Our family of four really enjoyed our stay at Aulani. We had a king room with a sleeper sofa which is made just for Disney. It had a particularly thick mattress and seemed like it would be perfectly comfortable even for an adult. I love that they keep a Pack-n-Play in the closet of every room so you don't have to ask for a crib to be sent up. Unfortunately when you have the sleeper sofa and Pack-n-Play assembled there's not much room to walk around. We liked the rain shower head and the handheld one (makes rinsing kids after their bath much easier). It's nice that the hotel has recycle bins in the rooms and all around the property, but I wish they were labeled to let you know what items are recyclable there.
Our kids loved the Menehune Bridge water playground. The lazy river was neat and this is usually a favorite attraction of mine, but this one is unbearably slow. I noticed that not many people used it, and those who did could be seen swimming or if riding on tubes constantly pushing themselves along. There were always a ridiculous amount of leaves in the river. Hopefully once the newly-planted trees get settled in they will stop dropping so many leaves. It's cool that the two water slides don't have a height restriction and the tube one accepts double tubes so you can go down with your child. I was surprised that the Menehune Bridge had a 48" height restriction (for my tall kids that means they can only use it until they turn 6) although I never saw anyone around to enforce the rule. We were surprised to see so many lifeguards watching every inch of the lazy river and the main pool. FYI none of the pools there are over four feet deep so it's more of a wading pool than actual swimming. Our favorite thing was the dual level waterfall spa overlooking the beach. You're supposed to get a wristband every day when you pick up your towels for the pool. This allows you to use the water slides and if you pay for their man-made lagoon snorkeling ($15-20) they will punch the wristband so you can come back and snorkel again later in the day. The way the hotel is shaped makes the pool area like the bottom of a canyon and the wind really whips through there. We noticed a lot of plastic cups, napkins, lettuce, etc. strewn all around from the wind when people were eating poolside. The poolside dining staff never seemed to be around when we needed them. Once they offered my son a refill of lemonade and just never came back with it. After that I gave up on the service and just went over to the bar anytime I wanted to order something.
We were a little annoyed that the buffet restaurant didn't open until 7 AM. Coming from California that felt like 10 AM and we were starving. On our last day there we had an early flight and had to leave before the restaurant opened. The only other place that serves food in the morning is at the bar outside the buffet restaurant. They call it "continental breakfast" but you actually pay for each item (e.g. yogurt parfait, croissant). We found the food at the buffet to be pretty good but the price was outrageous. It is $43 per adult for dinner and $27 for breakfast. The portions are tiny, which is good in a way because it enables you to try a lot of things without getting stuffed or wasting food, but also annoying if you just want a regular sized serving of one thing. We really wished we could just go to a regular restaurant and get an egg white omelet or pancakes for our kids without spending over $100. One morning we walked over to the JW Marriott Ihilani next door and did just that. Their buffet, which has a much larger selection than Aulani, was much cheaper (can't remember adult price but kids were $9 and they charged only $3 for my picky son who only wanted scrambled eggs). At the Aulani sit-down restaurant 'Ama-'Ama, we enjoyed the gazpacho soup and grilled veggie sandwich on ciabatta bread (although some would say they were both a little oily). I wanted to try the goat cheese ravioli but couldn't get a reservation to come back. My husband was annoyed that his red wine was served too cold. The waiter explained that they keep all of their wine refrigerated since it's too hot there to leave it out at room temperature. We've never encountered this elsewhere in Hawaii and didn't see why they couldn't have taken it out of the fridge for a couple of hours before serving it. Aulani's restaurants seemed great for people who enjoy local, organic, gourmet food but they didn't have much regular American food. We heard a lot of people complain that they couldn't get their kid a hot dog or a turkey sandwich. We had an issue with the kids club when they wouldn't allow my son who is allergic to dairy products to bring in his own food. They insisted that the only food that can be served there is from the "private dining" room service menu. There was nothing on that menu that my son could eat so we had to order a turkey wrap asking for no cheese. We found out later from my son that it was served to him with cheese and he had to try to pick it off by himself. The shave ice stand charges $5 and doesn't offer ice cream. The poolside menu is very limited and the items are great for dieters but not filling enough for a normal person who is swimming and working up an appetite all day. People couldn't believe that there weren't more restaurants. It was hard to get reservations at the two restaurants and we all wondered how they would feed people when the hotel is fully open (I believe only 2-3 of the 7 towers were open the first week). We were quite relieved to find that the hotel gift shop had a decent select of grocery items and the prices weren't much higher than local markets. We bought bread, sliced turkey, mayo, mustard, bagels and peanut butter. They also had a lot of frozen dinners but we weren't sure where to find a microwave since our room didn't have one. There's also an Island Market ABC Store just across the street from the entrance of the resort which sells groceries and produce (don't miss the yummy apple bananas!). There is a mexican grill and an ice cream shop over there, too.
The best thing about this hotel is that the kids club "Aunty's Beach House" provides free childcare for kids age 3-12. I could not find any other hotel in Hawaii that offers childcare for 3-4 year olds. It opens at 8 or 9 AM and closes between 8 and 11 PM. It is enormous and very clean. They require everyone (including parents coming to pick up kids) to wash their hands before entering. Upon their first visit, the kids are issued a wristband to wear for the duration of your stay. This is used to check them in and out of the computer system. My only complaint is that my kids ages 3 and 7 played video games the entire time. I wish there was a way to set a time limit for that or have that room separate so parents could decide whether or not to allow their kids in.
I enjoyed the beautiful 1.5 mile walk on the paved path along the four lagoons of Ko Olina. There is also a magnificent beach if you walk north just past the JW Marriott. The lagoons are roped off so that you cannot exit them to get to the waves. There doesn't seem to be a beach with waves within walking distance, so don't plan on boogie boarding or surfing here. You can rent kayaks (a double was $30/hr) or stand-up paddle boards but the lagoon is pretty small and we got bored after the first 10 minutes.
We were quite surprised that the property was not "more Disney." If we hadn't noticed the name Disney on the sign we probably wouldn't have known it was a Disney property. You will not see Disney characters in the decor (except for a brown wooden lamp base shaped like Mickey in the room) and only a few times a day are their character visits down by the buffet restaurant. The only time we saw Mickey was at the very end of the nightly entertainment (it was hula and ukelele the night we went) but unfortunately by 8 PM Hawaii time our kids were so tired they didn't care to stay up and see the characters so we took them up to bed instead. There is a wooden statue of Stitch over by the kids club that could be easily missed. They did a wonderful job designing the decor of the hotel and the landscaping outside in keeping with the vintage Hawaiiana theme.
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Ctrip TA, Hotwire, Travelocity, Cancelon, Cheap Tickets, getaroom.com and HotelQuickly so you can book your Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa In Hawai`i Hotel Kapolei
- Aulani, a Disney Resort And Spa In Hawai`i
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Hawaii/Oahu