I need to preface this review with a little background on me....I am a HUGE Disney fan, and have regularly visited both WDW in Florida and Disneyland in California for years and years, stayed in many, many Disney resorts and sailed on Disney Cruise Line multiple times. I am currently an Annual Passholder for both FL and CA, so this hopefully puts into perspective my love of Disney. Needless to say, I was so excited that we were going to be staying 5 nights at the Aulani Resort this summer as part of a 3 island tour of Hawaii. I've been building excitement for it since Disney announced Aulani was being built. I was beyond excited to see Aulani with my own eyes.
The people: the staff at Aulani were absolutely wonderful, and just what I had come to expect from a Disney resort. Friendly, helpful, warm, and smiling. It started the minute we arrived and were greeted with leis and necklaces in the lobby. Big kudos to the staff at Aulani for making us feel so welcome. After moving on to other resorts, we very much missed the Disney touch of the staff at Aulani.
The room: We had a pretty standard room with 2 Queen Beds and just an ok view. I actually could see the ocean off in the distance, but it was more of an island view. Next time, I've decided I want a pool or ocean view, even though it costs quite a bit more. I also may upgrade to a villa next time. The room was very nice, but wasn't what sold me on this resort.
The lobby: Once you come here, you will understand. I am fascinated with the lobby at Aulani. I loved looking at it, sitting in it, hearing the music they played in the lobby each day. Gorgeous lobby that I looked forward to being in each day, and was melancholy about leaving when our stay was over. FYI, you can purchase the Aulani lobby music on iTunes, which was exactly what I did as our shuttle was pulling away from the resort on our last day there.
The pools: Wow factor here! I love, love, love the lazy river. I miss it, actually! Nothing like plopping down on a tube and relaxing the day away. This was a big plus for me. All of the other pools were also very nice, including the keiki area, and especially the infinity pool. Gorgeous! The pools at Aulani will not disappoint you! There was something for everyone here.
The beach: Here was my negative. I didn't actually love the beach. Don't get me wrong, it was nice, it was clean, but it was kind of boring. I have older kids and they were really missing the waves, because this beach is as calm and still as can be. More of a cove, really. Now for families with toddlers, this beach is probably a dream! My older kids liked the beaches at the other resorts we stayed at much better. They did rent the stand-up paddle boards at Aulani, and enjoyed doing that activity. We hung out on the beach a lot, but for pre-teen to teenage kids, I think this beach is lacking excitement. Plenty of chairs, though, and nice sand for building castles. The beach was very pretty to look at, anyway.
The food: Loved it! Ama-Ama is a must-try for both dinner and breakfast. It was so memorable and delicious! The buffet restaurant was also decent for both dinner and breakfast with the characters. We loved the quick service offerings near the pool, and specifically, the coconut shrimp, the portuguese sausage dogs, Mickey bars, and the shaved ice stand. I really can't count how many shaved ices we purchased during our stay. YUM! We also did what many others suggested, and ate at Roys, Monkey Pod, and Just Tacos across the street. All good choices near Aulani.
Other: The Starlit Hui was a neat show, and definitely not to be missed while at Aulani. The Menehune interactive game was really fun, and my youngest son enjoyed trying it during our stay. The two gift shops were filled with lots of treasures, so you will have plenty of chances to stock up on Aulani souvenirs while you are there. The Photo Pass service is awesome, because our family was able to purchase a CD filled with photos of our vacation and we had several pics of us all together. Live music was available just about everyday, and we enjoyed buying tropical drinks (and virgin ones for the kids) while listening to live Hawaiian tunes.
I would hands down recommend this resort to any Disney fan or any family traveling with children. It's a special place that I know you will enjoy! I know that I'll go back someday. Unfortunately, distance is a factor, so I won't be able to visit Aulani as often as I do the parks. Until I make it back again, I will treasure the days that I was lucky enough to spend at Aulani. To put it simply, I've completely fallen in love with Aulani! I have awesome memories and my stay there even surpassed my wildest expectations!
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- 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