9 Reasons Aulani Hawaii Disney Resort is Totally Worth the Trip

Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort Waikolohe Valley
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
You’ll never know the bliss of a family-friendly resort until you try one and if any destination offers the perfect balance of fun for kids and ahhhh-worthy relaxation for parents, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, is it. Nestled on the coast of Oa’hu, it’s the first Disney resort to open outside of a theme park. And we promise—between the spa treatments, Dole whips and water slides—you won’t miss a single ride. Here’s a round-up of Aulani’s most awesome perks for families.
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

The kids club is free

Keiki—Hawaiian for kiddos— will love the independence they get at Aunty’s Beach House and you will love the fact that it’s free to use for resort guests. Drop off is available for children ages 3-12. For younger kids, an open house runs from 8am-9.30am (where grownups can tag along, too). Licensed with the state of Hawaii for childcare, you can rest easy, while your kiddos are securely entertained with interactive touch-tables, a backyard play space, game and movie room with dress-up boxes boasting garb from their fave Disney princesses. Teen and tween activities also available at the resort, as well as babysitting services for some much-earned mom-and-dad time

Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

Your kids can dress up like Disney characters

Reminiscent of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Magic Kingdom, boys and girls ages 3-12 can hit up Painted Sky: HI Style Studio to get dolled up like their favorite Disney character (Moana and Maui obviously being fave options here). Alongside the salon is a costume boutique so even littler ones can have their fun. (My daughter was 2 ½ and the Disney beauticians didn’t let her leave in her costume without a little fairy dust sprinkled on top.) This full-service beauty salon also offers mommy-and-me mani/pedis and coming soon, parents will also have the chance to don their favorite Disney couture lewk.

Courtesy of Julia Dennison
Courtesy of Julia Dennison

Mickey will join you at breakfast

Few are strangers to the concept of a Character Breakfast, and this one delivers. Not only are you greeted throughout your meal by any one of the Disney Fab Five (Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto), who are also on vacation, Hawaiian shirts and all, but the spread boasts Instagram-worthy treats like Mickey pancakes and red velvet Mickey waffles (apparently a favorite of Katy Perry when she visited.) If you miss breakfast, there are photo opps with characters throughout the grounds—including with the star of the show, Moana, whom we encountered at least five times during our stay.

Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

Moana comes to life over a fire pit

Every night, lovers of Moana and storytelling will want to make their way to the Circle of Alae Ula, where Uncle (a bearded Hawaiian elder character who calls the resort home) shares his rendition of Hawaiian folklore with spirit and gusto. Moana herself is even known to show up and help him tell his magical tales. Another great way to learn about Hawaiian myths and legends.

Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

You can hit the spa as a family

Aulani’s Laniwai was the first Disney spa ever to open. With over 150 treatments, an outdoor hydrotherapy garden and family treatment room, it’s one of the only luxury family wellness retreats out there, offering spa and relaxation to the whole family—even newborns. The Ohana Means Family is a special massage experience for three to six family members (ages 5 and up) utilizing the healing touches of lomilomi sticks. What fam doesn’t need some of that?

Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

You can watch Disney movies under the stars

Disney movies are the true reason we’re all here and movie night at Aulani means ratan blankets spread out on the lawn for Ohana Disney Movie Night, with local-favorite Hawaiian Hurricane Red & Green popcorn for sale to munch on. Be sure to brush-up on your Disney trivia beforehand: There’s a movie quiz to kick-off each showing.

Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

You can bring the kids to a luau

At the Ka Wa’a luau, guests feast on a buffet laiden with local island treats and a kids’ faves, too. You’re entertained with traditional Hawaiian music and dance, including the hula, and through Disney’s great ability to tell a story, you can experience Hawaii’s history and roots in canoe exploration (did we mention Moana?). Before the luau, kids can learn how to play the Ukulele, get a (temporary) traditional Hawaiian tattoo and even make their own lei.

Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort
Courtesy of Disney’s Aulani Hawaii Resort

Scavenger hunts with iPads

The menehune are notorious in Hawaiian lore for being mini mischief-makers. Grab an orange iPad at the Pau Hana Room Community Hall and you can go on your own high-tech scavenger hunt on the Menehune Adventure Trail. It’s not just on the tablets where the adventure happens—your surroundings will come to life with a swipe of a finger. You’ll see what we mean. Best for slightly older kids who can keep an attention span for the hour it takes (or very determined dads who like a challenge).

Courtesy of Julia Dennison
Courtesy of Julia Dennison

Did we mention Dole Whips and Mickey Shave Ice?

The snacks at Aulani are truly Instagram-worthy, so don’t leave your phone in the room. The famous Dole Whip, a now-requisite of any Disney trip, is available on its own or as a guava or pineapple juice float. Papalua Shave Ice serves up the traditional treat complete with mouse ears and the Mickey-shaped Musubi (Spam with rice and nori) is available at the Ulu Cafe (but hurry, it goes fast, and yes you and your entire family will love it).

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