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Reviewed 22 June 2016

We are Disney Vacation Club members, so we often stay at their resorts in Florida and California. Our expectations were high for Aulani going in, and I have to say that they were exceeded by a wide margin. First off, the resort itself is absolutely gorgeous! The Grand Floridian and Grand Californian are a step down in decor and layout, and of course, being on a Hawaiian beach makes a huge difference. The staff was very helpful and friendly. The only somewhat disappointing aspect of our eight night stay was that the restaurants are not as good as they should be. They're not bad, they just are not the same standard as the rest of the resort. Having said that, we are reprioritizing our bucket list and will make a return trip as soon as we can.

Room Tip: Our room was on the 3rd floor, same as the lobby. Not needing an elevator was a plus.
  • Stayed: March 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Richard P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2016

This resort is amazing!! Great accommodation , great beach, excellent spa, incredible restaurants, out of this world pools and lazy river. There were 7 adults and a 15 month old in our party.mthe place is so huge you can get away from each other if you wish.we had a two bedroom villa that sleeps 9. The room villa has everything you need. Staff are very friendly and we were greeted with smiles every time we dealt with any staff. This is the best resort I have ever been too. If you want to relax and have quiet this is for you. If you want swimming or a great spa this is the place. The spa has an incredible rain shower area. Make sure to get the the spa one hour before your appointment so you can enjoy this area. Disney characters are around for meet and greet too. I've tried all of Disneys resorts at Disneyland and world and Aulani beats them all. This is truly an incredible resort, you shouldn't be disappointed. No need for an ocean view room because there's so many places to see the view. There's a nice walkway that will take you to three other bays on the ocean. The sunsets are truly outstanding. Ama am a restaurant is. Bit pricey but well worth it and greet ocean views. Breakfast was good here too. Lunch is way cheaper than dinner. The buffet restaurant had an incredible selection of food including crab legs.Try this resort if you want the best. Of course it's not the cheapest and we used our vacation club points. We are planning another family trip next year. There are stores right opposite, restaurants and coffee shop. Grocery store is a five minute drive away.

Room Tip: Any room is great.
  • Stayed: May 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank dorisg137
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2016 via mobile

Family of 4. We recently spent 7 days and 6 nights at Aulani.
My 57 Aulani tips:
1. You can use DVCrequest.com to book rooms through DVC members, at 1/3 to 1/2, the price!! A friend of mine used this website and she got a great deal!
2. Disney gives employees a "Friends and Family Discount," in case you know anyone who works for the company. My mom-in-law was able to get us 40% off our room!
3. If you decide not to rent a car, King Airport Shuttle only costs $54 from Honolulu Airport to Aulani, for 4 people. Awesome customer service!
4. Alamo at Aulani is very expensive. Its half the price to rent at the airport.
5. It costs $35/night to park at Aulani for non-DVC members.
6. Without traffic, it takes 25-30 minutes from HNL to Aulani.
7. Aulani allows you to check-in online as early as 10 days prior to your arrival. I also called Aulani ahead of time to inform them about my son's birthday and other preferences.
8. You can view the "Daily Iwa" on Aulani's website, a couple days prior to your arrival, so you can plan your activities and reservations ahead of time. During your stay, it is available at the front desk after 7pm, for the next day's activities.
9. I registered for Aunty's kids club, 3 months prior to our trip and secured a spot for my son, for Stitch's Space Goo and Aunty's Beach Party. If you don't reserve ahead of time, you may be waiting in a long line, when you arrive at Aulani!
10. Dining reservations can be made on Aulani's website. Make reservations for the Character Breakfast at Makahiki and Ama Ama, at least 1-2 months ahead of time, so you have a better selection of dates and times.
11. Costco and Target: Make a stop for food before going to Aulani. The food there can be pricey. If you forget an item, there's an ABC Store called Island Country Market across the street. They have souvenirs, a deli, toiletries, snacks, towels, etc.
12. Upon arrival, we were greeted by valet staff and then a bellhop. Another cast member presented us with leis (women) and kukui nut necklaces (men). She offered us cold ice water and then led us to the front desk. The front desk cast member gave us our room cards and resort info and we were on our way! Good thing we checked in online!
13. Pool bands: As soon as you arrive, get a pool band! Every day, there's a different color and you can tell how long other guests have been there, by looking at how many bands they have on their arms! So start collecting!
14. Towels: You can pick up towels at the same place you get pool bands. Aulani's pool towels are thick and fluffy! You can also take them to the beach. Be polite to staff and return your towels in the many towel drops!
15. Snorkelling at Rainbow Reef: $40 adult and $30 child all-stay pass. $20 adult and $15 child one-time pass. The water is really cold but you get used to it. The fish are beautiful! Great for beginner snorkellers!
16. Rainbow Reef has a viewing window that is a great place to watch and take cool photos of loved ones, while they're snorkelling!
17. You can bring a GoPro with you, into Rainbow Reef. But you are not allowed to extend it.
18. Fishfeeding at Rainbow Reef: Best time to see all the fishes gathering at the viewing window is at 10am!
19. Waterslides: My favorite was the "Tubestone Curl" because you can share a double tube with someone. The other slide is called "Volcanic Vertical". No tubes were allowed on it and it was enclosed and dark the whole way down. The lines can get long.
20. Pools: Waikolohe Pool is where they have the character pool parties and play games. Ka Maka Grotto is a family infiniti pool, overlooking the beach. There is also a large adult pool, called Wailana Pool. Several whirlpool spas are available.
21. The pools open at 8am, but you may want to claim your chairs around 7:30am, if you want a specific spot. But someone from your party has to physically be there. You can't just leave your stuff prior to 8am.
22. FYI: After the pools open, if you leave your chairs for more than an hour, Aulani staff will mark it with a folded towel over the top. If you do not return soon, those chairs will be freed up for other guests to enjoy.
23. Lazy River: Waikolohe Stream is a great way to be lazy!! Look for hidden menehunes and watch out for cool water features! It is only about 3 feet deep. For you Disney trivia lovers, look for a bridge that says "1923".
24. Ko Olina lagoon/beach: We never had a problem finding chairs and umbrellas (free!). Gets a little crowded in the afternoon. Water is not as clear as I wished it would it be. We brought our own inner tubes to relax in. The water is calm in the lagoon and the sand is soft on the beach.
25. Aunty's Beach House: Kids can play video games, watch movies, make crafts, play in the "backyard", and party with characters!! Each child gets a Magicband, that is used to quickly check them in and out, throughout their stay. You have to leave a $13 deposit for the Magicband.
26. Starlit Hui: Monday and Wednesday, while were there. Pre-show starts at 7:30pm and show starts at 8pm. I recommend getting in line around 7, for a good seat. They hand out straw mats to each "Ohana". The show was very good but it was shorter than I expected.
27. Character Breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Auntie: Nothing special if you've been to the character breakfasts at DW and DL. It costs $35/adult and $18/child. You can buy a Mickey photo package for $45. I liked how they served local favorites like Portuguese sausage, loco mocos, malasadas, and taro bread.
28. Souvenir Refill Mugs: If your family drinks alot of soda, Powerade, or regular coffee, purchasing the mug is worth it. It does not include milk or juice.
29. Ulu Cafe: Daily rotating hot dishes such as bbq ribs, garlic chicken, kalua pork tacos, and meatloaf, which cost $13-15. You can get breakfast wraps and pastries in the morning. They also serve to-go salads and wraps. Whole pizzas are available after 5pm, for $22-25. There's a refillable mug station here.
30. Olelo Room: Happy Hour from 5-7. Live music at night. I loved their "Blue Hawaiian" cocktail. Hawaiian language is displayed on the walls.
31. Off the Hook: Burgers, pizzas, and salads. They also offer poolside and beachside service. I enjoyed their tuna salad sandwich on a taro bun.
32. Mama's Snack Shack had tasty kalua dogs, coconut shrimp, and chicken strips. Its a fast-serve walk up window.
33. Dole Whip soft serve is $4 and you can purchase it at Ulu Cafe and Little Opihi's. Don't leave Aulani without having one!
34. Lava Shack: You can purchase snacks, drinks, sunscreen, towels, and souvenirs.
35. Papalua's Shave Ice: They offer a ton of flavors and condensed milk on top. $4-5. My family's favorite flavors were lychee and green tea.
36. Little Opihi's: A little snack shack on the beach. They serve yummy nachos, Dole whip, Mickey pretzels, pineapple boats, and Mickey ice cream treats!!
37. Pau Hana Room: Community room where you can sign up for activities, rent DVDs to watch in your room, and play boardgames with your family!
38. Shake-A-Shaka Pool Party: If your kids want to party with Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie in the pool, check the Daily Iwa for times.
39. Ohana Beach Games: A great way to bond with your family!! Bury a family member as fast as you can in the sand! Do some relays! My family won the session we participated in!!
40. Fire-pit Storytelling: A great way to hear some Hawaiian folk stories! About 30 minutes long, in the evenings.
41. Art of Aulani Tour: Surprisingly, one of my favorite activities! The tour is 45 minutes and gave us insight into all the meaningful Hawaiian art in the main lobby and hallways.
42. Ukulele Lessons: My family really enjoyed this! Sign up in the Pau Hana Room, on the day of. And get to the signups before 8am because the line gets long. I learned how to play songs on the ukelele! Amazing!!
43. Makiki Joe's: You can rent paddleboards for $39/hour. I recommend to paddleboard in the morning when there are less people in the lagoon. They no longer rent kayaks. You can rent boogie boards and sand toys for free!!
44. Sunrise TaiChi, Seaside Stretch, Sunrise Yoga, Ocean Yoga, Ocean Fitness, Total Body Circuit, and Beachbody Boot Camp are offered. Some require a $15 fee and pre-registration the day beforehand. I really enjoyed Sunrise Yoga!
45. There's a paved path that goes to all the lagoons. Its a 3-mile run roundtrip from Aulani to the 4th lagoon. My husband and I ran it in the mornings.
46. Stay hydrated! There cold water dispensers throughout the resort. The water is infused with citrus fruits.
47. Remind your whole family to pose for the Photopass photographers!! You can get a map of their locations in Kalepas gift shop. Also, I recommend calling the Toonfinder extension x2447, every morning, to find out when and where the characters will be. They also take pictures of your kids at Aunty's special activities, such as Stitch's Space Goo. Just give staff the day and time your child was there and they will help you find your child's photos. Photographers are also on the beach starting at 6:30pm, for beautiful sunset photos! You can view most of your photos on the TV in your room. At the end of your trip you can purchase a $99 CD with all your photos. If you make 7 stops, you get a free 8x10!!! You can also reserve a private photo session.
48. Specialty Coffees: Wailana bar only serves them until 11am. Maybe that's why everyone sleeps so early at Aulani!! If you want an expresso, capuccino, or frappuccino drink, after 11am, you'll have to walk across the street to Island Vintage Coffee. They have an awesome Macadamia Kona Mocha btw!!
49. The grounds are kept very clean, considering everyone is always wet or sandy from the pools/beach. I was very impressed with that.
50. The elevators did not take long. I loved hearing popular Disney songs being sung in the Hawaiian language, while riding the elevator! You can't find this music on CD! Many previous guests have posted videos on YouTube.
51. All the cast members I encountered were pleasant, helpful, calm, and friendly. I liked how they were not "fake friendly"!
52. Disney tried really hard to stay true and respectful to the Hawaiian culture and I really appreciated that about Aulani.
53. Please don't expect Aulani to be similar to the Disney Cruise, Disney World, or Disneyland!! It is its own Disney experience.
54. Getting across the street, to the shopping center: Most guests exited the main entrance and walked down the hill, but then had to walk uphill to get back to Aulani, while carrying heavy shopping bags. An easier way is to exit from a hall in the lobby, to the parking structure, take the elevator down 2 floors, make a right, and walk 1 block to the shops. No hill! Easy!!
55. Pizza Corner: We really enjoyed this restaurant across the street. Loved their Poke pizza and Lobster/Crab pizza. Service is awesome! The owner gave us free garlic knots and free cinnamon rolls!!
56. Other restaurants across the street are Just Tacos, Monkeypod, a Hawaiian BBQ place, and a sushi restaurant.
57. Excursions: I would recommend to reserve your own excursions directly through the vendors. Going through Disney is very very expensive!
***Please "thumbs up" my review if it was helpful for you and your family!!***

Stayed: June 2016, travelled with family
214  Thank bscsf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2016

The resort is nice, have a fantastic view. Furniture in the room is in old style, or old i may say. Food was ok, there is not so much to choose from.
If you are looking for really a full Disney Experience, only a few Mascott in a restaurant is available like 2-3 when i stayed there. Its like in the other side of Waikiki. If you are looking for a quiet relaxing place this is the one for you, but if you are the party type person go to Waikiki area.

  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Vianca Polac C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 June 2016

We are DVC members and stayed here for 10 days in June. Aulani exemplifies Disney theming - such a wonderful traditional Hawaiian feel. We stayed in a studio with 2 teenagers -they slept on the sleeper sofa. This studio was slightly smaller than others we've stayed in at other Disney resorts (assuming it is due to the angle of the balcony in order to get in that "ocean view"). The room was well appointed - even offering robes for your stay. The only negative about the room would be that the dresser was smaller than at other Disney resorts, so the storage was extremely limited. This would not be a deal-breaker though, just something to be aware of.

PROS: Disney level service and atmosphere, plenty of things to do (pool, beach, etc), plenty of beach chairs - it was crowded and we could always find chairs at the beach (not always so at the pool), lots of different food selections, walking distance to a popular luau and shopping area, and CHARACTERS! All-in-all, this is a wonderful FAMILY resort.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: As I stated in pros, it is a FAMILY resort...meaning lots and lots of kids - sometimes they were unhappy, tired, screaming kids. It is what it is. Second, cost of food - for a family of 4 (all considered "adults"), buffet breakfast at Makahiki was $175 with tip. Pricey. There is a small quick service (Ulu's) that offers breakfast options - find a seat yourself or take food back to your room. Third, parking in the garage is free for DVC members (about $37 per day for other resort guests) and can be limited if you arrive back in the late evening. Parking spaces are on the small side for sure! Fourth, your room may be a hike from the elevators and sometimes it can take a while to go up or down - just be sure to add that into your travel time if you need to be somewhere at a specific time. Last, Aulani is located on the south/southwestern side of the island - you'll need a rental car for excursions. Almost all of our activities (zip lining, cage diving, horseback riding) were on the northwest or northeastern part of the island. Leave yourself plenty of time for travel since H1 is the only way in or out of the resort.

Altogether, it is a great family resort - Disney magic in paradise:)

  • Stayed: June 2016, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank DisneyFan2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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