5 Reasons Disney’s Aulani is the Best Resort in Hawaii for Families

Aloha!  My family and I just returned from our second trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa on Oahu, Hawaii.  So, yes…we went BACK FOR MORE after our trip 5 years ago!  It was still as magical as ever, and my kids enjoyed it just as much if not more! Here are the 5 reasons why I recommend Aulani for families!

Moana and I are here to tell you why you need to visit Aulani with your family!

1. Disney Magic!

It’s not a theme park, but you won’t miss that when you’re at Aulani.  You will still feel the Disney Magic! How?

Character Meet and Greets

The character meet and greets are plenty!  Several times a day at different areas of the resort.  Call the character info number from your room phone in the morning and jot down the list of times and locations!

Aulani has the easiest and most fun character meet and greets! Lines are short. Interactions are long.

We have visited Aulani on Christmas AND Spring Break! And the lines are still so short to meet your favorite Disney pals and special characters like Stitch, Moana and Duffy.


Characters are also by the pool every afternoon at 3pm for Shake a Shaka Pool Party! Mickey, Goofy and pals hang out poolside and lead everyone in games and dancing!  My 9, 11 and 13 year old got involved and played in a water relay game.  Kids can also experience character interactions and ukulele lessons or crafts at Aunty’s Beach House, the kids’ club onsite.

This pool party packs in lots of Disney Magic and reminds me of a castle stage show. Here, the kids are invited onto the stage!

Disney Magical Touches

Aside from character encounters like these and the character breakfast at  Makahiki, an Aulani restaurant, the Disney magic is found in little ways throughout the resort.  Check out this scrumptious Disney-themed treat that’s an Hawaiian specialty – shave ice!

$5 will get you the shave ice. $1 more will get you the ears. Splurge and get the Mickey Ears on your shave ice while at Aulani!

It’s well-documented that everything tastes better in Mickey form.  Even this fruit-infused water tastes delicious and will bring a smile to your face while you’re getting hydrated.

This water dispenser sits at the welcome desk outside Aulani, so it’s the first thing guests see when they arrive. Genius!

2. The Most Family Friendly Luau

KA WA’A, Aulani’s luau was the best luau we have been to!  We have attended 3 luaus during our years visiting Hawaii and this one is 20,000 leagues above the rest.  When you arrive, you will be welcomed with several pre-luau activities to try, like lei-making and taro root pounding. Taro root is the main ingredient for poi, a Polynesian food.  Offering these hands-on activities for kids helps them remember and understand the experience!

We enjoyed some cultural activities prior to the luau! A luau is a cultural story, and we love how Disney helps bring these stories to life for the kids.

The kids were asked several times to get up and dance during the luau, including when Mickey and Minnie were on stage to teach the hula!

We have danced at other luaus before, but nothing is more fun than doing the hula with Minnie and Mickey!

The luau also offers kids’ food and beverage options, as well as an area on the lawn where they can get up and move around if feeling antsy.  Finally, an added bonus of attending this luau when you’re a guest at Aulani – you can hula back to bed in a matter of minutes because you are just steps from your room!

3. Pools. Beach. and More Pools!

We had the opportunity to really compare resorts this last trip because we split our stay between the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Aulani.  Hilton Hawaiian Village offered several pools and slides; however, the pools were very spread out around the resort, and each pool felt very crowded.  We could not allow the kids to go from one pool complex to another because they were in completely different locations in the resort.

The main pool at Aulani, Waikohole, is enormous and never felt crowded over spring break!

By contrast, Aulani’s sprawling pool areas were within steps of each other and all contained. Want to go from the lazy river to the main pool? The main pool to the slides? The slides to the splash playground? Sure!! My kids loved being able to disappear from mom and dad and run around for hours from one pool to the other.

The lazy river has both single and double tubes. If you’re an adult in here, be warned that it’s a not-so-lazy river with all the kids in it. But still SO fun!

There is also an infinity pool, a hot tub, a simple splash pad for infants and toddlers and an intricate water playground for older kids! You can’t walk 2 feet without tripping over a pool.

Menehune Bridge is a splash zone/playground at Aulani with interactive elements, slides and of course, water dumping zones.

Not only is there a pool complex that is varied and enormous with something for everyone, there is also beach and it is wide and within a protected cove. It offers a very safe spot to play at the water’s edge.

Aulani’s private beach never gets crowded. There are plenty of chairs, and Boogie Boards are loaned out for free so guests can float and kick around in the cove!

4. Snorkeling at Rainbow Reef

If you want a snorkeling experience with guaranteed beautiful fish, guaranteed calm water in a guaranteed no-shark zone (haha) AND with Hidden Mickeys below the surface, then you need to get the $25 day pass to snorkel at Aulani’s Rainbow Reef! Or get the $45 length of stay pass!

Snorkel gear and a flotation device comes with your pass! There are so many beautiful fish to observe on Aulani’s manmade reef.

The pass never sells out and the reef never gets too crowded! I could have floated in there forever.  We have done lots of snorkeling experiences with the kids, but none has felt as relaxed as this one.  Pro Tip: if you have shorty wet suit, wear it!  They keep the Rainbow Reef colder than the pools!

If you want to observe the fish but don’t want to go in, there are some windows to watch from. Look at these strange sea creatures I found!

5. A Respect for the Local Culture and a Commitment to Honor It.

Despite its staggering size, Aulani’s spaces are intimate and don’t feel out of place in Hawaii. The architecture, the decor, the artworks – they all feel one with Hawaii.  They complement the natural surroundings, the local traditions and the history.  Disney Imagineers worked with Hawaiian elders and leaders who live on Oahu to be sure they were getting this right!

The A frame is designed to resemble a traditional canoe house and the art on the walls tells the folklore of Hawaii’s creation.

Travel is an opportunity to gain new perspective and appreciation for a different culture.  There isn’t anything on site at Aulani that isn’t a meaningful symbol.  You can take a tour of the resort and learn more about the Hawaiian stories woven throughout!  These tours are included with your stay.

At night, the cultural traditions continue with the luau, storytelling by the firepit and even guided star gazing!

A sleek modern resort might be the preference for some, but I would much rather come to Aulani and appreciate all the authentic traditions embraced and honored here.  You can fully experience Hawaii here and have fun while doing it!

Leave me a comment and let me know your favorite feature of this resort! If you haven’t visited, reach out to book a trip today!

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