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Welcome to Disney Week at The Points Guy! All week we’ll be covering everything there is to know about Disney parks all around the world. After you’ve read this guide to Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii, make sure to check out our other Disney stories — the list is at the bottom of this page.
Many couples retreat to Hawaii for a romantic getaway that involves lazy beach days filled with sunshine and umbrella drinks. But the 50th state in the US isn’t just for couples. Families can also escape to the soft sands and calm waters of the Hawaiian Islands. Recognizing this, Disney created a resort that is paradise for families in Hawaii.
Aulani is a Disney resort and spa property about 35 minutes west of Honolulu, in an area of Oahu called Ko Olina. While parents might enjoy hearing that the property has ocean views and nine restaurants and bars, these 10 reasons are why kids will love Aulani, too.
1. Fun on the Water
I don’t think I could calculate how many hours my family spent in the pools and lazy river at Aulani, but I know it was a lot during our stay. The pools of Aulani are in an area called Waikolohe Valley, which is the center section of the resort.
There are three main pool areas, two of which kids gravitate toward. The Waikolohe Pool is the main pool, but there’s also the Ka Maka Grotto pool, which has a great ocean view and marine sounds piped in underwater. For our family, most of our time was spent in the Waikolohe Stream, a lazy river that winds around the area. My girls also loved the two waterslides hidden among the rocks.
2. A Kids Club Worth Their While
The kids club at Aulani is more than just a room where parents can drop off the kids to enjoy a little downtime. There’s a whole area named Aunty’s Beach House that’s been designed as a home where kids can hang out. While there, kids get to watch Disney movies, do fun crafts and even meet characters like Stitch.
For tweens and teens who are growing out of the kids club, there are special activities designed just for them. My oldest, Lizzy, loved the teen beach games and activities outside of Aunty’s Beach House. She participated in lei making, a volleyball match and even a late-night party in the beach house. She also made friends who she ended up hanging out with poolside during the day.
3. The Perfect Beach
The beach at Disney’s Aulani is ideal for children. It’s situated on the Ko Olina lagoons, meaning it’s protected from harsh waves and surf. The soft, white sands and turquoise waters are the perfect place for kids to play in the ocean without stressing out mom and dad.
Beyond enjoying just swimming, there are also beach rentals available. Free of charge, you can check out boogie boards, sand toys and lifejackets. You can also rent paddleboards for exploring the lagoon. Snorkel sets are available as well.
4. Hawaiian Shave Ice
A staple of Hawaii, shave ice is one of my girls’ favorite treats. Aulani offers kids the opportunity to get shave ice while staying on site — and they can even get their shave ice with Mickey ears! This is a popular sweet, and kids will love picking flavors (from guava and lilikoi to root beer and vanilla) and cooling off on hot days. Shave ice can be found at the Pāpālua Shave Ice kiosk near the Waikolohe Pool.
5. Luau and How!
On certain nights, you can attend a luau at Aulani. When they went, both of my girls really enjoyed the activities before the show, where they pounded taro root, made lei wristlets and got temporary Hawaiian tattoos.
Then the girls watched a performance that taught them about Hawaiian culture. The show itself was more of a Disney story than a traditional luau, but my girls were both engaged. Of course, their favorite part was the fire dancers!
6. Mickey Vacations Here, Too
Lots of kids love characters, and while Aulani isn’t brimming with them like the Disney parks are, there are a handful on property. Each day Mickey, Minnie and their friends sign autographs for guests — even though they’re supposedly on vacation themselves. My youngest made a point of meeting Moana on our trip.
Beyond waiting for characters to make an appearance, my girls loved meeting Mickey, Minnie and Goofy at the Makahiki Character Breakfast. We met Mickey when we arrived, and Minnie and Goofy came to our table during the meal. Aunty even led us all in a song, and my girls loved getting to sing along and spin their napkins in the air. It’s certainly a dining experience kids will appreciate.
7. There Are a Ton of Activities
Kids who like to stay busy will love getting to pick resort activities to participate in each day, like making leis, boat building and playing ukulele. Certain events fill up fast, so sign up early in the day. We missed out on character drawing because the class was full.
8. Befriending Fish
In addition to renting snorkel gear from the booth at the lagoon beach, guests can also head to the private snorkeling reef at Aulani, which has plenty of fish. We rented gear, and my girls snorkeled around Rainbow Reef, spotting butterflyfish, angelfish and tangs.
There is a fee for entrance to the reef, but snorkel gear is included in the fee.
9. Movie Magic
If you have kids who love Disney movies, they’re going to have a blast at movie nights at Aulani. Guests can grab a spot on the lawn and enjoy a family-friendly Disney screening together. My girls watched “Tangled” during our stay. Before the film begins, resort staff members organize fun games with the kids to help them stay occupied while waiting for the movie to start.
10. Finding Fairies
Don’t let your kids miss the Menehune Adventure Trail. Magical, mysterious creatures in Hawaiian folklore, menehune cause trouble and mischief. Kids can sign up to go on an adventure with Aunty and be led around the property on a hunt for the fairy-like creatures. Kids are given a tablet to use to play the game and follow clues to wander around the property and discover hidden displays of light and even fire. Mia, my youngest, loved this activity so much we had to come back and do it again another day.
How to Save Money at Disney’s Aulani
To save money on a visit to Aulani, use airline miles to cover your flights to Hawaii, use points from a card such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to cover the cost of your resort stay, or investigate renting Disney Vacation Club points from a service such as David’s Vacation Club Point Rentals to potentially knock hundreds of dollars off the cost of booking the stay directly with Disney.
Disney’s Aulani resort is truly a property that’s been designed to welcome families and entertain kids. If you’re looking for a family vacation to Oahu, definitely consider Aulani. Your kids will fall in love.
Featured photo by Kimberly Tate.
Want to read more about Disney parks around the world? Check out our other Disney guides…
- The Best Points Hotels Near Disney World in 2018
- TPG’s Ultimate Guide to Disney World
- In the Shadow of the Mouse: Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs
- 9 Things Families Should Know Before Visiting Disneyland
- How to Save Money By Renting Disney Vacation Club Points
- 10 Best Thrill Rides Around the World
- How to Use Points for Disney Tickets
- Disney World Without Kids: 10 Ways to Enjoy an Adult Trip to Disney
- How to Ride Every Disney World Ride in One Day
- How to Eat Healthy at Disney World
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