Disney’s Aulani – Hotel Review

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Treat Your O’hana to an Unforgettable Vacation

O’hana means family. At Aulani guests are treated like O’hana from check in to check out. The resort is a unique blend of Disney magic and Hawaiian culture. It’s the first of its kind, the first Disney resort not tied to a theme park. While guests can enjoy character dining, there’s more to this hotel than your favorite Disney characters.

Aulani, open since 2011, is located on the Island of Oahu. The island is home to many popular tourist attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor Memorial and Waikiki Beach. Hotel guests will enjoy it’s prime location, situated on a less densely populated section of the island but within close proximity to major attractions, shopping and dining.

IMG_3859 The Lobby

The moment you drive up to Aulani you’re embraced by Hawaiian culture. The tiki torches lining the driveway lead you up to an epic entryway. The lobby features tall ceilings, traditional artwork, and bold colors. The lobby windows and doors are left open to allow the ocean breeze to sweep through the lobby. If you’ve stayed in or visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge or Polynesian resort in Walt Disney World you’ll notice many similarities.

aulani lazy river

The Pool

Unique to Aulani are the many pool experiences. Guests can float down the lazy river, ride down the water slide, dip in the adult-only pool, or enjoy the view from the infinity edge pool overlooking the Pacific. The lazy river takes guests through the “active” volcano at the center of the pool area, where the water bubbles and boils and guests can pose for a family photo.

aulani volcano

While Aulani doesn’t offer any traditional theme park rides, guests can take a ride down the thrilling water slide or take a dive among live fish. At the top of the water slide guests can take in a spectacular view of the entire resort, and ocean. In the diving tank guests can swim among brightly colored fish native to the island.

aulani grotto

If you don’t enjoy children splashing, you’ll love the adult-only pool where adults can lay back and relax in tranquil waters. The pool area also offers several hot tubs, bars, restaurants and access to the beach.


The Restaurants

Aulani offers several different types of dining experiences. Whether you’re looking for a character buffet, affordable quick service restaurant, or fine dining experience, you can dine your way at Aulani. Makahiki offers buffet dining. Guests can try a variety of Hawaiian favorites including Loco Moco, and take pictures with their favorite Disney characters.

You can’t visit Hawaii without enjoying a dinner beach-side. Ama’Ama’ is situated on the outer rim of the property, close to where the beach begins. Guests can comfortably dine while taking in the ocean sounds and breeze. The menu options at Ama’ Ama’ are expensive, at around $40 per person, but the quality and freshness of the ingredients are worth the cost. I loved the pink salt so much I had to buy it from the hotel store.

mamas snack shop

There are casual dining options available to guests as well. At Mama’s Snack Stop hungry swimmers can satisfy their cravings by snacking on items like breaded shrimp, chicken fingers and hot dogs. Next door guests can cool off with a traditional Hawaiian ice treat at Papalua Shave Ice. Ulu Cafe is a great place to have breakfast with affordable options and a great view. Get the full list of restaurants here.

aulani bed

The Rooms

With everything there is to see and do at Aulani you’ll spend very little time in your room. Still, there’s nothing like a comfortable bed to rest your head and feet after a long day of adventuring. The rooms at Aulani offer all the luxury you’d expect of a four star resort, with all the attention to detail you’ve come to expect from Disney.

The hotel offers a variety of room types including partial to full beach views. If you’re traveling with family or celebrating something big like your honeymoon, consider reserving one of the villas.

aulani spa The Spa

A trip to Aulani is not complete without a visit to Laniwai. You won’t want to miss out on this one-of-a-kind spa. What sets Laniwai a part from other high end spa experiences is well everything. Guests have several areas to enjoy while awaiting spa services. Show up early to take advantage of the various hot tubs and showers.

snacks at aulani spaIn the waiting room guests can snack on several tasty treats and beverages including an amazing zucchini muffin. Lay on comfortable lounge chairs as you wait to be taken in to your private room. As a part of your service, guests can create a customized scrub. You can choose from a variety of scents, and create a scrub to take home with you.

aulani diving areaActivities

As if there wasn’t enough to do between spa services, scuba diving and various pools, the resort offers various beach activities. Guests can rent glass bottom kayaks, and paddle around the ocean to discovery marine life, buy tickets to a sight-seeing boat tour, or simply swim with the current.

Other activities offered by the hotel include:

  • Firepit story-telling
  • Movie nights on the beach
  • Stargazing
  • Starlit Hui show

The island of Oahu is big and full of adventure. Guests with adventurous spirits can go for hikes through the jungle, swim in waterfalls or go ziplining. Those who like to get their exercise from shopping will find that there’s no shortage of retailers on the island along Waikiki.

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii seriously consider staying at Aulani. It’s a unique experience for all ages.

Michelle McKinley is a journalist and digital marketer from Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Journalism degree from Pepperdine University, and has been writing for the web since 2003. She’s a life-long Disney fan who travels and writes about her experiences for fun.

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