We just returned from an 8 day stay at Aulani. All I keep telling people is the place is off the hook. We have been DVC members for 5 years, and this by FAR is the best Disney vacation we have been on. Our twin 5 year olds, our 11 year old daughter, my wife and myself all cannot wait to go back. Yes, this is a new hotel, and yes there are a few growing pains (see below), but the staff went out of there way to make this an incredible trip. I always love reading trip advisor for the complainers, but I’ll comment on them below.
Travel from HNL is a breeze! Yes you do need a car, or expect to pay for an expensive cab ride. To the poster who said they got lost, really? Um, you take H1 West, and get off at the Ko’ Olina exit-it’s that easy. The trip with 5 pm traffic took 35 minutes.
If this is your first trip to Hawaii, or you have been to other islands like Maui or Kauai, this is O’ahu and Honolulu, it’s an urbanized city. The island is beautiful, but it is more industrialized. Aulani is on the west side, once you enter the Ko’Olina grounds, it’s gorgeous and very secure.
Check in. What can I say? After you pick your jaw up off the floor, we were immediately greeted with fresh drinks and lei’s. Our personal greeter was waiting for us as we did advanced check in (highly recommended) and gave us a brief, but stunning introduction to the hotel lobby, and the unbelievable view of the Waikolohe Valley. In typical Disney fashion, this is off the hook beautiful. We were handed our keys, and our bags were at our room in mintues.
We had a two bedroom DVC room, with an Ocean View. As others have mentioned, what Disney calls an Ocean view means you can SEE the ocean from your room. The only Ocean FRONT rooms our the end grand villas. Mind you, our view was stunning as it overlooked the valley pool area and the ocean/bay from the 11th floor (be aware of this and ask before you get there). The view during the day and night will take your breath away. The suite was as large as the rooms at DVC Kidani Village, but much much brighter. Our kitchen came well stocked, and the layout is huge! My wife is a bed SNOB and said it was uber comfortable. As the rooms are fairly new, they were spotless and flawless. The showers include both a rain head, as well as what I call, a power washer. The two bedrooms include a lanai, and a private lanai off the master. Nice touch Disney!!
The grounds are immaculate. Disney did an incredible job with foliage and flowers, and we saw someone maintaining every area of it daily. Your kids will have a blast finding all the hidden menehune everywhere and the animals secretly carved in the rocks. Aulani shares the lagoon with the JW Marriot, and a little wedding chapel. The sand is perfect with almost no stones. As the waves break through the lagoon entrance, there is very little wake and the water does not get deep for several feet out. We saw toddlers playing effortlessly in the ocean water. Here you can rent boogie boards, stand up paddle boards (my daughter loved), and snorkel gear. For those that don’t want to pay for rainbow reef (see below), there are many fish along the lagoon entrance, and we saw a few turtles eating there daily. Um, personal tip, don’t swim through the rip tide area (roped off). Trust me on that one. Otherwise the lagoon is perfectly safe for everyone. *** Secret tip- walk past the JW Marriot and there is a secret beach. The kids will love the tidal pools and all the little crabs. We were told at dusk the turtles actually come up to shore. Also, the kids can rent a Menehune trail little iPhone doo-dad that is really neat. It is wi-fi and “Aunty” takes you on adventures all over Aulani, with lot’s of special effects. There are 4-5 indoor and outdoor tours using this, and after two hours I made the twins stop as Daddy was pooped!!
The pool, the lazy river, the slides, and the Menehune Bridge are wonderful. Saturday and Sunday get packed, but otherwise I never felt the pool itself to be over crowded. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a slide. It took all week to get the 5 year olds on the body slide, and then we could not get them off (go figure). The lazy river is great and very LAZY, be prepared for a few surprises. Ok, let’s discuss the chair situation. Yes, if you do not get a chair by 10 a.m., you will not get one by the pool. There are several away from the pool, and MANY at the beach (as in no problem), but poolside, forget it. To the complainers, I have a few comments 1) get your lazy butt to the pool early 2) don’t assume if a chair is empty it’s not being used. We weren’t chair hogs. We used two chairs for 5 of us, but mind you we were all over the pool area doing things. For those that have never been to a Disney pool, the life guards are the best in the world. The pool water was a little cool, but was a relief when the hot sun was at it’s peak.
Aunty’s Beach House, to quote my kids is “the best place in the world!!” As a parent, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a full size mock up of a ranch house, and each room has a theme (tv room, garage, kitchen, living room). It’s open 10-10 which not only give the adults a break (yes they will feed them too), but allows you to sneak away if need be. The twins were there for 5 hours while my wife and daughter took surf lessons, and when we went to get them, they didn’t want to leave. They begged to go there everyday. Although it’s free, they do have paid activities like Chip and Dales Party, which the kids love. Also, the security is stellar. They have adults posted everywhere, your kids are tagged and they monitor their whereabouts constantly. You cannot remove your kids without a room key, an alpha and numeric pass code. Top Notch Disney!!
Bottom line, the food and drinks are expensive. Our first night, we got two fish tacos boxes, a pulled pork sandwich, and a hamburger. $67 and the food was “eh.” So, what to do? Well, first, many off the appetizers which you can order poolside are big and reasonable. Sushi heads can order fresh sashimi for $15, not bad at all! We did eat at Ama’ Ama’ our last night. Yes, it was pricey, but the view and the food were amazing. We did the character buffet for breakfast, and the food was VERY good and very plentiful. There is a plaza across the street with a taco joint (good drinks, crappy food), a cute ice-cream shop that serves some food, and an ABC store where you can get deli food (sandwiches, hot and cold food, etc.) pretty reasonable. Best bet is Kapolei 5 minutes up the road. There is a Safeway, Target, and a Costco (good poke!!) and many fast food and Cheap sushi places. We went to Genke which is a sushi conveyor place and ate like PIGS for $60. My daughter and I drove down the road one day and found a shrimp truck and a roadside chicken grill, very very good (thanks again Mama!!). Honolulu is 35 min away. Sansei sushi (best in the world!!) is a must as well as breakfast at Eggs-n-things (macadamia pancakes & Moco Loco mmmmm). Also, you must get malasadas from Leonard’s and must must must go to Puka (now Hula) Dog in Waikiki. We never made it to the North Shore because the kids didn’t want to leave. We did the Paradise Luau walking distance down the street. Good show, food was so so. Don’t buy tickets from them, you can find them cheaper on-line. Oh, don’t forget the shaved iced on property. YUM!
Although we did not do any of the Disney excursions, there is a lot to do on the island. For snorkeling/scuba (besides the lagoon), there is “Electric Beach” 5 minutes up the road. Millions of fish and turtles, and sometimes dolphins. We also did Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head (tough hike, but well worth the view, and then you can go to Puka Dog 5 min away). We would have done more, but we really found so much to do. If you want to surf, I recommend Girls Who Surf (10 minutes away). They were awesome!!! My 11 year old was up by the 3rd run! We did buy the Rainbow Reef pass for the week for my wife, daughter, and me. If you go twice it’s worth it. The twins both did it one day, and although they only went around once, they had a blast. Get an underwater camera. Even non-snorkelers can do it.
The wife and I never made it to the spa, but it looked incredible. My daughter loved the teen spa, and made many friends. The twins loved the outdoor movie, and the menehune trail. Uncle Ito and his fireside story telling was really neat. He is so funny and a wealth of information (now I know that some poi is good). Everyone was very kind, very helpful, and very proud of their home.
Only complaint. Aulani did send a note saying there would be construction by the pool for a new food area. They did not mention they would be jack hammering for 3 days. Was more of a nuisance as we went to the beach when that occurred, but just poor timing on Disney’s part. But Disney did make up for it (polite comments and concerns get you everywhere with Disney).
All in all, Aulani FAR exceeded our expectations. My wife and kids actually cried when we left. Yes it’s expensive, it is Hawaii folks. But you get what you pay for. If you just want Hawaii paradise, go to Maui. If you want to have a week of beauty and have lots of fun too, Aulani is a perfect vacation!
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, LoveHolidays, Travel Republic (UK), Ebookers, getaroom.com, HotelQuickly, Evoline ltd, 5viajes2012 S.L. and Cancelon so you can book your Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Aulani, a Disney Resort And Spa In Hawai`i
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa In Hawai`i Hotel Kapolei
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Hawaii/Oahu