Travel: An Aulani Vacation

Last fall, we headed to Oahu, Hawaii to Aulani in Ko’Olina. The reason we chose Aulani is because my daughter and I love Disney, but also because we know that the Disney resorts cater to families. In fact, the biggest selling point to my husband when booking the trip was the free childcare at Aunty’s Beach House.

Aunty’s Beach House was amazing! Our daughter loved going there. It’s 5,000 square feet of fun for kids. They can do crafts, play dress up, watch movies, or just make new friends and play. They also offer different programs that you need to sign up for in advance. Ella did the Coconut Kings and Queens of Comedy and Aunty’s Aloha Party. Once you register your child, you can drop them off at any time. The Beach House is open from 8am – 9pm daily for children 3 – 12 years old.

Aulani Collage

On the first visit, your child is given a GPS bracelet to wear for the duration of your stay. When you drop them off, they swipe the bracelet to enter, and when you come to pick them up, the staff looks on the computer and can tell you exactly what room your child is in so you can retrieve them.

Aulani has a beach and lagoon, so you can rent kayaks and paddle boards, or you can get beach toys and boogie boards for free {on a first come first serve basis.} Or just swim and build sand castles all day! They have a community room {Pau Hana room} that offers daily activities, usually a craft, as well as DVD “rentals” and board games. If you’re into fitness, there were several classes offered at the beach early in the morning, such as yoga and circuit training.

An Aulani Vacation


Aulani Resort

There are also different activities planned throughout the day, so be sure to pick up the Daily Iwa for a list of what’s happening. At night, there is MO ‘Oleo Fire Pit Storytelling, where Uncle tells you a tall Hawaiian tale while playing the ukulele around a giant fire pit. There is also a Starlit Hui, which is kind of like a luau without the food. This was probably our least favorite activity. It’s definitely a Disney production, and honestly it was a little cheesy.  They also do Ohana movie nights out on the lawn with your favorite Disney classics.

Aulani Fire Pit

Starlit Hui at Aulani

There are several different pools, including an adults only one if you need a break. There are two water slides and a giant water play structure for the kids. If you want to swim with fishes, you can rent snorkeling equipment and swim in the Rainbow Reef. You can do a one-time rental or pay a one-time fee for unlimited rentals for the duration of your stay. We did this as two times in the reef more than covered the cost. Word of advice: they keep the reef extremely cold for the fish.

Aulani Pools

An Aulani Vacation

The kids can also pick up a tablet at the Pau Hana room and participate in the Menehune Adventure Trail. They use the tablet to search for the Menehune hidden around the resort. It was a fun game and it reminded me a bit of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? It takes a couple hours to complete, but you can save your place and work on it a little bit each day. We didn’t start it until the end of our trip, so we had to rush to finish it.

An Aulani Vacation

There aren’t too many characters at the resort, but you will see Stitch, Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, Donald, and Goofy. Call the character line each morning and it will tell you the times and locations for each of the characters. We did one per day, and we ended up seeing all of them multiple times.  Fun Fact:  Duffy is also there.  We first saw Duffy at Epcot and had no clue who he was or why he warranted his own gift shop.  Turns out Duffy is Mickey Mouse’s teddy bear and he travels the world with Mickey.  He’s a major feature at Tokyo Disneyland and the Japanese love him!

An Aulani Vacation

Aulani caters to families, so the majority of the rooms are suites and villas. We had a one-bedroom suite, which slept up to five people. We had a kitchen, so we bought some groceries on the first day of our stay to help with food costs. But to be honest, I thought the cost of food and drinks was comparable to vacationing in other cities.  There are two higher end restaurants, including Ama Ama where we had a fancy dinner the night before we left.  A pool side restaurant, Off the Hook, with lighter fare where we ate most of our meals, Mama’s Snack Stop by the pool, and Ulu Cafe which was grab and go {if you look closely in the picture, my daughter left a message in the cooler:}  Of course, there are plenty of tropical cocktails to be had by all!

Aulani Drinks

We booked our trip through a Disney vacation planner and she was able to get us a free airport transfer, as well as a one-day rental car as part of our package. We used the rental car to go to the Dole Pineapple Plantation and drive to the North Shore, as well as a stop at the local Target, because you know no vacation is complete without buying crap at Target.

Dole Pineapple Plantation

We also scheduled a family photo shoot while we were there with Frank Amodo Photography.  His style is very unique as he likes to play around with light. He got some great shots and the location was beautiful!


If you are planning a Hawaiian vacation for the family, Aulani is great. It is a Disney resort, so it’s what you come to expect from a Disney experience; quality service, catering to families, especially kids, and hidden Mickey’s. We literally didn’t have to leave the resort unless we wanted to.

An Aulani Vacation


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  1. […] My family and I were planning a trip to Maui last summer when the volcano erupted on The Big Island, and since Maui is the next closest island, they were getting a lot of the toxic air.  So, we opted for an Oahu vacation instead.  I had been to Oahu three times previously, staying in Waikiki twice, and three years ago when we went to Aulani. […]

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