Paradise Found: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Paradise has officially been found: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Located in Ko Olina, Hawaii, families migrate to the popular vacation spot particularly during the summer months, the peak weather period in the state. The two towers of the resort include 351 hotel rooms (16 suites and 481 two-bedrooms) and Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas (21 Grand Villas). With a myriad of Disney characters constantly roaming the property, beautiful beaches, spa facilities, and—of course—the iconic Dole Whip dessert served poolside, Aulani makes every guest who enters immediately feel at home.
At its core, Aulani is a family-friendly resort. During the day, children ages three to twelve have the opportunity to visit Aunty’s Beach House, an interactive kids club with entertainment and games that allow them to learn more about the island. One of the main activities is the Menehune Adventure Trail, a high-tech scavenger hunt where participants search for Menehune figurines (the iconic “little people” of the island) around the property. Families also have the opportunity to further dive into the history of Hawaii at Mo‘olelo Fire Pit Storytelling, where Uncle—the Hawaiian Elder—shares stories and legends under the stars. ‘Ohana Disney Movie Nights take place in the evening as well, where guests sit on the Halawai Lawn to watch classic Disney films.
Each onsite restaurant serves classic Hawaiian foods that incorporate ingredients from local farmers and fisherman. Among the most populated eateries are AMA‘AMA—a beachside dining area named after a Hawaiian fish—and Makahiki—a buffet-style restaurant. On select days, Makahiki hosts a Disney character breakfast, where Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and more meander from table to table as people enjoy their meals.
Aulani has no shortage of water facilities: the property features the Waikolohe Stream (a 321,000-gallon waterway), Menehune Bridge (a 2,200 square-foot aquatic play space for children), numerous whirlpool spas, and the Waikolohe, Wailana, and Ka Maka pools. The resort is also home to Rainbow Reef, the only private snorkeling lagoon in Oahu; guests are placed inside a controlled environment where they can observe a variety of fish sans worrying about turbulent waves and currents.
Aulani also encompasses the Laniwai (“freshwater heaven”) spa, the first-ever spa created by Disney. With 23,000 square feet and 15 treatment rooms, the facility offers over 150 services, such as the Signature Lomilomi—a traditional Hawaiian massage that utilizes soothing Lomilomi sticks and warm river stones to maximize relaxation—and Kilikili—an exfoliation/massage hybrid that takes place in the resort’s private rainwater suite. Additional unique features to the spa include the Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden—an outdoor retreat including private vitality pools, whirlpool jet spas, and more—and the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio—an area exclusive to girls and boys ages 3-12 offering fashion transformations.
The Mikimiki Fitness Center is unlike any other: with numerous Life Fitness cardiovascular and strength training machines, free weights, and a stretching area, it caters to every exercise necessity. A variety of fitness classes are offered as well, such as yoga, spinning, beach workouts, aquatic exercise, meditation and tai chi.
One of Aulani’s most prominent events is its luau, a traditional Hawaiian event complete with food and entertainment. Called “KA WA‘A” or “the canoe,” the immersive experience takes audiences on the journey of the Hawaiian people across the ocean from ancient times to the present day. Beginning with an extensive island dinner buffet—featuring fresh salads, a local seafood catch, whole roasted Hawaiian-raised suckling pig, and more—and a pre-show engaging guests in activities such as lei making and hula lessons, attendees are immediately transported. The show itself is the highlight of the evening, showcasing local storytellers recounting Hawaiian traditions, vivacious music, and standard Hawaiian dances, including hula kahiko and modern hula ‘auana.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is not just a premier vacation destination but a must-visit for Disney aficionados and beach seekers alike. Although the trip to the island can be quite lengthy, the ride will be well worth it when you’re greeted at the doors of the resort with a lei and a smile—trust.