In my eyes there is nothing better than Walt Disney World®, so in planning my family’s first trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort on the beautiful island of Oahu, I tried not to compare the two. It was pretty easy considering there’s NO Castle, NO Epcot & NO Rides unless you consider the Waikolohe Pools, Lagoon and Menehune Bridge as such. After a short seventeen miles from the airport we arrived at the private Ko’ Olina Resort & Marina where Aulani is located.
The minute we arrived we were greeted with Aloha Gosdin Ohana and given two gorgeous aromatic leis for my daughter and I and two Kukui nut lei necklaces for my son and hubby and cool pineapple infused water for our thirst. Our gracious host Teresa gave us a quick yet informative introduction to Disney’s Aulani Resort; next bell services Jonathan whisked us away to our home for six nights. We were granted our request of a ground level- poolside garden view room facing Waikolohe Valley #130
We were perfectly located near the Laniwai Spa, elevators, and main door to Waikolohe Valley which lead to the beach & all outdoor activities. Beautifully large accommodations considering we booked a standard view room, very roomy bathroom with double vanity. The room décor was superb in design with subtle hints of Disney, yet otherwise authentic to its Hawaiian roots. Our favorite part, besides Goofy’s voicemail welcoming my family to Aulani, was our private ground level patio- –with a little brick pathway that lead us to Waikolohe Valley.
We received our daily Iwa, listing current events & activities around the resort, such as: Kids club at Aunty’s Beach House, Pau Hana Room Activities like lei making which we enjoyed one rainy day, also its the place you pick up your handheld device for the Menehune Adventure, NEATO. There is also Painted Sky Teen Spa, M0olelo Fire Pit Storytelling with Uncle & Tip#1 de piece de resistance the Starlit Hui, I can’t implore you enough to attend this show, our absolute favorite of the trip. Also just turn on your TV to the resort channel & receive more information on Aulani activities.
We ate our continental breakfast every day in the Olelo Room with a special package we pre-purchased. It’s a small area and gets crowded quickly, they also have a small outside dining area, but it’s usually filled with Character meetings, which happened quite regularly, you have plenty of photo ops and Disney’s PhotoPass photographers are stationed all over. Sometimes I forgot I was at a Disney Resort, and then Mickey or Goofy would walk by and I would smile. We dined at One Paddle Two Paddle & Off the Hook for lunch, prices were reasonable, AMA AMA was good but considering the amount your spending, it should be all that and a bag of Mouse Ears—with any new resort, it takes time to work out the kinks and Disney is no ordinary resort, in no-time it will be smooth sailing. Go Disney…
The gift shop at Aulani is the place you buy and refill your refillable mug for$18.95. The shop is rather small considering the resort spans over 21 acres. It’s also where you view and purchase your photopass. Basic Disney fare, with a few Hawaiian shirts and Aulani logoed items to purchase. Ladies, the Dooney & Bourke purses/wallets Aulani collection was slim to none, I was very sad about this, on the other hand, my hubby was very happy. Just a tiny bit of fresh food for sale, such as: sandwiches, salads, & I think sushi, they did have grocery items and all types of drinks from sodas to liquor, also expect to pay Disney pricing PLUS. This is Hawaii peeps!!!!!
My daughter Peyton and I enjoyed Laniwai Spa during our stay. Peyton received a terrific haircut, while I personally didn’t care about my hair, I wanted to be rubbed by a masseuse. As a matter of fact–I received two massages on two separate occasions, they were exceptional. First I had their signature massage the Lomilomi and the next day the Shiatsu. I wasn’t impressed with the spas outdoor area, hard to be tranquil when the JW Marriott delivery/trash trucks are beeping literally next door, but we very much enjoyed the interior of the Laniwai Spa and personnel, well done Aulani!
I recommend eating and shopping at the restaurants and ABC Island Country Market across the street within walking distance from Aulani in the Ko’Olina Shopping center. They also offer a free neighborhood shuttle. We enjoyed many lunches at Just Tacos Grill & Cantina, Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor & Ko’Olina Hawaiian Barbecue, also a full service deli at the ABC Country Island Market. We bought souvenirs, ate and shopped for our alcoholic beverages or Abracadabra as I like to call them. Fantastic prices compared to the resort. TIP#2 I highly suggest shopping at this market before checking in the resort, especially if you’re staying in a DVC room, they offer makeup, floats, suntan lotion, medicine, clothes, hats, etc. We ate our first Pineapple Cheeseburger called The Ko’Olina Burger while there.
We loved the lagoon and lounge chairs, we spent more time in the lagoon than the pool, fair warning the pool and lagoon are cold. We also tried paddle boarding our first time and fell in love with it. We rented the equipment from Makiki Joes Beach Rentals, you can rent with your room key/if your credit card is attached or just buy a Disney gift card and put the amount you wish on it, they can be purchased at the Lava Shack, a poolside store with food and outdoor refillable drink spot by the Waikolohe pool and next to the Papalua Shave Ice stand. Be prepared to pay – the paddle board is $30 per hour. The main Waikolohe Pool we didn’t really use, but the hot tubs were fab and a favorite of ours around sunset. We did however use the Waikolohe stream and slides, short wait and terrific fun. Be careful, the steps to the slide are obviously wet and very slippery; I know from personal experience (OUCH), I don’t think it had anything to do with the three Mai Tai’s, LOL! Hey when in Hawaii-do as the Hawaiians. All in all, we had a fabulous vacay at Aulani Resort & Spa and would definitely return. Mahalo & Aloha!
Previously published on http://www.disneygals.com/