The ULTIMATE Guide to Disney’s Aulani- Full Aulani Review + Top 10 Tips & Photo Tour

Everything you need to know about Disney's Aulani including how to book cheap rooms, things to do, where to eat and a detailed photo tour of the property and rooms | Global Munchkins

Looking for a Disney Aulani Review? Let me shed some light on this amazing family-friendly resort in Hawaii.

We have visited 7 times in the past 6 years, and there are very few places we return to with our kids over and over again. Mainly because the world is just so big and there is so much left for us to uncover. However, there are certain AMAZING destinations, like Disney’s Aulani, that we just can’t seem to get enough of. And, it’s not just our family.  Disney’s Aulani was voted No. 1 in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Top Family Hotel: USA. Take a look at this gorgeous resort, read my full Aulani review + get my insider tips to help you plan the most amazing Aulani vacation EVER!

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

The ULTIMATE Guide to Disney’s Aulani-

Full Aulani Review + Top 10 Tips + a Photo Tour

I am SO excited to finally sit down and put in writing why I LOVE Aulani SO MUCH!!!

You see… Aulani is one of the few vacations where I actually come home rested and relaxed. Do you hear me… I come home RESTED & RELAXED after taking a vacation with FIVE kids ages 2-13 years old. So, for all, you parents out there who are saving vacationing until your kids have grown this post is for you!

Aulani Review

From the moment you pull up to the stunning Hawaiian resort you know you are in for a treat. Super friendly staff greet new guests with a lei (women) or kukui nut necklace (men), and kids receive their very own Menehune necklace. To the naked eye, the resort is a stunning architectural masterpiece that embodies the spirit of Hawaii. A fine luxury resort that offers world-class service, amazing spa treatment, gorgeous amenities, and more. But, take a peek through a child’s eye and you will find Aulani to be an enchanting place with magic around every corner.

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

At Aulani you will have SO much to do, the only difficult decision will be where to start? We recommend taking full advantage of Aulani’s incredible pools, splash area, lazy river and of course, the water slides. But, make sure to check your daily ‘Iwa because there is a host of activities (many of which are complimentary) that happen every day too!

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

Spa treatments at Aulani are top notch and I highly recommend you book one. Especially, since the kids club is included in your stay for kids 3+. Did you know that Laniwai (Aulani’s Spa) offers O‘ahu’s only outdoor hydrotherapy garden?

Dining at Aulani is also a treat. We LOVE the fish tacos at “Ama “Ama and happy hour at the Olelo Room. You also won’t want to miss the Aulani Character Breakfast at Makahiki for the kids (or the kid in you). It might just be my all-time favorite Disney character breakfast and we have been to almost all of them! (read about our Disneyland and Disneyworld experiences + tips & tricks)

Worried about the resort being too Disney-ish? Relax… the Disney influence is kept to a minimum offering the perfect balance for kids and parents alike. Read on to learn my Top 10 Tips + Photo Tour…

Read more Aulani reviews plus check out some of the stunning awards they have received here.

Getting There

Aulani is located on the gorgeous island of Oahu and just a quick 20-minute drive from their main airport of Honolulu (HNL). Honolulu is a massive airport served by 27 international and domestic carriers, 3 inter-island airlines, and 4 commuter airlines.

If you are flying from the West Coast you can usually find decent rates through Hawaiian Air, Virgin America, and Alaska. Occasionally, Delta, United & American run specials too.

I would recommend checking The Flight Deal and Secret Flying often to secure the best rate. Make sure to follow me too as I am always posting amazing airfares I find for Hawaii 😉

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Transportation

You have your options of transportation such as car rental, taxi, shuttle services and public transportation while on the island all which are detailed out with links here.

We have always rented a car as shuttle fees for 7 add up quick 😉 If you opt for that option I recommend using www.discounthawaiicarrental.com. We have always received great service and the best rates through them.

Staying at Aulani (+ how to save $$)

There are several options when it comes to rooms at Aulani. The hotel offers standard rooms and 1 & 2 bedroom suites. All which are luxurious and well suited for families.

A standard room at Aulani with 2 queen bedssource

If you are looking for an exceptional experience, though, I highly recommend checking out Aulani’s Vacation Club Villas. The villas are part of the Disney’s Vacation Club (DVC). You can book a 1-3 bedroom villa or opt for a studio. Either way, you gain home-like amenities that make your family vacation so much better. Studios offer a mini fridge, toaster, microwave and paper service wear and utensils. The larger rooms offer full kitchens, laundry, separate living room areas and more.

The living area of the 1-Bedroom Villa features couch, chairs, dining area, kitchen and decorative accentssource

We are DVC members and so we receive an excellent value when we stay on property. However, if you haven’t plunged into membership yet you can still SAVE BIG by renting points from a member. There are several sites where you can find DVC members who are offering points for rent.

Here are few for you to check out: DVC Rental Store, DVC Request and Rent My DVC Points.

Also, be sure to check Aulani’s website for special offers and deals. Especially, in off season which happens to be my favorite time to visit 😉

Top 10 Tips for Aulani from a Pro

Tip #1- Take Advantage of Auntie’s Beach House

A Cast Member supervises 4 children wearing goggles and playing with green slimeA Cast Member supervises 4 children wearing goggles and playing with green slimesource

Here is the deal… you are on VACATION! You have a full day to spend with your family so it’s not going to screw up your bonding time if you let your kids have a blast over at Auntie’s for a few hours. Trust me!!

Where else can you take your kids where they love going to the kids club so much that they beg you to take them there. Oh, and where it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg???  Okay, maybe a Disney Cruise… but on land???

In the kids club resort world Aulani absolutely crushes any competition. Auntie’s Beach House is full of super fun activities, amazing/ friendly cast members and exclusive experiences that only Disney could create. And, its included with your stay!!!

Auntie's Beach House is full of super fun activities, amazing/ friendly cast members and… Click To Tweet

So, the first thing you should do after checking in is head to Auntie’s Beach House and sign up your kiddos for this amazing included amenity.

*Tip- be sure to sign up for any Auntie’s Beach House special activity well in advance. You don’t want tears because you missed the sign up for Stitch’s Space Goo. Trust me… been there done that!

Tip #2- Grocery Shop on Your Way In

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

Hit up Costco and/ or Target before you check in they are one exit prior to the resort when you are coming from the airport. If you have a villa this can end up saving you a ton and the staff can unload the groceries and get them up to your room right when you check in too!

We typically grab breakfast items, snacks and some lunches for the kids. We have even grabbed stuff to BBQ on property before. My brother in law loves their BBQ area.

Next time we go I will most likely grab some alcohol too as I recently heard Aulani raised their cocktail prices.

Tip #3- Eat Out… But Be Smart!

Breakfast-

  • I recommend hitting up Makahiki at least once. It’s a splurge but their breakfast spread is pretty delicious and the kids LOVE the characters and Auntie walking around playing her ukulele.
  • Another great breakfast spot if you have a car or grab an uber is KOA Pancake House. It is dirt cheap and has AMAZING Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes just one exit past the resort. Check out my nieces pic below of her pancake tower. Then click the picture and go follow her travels on instagram.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Lunch/ Dinner-

  • Happy Hour at the Olelo Room is a MUST! You will enjoy happy hour pricing on drinks and tasty bites (including sliders, nachos, hummus & more) + they also have great live music.

*Did you know the staff at Oleo Room are required to speak fluent Hawaiian!

  • Ulu Cafe also offers full sized pizzas for a reasonable price in the evenings. I think I paid about $25. And, the kids were big fans of poolside pizza 😉
  • Another great happy hour can be found across the street at Merriman’s  newest restaurant called Monkeypod.
  • Near Monkeypod you will also find options for pizza, sushi and Mexican. All of these options are cheaper than eating on property.
  • Need a quick sandwich, snack or maybe you forgot something at home? ABC market is right next to Monkeypod across the street and has everything you need.
  • We also like walking over there to grab an Island Vintage Coffee (YUM) or ice cream for the kids too!

Tip #4- Check the Daily ‘IWA & Join in the Fun

The daily ‘IWA is delivered to your door each morning. You can also request it the night prior by visiting the front desk. Inside this guide you will find all the complimentary and paid activities for the day.

Activities you ABSOLUTELY should attend

  • NEW! Celebrate the Spirit of Moana- See the info herewe haven’t visited since Moana was released however, Aulani’s website states several super fun ways to experience and celebrate Moana on your next visit. .
  • Starlit Hui– it is like a luau show without the food and its completely free. The entertainment is fantastic and if you arrive early there are complimentary games and crafts for the kids too!
  • UPDATE (3/14/17): Aulani no longer offers the Starlit Hui. They have replaced it with the KA WA ‘A Luau. Learn more here.
  • Movies on the Lawn- exactly like it sounds you grab a giant grass mat, sit down and snuggle your loved ones under the gorgeous stars as you watch a movie. They also have concessions for sale.
  • Character Pool Party- If you have little ones you absolutely need to hit up the pool party. Characters + Water + Music + Disney Magic = A GREAT Time! Make sure you have your camera handy.
  • Menehune Adventure Trail- your munchkins will love checking out the ipad like monitor that takes them on an exploration/ scavenger hunt around the resort. Their monitor will unlock magic along the way!
  • Family Challenge- One of our favorite things to do is join in on the Family Challenge. This one is great for 5-99 years old. Your family completes in challenges on the beach against other families. It’s worth having someone sit on the sidelines and video.

Check out Our Family Challenge Below.

View more of our videos from Aulani on the Global Munchkins YouTube channel here.

Tip #5- Chair Timers

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

This is a big one.

If you come back to your chairs and they look like this… immediately fix your towels and lay your chairs back down. Aulani has a rule regarding the chairs and they don’t mess around. You will see staff walking around who are dedicated to timing chairs.

If you leave for too long they make a note of it. They mark your seats by organizing your chairs as seen above. If you do not return to your chairs within a given time they will confiscate your items and hold them for you at the recreation check in desk and allow others to utilize those seats. Don’t lose your good seats!!! Check back often if you are hanging out at the beach, floating in the river or enjoying the water slides.

Tip #6- Buy the Refillable Mug

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

As soon as you check in head to the gift shop or the Ulu Cafe and buy yourself a mug. In our family we don’t drink much soda. So, what we do is buy two. One for me and the second for my hubby. We use them mainly for coffee each morning and evening and then for iced tea throughout the day. Its is worth it for that alone. But, we also occasionally treat the kids with a soda too.*By treat I mean its a bribery tool used to make older children play with their younger siblings- ha!!!

Tip #7- Bring a Refillable Water Bottle

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

Whether you purchase a mug or not I would recommend bringing a refillable water bottle for each member of your family. Free water is located throughout the resort and no one needs to end up dehydrated on vacation. That Hawaiian sun is HOT!!!

Tip #8- Let Your Kids Enjoy the Menehune Adventure Trail

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

You can check out an iPad to get started at the Pau Hana room. This interactive game is  described as an iPad assisted treasure hunt around the resort property and the kids LOVE it!!! They get clues on their iPad from Auntie about what the mischievous Menehune have been up to. When they get the clues right they unlock amazing interactive pieces i.e.) make lava flow from the giant volcano, make sea turtles rise out of the koi fish pond etc… Some extra Disney magic!!!

We really enjoying the adventure trail in the evening. Some of the interactive pieces light up and they look much grander when it’s a bit darker outside 😉

Tip #9- Go on a Menehune Statue Scavenger Hunt

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

These adorable statues of the legendary Menehune are located throughout the property. Some are incredibly easy to spot and others are pretty well hidden. There are 300 in all. Talk to your kids about it before you arrive and they will have a blast searching them out as you wander around the gorgeous property 😉

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

Tip #10- Be an Early Bird

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

Want to score those perfect chairs at the pool? You need to get up early. My morning ritual: hit the gym at 6am, grab a specialty coffee at 6:45am then grab my pool chairs watch the sun rise. Not only do I get my workout in and enjoy this gorgeous view… but I also get the best chairs in the house!!!

BONUS Tip #11- Get to Know the Cast Members

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Get to know the cast members. Above is Alyssa… she has become a part of our family over the years. Hawaiian’s in general are amazing, welcoming people who will “talk story” to you all day long. Say more than just hi and you will get some amazing insider tips like where the sea turtles hang out near by, the best local eateries etc… Plus, you will come home with an even larger Ohana than you came with.

*Tip- walk down the path to the right of the resort property by the ocean. Continue about 5 minutes past the resort and you will come to a beach area where the sea turtles love to play.

Things to Do in Oahu

Aulani is an amazing resort and sure you could spend your entire vacation there… BUT you are in HAWAII!!!! There are so many amazing things to do and see near by it is definitely worthwhile to rent a car at least for a day or two to explore the island. As I mentioned above we have found great prices on www.discounthawaiicarrental.com and you can also rent a car through Alamo right on property at Aulani.

Here are some Day Trips/ Activities We Love:

North Shore:

  • Head to North Shore and watch the surfers
  • Eat lunch at the Famous Shrimp Trucks (Mackie’s is the BEST!!!)

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  • Grab a Shaved Ice at Matsumoto’s… then take a pic so you can return and force the kids to get in the exact same line up someday in the future 😉

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Visit Pearl Harbor:

Pearl Harbor has a gorgeous memorial and several museums. If you are traveling to Oahu I highly suggest you make time for a visit. You can get tickets online here for up to 6 people at a nominal fee (basically just paying the service fee) and avoid long queues and sold out tickets for the movie and boat ride.

Initially, I was hesitant to take the younger kids… however it was not only age appropriate but they found it incredibly fascinating and educational. I am SO happy we went.

Horseback with Gunstock Ranch

Check out Gunstock Ranch in Oahu. A must do on your list of things to do in Oahu | Global Munchkins

This family owned cattle ranch is located about 40 minutes from Aulani… but the drive is part of the experience. I have no idea what the names of the mountains we drove through are but what I can tell you is they felt alive. There is just something about the way the mist sits against the emerald green hillside.- ahhhhhh!!!!

You arrive at the ranch greeted by the friendliest staff, hop on a horse and ride off into the hills. Atop your horse you will have some of the most stunning vantage points as you overlook the ocean below. The terrain is unbelievably beautiful and it is by far one of my favorite Hawaiian experiences. No joke… I want to be a Hawaiian cowgirl when I retire. I am pretty sure life doesn’t get much better than that!!!

See my full review here.

Visit Sea Life Park

Top Things To Do in Oahu. Include Sea Life Park Hawaii. Check out more on GlobalMunchkins.com

My daughter and I visited Sea Life on our last Aulani visit. We booked a Dolphin Adventure through Viator.com and it was incredible!!! Not only was our dolphin experience amazing but we had a blast in the park itself too. They have an amazing sea turtle breeding program, an educated and helpful staff, lots of hands on experiences like the aviary and touch pools and you can’t beat their location.

Check out my whole review here

Looking for more off property fun? Check out my post on Things to Do in Oahu.

A Photo Tour of Aulani

(Scroll Down for Tips)

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

Let’s Begin… Arriving!

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

As you drive into Aulani you can’t help but feel its magic. The resort is stunning and authentically Hawaiian. There are touches of Disney magic but its not overwhelming.

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips

The Hawaiian staff warmly greets you. Kids are given their own Menehune souvenir necklace upon check in. There are also flower leis for the ladies and kukui nut necklaces for the men.

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You walk through the giant slider doors and into the lobby… isn’t it beautiful!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Did you know… that the images in the photo collage behind the front desk were all taken by school aged children in Hawaii??

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Kids love the play room directly across from the front desk. Parents love that it keeps little ones entertained upon check in or while parents talk to the concierge desk. Ella is peeking inside the peep hole to see the menehune running around in there. Liv was fixed on the Disney cartoons. These amenities are what make your trip with kids SO much easier!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Did you know Aulani houses the largest collection of Hawaiian art in the world!!! Over 60 local artists were commissioned to complete works for the hotel before it opened!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Don’t you love the indoor/ outdoor vibes. Classic Hawaiian!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The lobby sits on the second floor so when you walk out onto the over-sized balcony you over-look the entire property which is pretty massive.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

We visited during the holidays hence all the lovely garland.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The Pau Hana Room above is a community hall where you can rent movies and video games. You can also stop in to play board games, join in on crafts etc… We had a blast taking a cartooning class one time. Turns out I shouldn’t quit my day job, art is definitely NOT my thing. However, I did enjoy myself immensely!

Pools

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Yup… Aulani for the win here BIG TIME!!! There are 8 pool/ water areas on property plus a gorgeous beach cove. You can swim in the pools, enjoy the spa, float in the lazy river, head down the slides, paddle board in the cove and snorkel in the man made Rainbow Reef. Or drop the kids off at the INCLUDED Kids Club– Auntie’s Beach House and enjoy some quiet time at the adult pool and spas. One thing is for sure this view NEVER gets old!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The infinity pool above is our FAVORITE SPOT. The pic is taken from my chair!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Did you know… the pool pictured in the photos above has whale and dolphin noises playing underwater. The kids get a kick out of it!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

baby_splash

The Keiki Cove Splash Area lights up and plays music when kids come by on the Menehune Adventure Trail!!! This is the perfect spot for babies and toddlers.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The kids love the Menehune Bridge. My only complaint is that it is only for kids under 48″ making it a bummer for my older ones. I think they should change the height restriction here as they already have the Keiki Cove for the wee little ones. This area is too cold for young kids + the bridge and slides are too big for them to do without parent help anyhoo.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Above is the adult pool… I have never found the need to visit it. But, I do enjoy the bar in this area which serves specialty coffee in the early am too!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The water slides ROCK! There is a body slide and a tube slide. And, the tube slide you can ride single and doubles!!!

This is our family after completing the family water slide challenge. We came in first place. Although, no one else knew there was a game going on because we made it up… whatev’s!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Who doesn’t love a lazy river. You can come down on the tube slide and just continue to float into the river or hop in as you please at any of the entry/ exits along the river. Watch out for the ice cold water the drips down from the caves… its C.O.L.D.!!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

I am crazy scared of sharks and snorkeling out in the ocean with so many kids.. way too dangerous for me. Which is why I love Disney’s man made, shark free snorkeling pool called Rainbow Reef. The kids can rent equipment and safely snorkel right there. The reef is full gorgeous native Hawaiian fish!!!

Plus, the viewing window is great for toddlers and babies. They feed the fish several times a day and that is definitely worth watching from the viewing window too!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

You can rent all sorts of beach toys (many for FREE) including this giant four square game that Liv loved. No need to pack sandy beach toys either. Disney has you covered. Your older one needs a boogie board, wants to play ping pong- BAM… also included! And, the rec crew does a great job keeping kids occupied so parents can relax by the beach too!

*I should note things like paddle boards are available but for an additional fee.

Characters

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There are character greetings a few times a day in tucked away spots. The kids flip out when they see the characters in HAWAII!!!

You can also make reservations for a Character Breakfast or Dinner (NEW) at Makahiki Restaurant, hang out with characters at the pool parties or visit them at Auntie’s Beach House. But, again they keep characters to a minimum to ensure families are receiving an authentic Hawaiian vacation. Its really the perfect mix of fun for your kids and gorgeous luxury Hawaiian resort for you!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Dining

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Ama Ama is the resorts fine dining establishment with gorgeous ocean front views. Its a great escape but also pricey so we usually drop off the kids and grab lunch vs dinner to cut costs a bit.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Ulu Cafe is a grab and go eatery. Their food is decent but nothing to write home about if you catch my drift.Well… maybe with the exception of their AMAZING made to order malasadas… YUMMY!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

You can’t be in Hawaii and not try shaved ice. Luckily there is a stand on property serving up Hawaiian style shaved ice and at reasonable prices too! What is Hawaiian style you ask?? Shaved ice served on a bed of vanilla ice cream and then topped with condensed milk. Some swear by it but I prefer mine just shaved ice + a few flavors of sugary syrup on top. Treat yo’self!!!

Have you tried Hawaiian style? Let me know in the comments below 😉

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The Lava Shack is a small gift shop which offers a few packaged snacks and has a soda refill station.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Feel like snacking on a  Mickey Pretzel or how about some fresh spring rolls. Little Opihi’s is your place. I heard that they source their spring rolls from a local specialty chef. Not sure if its true but they sure are delicious!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Of course there is always room service… you are on vacation after all. Might as well indulge a bit 😉

Rooms

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Now here is where Aulani knocks it out of the park. Check out our 2 bedroom Villa!!!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The kitchen has everything we need to cook full meals + the kids love hanging out coloring or chatting at the kitchen table. We have so many amazing memories right there at that table.

We love coming back to our room after happy hour at Olelo where we eat + drink + enjoy the music as the sunsets over the ocean. We open our sliding doors to the balcony, listen to the crashing waves and play board games or talk about our amazing day all night long! Its one of those moments you wish you could wrap up and come back to always. It’s just that GOOD!!!

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Of course your villas is equipped with a coffee pot, dishes, serving ware, pots, pans, microwave and a toaster. If you have a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom villa you also have a full sized oven, stove top, dishwasher and fridge too!

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And, you can also request additional items such as a rice cooker, blender and BBQ utensils as well!!

balcony

Check out the views. This is a model room in the Waianae Tower. Its gorgeous… but the Ewa Tower has even better views and the balconies are also quite a bit larger too! See the view from my villa in the Ewa Tower below.

*Tip- when making a reservation for a two bedroom villa be sure to request to be in the Ewa Tower!

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

The master bedroom is tastefully decorated and the beds are super cozy too! There are a few hidden Mickey’s and touches of Disney magic as well.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

One thing I love about the two bedrooms, is that it has three separate bathrooms. The master has a full bath tub and a waterfall shower head. The second bedroom has its own bathroom and shower + there is a guest bathroom in the living room.

*TIP- You have to ask for a dedicated two bedroom though or you will wind up with only 2 bathrooms.

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

One amenity I absolutely LOVE is the in room laundry. Boy does that make life easier when you are traveling with kids. Other helpful items moms will appreciate hidden in this closet include a step stool, porta crib and high chair for little ones.

*Did you know you can also request a bottle warmer for your room?

Photo_Tour_of_Disney's_Aulani

Aulani Review Wrap Up-

I hope if you have made it this far through my Disney Aulani review that you have concluded that Aulani is a pretty amazing resort for families and one that should be on the top of your list. If you have any questions please let them in the comments. I respond to each question with a private email. I love helping other families plan their travels.

Pin for Later:

Disney Aulani Review, plus photo tour and top tips from a Family Travel Writer who has visited 6 times with her 5 kids!

Have you visited Aulani? Do you have any tips of your own or maybe questions about the resort? Leave me a comment below

78 Comments

  • Disney + Hawaii??? Umm yes please !!! I love Disney so much and my husband and I have actually never been to Hawaii! This resort looks stunning. When we have kids I want to vacation at locations like this with the kids club . I’m sure mommy and daddy need a break haha. Brilliant ! Great post , your pics are amazing. I love hearing of new resorts and honest review so this is great!
    Danielle | AccordingtoD.com

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Thank you SO much… yes you must go someday when you have a family. I’m truly in love with it 😉

  • Great post and pictures! I think we need to do a family trip here one day too. Liv has the exact same swimsuit as Hazel. 😉
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted…Two Weeks in Europe: Itinerary for Paris, Brussels and AmsterdamMy Profile

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      What cuties… I love that they have matching swim suits. Now if only we were ever in the same place at the same time so they could meet each other 😉

  • Omgosh this place looks beautiful! It’s always been my dream to take my kids to a Disney resort and this one looks amazing!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Aulani truly is one of the best! We also love Animal Kingdom Lodge- giraffe’s right outside my balcony- yes please!! Beach Club has an amazing pool and we love being able to walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and in CA we love the Grand Californian. You guys would have a blast!!!

  • Natalie says:

    We haven’t been to Hawaii yet, but when we do make it that way, I’d love to stay here! I’ve always loved the Disney brand, and I’ve heard amazing things about Aulani. 😀 Pinning!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Thanks so much for the love. YES, this resort really lives up to its hype. Its in a great location, service is amazing and there are a ton of included activities. I hope Disney builds more in other destinations. I’ve heard they are looking in the Philippines 😉

  • I want to visit so bad!! we are taking my little one to Disney for her first birthday in June and I cannot wait- we LOVE the mouse! Add a beautiful Hawaiian beach and you can’t ask for much more! Thanks for the guide!

  • What a wonderful review!
    I was on the fence about stopping in Honolulu this summer but after this glorious review I’m cooked! Ibookmarked this to show to my son who is a HUGE DIZ fan. Thanks so much
    margalit francus recently posted…Family Stay at the Buenos Aires SheratonMy Profile

  • Shann Eva says:

    Wow. This looks like an amazing place. I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, and this looks like a way to do it so that the whole family can enjoy it. I love all your pictures, and your reviews are so helpful.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      There really is NO better way to enjoy the islands with kids. The only one that even comes close is Grand Wailea in Maui. But, its more cost effective for us to stay in the villas and eat in at Aulani 😉 You’ll have to try it out and let me know what you think.

  • candy says:

    Five kids and you came home rested and relaxed, put this on my list on wants. Looks like a great place to visit and have fun.
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  • Kusum says:

    You had me at Disney in Hawaii, haha! I was in Hawaii 3 years ago and love it so much, your beautiful pictures are making me miss Hawaii now 😉 Looks like the Aulani is a wonderful place to be especially when you go with kids, I am bookmarking this page for when I have kids of my own and want to take them to Disney 🙂 Looks like you guys had loads of fun!
    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com
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  • Oh this is so much fun! I definitely want to book a stay at the Aulani resort and check out all the wonderful things offered there. Great post!

  • We have not yet been to Aulani but it is at the very top of our list for our next Hawaiian adventure, so I love this post so much! Pinning it to save for when we get serious about planning our trip. Love the villas, but really: everything about this resort looks perfect for a family vacation! Gorgeous photos, as always!
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    • Mama Munchkin says:

      So, happy you liked it. Aulani truly is one of our favorites 😉 Thanks so much for pinning & stopping by again!!! I always love following along on your trips and drooling over all your amazing food pics too!

  • Kari says:

    My husband and I are doing adventure travels right now while we don’t have kids, but this seems like a dream trip once we do have kids! I love how easy Disney makes everything for you!
    Kari
    http://www.sweetteasweetie.com

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      That is exactly it… Disney makes it super EASY so that you can still travel and enjoy yourself with kids. Super helpful especially when you have a toddler 😉

  • Erica says:

    I’ve heard of Aulani before but I’ve never known anyone who visited there. Looks like a great vacation to take with kids. I hope to make it to Hawaii some day. Everyone who goes there has such beautiful pictures.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I hope you get the chance too. It is insane how gorgeous it is. I think I could sit and take pictures all day if I didn’t have kids to chase 😉

  • Ashley Steer says:

    Great post! I am itching for a vacation!!! I can’t wait to take my son to Disney, but he’s a little young for it yet. I hope it’s as fun when we go as this post made your trip seem!
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    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I’m sure it will be even better… Disney does a pretty amazing job and it doesn’t seem like they are backing down anytime soon 😉

  • Sarah says:

    How fun!! Love this post and the pics. The Kitchen looks perfect!!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      The kitchen makes it SO nice. I have kids that wake up at different times and feeding 3 growing boys is expensive. That kitchen alleviates both those issues. I can stock up at Target or Costco before we arrive and then kids get fed as they wake up and join the rest in the living room (another great feature) and I can feed those growing boys without breaking the bank.

  • Julie says:

    We would have loved the scavenger hunt!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Disney is SO good at adding those little touches that really make all the difference. I think our kids have completed every mission. It’s one of their favorite things to do 😉

  • Vet Leow says:

    Hawaii has already been my dream vacation! Throw Disney into the mix and everything is so sweet and perfect! You guys seems to enjoy yourself so much there and love all your family photos!

  • Tamara says:

    The only way I am going back to Oahu is if we get to stay here. It’s on my list, saving up for it!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Fantastic… it’s worth it!! I would definitely check into renting DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points or traveling off season to get the best deal. Let me know if you have any questions!!!

  • Lydia C. Lee says:

    Great photos, especially the sunrise. I have to ask though, if you’re at the beach, what do you need a chair by the pool for? I’m glad they have chair timers….I wish more places did.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      You are right… the beach is lovely there. But, my kids love the pools so much and the slides that we spend most of our time up at the pool area.

  • Sounds like an amazing resort! We’ve yet to visit Disney and we’re waiting for the right age for me to enjoy it fully! Hopefully Disney Paris later in the year! Great review! #MondayEscapes
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    • Mama Munchkin says:

      We loved Disney Paris… and I agree with ages you have to time it right. We have different age groups so while we could be better at timing with our older group its tough now with them + a two year old. Sometimes I wish we could wait for her to get a bit older but by that time our oldest will be too old- ha! Too many kids I guess 😉

  • Kana says:

    Hi Amber! Wow this was such an expert post, loved it! I’ve always wondered what it was like there! I have 0 kids – do you think it would be fun just for a couple or is that wishful thinking? LOVE the photos and tips too! #MondayEscapes

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      There are tons of couples at Aulani actually. Many Japanese couples honeymoon there. I think if you like Disney is would be fun. But, if you aren’t huge Mickey fans I think there might be other options that are just as Luxe without those activities for a better price though 😉

  • Katja says:

    This is a seriously impressive guide!! Sounds like there is a lot to love about Aulani from the beach house kids’ club and the pool with whale and dolphin noises to the fantastic family-friendly accommodation and Rainbow Reef. Not forgetting the all-singing, all-dancing Disney side of things! Great review. AND great tip on the Secret Flying site too!

  • Wonderful photos! This looks like an amazing place to stay with a family.

  • Wow this looks absolutely amazing. It’s my dream to get to Hawaii and Hawaii and Disney together would make my kids very happy!!

  • Christi says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful article! I’ve been doing as much researching as I can about all things Aulani and Oahu to prepare for our upcoming trip and yours has been the most helpful and informative so far!!
    I do have a couple of questions…We are huge Disney fans and DVC members. We finally saved up enough airline points to fly to Hawaii using just points for all four us (me, my husband and my two kids (15 yr old daughter and 10 yr old son), but just enough DVC points for a Studio. I’m a little nervous about that, especially with the teen, but I’m thinking that having a balcony will help and we honestly won’t spend a ton of time in our room…Do have any thoughts? We usually get a 1 bedroom and it’s plenty of space, so that’s probably why I’m a little concerned…
    We are traveling (out of necessity with our jobs) in July, and I’ve heard the crowds can be really overwhelming (unable to find a pool chair , 30 min lines at the slides, etc). Have you run in to that type of crowding? Any tips on how to manange it? I saw that you’re up nice and early to grab a seat 🙂 Is renting a cabana worth it, in your opinion?
    We are thinking that since this is everyone’s first time to Hawaii, we should venture off of the resort. We definitely plan to go to Pearl Harbor and spend a good bit of time along the North Shore, Waimea Valley areas. Any other must do’s for our kids ages? We are have six full days, so we are thinking 3 days at the resort and 3 days out and about–sound reasonable?
    Considering our plans to get off resort property a bit, would you recommend a rental car as the most reasonable option? I recently read that self-parking is free for DVC members? True?
    So many questions!! Sorry!!! 🙂

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Hello… so sorry for the delay. We took off to DC and NYC for spring break and its been crazy. First off thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful compliments it means the world to me. We squeeze two families (our 7 plus a fam of 4) into a 2 bedroom and it is totally fine. It is Hawaii so you are going to spend all of your time outdoors anyways. Its too beautiful not to. You will have just as much space in a studio as you would in any hotel with two double queens. Plus, since you can fold up the sofa sleeper during the day you can lounge in your room even easier. You will also have a microwave, toaster and mini fridge which you do not normally have in a standard hotel room. I think you will be fine.

      Honestly, we have only traveled in May and November so I can’t speak of the crowds in July but I doubt it is really that bad. On our most recent trip the hotel was at capacity so it can’t get any busier and I had zero issues with crowds. We do get up early to grab chairs but only because with the baby its easier to have an umbrella. If you run down around 7:30am you can grab chairs for the day with no problem. I have never paid for a cabana. They have bad placement in my opinion.

      Yes, venture off… order Pearl Harbor tickets online through the state parks for like $1.50 a piece. It will save you time. Rent a car its the easiest way and yes parking for DVC is free. Your kids are at perfect ages to explore North Shore… they will love it. Make sure to hit up Matsumoto’s it has recently been remodeled and its the best shaved ice on the island. I think the way you split your time will be great too. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂 I am SOOOO excited for you. You are going to have an amazing trip!!!

  • Wow this is an extensive travel guide, it must have taken you ages to put together! My husband and I visited Oahu on our honeymoon. An absolutely incredible place. We didn’t visit Disney but we did explore Pearl Harbour which was very memorable. #MondayEscapes
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  • Ting MTM says:

    Amazing guide to Oahu and Aulani – I want to go right now! The fact that you actually came home relaxed… that’s the sell right away! Those pools look amazing too – I think my son would never leave! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  • Amber, these pictures are amazing! Of course, the resort looks amazing but the shots are stunning! Thanks for posting and sharing with those of us still waiting to see this beautiful resort! Of course, I was holding out waiting to see the shave ice pics and wasn’t disappointed! Matsumoto’s is one of the most famous spots for shave ice and its worth the wait. But i saw someone in your photo wearing a California hat? If you live, or visit, Southern California, you should visit our Food Truck or our location in Huntington Beach! You will be amazed how delicious our shave ice is in comparison to the savory island treat! P.S. Hawaiian style with condensed milk is incredibly delicious and worth a try at least ONCE.

  • Leah Kelly says:

    We are going in June for the second time. I love all of your suggestions and agree with them all. I was wondering why you recommend the Ewa Tower. We have a two bedroom lockoff because grandma and grandpa are coming with us. We wanted them to have their own space but be close.Also, can you reuse the refillable mugs that were purchased during another trip? Finally, we are DVC members and I really want the same view we had last time. We have an ocean view reserved and I really want the pool/water park/beach/ocean view. Can you request a certain room? We tried that when we went to CA and stayed at Grand Californian and DVC didn’t even add those rooms to my file after I called and asked them too. I feel like I would call the hotel over DVC. Would that work?

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Hello Leah, I prefer the Ewa Tower bc it has better views of the ocean and sunsets from your balcony. It also has fewer DVC Villa rooms so it is harder to get. I would recommend calling the hotel directly for sure. I have had the same thing happen when I went through DVC. We bring our mugs back when we go. Sometimes we lose them and have to replace some but it has never been a problem. I would definitely bring yours 🙂 Have a great trip!!!

      • Leah K says:

        Thank you. I have been wondering about the mugs for awhile. We bought four last time and would love to take them back. Thanks for the info about the Ewa Tower. We will call the hotel directly. I for sure what the right view based on using so many points. 🙂 Other than those two things nothing much as changed besides signing up for Aunty’s activities in advance which I already did and received confirmation already. We didn’t do that last time.

  • Ron says:

    Thank you for the awesome and informative article! I have a Deluxe Studio Ocean View room booked for an upcoming trip. Do you have any info or things to share about this particular type of room? Should I also make a request for a particular tower? Appreciate it!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Hello Ron… that is SO exciting!!! First off you are going to have an AMAZING trip. You have to ask for Alyssa (a cast member) she can be found in valet. She’s incredible and will help guide you and answer all of your questions. She’s like family to us now. Anyhoo… I would request the Ewa Tower bc that is our favorite but honestly they are both pretty fantastic. Do you have any questions in particular? The studios are fantastic and the view is to die for. You will have a bed + pull out sofa bed, microwave, toaster, mini fridge and paper plates, bowls and plastic cutlery. You will not have laundry in your room but facilities are on site. Hmmm… porta cribs are available. Many things can be requested including blenders. That’s all I can think of right now. If you have specific questions please feel free to ask 🙂

      • Ron says:

        Thanks for the reply! We are there for 3 nights, which is probably way too short to enjoy everything…so can you suggest a game plan that will let us make the most of those few days on the resort…as far as must-do’s, must-see’s, etc??

  • Heather says:

    Thank you SO much for all these amazing tips! We can’t wait to get there so we can check them all out. So many valuable tips, truly. Loved this 🙂

  • Mads says:

    Quite possibly the most in-depth guide I’ve ever seen! I need to go!

  • Candace Glenney says:

    Awesome guide and great pictures! Definitely worth sharing.

  • Wow! This is such an amazing place! I love the pancake very much! Thanks for sharing this post! This place is absolutely a place for kids and even, adults! The tips and the photos are great! Thanks a lot!
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  • Jennifer says:

    Great tips and great pics, too. It would be a not bad choice for the whole family. Thank you for the detailed instruction. I appreciate it.
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  • Amber says:

    Thank you for these awesome details!! We’re going in two days with our three kiddos, ages 1-7! Did you ever use their babysitting service?

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Hi there Amber (great name by the way– it’s mine too!) I am SO glad you found this helpful. You are going to have the BEST time. If you happen to see Alyssa in valet introduce yourself and tell her Global Munchkins sent you and she’ll take good care of you. She has become like family now. In regards to the babysitting. I have never used Aulani’s BUT I have used their service at different Disney properties and loved it. As well as countless other babysitting services through big brand hotel’s. The sitters are vetted and Disney’s name is on the line so the kids are very well cared for and I can’t imagine Aulani being any different. Kids ages 3-12 can go to Auntie’s Beach House free of charge (included with your stay) and my kids never want to leave the activities they have going on in there 😉 Let me know if you have any other questions. I am actually at a conference and the Disney Aulani rep was speaking so maybe I can track her down tomorrow and get more answers for you too. I will try 🙂

  • Nerissa Yuhico says:

    Loved all of your tips! We’re at Aulani right now and we’re all having a blast. They don’t deliver the daily iwa to your room but you just pick it up either the night before or morning if at the lobby. They actually now have a luau, not just a show but also with food, where you can buy VIP tickets or just general admission for cheaper. Seating for general admission is first come, first served so we got there really early and we were able to choose our seats and had a great view. Lots of activities included like getting tattoos (they actually draw on you, not the wet and stick it on you kind and with one of the people being an actual tattoo artist), pounding taro, making bracelets out of orchids and tea leaves… Tonight was their first show and it was fun! Food was good and entertainment was really good. Entertainment starts out a little slow and picks up afterwards so make sure kids are well rested (get a nap in). They teach the kids to do the hula and there’s a surprise visit 😉. It was fun!

  • Such a memorable trip! Thanks for all your tips, especially the saving tip. Besides, the site suggested in Transportation is really good. I pinned it in case use. Reading your whole trip, I tend to have a trip there in near future and wanna keep the routine of travelling.
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  • Kathy Leung says:

    I have a quick question! I wanted the iconic Hawaiian outfits photo. Anybody know if it’s expensive to buy at the resort? The swap meet is unavailable when we go and online prices can go up to $80! Thank you

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Hello Kathy, you will have no problem finding matching Hawaiian outfits. There is a Target one exit away that carries them as well as shops like Hilo Hattie and the ABC Store located all around the island. Have a blast!!! And, if there is any other questions you have please don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

  • Paul McCaughey says:

    Timely review for me, Mama Munchkin as it is 48 days until our family departs for a Spring Break trip to Aulani! Should be great for our 6 and 8 year old boys. Question: how far in advance can/should parents attempt to make reservations for things that have space limitations, such as Auntie’s Beach House? I’ve heard that spring break crowds are at capacity. Also, are personal snorkel and face masks to take along for the kids a good idea? Beach towels? Did you visit the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu?

  • Simon says:

    Firstly, thanks for such a great review! Truly comprehensive!
    We (family of 5) are heading to Aulani later in the year and I’ve been wondering how best to deal with our grocery requirements. We will be staying at Aulani for 5 nights and will more than likely prepare meals more than we will eat out. I’ve seen mention of Target and Costco but also mention of a grocery store over the road. Is it fair to say that stocking the fridge / pantry initially with cereals, bread, milk, beer etc will be a lot cheaper at Costco and that the grocery store should be used for smaller purchases? As we’re not planning to hire a car until we get to Waikiki (which will be after we’re finished at Aulani) I’m not sure how we can fit a Costco shop in as a taxi probably doesn’t make sense once we’ve already arrived.

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      So glad you found my review helpful. Yes, I would stock up at Costco or Target. There is a small grocery store at Aulani in the gift shop but it’s pricey. There is also an ABC store across the street from Aulani that you can walk to for things like milk, snacks, sandwiches etc… let me know if you have any other questions 😉

  • Nicki says:

    Thanks so much for the great tips!! We are going for spring break and you REALLY helped me out with what we need to know, what to expect and look forward to!! I’m so glad I was able to make reservations for the character breakfast thanks to your input!! I’m so excited!!
    Thanks again!!

  • Simon says:

    Are you able to advise how the man made lagoon snorkelling works? Are you allowed to come and go across the day or does payment entitle you to a certain amount of snorkelling time only?

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