Here’s Why You Need to Vacation at Disney’s Aulani Resort

Disney's Aulani Cover Image

Not all Disney Resorts are affiliated with a Disney theme park location. For instance, you may have heard of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort—a Disney Vacation Club Resort that opened back in 1995 on Florida’s East Coast and is only about two hours away from Walt Disney World Resort. There is also Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina, which opened six months after the Vero Beach distinction and is also known for its unattached status to any Disney Park designations. But it wasn’t until 2011 that the most attention to Disney Vacation Club Resorts being located off Park property came about. That was when Aulani, A Disney Resort was established in pristine Hawaii.

A first of its kind in so many ways, the Disney Aulani Resort already has so many distinguishing attributes that it does just fine with, without the need or dependency on Disney Parks to serve as its main callout. From the obviousness of its residence as a Hawaii-based haven to the vast and varied onsite amenities and experiences that come with being a Guest here, there are countless reasons why you should book your next Disney vacation at Aulani. Here are just a couple of those reasons.

Children Swimming at Aulani

Credit: Disney Aulani

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A Lavish Location!

By vacationing at Aulani, you not only get to stay within that highly-coveted island paradise known as Hawaii, but you will also do so while experiencing Disney Magic. That’s a win-win—a fulfillment of two of the most contested dream vacations many folks keep at the top of their bucket lists. Situated in Ko Olina on the scenic island of Oahu, Disney’s Aulani succeeds at being near enough to the many top tourist hotspots while also retaining privacy and seclusion. It’s only about a half-hour drive from the Island’s airport, yet it feels like a world removed with its 21 pristine acres overlooking the ocean coast and vast surrounding mountains.

Aerial View of Aulani Resort

Credit: Disney Aulani

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Acclaimed Accommodations

Aulani boasts a wide range of different accommodations to choose from. And as you’d expect of any Disney Resort, all your options go above and beyond as far as in-room amenities, intricate and inviting motifs, and other magical touches go. For starters, there are well over 350 traditional hotel rooms. These include standard rooms that comfortably sleep up to four adults and one- and two-bedroom suite options that can house five or six Guests, respectively.

A Standard Room Option

Credit: Disney Aulani

Then there are more than 480 Disney Vacation Club designations, which range from deluxe studios to more elaborate villas that provide an array of home-away-from-home comforts. From one- and two-bedroom villas that can sleep between five and nine inhabitants to stunning three-bedroom villas that can house up to 12, there are just so many profuse possibilities worth perusing.

Interior of Two-Room Villa

Credit: Disney Aulani

It’s also worth mentioning that all these different dwellings have various scenic views. Available options include standard views, ocean views, partial ocean views, and garden views (overlooking the poolside gardens and Island gardens).

Views From Balcony

Credit: Disney Aulani

Everything You Need Onsite

As you’d expect at any Disney Resort, you have everything you will ever need right on location. Are you looking for some great souvenirs? Or perhaps you need a last-minute essential. Onsite shops as well as nearby shopping have you covered. You’ll also find everything you can ever need in the way of dining, entertainment, ongoing activities, and more. Once you arrive here, you really never have a need to leave the site at all.

Couples Exploring All Aulani Offers

Credit: Disney Aulani

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Wonderful Water Recreations 

As is the case at most Disney Resorts, swimming and other water-based recreations are among the most popular onsite pastimes at Aulani. There are several options on the poolside of things, from the more serene Wailana Pool to the Ka Maka Grotto—an impressive interactive area comprising an infinity pool overlooking the Resort’s beach, a misty grotto, and more fun features.

View of Ka Maka Grotto

Credit: Disney Aulani

There’s also the 8,200-square-foot, zero-entry Waikolohe Pool which is the site of plenty of ongoing excitement, including the famous Shake-A-Shaka Pool Party with Disney Characters. The Waikolohe Stream contains a relaxing lazy river setup and two rapid adventures—the Volcanic Vertical and Tubestone Curl. And you have to check out Keiki Cove—an interactive splash zone and watery playground designed for kids as young as five yet open to folks of all ages. With its 2,100 square feet, Menehune Bridge is a mega-haven featuring two water slides, a splash zone, and a host of other watery wonders and delights.

Water Fun at Aulani

Credit: Disney Aulani

Additionally, you can enjoy whirlpool spas featured in four areas around the Resort. Locations include the Ka Maka Grotto, Waikolohe Pool, Waikolohe, and ‘Alohi Point—an oceanfront designation exclusive to Guests ages 18 and older.

But it has to be the stunning Rainbow Reef that takes the cake in swimming experiences. An onsite saltwater lagoon that’s home to thousands of tropical marine creatures makes this the ultimate scuba divining and snorkeling adventure.

Snorkeling at Rainbow Reef

Credit: Disney Aulani

And then, let’s not forget about all those happy beachfront other endeavors. From sunbathing to surfing and boogie boarding, the possibilities are as far-stretching as the Hawaiian horizon!

Swimming Father and Daughter at Aulani Coast

Credit: Disney Aulani

Complimentary Onsite Activities

Along with all the wonderful watery delights, Disney’s Aulani provides more than 30 other complimentary activities to get into. Some of the most cherished endeavors include ’Ohana Movie Nights, Mo’olelo Fire Pit Storytelling, scavenger hunts along the Menehune Adventure Trail, Painting with Light, featured games and crafting events at Pau Hana Room — Community Hall, and more.

Moana and Uncle at Fire Pit

Credit: Disney Aulani

There are also targeted age-bracketed offerings, like ongoing interactive fun for children ages 3 to 12 at Aunty’s Beach House, Sunset Meles on the beach for teens, and even experiences exclusive to grownups.

Aunty's Beach House Activities

Credit: Disney Aulani

Hawaiian Cultural Experiences

One very noticeable way in which activities and offerings are different at Aulani is that you get a fully immersive Hawaiian cultural experience interwoven into all endeavors you take to onsite. And you cannot help but come away being schooled in the essence of Island life and culture, whether it’s something subtle like learning new words in the Hawaiian language for a familiar favorite or taking part in an immersive themed experience that puts you directly at the heart of Hawaiian life and vibrancy. Some fun targeted experiences to embrace especially include getting in on hula lessons, ukulele strumming, and enjoying live Hawaiian music and entertainment performed onsite nightly.

Hula Dancing

Credit: Disney Aulani

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Delectable Dining

Delectable dining seems to be a delightful default for every single Disney designation. So, would you expect anything other than Aulani to be home to so many delicious options as well? For an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring all the works in lavish Hawaiian cuisine paired with an entertaining luau, Ka Wa’a is an absolute must-do. Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands is another favorite, providing innovative fusion takes on local and international interests. They also feature special three-course Character Breakfast engagements. ‘Ama ‘Ama — Contemporary Island Cooking, is a dinner-only open-air concept featuring traditional well-loved Hawaiian Island-style cuisine classics with a kick. Ulu Café is the Resort’s primary quick-service eatery, operating around the clock with plentiful options that range from grab-and-go goods to made-to-order meals. Off the Hook is another highlight known particularly for ample libations, light bites, and quick meal choices. And you can’t overlook the option for an upscale lounge experience at ‘Ōlelo Room, which is renowned for its signature cocktails, appetizers, and more. Other quick-service stops and options to check out around Aulani include Mama’s Snack Stop, Little ‘Opihi’s – Beachside Kiosk, Wailana’s Pool Bar, and Pāpālua Shave Ice.

Beachfront Dining

Credit: Disney Aulani

Character Experiences

As referenced briefly before, Disney’s Aulani Resort has a host of Disney Character interactive experiences to take part in. This is unique to Disney Resorts that are independent of theme park affiliations. Characters you can expect to mingle with onsite at Aulani include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy Duck, Chip ‘n Dale, Duffy the Bear, Shellie May, Stitch, and even Moana. Experiences for which you can expect such encounters range from pool parties, various ongoing activities, specially tailored events, and character dining at the aforementioned Makahiki — The Bounty of the Islands.

Mickey and Minnie in Hawaiian Clothes

Credit: Disney Aulani

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Pampering and Wellness

It goes without saying that many folks look to get in a bit of relaxation and wellness while on an extended visit to an Island oasis. The same is true of Guests at Aulani, who particularly seek out this lower-key laid-back Disney alternative to the hustle and bustle of the Parks. And fortunately, the Laniwai Spa both meets and exceeds all expectations in the relaxation department. Custom-created just for the Resort, even the most self-contested spa aficionados agree that the stellar services here are beyond compare. In fact, there are more than 150 treatments to choose from. Additionally, Laniwai boasts the only outdoor hydrotherapy garden in all of Oahu—Kula Wai.

Woman Receiving Spa Treatments at Aulani

Credit: Disney Aulani

There are even spa services available for kids! But truth be told, younger folks tend to prefer spending time at the Painted Sky: Hi Style Studio for elaborate makeovers instead. While these services are exclusive to children between the ages of three and 12, adults take note that there are other salon specialties just for you as well.

Girl Receiving Makeover at Aulani

Credit: Disney Aulani

In getting back to the wellness aspect of Aulani, though, you should also consider their stellar state-of-the-art fitness center and other physical follies. You may even opt for personal trainers or to join in on a fitness class. And as you’d expect at a classic Hawaiian Island escape, they even have yoga!

Fitness Center at Aulani

Credit: Disney Aulani

Excursions and Extras

Again, there is so much to immerse yourself with directly onsite at Disney’s Aulani. You really never have to leave your Resort for any of the other Island extras at all. Just the same, if you so choose to do so, there are a host of extra excursion packages and pursuits you may book directly at the Resort. The paradisal possibilities, from extended tours to elaborate guided excursions, are never in short supply. Click here to learn more about all the available extras.

Mother and Daughter Horseback Excursion

Credit: Disney Aulani

I haven’t even begun to scrape the surface of the unending attributes that make Disney’s Aulani such a stellar destination. But don’t take my word for it; consider experiencing it all for yourself by booking your very own magical vacation here. What could be better than the Magic of Hawaii paired with the Magic of Disney?

About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.