We are still reminiscing about our wonderful stay in Aulani and wishing we could go back! If you missed it, check out Part 1 of the blog about check in, lobby, and other first impressions! 🙂
So, now that we’ve gotten there, let’s talk about the overall Resort Experience!
Not gonna sugar coat here. The food on property is expensive. Like, very expensive. It’s something to work into your budget if you plan to dine mainly on property. That being said, there are ways to work with this. First of all, the character dining is well worth doing at Mahahiki. Our kids loved seeing Mickey and his pals, plus Aunty does a great job leading the crowd in song and activities. The buffet was ample with plenty of traditional Hawaiian choices and kid friendly options. We left stuffed – this was worth the money. It’s also worth noting that Mahahiki has beautiful theming, including a train track on the ceiling in the lighting that’s a subtle tribute to Walt Disney and his love of trains, as well as walls that are made entirely from the inside of a coconut! How cool is that?
Yummy options at Mahahiki!
Ulu Cafe has lots of quick service options from pastries to cereal to fruit to sodas, salads, sandwiches and half and full bottles of wine and local beer… plus hot plates at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their highlight is pizza after 5pm, which can of course can easily be stored in room fridges or eaten the next day. Again, prices are high, and it’s wise to share where you can here. We did think the refillable Aulani mug was worth it, even as non soda drinkers, just to get Kona Coffee everyday instead of paying $5 a cup.
Ulu Cafe has lots of options – Malasadas, snacks, and a microwave/toaster!
For other fine dining, Ama Ama has amazing views and delicious food. We definitely are glad we went here without kids while they were playing in Aunty’s Beach House, as it’s a little bit slower pace, more upscale and less kid friendly. However, like anything Disney, they will definitely accomodate all ages here! The sunset views were spectacular and we said this dinner experience truly made us feel like we were in authentic Hawaii.
Ama Ama is awesome!
The Olelo Room is an awesome place to grab a quick bite and listen to authentic Hawaiian music! Every Cast Member that works here must be fluent in Hawaiian. If you go inside, all the decor has Hawaiian vocabulary and fun trivia and tidbits about Hawaii!
Coolest lounge ever!
So if you’re looking to save cash? I took an Uber to Target and got some odds and ends for breakfasts and lunches. Ulu Cafe has a communal microwave and toaster to use, so even if you don’t hve a villa, this is an easy way to save some money. If you are in a villa, you’ll have a microwave, and if in one bedroom or above, also a washer/dryer and full kitchen. I have had clients use Costco Instacart as well if leaving a property isn’t your thing. Rental cars obviously make this easy if you use one early in your stay 🙂 Across the street, Island Market (ABC Store) has a ton of things and while still pricey it’s far cheaper than on property. We also enjoyed going to Monkey Pod our last night, one of our favorite Hawaiian hot spots for outstanding mai tais and happy hour!
The Ka’Waa Luau:
I couldn’t talk food without talking about the luau! We were pleasantly surprised and impressed with our experience here! Many times, luaus are pricey with poor food, watered down drinks and not a lot to offer, but this one was none of these things. With the VIP seating, we were able to enter early and the kids got to enjoy cultural activities without any lines, such as poi making, Hawaiian tattoos, ukelele playing, and lei making. We took some fun photos as well and had special interactions with “Aunty” which the kids loved. Best of all, our table was right in front with unobstructed views! With VIP seating, you get all alcohol included, and it’s a “real” bar with “real” drinks where one is probably going to be plenty! 🙂 The wine options were also decent and far better than most of the “all you can eat/drink” things that we’ve had before.
From activities to the food to the show itself, the luau is a treat!
Best of all, the entertainment was fantastic. Mickey and Minnie kick off the show, which is of course fun Disney tradition – but they are not the focal point. The luau is themed around the stories of Ko’Olina, and told by Aunty and her brother to make into a true authentic story that engages the audience. The dancing was fantastic and we felt it was all very authentically Hawaiian (even specific to Hawaii, vs Tahitian or Polynesian) and that Disney did a nice job of putting their touch on a truly authentic cultural experience. I highly recommend doing this if you can fit it in during your Aulani stay!
The Pools, Slides and Splashpads:
These were the highlights for my kids. My son spent all day long going down the two waterslides, especially the double tube slide with my husband or myself, or screaming in pitch darkness down the Volcano slide with plenty of thrills. We all rode the lazy river together, which was a blast especially with the sprays and squirts that make it a little more exciting 😉 We LOVED looking for all the hidden animals in the rockwork around the river and on the slides! There are so many, I guarantee you’ll find more each time you go! Super fun! The river has entries of all kinds – slide, stairs, or gradual slope – and is often surrounded by Disney characters chilling and taking photos. Such a fun experience!
The pools, rivers, and splashpads are simply amazing!
My daughter loved the Menehune Splashpad and play area. She’s a litlte one, and was well under the 48″ max height requirement. She did all the smaller slides, played on the bridges, got soaked by the Menehune, and made lots of friends. Such a cute and well themed addition to the pool area!
The adult-only pools are also beautiful – including an adult only infinity spa! We loved the general infinity pool as well, which has awesome coral reef theming and rock work.
While we only spent short times here as my kids were obsessed with the pools, the beach is very nice and well protected. Paddle boarding, boogie boards, and sand toys are available for rental but run out fast and those that don’t are pricey. We just liked playing in the water here and checking out some fish. It’s the only beach in Hawaii where alcohol is served, so Disney is paying a premium for their private cover and protected area for both adults and kids to have a blast in the Pacific.
Beautiful beach, beautiful place
Next up – the spa, kid’s spa, Aunty’s Beach House, and final thoughts and tips about Aulani!