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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
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Reviews (5,723)
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3,352
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Reviewed 2 November 2011

My family spent 6 nights at the resort. We don't travel a lot and this was the first vacation we've done in a few years. First off, The vacation was great and the gripes I have are minor. Overall the resort, in my opinion, is very nice. The room was very comfortable and roomy. Having the resort outside of Honolulu (about 15 minutes away) creates a very quiet, relaxing atmosphere. The staff was really fantastic, enthusiastic, and engaging. They did their best to accommodate us except for a room glitch when we arrived - see below.

The kids had a great time at all parts of the "waterpark" at the resort: The two water slides, the "lazy river", and the pool kept them busy for hours while we were there. The "daycare" service at Aunties Beachhouse was really great, with great staff and lots of activities to keep the kids occupied and having fun including a row of computers, XBOX 360, WII, and I think a Playstation but not sure. There are also games on Microsoft's Surface machines which are pretty fun to play or even watch kids interact with them. There's a dress-up area, blocks for building, various toys, a kitchen that is used for group activities, and more. Snacks are provided every two hours.

Expect to pay about $125 to feed dinner to a family of four (at just about any venue on the resort). This includes two alcoholic beverages. Expect to pay minimum of $50 for any breakfast or lunch for a family of four. We really enjoyed the buffet breakfast and dinner as the other venues had a narrow selection of food choices. It was difficult to get our kids to eat anything other than kid sized cheeseburgers (not offered at the buffet) and fruit. The dinner buffet offers a small selection of Sushi and Sashimi, Dim Sum, native cuisine, along with a variety of other dishes and all was quite good.

There's really nowhere to walk to if you want to do any shopping. At the time of writing this, there was a small shopping area a short walk from the resort, but all the properties were vacant except for a couple of restaurants and an ABC Store (a big plus here -- save big on snacks and drinks while at the resort).

I recommend attending the Starlight Hui: "This evening celebration blends traditional Polynesian and modern entertainment, including hula performers, cherished Disney Characters and delightful surprises—all in a beautiful beachfront setting!"

Take advantage of the Makai Preserve: "In this conservation pool, encounter stingrays with the guidance of marine biologists. Reservations are required, and group sizes are small, ensuring a personal experience. All proceeds support Hawaiian research and conservation efforts." This was a neat experience for my seven-year-old son.

I recommend the Rainbow Reef: NOTE: This is not a natural reef as I was expecting. This is a man-made pool, with artificial coral - a giant open aquarium for lack of a better term. There are tons of beautiful reef fish native to the Hawaiian Islands. It's a lot of fun to snorkel here but it's pretty cold. I recommend only buying the one-time visit as opposed to the unlimited visit package. I thought we'd be going back again and again but after the first time, nobody wanted to go back in that cold water. It was more fun walking 100 feet to the beach and lagoon where you can snorkel and see fish in their natural surroundings. It was really great! My son and I even saw a sea turtle the first day we were there! Tip: stay around the perimeter of the lagoon near the rocks to see the most wildlife.

There are resort photographers at every event. If you want a picture taken the photographer will give you a "photo pass"card linking the photos with the card. The photos are stored digitally and can be purchased in the little store near the lobby in a variety of formats including DVD.

Lastly, I was expecting the resort to be pushing us to buy into the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) but I was completely surprised that not one staff person even mentioned it. There is one channel on the room TV dedicated to promoting it, but that was it. Nice!

Gripe 1: The room we reserved was not what we got -- we requested two queen beds and we received a king and a pull-out bed. We were not able to switch to the correct room and we were not compensated.

Gripe 2: The information on the Web site lacks important details. We couldn't find the below facts on their website:

-- If you take advantage of Aunties Beachhouse, your kids should be potty-trained or you will need to check on them every 45 minutes.

-- The parking costs $35/day -- valet or self-park.

-- If you want to leave your child at Aunties Beachhouse during a regular meal-time, you need to schedule a meal to be provided ahead of time. In other words, don't just show up expecting them to feed your kids a full meal.

Gripe 3: We expected to see a binder in our room detailing all the features and amenities of the resort but couldn't find one. We called the front desk and they told us they don't provide that. It wasn't until we turned on the TV that we realized all the information is right there, in well organized menus on screen. I guess we're just too "old school", but really -- why didn't the front-desk tell us this in the first place?

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled with family
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15  Thank illustris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 November 2011

So this is what I remember about staying at and with Disney. Every detail has been manicured to the last possible fault. Not everything is perfect but they do a great job. I have noticed people complaining/commenting that there is too little Disnet included here or that it is overpriced. Honestly, both of those complaints ring hollow to me. Disney is and always will be overpriced if that is your concern. If you are looking for a more Disney experience, head to DisneyLand/World. This place is great and everything is done well.

As this resort has just recently opened, construction is still ongoing. Getting to the beach was a tad difficult today as our path was blocked due to construction. A few towers have yet to open. No luau yet although I have heard that Disney is looking for performers.

Everything here has been great and as expected.

Room Tip: Stayed in the Ewa tower, 14th floor, furthest from the elevators. GREAT sunset views
  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled with family
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4  Thank Fuzz227
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 October 2011

A great place for your entire family. Rooms are clean. The food is prepared and served with a Hawaii style of service and aloha. The pools and machine are located perfectly within the hotel grounds and secured enough to allow a little running room for the kids. Characters are on-site and roaming so you won't leave with a few interactions and photos. Sunscreen is a must. Bring your favorite slippers and beach shorts!

  • Stayed: November 2010
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1  Thank SecretBeer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 October 2011

We're just back from 10 nights in this wonderful hotel and I can't recommend it enough. We stayed five nights in a studio and five nights in a one bedroom villa and it's been a wonderful experience. The rooms were fantastic, the staff were extremely enthusiastic, friendly and personable and then there is the lazy river, the infinity pool, the menehune bridge, the two swimming pools, the Starlit Hui, and the many, many activities that kept both our teenage sons occupied and socialising. I've also got to mention Uncle Ito who is simply a legend. If you go to this place grab a beer from the bar and head down to the fireside stories and just watch this guy.

My one grumble would be that the Makihiki buffet wasn't very good and it certainly wasn't worth the money. I found it difficult to believe that the excellent Amma Amma worked out cheaper to eat at for our family. The Amma Amma is leagues ahead both in terms of food options and in terms of service.

When talking about food we also found that the counter service One Paddle Two Paddle was an excellent cheap option for taking back to our room. The pulled pork sandwich with taro chips was very tasty.

We had a hire car but Disney also offer coach travel in a variety of trips out from the hotel. We only used this once to visit Germaines luau but Disney have staff there who's specific function is to arrange the trips for their guests.

One last thing, when looking through the reviews I have to say that it doesn't seem fair to group reviews of the hotel with those who have simply visited for a meal or for a wander round. We saw many visitors to the hotel during our stay but their experience is obviously going to be very different as they wouldn't have been allowed access to the pools or to many of the other facilities. Surely it would be better if those who booked Character Dining or whatever simply reviewed the restaurant?

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank TPBstu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 October 2011

I booked a character breakfast here. I thought it would be a fun outing on our holiday in Waikiki and was looking forward to seeing the new hotel. Unfortunately as we did not have a car there was no way for us to get out there except by taking 3 buses which would take around 2 hours each way. We phoned lots of shuttle companies and Aulani to see if we could pay to go out on their shuttle bus but the answer was no which was very disappointing. Friends went out there to view the Disney Vacation club and although they wanted them to spend $24,000 on joining their children were not allowed to swim in the pool. They sat and ate lunch at the pool side restaurant and at 12.15 two jack hammers started up on either side of them. I think they are still having teething problems & need to work out how to get visitors to their restaurants who are not staying there. How about people pay for a day pass?

  • Stayed: October 2011
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3  Thank Jocelyn O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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