If you love Mickey Mouse and you're thinking about visiting Hawaii with kids, DVC Aulani (Disney Vacation Club Aulani) may just be the perfect destination for you. You'll find a Hawaii Disney vacation of your dreams: a tropical resort vacation that combines the spirit of Aloha and the magic of Disney. What more could you wish upon a star for?
Having visited Aulani, A Disney Resort Spa a couple of times, I can say this enchanting island resort spares no expense when it comes to fun and relaxation, and dare I say pixie dust. It also brings that high-quality, Disney Vacation Club experience members have come to know and love. Villas with a kitchen, living room, kid-friendly accommodations, amenities, and more!
And it is one of the best vacations we have taken!
It’s fun, as only the Imagineers behind Walt Disney Company can do. But also done the Hawaiian way, with the spirit of Aloha and lots of Polynesian culture infused. My kids not only loved this special vacation, they learned a bit about Hawaii, including words and legends (like the Menehune)!
Located in the quiet and restful Ko Olina, Hawai'i on Oahu, it is an ideal spot for your ohana (which means family.) And best of all, the Keiki (which means kids) love it!
Here's all you need to know about visiting Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa!
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About Disney's Aulani
Located on the island of Oahu, the Aulani, a Disney resort spa in Hawaii, is about a 35-minute drive from Honolulu, in the Ko Olina, Hawai'i area. More than just a hotel room, it is one of the Disney Vacation Club member resorts, which means its thoughtful amenities are perfect for families.
It is also one of the resorts where Disney Vacation Club members can use vacation points to cover the hotel room cost, though paying guests can purchase their stay without points.
The resort is NOT a Walt Disney Company theme park, but it does have a lot of great things to do both at the resort and nearby. And you might even get a hotel room or villas with an ocean view!
The Aulani Resort & Spa offers fun for children of all ages. You can book a spa day at the Laniwai, A Disney Spa while your kids have fun at Aunty's Beach House. Or play in the splash area and float on the relaxing river with the kids. Enjoy amenities like the fitness center.
Build sandcastles or get out your snorkel to explore the ocean lagoon at the quiet Ko Olina cove right at the hotel, one of the best beaches on the island for kids. And, book a character meal with one of the fab five Disney characters vacationing at the hotel.
Then, there are the adventures to explore around the island, one of the best Hawaiian islands to visit with kids! This will be one of those family vacations you will never forget, and our kids STILL talk about it.
Here is more information you need to know about this resort.
Where is DVC Aulani?
This ocean-front retreat is located in Ko Olina on Oahu, about 35 – 45 minutes from the airport. Its location is away from the busy centers of Honolulu and Waikiki, so it is a great area to enjoy a quieter Hawaiian vacation.
But you can certainly tour areas of the famed surf towns in the North Shore or swim in the ocean on some of the best beaches on the island, or head over for hikes on Diamond head and epic snorkel spots like Hanauma Bay. All of the things to do on Oahu with kids can be accessed from this kid-friendly resort.
About Disney Vacation Club Properties
If you are unfamiliar with the Disney Vacation Club properties, here's a quick lowdown.
Typically, they are like a hotel room with the feeling of home. Often, they include a kitchen or kitchenette, a living room, a king or queen-size bed, and often a queen-size sleeper sofa.
You can also find one or two-bedroom villas. Even a 3-bedroom villa is an option. Each villa sleeps multiple people, so they can make a perfect multigenerational Disney vacation.
As a member of the Disney Vacation Club for the last 20 years, I can say having this home away from home at any Disney property is helpful with kids (like we have stayed in Florida, Hilton Head Island, and other fun properties). But having it in Hawaii is really fantastic, especially with a living room, dining area, and ocean view!
Though, let's be real – even a standard room with a standard view in Hawaii is special.
While as a member you can pay for your accommodations with DVC points, you can also pay for your stay as well.
Everything You Need to Know About Aulani Disney Resort and Spa
Of course, if you're going on a unique vacation like this, you need to know all about this Disney Resort & Spa. Here's everything you need to know about DVC Aulani (Disney Vacation Club Aulani).
What are the Room Types at Aulani?
Similar to many DVC properties, you'll find a variety of accommodations to choose from, like grand villas, studios, and standard rooms. The Aulani Disney Vacation Club villas come with a standard island gardens view, poolside, or ocean view.
The standard DVC Aulani rooms come with a standard view, but if you want to stay in a deluxe studio, you'll find the same view choices as the villas. They offer a queen-sized sleeper sofa and a kitchenette.
A villa differs from a hotel room because you get a full kitchen, separate bedrooms (1, 2 or 3 bedroom villas), a living room and dining room, and a washer and dryer. See a complete list of amenities at the hotel here. Each villa sleeps a different number of guests.
One extra thing you need to know is that Hawaii charges a transient accommodations tax each night. It's based on the number of Disney Vacation Club points required for the room you choose. The tax rate varies year to year, so don't be surprised when this shows up on your final bill.
You can find more information in the booking module under the Plan a Vacation tab.
How Much is a Disney Aulani Vacation?
Aulani Resort prices vary depending on the vacation seasons and year, but the standard rooms start at $399 + tax. This is subject to change of course.
You may want to plan your travel dates around the regular season as resort rates are lower when the kids are in school. Summer is the peak season, and prices rise for holidays like Christmas too.
DVC Aulani (Disney Vacation Club Aulani) Activities and Excursions
You won't get bored at this Disney property! That's one of our favorite things about this resort. There are so many experiences unique to this special resort. You can even take Ukulele lessons!
Here are some of the activities and attractions you don't want to miss.
DVC Aulani (Disney Vacation Club Aulani) Waterpark and Pools
You'll find plenty of things to do in the pools, splash zones, and other areas of the waterpark. Toddlers especially have fun in the splash areas!
Ka Maka Grotto
The grotto is an infinity-edge pool that overlooks the gorgeous Ko Olina cove. You won't want to miss the night experience when the twinkling lights turn on.
All kids love this other interactive area of the waterpark that includes a play structure, two slides, and the enchanted little people of Hawaii – the Menehune.
Keiki Cove Splash Zone
The little ones can play and splash in the interactive splash zone that has squirting water jets. This area was designed to look like a tidal pool.
This 3,800 square-foot saltwater lagoon is the only one on Oahu where you can swim in tranquil waters with the fish.
If you want a private space for relaxing, you can reserve a luxurious cabana in the Waikolohe Valley pool area.
There are four whirlpool spas where you can unwind!
The 8,200 square-foot pool area is the best one at the Aulani Resort. It includes a tunnel body slide, the Volcanic Vertical. You'll also discover the Waikolohe Stream in this area.
There is also a tubing adventure that starts at the top of Pu‘u Kilo – the Tubestone Curl. This adventure is an open-air water tube that twists and ends by launching you into the Waikolohe Stream.
Tip: Get here early and secure your beach chairs to ensure you get a spot. But don't leave your chairs unattended for extended periods, as the Cast Members keep a close eye to make sure guests aren't holding chairs they aren't using.
The Wailana Pool is not in the main area, so you can enjoy peaceful seclusion here.
You don't want to miss spending time on Aulani Beach, where you can rent equipment through the Vacation Club rentals at Makiki Joe's Beach Equipment Rentals.
Enjoy boogie boarding, snorkeling, and paddleboarding in the warm waters. Or just enjoying the view. Also, the whole family can enjoy exploring Oahu Island in a sailing canoe.
There is even a North Shore Beach Zone where teens can enjoy a “North Shore” experience. Teens will also enjoy the Sunset Mele, where youth gather at sunset to celebrate the island culture and music. It's a Disney teen experience they will love!
Aulani Aunty's Beach House Childcare
Aunty's Beach House the perfect place to drop the kids so you can reconnect with your spouse. There they learn all about Hawaiian music, art, and culture with a little Disney magic sprinkled in with supervised activities for kids 3 to 12 years of age.
Most experiences are free, but some require a fee.
Aulani Character Activities
There are a variety of Character Experience activities the kids will love, and they are complimentary with your vacation. Sometimes Disney characters drop by Aunty's Beach House.
There are also parties at Waikolohe Pool, where you can dance and play games with Disney characters.
Premium Character Experiences
Kakamora Chaos at Mona
Play traditional Hawaiian games with Princess Moana of Motunui.
You can play surfing games with Chip ‘n Dale and learn all about the fish native to Hawaii from Goofy. Dance your heart out with Disney friends at this beach-themed party.
Dining with Disney Characters at the Bounty of the Islands, Makahiki
Character meals where Disney characters will drop in for kid-friendly fun!
There's also a Disney Character Breakfast where you can begin your day with a breakfast buffet and Disney Characters provide live entertainment. You even get to hear Aunty play the ukulele.
Special Events and Celebrations with Disney Characters
Add a unique touch to any special occasion by inviting a Disney Character to entertain everyone.
Additional DVC Aulani Activities
- Family Spa Treatments
- Shopping Around Oahu and at the Aulani Gift Shop
- Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden
- T-Shirt Stamping Activity
- Live Entertainment
- Menehune Scavenger Hunt
- Mo'olelo Fire Pit Storytelling
- Māka‘ika‘i – Guided walking tours
- Paint with Light
- Pulu Bar Mixology
- Sunrise Yoga
Other Area Activities
You'll fall in love with the natural beauty of Hawaii when you take part in Aulani Resort Excursions. Area activities include:
- A hike to a hidden waterfall or do an exciting Zip Line tour.
- Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, and other ships that tell the history of the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II.
- View Oahu from the sky in a helicopter tour. Or take a ride on the Dolphin Star Wild Dolphin Watch & BBQ Cruise.
- There's even a Dolphin Encounter Program where you get to learn about the daily life of the beautiful dolphin.
Here's more information on the many other activities you can take part in to customize your Hawaii experience.
There are several locations where you can experience Polynesian culture and food. And DO make sure you get a dole whip while you are here! While it is one of the most beloved snacks at Walt Disney World Resort, you can get a real one in Hawaii (after all, when in Hawaii, do as the Hawaiians do!)
Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands
This is a unique experience where you can taste international flavors in a kid-friendly atmosphere.
Off the Hook
This is the poolside lounge where you can eat salads and sandwiches and taste delicious tropical cocktails.
This poolside restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with local delicacies like fresh poke bowls, hot meals, and sandwiches.
Wailana Pool Bar
This coffee bar serves specialty coffees from 6:00 AM to 10:30 AM.
The ‘Ōlelo Room
Enjoy savory appetizers and creative cocktails at this Hawaiian language-inspired lounge. You can also get sushi here.
Pāpālua Shave Ice
Just like canned Spam, islanders love their shaved ice, and you can taste this sweet, unique delight here.
Mama's Snack Stop
You can grab a quick bite of food with the ohana at this shack that serves kid-friendly food like chicken tenders, fish and chips, and more.
Little ‘Opihi's – Beachside Kiosk
This kiosk allows you to enjoy food service on the beach from your lounge chair, or you can order light meals and drinks at the snack shack counter.
Is DVC Aulani worth the money?
Some people say that if you're going to Disney's Aulani for the experience alone, it's not worth it because it isn't as much of an experience compared to Walt Disney World. And, if you are uniquely looking for an authentic Hawaiian vacation, you may feel this is too much Disney.
But, what I think is the value for families is the combination of Disney with Hawaii. And for families who may be concerned about traveling to Hawaii with young children, this would absolutely give them a guaranteed kid-friendly experience done the Disney way with the spirit of Aloha infused.
I would also add that the pools at Aulani are beautiful, you can get a great hotel room for families, and the lazy river is fantastic. So I would add it as one of the best family resorts in Hawaii and one of the best places to stay with kids.
Also, you can get food quickly at an affordable price which is great when you have hungry little ones.
The Aulani Luau is one of the best luaus in Hawaii, other visitors say. My kids absolutely loved it. So, while this Aulani spa and resort may not provide the complete Disney experience, it's a great vacation in Hawaii.
Are meals included at Aulani resort?
Aulani is not an all-inclusive resort. The only special dining plan guests can add now is the Ali Cafe Dining Plan. You get one meal experience at Ulu Cafe with this plan, which includes one non-specialty beverage per person a day. This cafe is a quick-serve restaurant that offers dinner, lunch, and breakfast.
Can you go to Aulani without staying?
DVC Aulani (Disney Vacation Club Aulani) does not offer a day pass for non-guests. Most of the amenities, including the beach equipment, pools, and activities, are for guests staying at the resort. However, anyone can visit the spa experiences, shopping, and dining areas.
Final Thoughts on DVC Aulani Resort
More than just a Disney hotel and a change of pace from the traditional Disney theme park, DVC Aulani is a destination. It's not a theme park, but it will certainly deliver on a Hawaiian-style magical Disney vacation.
From a water park to Disney character activities to a quiet cove, there is so much to do in this wonderful tropical destination. And it is a great place to stay if you want to experience the island of Oahu or just enjoy your stay at the resort.
Not sure if DVC Aulani is right for you? Here are some other great resorts in Oahu for families.