Recently, my family had the opportunity to go to Hawaii and stay at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa on Oahu in the Ko\’Olina area.
Flying from Atlanta, we landed at Honolulu International Airport (HNL) around 2:30 pm on a Saturday, got our luggage and headed to our shuttle. We did have to book the shuttle ourselves through SpeediShuttle, and it took a little while but the service was good all around. We headed to Aulani by 3:30 pm. Traffic wasn\’t bad, and the shuttle took about 30 minutes to get us to the resort.
Upon entering the lobby, women are given a flower lei, men get a Kukui nut lei, and there are Menehune necklaces for children. You are also offered fruit infused water. Inside the pitcher of water, the orange and lime slices are in the shape of Mickey heads.
Although you can check in once you arrive, I would highly recommend checking in online before you leave home to save some time. There is also a great waiting area for children complete with Disney cartoons on the TV. The lobby is massive and exactly what you would expect of Disney… breathtakingly Magical.
We were upgraded at check in from an Island Garden view to a Partial Ocean View room, and we were so excited. The rooms were beautiful. We had two queen beds, a big screen TV, balcony with a table and two chairs, an iron and ironing board, wi-fi, and a bathroom with a beautiful stacked stone and tub/shower combo. While there\’s not a lot of privacy in these rooms, they are lovely!
And the view from the balcony (or the lanai, as they call it in Hawaii) was absolutely amazing!
The attention to detail through the whole resort is impeccable and Hawaiian symbolism is found throughout the resort. Aulani has plenty of actual Hawaiian artifacts and is decorated perfectly for a nostalgic feel of 1940-1950\’s Hawaii.
Throughout the resort you can find menehunes. The Hawaiian people describe menehunes as an ancient race of people, very small in stature but very skilled, who live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian Islands, far from the eyes of normal humans. According to Hawaiian legend, menehunes build many things around the islands but always secretively at night. At Aulani, menehune statues are everywhere throughout the resort for kids to find. Some are harder to find than others! All the Cast Members would point them out to my son if they were too hard to find.
Aulani has a laundry room on site in each building, and it was not crowded when I needed to use it. I did four loads of laundry while lounging by the pool. I suggest bringing your own detergent because it can be pricey, and the machine took my coins a few times. Disney, of course, gave me the coins back and a few extra!
I would suggest keeping your room key on you at all times. You will need it for everything as it acts as your room key and allows you to charge any purchases and meals to your room account. I bought a lanyard with clear holder on the end at the store in the lobby to hold my room key.
Housekeeping does an amazing job and towel creations and chocolates were left each night on our bed along with the \”daily \’IWA\” (activity sheet for the following day). Take a highlighter so you don’t miss anything!
The grounds are lush and accented at night with light up pathways and tiki torches that are magical.
The pool area is huge. There is a lazy river and water slides where you can use inner tubes. We found that the pool area was really crowded. The lounge chairs are five rows deep, and we could hardly ever find seats. They do not let you save seats with towels, but some people did anyway. We did have someone come around and serve us drinks and food, but this could take a while in between services.
The beach is breathtaking and the water is beautiful. Unlike the open water and large waves of Waikiki, Ko’Olina is a quiet protected cove and is great for swimming and families with young kids. We rented kayaks and SUP (stand-up paddle) boards one day for an additional fee that you pay on the beach. The beach service was great. We ordered umbrella drinks and food and had it delivered right to our lounge chairs.
We did have a few character sitings while we were enjoying ourselves at the pool! After all, what’s a Disney resort without our favorite Disney characters?
Check back next week for A Tale of Aulani (Part 2)!
Courtney had a blast on her Aulani Hawaiian vacation and is ready to help you plan an Aulani visit or a magical vacation to DIsney World, Disneyland or on the Disney Cruise Line! You can contact Courtney at Courtney@wishdrawals.com.