Aloha! Disney Aulani in Hawaii was hands down our most favorite and relaxing family trip to date. The resort grounds are beautiful and there’s so much to do that you never even have to leave Aulani! I’m so glad that I made it a point to build in resort time to our trip, because our kids never wanted to leave the pools unless it was to go to Aunty’s Beach House. My kids are rarely fans of any type of drop off kid club, but they would RUN to Aunty’s. Keep reading for our 20 tips for families visiting Disney Aulani in Hawaii. We can’t wait to return!
PREPARING FOR DISNEY AULANI IN HAWAII TIPS
1. SKIP THE FRONT DESK AND CHECK-IN ONLINE
Before you leave for Hawaii, make sure to check-in to Aulani online. It’s so nice to be able to go straight to your room after a long day of traveling.
2. COMPLETE PRE-REGISTRATION FOR AUNTY’S BEACH HOUSE.
Aunty’s Beach House is a complimentary kids club for children ages 3-12. Most of the activities are free, but there are also some premium actives that you can register for in advance that come with a fee. Before checking into the hotel at least 2 days prior and up to 90 days in advance, make sure to go online and complete the pre-registration forms so you can quickly get them set up on arrival. TIP: Kids receive magic bands that act as their entry key to Aunty’s. Save your receipt or take a photo of it and you’ll be refunded the money for the bands upon return.
3. BOOK MEALS AND ACTIVITIES EARLY
Aulani dining and luau reservations can be made online up to approximately 6 months in advance. There are two main table service restaurants at Aulani, ‘AMA‘AMA and Makahiki. Makahiki offers a character buffet breakfast and buffet dinner that is very kid-friendly. I recommend dropping the kiddos off at Aunty’s and enjoying an adult only meal at ‘AMA‘AMA. You can arrange for the kids to eat a kid-friendly, family style meal at Aunty’s for lunch or dinner. Ask for details upon registration. You’ll also want to book any premium activities and excursions as early as possible to secure a spot.
4. LEAVE THOSE BEACH TOYS AND LIFE JACKETS AT HOME
Disney Aulani offers complimentary beach toys and life jackets, so no need to take up precious luggage space with those things!
5. BOOK A MOANA MAKEOVER
The Painted Sky Studio is not a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience, but it’s just as memorable and fun! The salon offers several different packages, but our 5 year old would highly recommend booking the I Am Moana package. The package included a Moana costume, hair, makeup, shell necklace, flower clip set and slippers. I recommend booking this makeover right before the luau.
ARRIVING AT DISNEY AULANI IN HAWAII TIPS
6. GET A LUANA LOUNGE PASS IF YOU HAVE AN EARLY OR LATE FLIGHT
As a convenience, Resort Guests with early or late flights may enjoy access to Luana Lounge, which features restrooms, showers, lockers, dressing rooms, computers and a television. We arrived before the 3pm check-in time with the intention of checking our luggage at the Bell Desk and utilizing the Luana Lounge, but our room was all ready for us. I’ve seen photos of the Luana Lounge and it’s definitely a great perk for guests! Make sure to pack a small checkin with swimsuits and other necessities if you have an early or late flight.
7. GO ON A GROCERY RUN
The food is pricey at Aulani! There’s a Target and Costco only 10 minutes away that you can shop for groceries at. You can uber is there or take a cab if you don’t have access to a rental car. There’s also a little marketplace across the street from Aulani that has a small corner store with groceries/souvenirs, a few restaurants (we loved Pizza Corner) and boutique shops. It’s only a 5 minute walk to the shops across the street from the lobby, so definitely doable. We regret not booking a room with a kitchen, something we will definitely do on our next trip so we can cook more of our meals. The resort also has a grilling area that guests can utilize.
8. CHECK THE DAILY ‘IWA
The Daily ‘Iwa can be found online or throughout the resort and is your activity guide for the resort. There are some activities, like the Animation Academy, that you’ll need to sign up for ahead of time. Visit the Pau Hana Room for more information on activities throughout the resort.
9. GET A REFILLABLE MUG AND POPCORN BUCKET
If you are a soda or coffee drinker, the Disney Aulani in Hawaii refillable mug is a great deal!
10. BUY A SNORKELING PASS FOR YOUR STAY
Rainbow Reef is a private snorkeling lagoon at Disney Aulani. Depending on how long you’ll be staying and how often you want to snorkel, it might be worth it to purchase a length of stay access pass rather than a day pass. Our 5 year old, who is new to snorkeling, didn’t need more than a day pass. Our 8 year old could have lived in the lagoon if Disney let him!
ENJOYING DISNEY AULANI IN HAWAII TIPS
11. ARRIVE TO THE KA WA‘A LUAU EARLY
Luau VIP seats were already sold out, but we still got great seats and had enough time to do all of the pre-show activities by arriving an hour before the doors opened. Aulani’s luau is my absolute favorite in Hawaii! It was beautiful and extremely kid-friendly with the pre-show hands on activities. We especially loved the lei making and ukulele lessons.
12. DO THE MENEHUNE ADVENTURE TRAIL ACTIVITY
The Menehune Adventure Trail is an interactive scavenger hunt at the resort. Our kids loved this experience and Disney really went all out on the details. I recommend starting the trail early into your trip and you can always continue where you left off. If your children are anything like mine, they’ll want to complete the entire hunt!
13. ENJOY SHAVED ICED WITH MICKEY EARS
The shaved ice at Pāpālua Shave Ice Snack Shop was our favorite Aulani treat! You can order plain shaved ice, shaved ice + ice cream and shaved ice + condensed milk. Once your base is ordered you can pick your flavors and add Mickey ears. We tried and loved all the combos, just eat it fast before the ears slide off!
14. ARRIVE EARLY TO SAVE POOLSIDE SEATS
Poolside seats were a hot commodity at Disney Aulani in Hawaii and the resort doesn’t allow you to hog a seat all day if you are not using it. This honestly wasn’t an issue for us as we just lounged inside of the pool!
15. ATTEND THE MO-OLELE STORYTELLING
I love how Aulani made it a point to be about the Hawaiian culture with Disney infusion, instead of the other way around. Make sure to catch one of the many Mo‘olele Storytelling times. We all really enjoyed hearing a traditional Hawaiian tale while sitting around a fire pit.
16. COLLECT THE AULANI ACTIVITY BANDS
Each day that you are at the resort, you will be given a different colored plastic wrist band to enjoy the resorts amenities. You’ll notice that many people collect these bands instead of cutting them off. It’s a fun way to tell how long someone has been at the resort. We loved guessing which color of band we’d receive each morning and counting how many days we had been there.
17. GO PADDLEBOARDING & BOOGIE BOARDING
Boogie boards are complimentary for guests. Paddleboards can be rented at Makiki Joe’s shack on the Aulani beach. We rented a paddleboard and took turns taking the kids out on the water. This was the perfect first paddleboarding experience for the kids!
OUTSIDE DISNEY AULANI HAWAII TIPS
18. RENT A CAR AT AULANI
If you really must leave the resort, I recommend booking a car through Alamo. There’s a rental location located right at the resort that’s super convenient. We rented a car at the airport for the first half of our trip and dropped it off at Alamo right at the resort. I enjoyed exploring the island for the first part of our trip and being able to fully enjoy the resort for the remainder. We caught a taxi at the resort to return to the airport.
19. VISIT KUALOA RANCH
Aside from the many memories made at Aulani, our kids still talk about the Kualoa Ranch. The Kualoa Ranch offers many different tours and activities in the most beautiful location. We booked the Jungle Jeep Expedition and had a blast! Many of the scenes from Jurassic World, Kong Skull Island, Jumanji and other films were shot at this location, which thrilled my dinosaur lover!
20. EAT AT SEVEN BROTHERS
I asked many locals for food recommendations and many recommended grabbing a burger at Seven Brothers. We definitely weren’t disappointed! My son has asked to return to Hawaii just so he can eat at Seven Brothers again.
Do you have any Disney Aulani in Hawaii tips to add?