient? If you know my kids, they eat me out of house and home, so having a kitchen close by was the best thing ever. You can find what my room looked like on my Instagram stories under Hawaii 2019 highlights or on their website Disney Aulani.
Activities for Kids
Sign up for Auntie’s Beach House
It's essentially a daycare for kids, but packed with fun activities that they will actually enjoy! My kids loved it. I know that sometimes centers like that can feel germy and gross, but this place was lovely, and they made everyone wash their hands prior to entry. Adults included! There are activities daily, so make sure to check your daily schedule available a week prior on their website. Be sure to register your kids early! You sign up at the Pau Hana room for activities.
You can also sign up your kids for special programs like "Fish are Friends." They learn all about fish and even make fish food. I wish I had photographs of this, but my husband and I went on a much needed date! We felt so comfortable with the staff at Aulani after their open house. These open houses I believe are daily. Parents and kids can check out the facility to familiarize themselves. My husband and I are pretty protective about our children so we stayed pretty close and had lunch at the Four Seasons next door. It was a perfect "getaway." Rest assured though each child has a gps bracelet on at all times and of course the check out system was very secure. Even though all we talked about was our kids, it was nice to have some uninterrupted time to chat with my husband. I think this is a huge perk of this resort!
Just a few steps away was the Four Seasons Hotel. We had lunch there and it was amazing. Here's a glimpse of our food.
Toddlers have their own swim area.
The toddler swim area is a super fun playground for young kids. The slide designs had parents in mind! I seriously feel like the engineers planned just enough time for you to accompany your child to the top and then meet them at the end of the slide.
My kids are 3 and 6 and both enjoyed the area so much. I may or may have not enjoyed it too 😉
Tip: We bought water shoes, but you have to take them off at the slides anyway so I wouldn’t bother buying them in the future.
Visit Rainbow Reef
Rainbow Reef is a man made lagoon visitors are able to experience either by snorkeling, or through a viewing window, like at an aquarium. Kids will love being able to snorkel up close to so many neat types of fish. The water was very cold, so I would recommend wet suits. This activity would be best for kids ages 5 and up.
Other favorite activities
Float on the lazy river.
This was our favorite hangout. Shallow enough for my oldest to walk around in and the water is kept warm. The scenery is also so very gorgeous. Floating devices are available either for two people or one. Have a very active child? Not to worry, there are two super fun water slides to go on. One requires a floating device, while the other is a super fun and exciting dark slide! My kids must have gone on it more than two dozen times... a day.
Visit the private beach.
There’s a lovely private beach, perfect for a little relaxation. Arrive early to check out beach toys and boogie boards. They’re free to rent, and they even have ping pong and a giant connect four. Beach chairs are also free, but if you want, you can rent a fancy casabella. They are similar to a cabana. You can also order beach side food service if you like.
Book the Luau
For the full Hawaiian experience, you have to go to a luau of course! It included a lively performance and food and activities for the kids. We opted for VIP seating and got our seats fast. The line was also much shorter, We try to opt for convenience when travelling with a three year old.
Relax at the Spa
- There's a reason why it's called Aulani, a resort and SPA. If you have a chance book yourself a spa treatment, mama, or dad if you're reading this. The spa is tucked away in a small part of the resort. It's perfect for a relaxing getaway with your spouse or solo for some quiet time. I always try to unwind on vacations and had a wonderful massage.
Make food reservations early.
Reserve your spot at your preferred restaurants early on, especially if you’re visiting during peak seasons. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance. Some restaurants we enjoyed were:
- Ama Ama This spot was slightly more formal than other restaurants on site. It overlooks the ocean, and features traditional Hawaiian fare.
- Makahiki This spot offers a character breakfast, for Disney fans to enjoy. They also have a lovely dinner buffet, featuring lots of kid friendly foods, as well as tasty dishes adults actually want, like prime rib and king crab.
- Ulu Café They offer made to order hot foods, as well as grab and go options, like sandwiches. Best of all, they have some adorable Mickey-shaped treats.
General Travel and Money Saving Tips
Buy a refillable cup.
It will save you so much money! First of all, your kids will be so active and it's important to stay hydrated. The cost of the cup is $20 initially, and after that, you receive free refills on water, juice or soda, anywhere on the resort.
Get necessities elsewhere.
There is a Target and a Costco just 10 minutes away. Once you get settled, these are great places to stock up on food and other necessities, in order to save a little money. After all, sunscreen here and some water there will add up! Don't have transportation? Not a problem, there’s also a market a short walk away. There are fresh fruit and vegetables available there. They also have made to order food daily as well as food for purchase
Book the Shuttle
The shuttle through Aulani was easy! The service includes boosters and car seats.
Rent from Alamo.
There is an Alamo rental center onsite. Be sure to book your rental car in advance! About the car seats, I was able to score a booster for $8 so no need to haul one from your home! We were able to save $15 a day by buying one.
Buy a waterproof phone case prior to your visit
You'll need it to capture those water memories!
If you want to change up the scenery, there are several restaurants we enjoyed including Roy's and Eggs and Things. Besides, one can never have too much food on vacation right? These places are a short walk away from the resort.
Anyway, I can go on and on, but I'll leave it here. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any other questions! I hope you enjoyed these travel and money saving tips at Disney Aulani!