Some say Disney created the happiest place on Earth. Just a marketing technique? probably. But, we in Wanderlustyle like to believe the happiest place is at home – Hawaii. Disregarding the metaphysical aspect of “happy”, let’s keep it simple! Combining Disney and Hawaii is quite possibly the closest thing you could get to manufacturing happiness for all varieties of people.
how to get tO DISNEY AULANI
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is located on the West Side of Oahu. If you’re coming from the Honolulu Airport between the times of 3pm-6pm Monday-Friday, be prepared for a prolonged and sluggish drive (up to 1 hour+). This is due to high traffic coming into Waianae after a typical workday.
If you can kill time, we recommend just heading into town, downtown Honolulu or Waikiki to eat somewhere or just explore, while traffic dies down. However, if it’s your first time visiting and you’re anxious to get to the resort, traffic is a nice way to take in the sights and sounds of Hawaii but be warned, it’s not a very scenic drive. Any other time outside of the listed times would make it a 30-minute drive from Honolulu Airport to Aulani.
If you aren’t going to be driving, look into taking a shuttle directly from Honolulu airport to Aulani – A Disney Resort & Spa. Find out more information, here.
CHECKING-IN at disney aulani
Whatever time you decide to show, pulling up to the tropical entrance of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa immediately transforms your frame of thought through its artistic design.
We were told that Aulani is translated as “messenger of the chief” but if you google the word, it says “A place that speaks for great ones”. Either definition fits but I can tell you one thing, there is definitely a different vibe than most of Hawaii there. Fabricated or not, the Aloha spirit we were greeted with made the experience that much more magical. Yes, magical!
Driving upward is a symbolism of putting the guests first as the Hawaiians did for European sailors. One thing that I, as a guy, enjoy about Disney overall is that everything has a meaning or reason for being. Every lamp, design, color, and thousands of other tiny details all have meaning!
Upon pulling up at to the valet attendant, Wahines (ladies) get a fresh flower lei and the Kane (men) are graced with a kukui nut lei. Landon (11 year old) received a kukui nut lei as well. Last time we stayed at Aulani, Landon received a Keiki’s (child) necklace. There was also a citrus infused water jug at the front – indeed, it was refreshing! Our bags were taken by the bellman and we headed to the check-in desk where we received our room key and the map of Disney Aulani resort.
Arriving a little too early for check-in, we ended up having to wait for our room to be prepared. Waiting was no problem! Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is pretty much a mini waterpark. They also have a Luana Lounge with lockers, changing rooms, and showers to freshen up! To get a key for the lounge, visit their front desk.
POOL AREAS AT DISNEY AULANI
There are many pools to soak in all day and all have their winning aspects. Some are great for kids, some are for adults only, while one is for toddlers. There’s a pool for everyone!
Ka Maka Grotto – An infinity pool for children & adults. Swim underwater to hear the sound of whales and dolphins – played via an underwater speaker.
Keiki Cove Splash Zone – As the name implies, great for families with small children like toddlers or younger. Simple waterspouts and small pool.
Menehune Bridge – Fun place for children between 4-10 but a fun place for everyone as there are water antics happening all around the area. There is a height restriction. Yes, restriction as in if you’re OVER the line you can’t enter the bridge area. – only children allowed! (probably to limit risk for the children’s clumsy parents)
Waikolohe Pool, Slides, & Stream – or known as the lazy river. Every waterpark has it; you know, the one you just lounge in an inflatable tube and go round and round for what passes like hours. This lazy river starts with high activity through one of two slides at the top of a man-made volcano, paying reverence to the ones that once spewed lava forming the land. There’s also two slides along the area, Tubestone Curl is an open-air slide where you can ride single or double on a tube and it leads straight to the lazy river. The other slide is Volcanic Vertical where you slide alone and it’s pitch black!
Wailana Pool & Whirlpool Spas – Two areas for adults to escape the insanity Disney resorts can sometimes ensue. Spend a couple hours in a placid pool area for 18 and over with a bar just across the area. Or take in the sunset at the infinity edge, whirlpool spa.
Ko’olina Beach Lagoon – If the kids are over the pool and you need some actual salt in your hair, the beach is where you can leisure about. Just outside the gates of the Aulani premise is a beach filled with tanning chairs and umbrellas. Soak up the sun at the sandy Ko’olina lagoon or rent a paddleboard, kayak, fins and other ocean safe play from Makiki Joe’s beach equipment rental shack. The beach is a man-made calm lagoon (perfect for kids), year-round and located in Ko’olina.
Rainbow Reef – If you miss out on finding any sea life in the ocean lagoon, head over to Rainbow reef where you can swim with thousands of tropical fish! A clear-saltwater snorkeling lagoon which is incredibly safe for all ages (mandatory life-jackets have to be worn). Also, you can help feed the fish and get your photos taken!
Rather than twiddling our thumbs waiting for a social media notification, we had no issue finding something to do while we waited for our room to be opened up.
STANDARD ROOM AT DISNEY AULANI
Once we were notified that the room was ready, we headed up to the room immediately and received our luggage shortly after. It was a standard Disney Vacation Club (DVC) room that can occupy four guests. You do not have to be a DVC member to stay at Disney Aulani, however they give first priority to their members! Our room had a one king bed with one queen sleeper sofa that Landon fell asleep comfortably on during our stay. We loved that it had a refreshment bar with a small refrigerator and coffee maker and tea service. Best part of all, a standard room comes with a private porch or balcony overlooking the pool area and a place to watch the sunset!
We had the privilege of experiencing Aulani , A Disney Resort and Spa largest room where we had an amazing breakfast and a tour of the 3-bedroom DVC Grand Villa overlooking the pools and into the distant lagoon.
KA WA‘A LUAU AT DISNEY AULANI
After spending the remainder of the afternoon around the pools and enjoying a relaxing break in our room, we dressed up and headed out for a traditional, Hawaiian Luau! Conveniently located on the Aulani property is the Ka Wa’a Luau on Hālāwai Lawn.
Be sure to arrive early as waiters hand out alcohol and non-alcoholic (great for the kids!) drinks as you find your seat. Around the lawn are pre-show activities you can enjoy as well: flower bracelet making, poi pounding (best thing to do!), kapa painting, temporary hand tattoos, and to get your family photos around the beautiful landscape.
The show begins shortly after (about an hour later) an orderly introduction to grind (eat). From our experiences of growing up here, we can tell you that Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, host a top 5, at number 1, for the quality of the show! The food was manageable as a vegan as well (They really cater to your food preference at Aulani). The veggies were flavorful and infused with ambrosial seasoning. The performers themselves didn’t mess up once either! It was a phenomenal show, great for everyone! Kids get to participate mid-way in a musical performance. Great joy all around.
Activities at disney aulani
If you aren’t able to make it to the Luau, there is a plethora of choices at Aulani when it comes to activities. Workouts at the pools or beach, rainbow reef, the spa, sky gazing, etc. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up with all the things going on, Disney Aulani makes it easier for the visitor: There is a Daily ‘Iwa flyer (or online) which is available at the front desk, filled with daily times and activities for both children and adults.
Laniwai Spa – Alright, before I get TOO in depth about my inner awakening because of the luxurious experienced I had at the hydrotherapy garden, let’s just say it’s the perfect place for adults to get away from the craziness that Disney can sometimes ensue. It’s an amazing facility. For more information about Laniwai Spa, stay tuned for a dedicated post!
Painted Sky – One of the new things at Aulani is their painted sky which is an island-style makeover for kids. Kids ages 3-12 years old can get their hair done, makeup, and dress up in their favorite costume inside the studio. They get to keep the outfits and wear it all around the resort!
Meet the Disney Characters – Of course, you can’t forget the best activity at Disney Aulani – meeting the characters! While Mickey and Minnie are the main stars of Disney, in Hawaii, meeting Moana is just as meaningful! (tip: Call the Disney Characters with your room phone by dialing a certain number – See where they are going the day and who you can find throughout the resort.)
Dining at disney aulani
When you get hungry after all those activities, there are food stalls scattered at Aulani such as Makahiki, ‘Ama ‘Ama, Ulu Cafe, The Olelo Room (all staff here can speak fluent Hawaiian – live music too!), Wailana Pool Bar, Off the Hook, Mama’s Snack Stop, Papalua Shave Ice, and Little Opihi’s.
Makahiki Room – As a local, Aulani – A Disney Resort & Spa is renown for their buffet! They also cater to vegans, just be sure to let the chef’s know! In the morning, there are character breakfasts! The classic Disney Characters come around bringing engaging entertainment for the children as parents get a quick bite to eat.
‘Ama ‘Ama – For a more luxurious feel, visit the ‘Ama ‘Ama Restaurant. According to Disney, a man had a fishing home in Ko’olina before all the development took place for which the restaurant pays homage as it is built resembling the upgrade of his custom home over time. Delicious vegan pasta alternatives as well!
Completely grateful for the experience Disney shared to us. Aulani has its own Aloha, it has Disney Aloha. Even on youtube, you can find that Aulani supports the Hawaiian culture as they share a word of the week, where you can learn to pronounce proper Hawaiian terms. We had an amazing time throughout our stay! Hopefully, we helped you discover the magic Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa emits.
92-1185 Ali’inui Dr.
Kapolei, HI 96707
Disclaimer: Wanderlustyle was welcomed as a guest at Disney Aulani. All of our opinions are honest. Mahalo!