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“Aulani - where they even manage to say No with a smile!”

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Kapolei
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
18 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Aulani - where they even manage to say No with a smile!”
Reviewed January 17, 2014

From the minute we arrived at this resort we knew we were in for a treat.
1st Tip: check in is at 4pm! We arrived at 11am.So try to arrive as close to 4pm as possible.
When we first arrived it was very overwhelming.The resort is HUGE, with so much going on at any given time.When we finally got into our room ( we had a pool view villa on level L which was very convenient), we found it to be surprisingly spacious ( after our shoebox size room at Hyatt in Maui).we had our own kitchen,dining table,laundry,spa bath and 2 balconies, oh and plenty on cupboard space!! The Disney side of it is not overdone at all, the rooms are very tastefully decorated and get cleaned daily.Our dishes were even washed and stacked for us, and there is a turn down service at night if you have a rollaway bed which we did.
Every day there is a newsletter called "The Daily Iwa".It lists all the activities that are happening around the resort that day and it is broken down into categories .OHANA ( family)KEIKI (children)& OPIO(youth).
Tip no 2: "The Daily Ewa" is available from 10 pm the night before and it is advisable to get it then,as the activities at Aunty's Beach House ( kids club) fill up very quickly.My husband lined up outside the kids club every day at 8 am with all the other dads,just to put the kids names down for that days activities.
Tip No 3: Some activities are booked out months in advance .( I kid u not!!).so when you book your stay at Aulani,ask for the paid activities that will be on during your time there,and book them.
My son was obsessed with Aunty's Beach House.We would drop him at 9am and would pick him up at 9pm. He would have slept there if he could!he became like part of the furniture.The staff are very professional .The children get tagged with hospital style bracelets upon entry and de-tagged upon exiting the club.If,like us, you did not have an American cell phone,they provided you with one so that you could keep in contact with them.Aunty's Beach House was unbelievable,very professionally run, with activities galore ! Only one issue we had was that the OPIO ( youth) activities start from age 13, and my eldest son is 11, so the KEIKI ( children's) activities were a bit boring for him. But he was kept very busy in the Rainbow Reef pool.A man-made aquarium where you can swim and snorkel with the tropical fish.It is cheaper to buy a pass for the duration of your stay then individual days.
Tip No 4: you can buy refillable flasks(mugs) for $20 each,which you can refill at any time with drinks of your choice, including soda's,hot chocolate and coffee . There are mug washing stations as well.it works out way cheaper to buy these then paying for drinks every day.
Tip No.5: Your room entry card is also a Charge Card! Make sure when u get given your cards at check-in that the Adults cards are the only cards allowed to make purchases on, otherwise the kids will be buying Shave Ice all day!!
There are no shortages of restaurants here.AMA AMA is great for breakfast or dinner with a beautiful view over the ocean. We booked a character breakfast on our first day there at MAKAHIKI, which although very pricey, was loads of fun!
There are plenty of restaurants around the pool areas for snacks and light meals.
If you are looking for other options, your best bet is to walk outside the hotel and down the road to the strip mall. There are a few restaurants and shops here. Notably the coffee shop which sells a very healthy and tasty ACAI berry bowl which I had for breakfast every day. The coffee is good too. The ABC store is very well stocked with everything you need if you don't want to pay resort prices for your food. Fresh fruit & veg,salads,even a make your own salad bar.
There is also a pizza restaurant which was delicious.
Back at the resort, if you want to spoil yourself, go to the Spa!
Whilst it is expensive, it is worth every cent just to experience it.
Tip No.6: Be warned : when you go to pay for your treatment, they automatically add on 20 percent gratuity. You DO NOT have to pay that much and they can override it !
In the resort there is also a store that sells Disney merchandise if you are into that sort of thing.We found a lot more variety at the Disney Store at the Ala Moana shopping centre in Honolulu.
There are no shortage of activities here! The water slides are fantastic and the lazy river is great. In order to go on all the rides, you need to collect a wristband from the towel counter every day. We left all of ours on so by the time we left we had 5 different coloured bands on our wrists.My boys still have them on, 2 weeks later.
Menehune bridge is the children's water play area. If you have young kids,this is where you should sit. ( mad rush in the morning to secure your lounge chairs). This play area is like a fort with water cascading everywhere, every 5 minutes a horn sounds and water comes rushing out of an upturned boat. It's simply unbelievable the effort that has gone into these pool areas.
As if this wasn't enough, there is also a magnificent beach. Here you can do all sorts of water and beach activities.equipment can be hired from Makiki Joe's beach rentals. My eldest son played beach volleyball every day and you can also swim out to, and jump off, pontoons in the water.
The resort is not over run with Disney Characters. There are special times during the day when you can line up on the Halawai Lawn to meet Donald & Daisy Duck,Minnie & Mickey, Chip & Dale etc.
I specially arrived at Aulani on Dec 31 thinking New Years Eve would be a fabulous experience here for the kids. I couldn't have been more wrong. There was a dinner you could book for in advance which we were not told about at the time of booking, but I heard afterwards that it was a disaster anyway. We ate a lovely meal at AMA AMA and the kids went to Aunty's Beach House which was open until 11pm. By which time they were exhausted and there was no way I was waiting around on the beach with thousands of other people,until the 12pm fireworks display which only lasted 10 min anyway. We ended up watching the fireworks from the comfort of our villa .
In saying that, WE WILL BE BACK!! Maybe not for 6 days, 3-4 days is more then enough here.Well Done Aulani on Wonderful Service, brilliant activities & a fabulous holiday !!!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
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Helpful?
12 Thank funkyfamilyof5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thousand Oak
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2014

My husband and I went to the Aulani in October for our baby moon. We really, really loved the resort and would go back in a heart beat! The lagoon was perfect. Private, gorgeous views, not too crazy and busy, had rentals and food on the water, and just tons of things to do. For the most part all of the employees were nice too. We loved being able to rent paddle boards, loved the snorkeling cove (it wasnt THAT cold!), the shaved ice..just a bunch we loved about the hotel. The slides were a blast too! The private lagoon really is the best part though! We are from California so go to the beach often, but this beach was by far our favorite we've ever been to! (oh and walk a ways down towards Paradise Cove and check those lagoons out..gorgeous!)

A few things we didn't love:
-Booked a garden view room and got a parking structure view. No garden anywhere, just a massive parking structure. Not okay when paying so much for a room. Ended up paying more and getting a pool/ocean view and it was worth the money. Music did start around 7am every morning down at the breakfast place which was kind of annoying but whatever.

- No late night cheap things to eat. We usually eat around 7 so the only things open were the expensive restaurants. The Ama Ama was delish but too expensive for every night, and the Makahiki was soo bad. Really one of the worst (expensive) meals we have had. They have a hot dog stand and pool service but it ends at like 5..perfect for kids but not for adults, esp when its only 2pm our time at 5pm Hawaii time. Having a much less formal/expensive dining option would be fabulous. Burgers, salads, hot dogs, pasta, sitting room etc.

-We really wanted it to be more Mickey-esque! We get that Hawaii wanted to keep it simple, but some Mickey/Disneyland/World touches would have been nice. They serve waffles for breakfast..make them Mickey waffles like Disneyland hotels and DL do! Shaved ice in the shape of a head with 2 ears (one guy did this for us and we loved it!), Mickey shaped warm pretzels at the beach like they do at DL...just little touches like that would make a huge difference to us! And Dole Whips (or any pineapple whip) at the frozen yogurt place! The line at DL for Dole Whips is always a million miles long so clearly it is a hit!

-Needs to be a soda fill up station at the beach where they sell the food. Otherwise you have to dry off, walk all the way in the maze around the pool, fill the little dinky cup up with soda and come back. By the time you are back at the beach your cup is already empty!

Thats about it! We are already planning a trip with baby for 2015 and can't wait!
(Another thing, we paid like $50 to take a bus to Waikiki...not worth it. All it is is shopping, a crazy busy beach and thats about it. Wont do that again..though if you do, eat at Eggs n Things. Best pancakes I've ever had!!)

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Libby B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
22 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2014

The hotel is simply beautiful. The staff is really nice and accommodating. The lazy river is a lot of fun along with the water slides. The snorkeling pool is cool, but that didn't matter. Going first thing in the morning was great (10:00 AM) because that is when they were doing the fish feeding. They even got the guests in the pool to help.

The kids especially loved the shaved ice stand, and we had to go there every day. My daughter is also very afraid of the ocean, but the lagoon helped ease her fear and she spent half a day there.

One of our favorite activities was the fireside storytelling, although it seemed that the stories were the same quite often at the same time (for example the 9:00 PM story would stay the same for a couple of days, but the 6:00 pm story was different).

I do find that for the tweens (11-12) there is a little less to do. They are a bit too old for Aunty's beachouse with the little one, but not allowed to do the teen activities. They had tween craft a couple of times, but the crafts were the same.

I did find the food to be overpriced and not all that good. The character breakfast at Makahiki was really good; Goofy especially was really entertaining. The food during the evening wasn't very good at all; a lot of the food was dry and we had an early reservation when the food wasn't sitting that long. We went off-property a lot of the time for meals. I would definitely recommend Roy's or Monkeypod instead of eating at the resort.

I have to admit that I really missed having the mug refill station at the store; instead you always have to outside by the pool. I wouldn't do this again as our mugs went missing from our chairs and it was cheaper to get pop from the grocery store.

The kids also missed that the Infinity hot-top was now adults only. They have a new infinity pool with underwater sounds that the kids loved, but the hot-tub wasn't as warm.

One of the things that we love about the hotel, is how they try to teach Hawaiian culture. Staff are always trying to get you to pick up new words and the crafts are fun to learn from the outside artisans. It was also cute hearing all of the Disney songs in Hawaiian in the elevators.

Another fun activity for our kids (D10 and S14) was the Menehune adventure trail. They wandered around the resort solving quests.

One of our biggest laughs was the "No Diving" sign in the kids 2" splashing pool.

The main bed was comfortable, but not as much as other hotels I have stayed at. The pull-out sofa bed was also OK. My daughter really liked the little fold-out bed in the dresser.

Overall, we'll definitely be coming back.

Room Tip: We were in 958 which had a beautiful view of the ocean and was right by the elevator. There wasn'...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank casolo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose
Level Contributor
60 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed January 16, 2014

Couldn't be more true! This IS Disney, and it is For Kids! (of all ages). I'd rather listen to the ball game at the pool bar with a nice cold beer and have the background music of kids laughing and enjoying themselves with their families. The resort is beautiful, and fun, so I completely agree with the former reviewer that if you're looking for a Spring Break , MTV, Beach Babes, Techno music headache and barf fest party people, Go to Maui or Waikiki. Don't gripe about a Disney resort.
I'm still a kid at 53+ and love I this place. It is also my home resort as a DVC member.

Room Tip: Don't bring a rental car here. You can rent one from Aulani
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank KoloheSanJose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2014 via mobile

The Aulani is a Disney property. Adults, this is a kids hotel. If you go without kids, you won't like it like a kid would. This is Disney. If you want an adult experience, go to Maui.

My kids loved the slides and the pools. They loved the beach and we had a blast. I had a blast watching them have a blast. Why? Because this hotel is for KIDS.

Who cares about your view? Get your pasty white starbucked butt outside. Get your kids and go to the beach or water park. Why? Because this is a resort for KIDS. Kids. It is for KiDS.

Who cares if the scuba pool is cold? Fish need it that temp to live, oh and by the way this resort is to make kids dreams come true, not adults.

If you go to this resort without kids, then make another appointment with your shrink. Why? Because this resort is made to appeal to kids, not spoiled baby boomers who gripe about everything. "But my pool side room was so loud with kids laughter and the sound of water". Yes, that's because it is Disney and built for kids who laugh and play in water, genius (it is built for kids).

Oh, and the food was pricey and Oahu is about an hour away. But my KIDS never knew the difference. They loved it and I am the best Dad ever.

Stayed January 2014
Helpful?
32 Thank Dave L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2014

Our kids are older (14 and 11) so they are a little old for character breakfasts and such. Whereas the Aulani is a Disney resort and you can have the "Disney" experience, it is not overwhelming, which was actually a good thing.

As for the resort's amenities, they rival those of the Grand Wailea's in Maui. There are two water slides, a lazy river, a snorkeling reef, and a freshwater lagoon. There was really no need to leave the resort. However, there are some nice dining options in Koolina (Roy's and MonkeyPod), so it is worth a free shuttle ride to venture out in the evening.

We were at the resort the week after Christmas, so finding a chair at poolside after 9am was a problem. I don't know if that's an issue other times of the year.

This was one of the best family vacation destinations we have been to and we definitely recommend it to others!

Room Tip: Worth getting a timeshare room if there are many in your party or you are staying for a longer perio...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank SDJane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

I can't say enough about the service and staff at this hotel. They were GREAT! This hotel has the perfect amount of Hawaii and Disney. The hotel is beautiful, the pools and fun and the spa is AMAZING. The breakfast buffet as some have said, the food is no different then any other breakfast buffet but the personal attention you get from the characters can't be beat. Go to the buffet for the characters if nothing else. There is a quick service dinning area by the splash pad. I did not find this tell the last couple days of the trip but it has fruit, cinnamon and many other tasty things. This trip was one of my all time favorites. We had a 14 month old with us and it was so fun to see him with the characters. This hotel caters to all ages and there is something for everyone. Add this hotel to your bucket list!

Room Tip: Honesty Any Room is great. We had one just about the Parking Garage, but with the gorgeous view of H...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Katie O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Property: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Address: 92-1185 Ali'inui Drive, Kapolei, Oahu, HI 96707-4434
Location: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Kapolei
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 5 Hotels in Kapolei
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 819
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Also Known As:
Aulani, a Disney Resort And Spa In Hawai`i
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa In Hawai`i Hotel Kapolei
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa Hawaii/Oahu

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