Aulani Trip

shaynakeegan

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 27, 2020
We are looking to book a trip to Aulani but before COVID, I had posted in a facebook group inquiring about others experiences. I received almost 50% of the responses that said it was terrible. Most of these folks had gone at peak times so I suspect that had something to do with it, but most said the rooms were dirty and it didn't feel like "Disney". Can you share your experience and anything you learned that would be helpful? We have an 8 year old and part of the pull towards doing Aulani is 1) Disney is known for above and beyond treatment and 2) the "magic" and 3) the ability for him to go to kids club so we can get massages, etc.
 

cedricandsophie

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Aulani is our favorite place. We have dvc points there as well as several other DW resorts. We have been 6 years in a row and would have been there in may until the shutdown happened. Right now we are scheduled for September because we plan on doing a dvc Cruise next may.
Not sure what people have issues with.
The pools and lazy river are great. There are characters around all day. Not like DW but enough for us.

we are lucky that we can go anytime so we have only been in may when crowds are smaller. We might feel differently if we were there at super busy times.
We just hang out at pool every day and go out to eat at local restaurants most nights. I find the food at aulani expensive, just like the rest of Hawaii, but good.
we have a disabled adult daughter and always take her best friend. They have a blast with the characters and the community house activities. The staff is wonderful.

We have been to All Hawaii islands and around Oahu several times so we don’t feel any need to leave and explore.

Also the gym and spa is great.

we come from Chicago so it’s not like it’s a short trip or an inexpensive one. But we are blessed we can do it because it is wonderful for us.
 


cedricandsophie

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
I’m sorry that I’m my above answer I didn’t address kid clubs. We don’t have small kids so we have never used them. People that have love them. I know there are some issues with reserving space but I can’t address that.
 
  • jodybird511

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 31, 2014
    We also love Aulani and own a DVC contract there. The kids club (Auntie's) is terrific! My son, now 10, loved it during both of our previous trips. We had a trip planned for the end of June but unfortunately had to cancel it, due to COVID. Our plan at this point is to go next summer instead. I would highly recommend reading through any of the threads here to see all the wonderful things Disboarders have to say about Aulani. Of course it's not perfect, but we adore it nonetheless.
     

    Nalshersmom

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 29, 2012
    We were there last June and loved it. We had a 1 bedroom which was great. I have been to 2 of the Disneyland hotels and 10 of the Walt Disney World hotels, and this was my favorite of all the Disney hotels. My kids loved all of the pool areas. We also loved the snorkel tank, Rainbow Reef. They also have some great activities like animation classes. Our favorite activity was hearing Uncle tell stories at the fire. My 11 year old went to tween hour activities and said they were okay but kept going back. My 9 year old enjoyed the kids club and went several times. Their shave ice with Mickey ears and dole whips were awesome treats everyday. We stayed there during the week due to knowing the locals come on the weekends. It never felt overcrowded to us.
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    most said the rooms were dirty and it didn't feel like "Disney".
    Consider the audience - most of us here are Aulani fans, hence why we're posting on the Aulani forum! I can't say I've ever heard Aulani rooms described as dirty. I think that's subjective and it certainly was not our experience. That said, we were there over three years ago now, so its possible they're due for refurbishment. Not sure when/if one has been done.

    As far as not feeling like Disney, that's intentional. Many here will describe the theme of Aulani as being true to the Hawaiian culture and history, so you're not going to find an Art of Animation "in your face" theme here. The Disney theme is subdued with touches of it in places (i.e. instrumental ukulele Disney songs in the elevator), but otherwise its akin to other high end resorts in the area so that it appeals to more than just Disney fans.

    The resort actually reminds me of AKL with the dark wood features and rooms that are darker in décor. Its not too far off from the Polynesian too, as that has some darker features.

    1) Disney is known for above and beyond treatment and 2) the "magic" and 3) the ability for him to go to kids club so we can get massages, etc.
    1) The Disney service is present, in my experience. But, we stayed at four resorts including Aulani during our time in Hawaii, and we had excellent service at all of them (others were Marriott/Starwood properties).
    2) A resort is very different than a theme park, so magical experiences aren't really abound. They do have character meals, character meets, and fun things like the Menehune Trail which provides a little bit of "magic", but its still a resort at the end of the day.
    3) We don't have kids, but I do know that Aunty's Beach House often fills to capacity and people will line up in the morning to ensure their kid has a spot there for the day. I can't speak to whether this just occurs during peak seasons, or if its something you'd need to plan for - hopefully someone else can confirm.

    One thing I think that attributes to some people's "disappointment" is that they visit Aulani for the resort itself, rather than visiting to see Hawaii. I always say that you should go desiring a Hawaiian vacation rather than an Aulani vacation. The resort was designed with the thought in mind that people would use it as a home base while touring the island, and they underestimated the amount of people who would stay put at the resort without ever leaving. This is why many complain pools and common areas can be crowded, and why there aren't a ton of on-site activities offered. Even though we loved Aulani, I would not say the resort in and of itself is worth a visit alone. Its a long and expensive trip for most. And there probably are "nicer" resorts in Hawaii, though that's subjective. For us, if we wanted a beach vacation, we'd stick to the Caribbean or Florida. But, if we ever want to visit Hawaii again, we'd stay at Aulani with a split stay somewhere else.
     

    abdgeek

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2012
    We are looking to book a trip to Aulani but before COVID, I had posted in a facebook group inquiring about others experiences. I received almost 50% of the responses that said it was terrible. Most of these folks had gone at peak times so I suspect that had something to do with it, but most said the rooms were dirty and it didn't feel like "Disney". Can you share your experience and anything you learned that would be helpful? We have an 8 year old and part of the pull towards doing Aulani is 1) Disney is known for above and beyond treatment and 2) the "magic" and 3) the ability for him to go to kids club so we can get massages, etc.
    As a DVC member, Aulani is one of my home resorts and I stay there every 2-3 years. Depending on the traffic, its location in Ko Olina is about 30-45 minutes from Waikiki. While Aulani has tours that leave from the resort, they only leave on certain days of the week. It is possible to stay at Aulani without renting a car, but means you have to plan more carefully. Aulani has an Alamo Car Rental on property, but it is highly recommended that you book in advance as they do sell out.

    I only visit Aulani during high peak times (summer/holiday). Because Aulani has become more popular since it opened, it tends to be very busy. This means that you often need to make table service reservations well in advance of your stay. It can also be challenging to find pool chairs at the main pool if you are a late sleeper, but there are normally chairs available at the beach.

    Below are some tips to help you plan your stay:

    1) If you haven’t already, check the TripAdvisor reviews and pictures for the resort. There is a lot to do at Aulani and a daily schedule of events (Daily ‘Iwa) is available each day.

    2) Guests who plan ahead make the most of their stay. Reservations for certain services and activities can be made as early as 180 days ahead. If you’re not into that level of planning, realize that you may not be able to experience everything on your list.

    3) The ABC Store across the street is where you can get food, souvenirs, etc. There are also other shops and restaurants there so you can eat within any budget. Things in Hawaii are more expensive. Don’t expect to find the prices you have at home. Aulani has a small store in the lobby, but you will pay for the convenience.

    4) Check-in is 3 or 4pm, depending on the type of accommodation booked. While you can arrive at anytime, don’t expect your room to be ready before then. You can still enjoy the resort and pool while you wait.

    The big difference is that staying at Aulani is not the same as staying at a WDW Resort. The customer service is the same, but the theming is strictly Hawaiian. Yes, there are opportunities for character interactions, but they are not the focus of the resort. If you plan to visit during peak times, as long as you pack your patience and plan ahead you will be fine. I always look forward to my Aulani visits and can’t wait to return. Disney Magic is in Hawaii, it’s just more subtle than at WDW.
     
  • cgattis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2009
    I echo what others have said—it’s not a theme park. Think of it as a deluxe Disney resort sitting in Hawaii instead of next to the parks. Same kinds of activities, amenities, etc. But your “park” is Oahu! Definitely go explore the island; otherwise just go stay at the Poly.

    I also can’t imagine what anyone found dirty; it was the cleanest place we went in all of Hawaii!! (PSA, the public restrooms around the islands make the theme parks look clean!)

    I really want to go to just Maui and Kauai next trip, but it kinda makes me crazy thinking about going that far and NOT going back to Aulani!! It’s hands-down my favorite Disney resort—heck, I guess it’s my favorite resort PERIOD! I think you’d love it.
     

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