planDisney Trip Report: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

It is time for another Trip Report from a planDisney panelist. Grab your sunglasses and your camera as we head to beautiful Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa!

Trip: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Panelist: Ashley R.

“Hawaii has always been a bucket-list destination for us. And as Disney lovers, what better way to make this dream come true than with a trip to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa? As Disney Vacation Club members, we had heard rave reviews about Aulani. We just knew it would live up to our expectations, but we didn’t expect this peaceful slice of paradise to find a place in our hearts forever.”


“Our trip to Aulani was about connection. We lead a busy life, always on the go and tackling the next thing. When we vacation as a family, we put everything else aside and focus on the memories we’re making together, on watching our children grow as they take in new experiences, and on gratitude and appreciating what is right in front of us. Let me tell you.. there is no better place to do this than Aulani. When we arrived at Aulani, we were greeted by the kind, welcoming cast members we’ve come to know and love at Disney Destinations. As we walked into the lobby, we knew we were “home.” After traveling all the way across the country with two young kids, you’d think we’d retreat to the comfort of our cozy room for a much-needed rest, but our kids were in the Waikolohe Pool faster than you can say “Aloha!” We enjoyed a laid-back meal at Off The Hook before dragging them begrudgingly to their beds for a good night’s sleep.”

Ashley and her family on the lawn of Aulani Resort dressed in beautiful Hawaiian floral shirts and dresses


“The time difference was a major factor, but surprisingly, it made for some of our best memories. Our kids’ internal clocks led the way, and we enjoyed a few 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM wakeups before adjusting to a more acceptable daily schedule. During that time, we took long walks along the beaches of Ko Olina, finding picturesque areas overlooking the lagoon and capturing beautiful moments with both our minds and cameras. These mornings set the tone for the rest of our stay, allowing us to spend uninterrupted time with our little ones while the rest of the resort slept. In my daughter’s words, it felt like ‘Hawaii was ours.’” The rest of our stay shaped up to be as memorable and impactful as one could imagine. The island of O’ahu, and all Hawaiian Islands for that matter, are rich in culture. We tried to dive deep into the local offerings through experiences, food, and conversation, while still leaning into the other fun that may have felt more familiar.

Here were some of our highlights:

  • KA WA’A – A Lū‘au stays at the top of our list as far as can’t miss experiences. It is an introduction to Hawaiian culture and history presented through song, dance, storytelling, and food. You learn why the canoe (wa’a) is so important to their culture and the spirit of discovery while feasting on delicious local fare. There is even an interactive component, allowing you to participate through dance. As we left the Lū’au, my daughter announced she would like to live in Hawaii when she grows up, she’d like to be a singer like those who just moved her through their performance, and she politely requested an oar for her next birthday. She was all in.
  • We spent most hours of our days hopping from the beach to the pools, back to the beach, and repeat. There are many options when it comes to cooling off or spending time lounging in the sun. From the aforementioned Waikolohe Pool to the stunning Ka Maka Grotto, to the quieter, shaded Wailana Pool and back to the Waikolohe Stream for thrilling adventures down the slides and in the lazy river, there was never a dull or restless moment for the kids or grown-ups!
  • FOOD! While this is admittedly my favorite part of any trip, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa took it to another level. We found ourselves lining up early for Poke Bowls at Ulu Cafe for lunch, then trying out different table-service and quick-service options for dinner. While you can enjoy local offerings, like fresh seafood and Loco Moco, you’ll still find more traditional options for little ones and picky eaters. We were thrilled to find out our kids now love pineapple (Thanks, Aulani!) and they also loved drinking their favorite beverages out of a frozen one!
  • We found that Aulani was a perfect combination of tropical paradise mixed with Disney magic. While the Aulani-specific activities brought out our adventurous side, the more traditional elements of a Disney Vacation, like Characters and Dole Whip, gave us a layer of familiarity. We met Stitch and Angel on the Halawai Lawn in a familiar meet-and-greet style, waved to Chip and Dale and Moana as we spotted them while floating down the lazy river, and got up close and personal with Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Minnie Mouse at the Makahiki Character Breakfast. We worked DOLE Whip into our everyday routine, grabbing a special Moana or Stitch-themed treat to enjoy on the beach or by the pool!
  • Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we discovered the activities at Pau Hana Room (Community Hall). The cast members went above and beyond to make each of our little ones feel like they were special. My daughter loved making her own Mickey ears, outfitted with a little Hawaiian flair in the form of hibiscus flowers and mini pineapples, fishhooks and other relics. My son still raves about the Menehune Adventure Trail where we set off on a scavenger hunt throughout the resort, guided by an electronic tablet with a map and hints for each discovery.
Ashely's two children enjoying a day at the beach posing in front of a palm tree behind Aulani Resort.

Aulani quickly became our favorite vacation, a destination we can see ourselves visiting over and over again as our kids get older. We celebrated a birthday, an anniversary, and a lost tooth all in one fun-filled trip! Our kids are looking forward to spending time at the ever-so-popular Aunty’s Beach House on our next visit, which we planned before we even left. Mahalo, Aulani, for giving our family time together that we’ll cherish forever. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next!

To learn more about this Disney vacation, be sure to visit the Aulani website. And for more great tips and recommendations for planning your next Disney vacation, stop by @planDisneypanel on Instagram, @planDisney on Twitter, or We look forward to answering all your planning questions.