Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, with Disney Vacation Club Villas Ko Olina, Hawai‘i

What is Aulani?

Aulani is Disney’s first resort in Hawaii, and is located in the Ko Olina area on the leeward side of the island of Oahu. It has 481 Disney Vacation Club Villas in addition to 359 hotel rooms and suites. This 21-acre oceanfront resort features a white sand beach, salt water lagoon, water garden, beautiful tropical landscaping, an 18,000 square foot spa and the Waikolohe Valley pool and water activity area.

Aulani, which means “the place that speaks with deep messages” celebrates the history, art, and traditions of Hawaii.

The first phase of Aulani opened to guests on August 29, 2011, and includes 72 villas and 217 hotel rooms. Phase 2, which expands to 207 villas and 347 hotel rooms, opened in November 2011.

When is check-in/check-out time? What if I arrive early?

Guests may check-in at any time during the day, but rooms are not usually available until after 4:00 p.m.

If your room is not ready when you check-in you have the option of having a voice message or text message sent to your cell phone when the room is ready.

Check-out time is 11am. Express Check-out is available to all guests paying with a credit card, arrange for this service at check-in. If you provide an email address then your itemized bill, in PDF format, will be emailed to you the morning of your departure, otherwise a bill will be delivered to your door. If the bill is correct there’s no need to stop by the front desk on your way out.

Flight schedules to the U.S. Mainland often have guests arriving early or leaving late, with no hotel room available to them for a number of hours. For guests in this situation, Aulani offers the use of the Luana Lounge. Inside are two seating areas furnished with comfy sofas and chairs. There’s a television on one side, and on the other is a work area with tables and a computer for airline check-in. For guests who wish to use the pool area there are men’s and women’s locker rooms, showers, and restrooms. There’s even a “swimsuit spinner” which extracts most of the water out of a wet swimsuit – plastic bags are provided for packing damp suits. So pack a small day bag, leave the luggage with Bell Services, and go out and enjoy the pool area while you’re waiting!

How do I find out about activities and scheduled events?

Each day the “daily ‘IWA” newsletter is published. It contains a list of all of the events that will be occurring at Aulani that day. (Those familiar with the Daily Navigator aboard the Disney Cruise ships will notice a lot of similarities.) Events are listed by time and grouped according to “Hana Activities”, ‘Ohana Family”, “Keiki Children”, and “‘Opio Youth”. The daily ‘IWA is available at the Front Desk, the Pau Hana Room, and other areas around the resort, but is not delivered to the rooms.

What are the different room types?

Room types include Studios, One- and Two-Bedroom Villas, Three-Bedroom Grand Villas, standard hotel rooms and suites.

The available views are ocean and partial ocean views, poolside garden, island garden, and standard.

Studio – Sleeps up to four, 1 queen-size bed, and 1 queen-size sleeper sofa, Flat-panel TV and DVD player, wet bar, small refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker. Private balcony. Approximately 356 square feet.

One-Bedroom Villa – Sleeps five, Master bedroom with king-size bed, living room with queen-size sleeper sofa and single pull-down bunk bed (suitable for child). One full bathroom with dual-sink vanity and whirlpool tub, and separate walk-in shower and toilet room. Flat-panel TV and DVD player in living room, and flat panel TV in master bedroom. Full kitchen includes: coffee maker, dinnerware, glassware, flatware, cookware, microwave, rice cooker, toaster, stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Laundry area contains a stacked washer and dryer. Private balcony accessible from living room and bedroom. Approximately 756 square feet.

Two-Bedroom Lock-Off Villa – a combination of a one-bedroom villa and a studio, with a connecting door. Sleeps 9. Approximately 1,112 square feet.

Dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa – Like the one-bedroom villa with an additional bedroom with a full bathroom and two queen-size beds. Instead of a single bunk bed in the living room there is a sleeper chair. There is also an additional half bathroom. The two-dedroom villas accommodate nine adults plus one child under age three in a crib. Approximately 1,125 square feet.

3-Bedroom Grand Villa – Three bedrooms, sleeps up to twelve guests. Master bedroom suite with king-size bed, two additional bedrooms, each with two queen-size beds, living room with queen-size sleeper sofa and a sleeper chair. Three full bathrooms: Master bathroom with whirlpool tub, dual sink vanity, and walk-in shower, separate toilet room. One bedoom has a private bathroom with walk-in shower, dual-sink vanity, and separate toilet room. The third bathroom is off the hallway, with combination tub/shower, dual sink vanity, and separate toilet room. with whirlpool tub. There are flat-panel TVs in all three bedrooms, with an additional TV screen that is part of the mirror in the master bathroom. The living room has a flat-panel TV and DVD player. Full kitchen includes: coffee maker, dinnerware, glassware, flatware, pots and pans, microwave, toaster, rice cooker, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher. Dining room with dining table and chairs (seats 8), with additional seating at the bar. Laundry area contains stacked washer and dryer. The balcony is accessible from each of the bedrooms plus the living room and dining room. Approximately 2,174 square feet.

Standard Hotel Room – Sleeps up to four, with either 2 queen-size beds or 1 king-size bed and a queen-size sleeper sofa. Includes flat-panel TV and DVD player, small refrigerator, and coffee maker. One full bathroom with oversized bathtub and shower, dual-sink vanity and separate toilet room. Approximately 382 square feet.

What are the rooms like?

Guest rooms are located in one of Aulani’s two 15-story towers: Waianae and Ewa. Each tower has six guest elevators. All rooms are non-smoking. Room decor incorporates elements from Hawaiian history, such as the O’o bird carved on the door, the leaves of the taro plant depicted in the carpet, and the outrigger canoe represented by the shape of the headboard and the blades of the ceiling fans. Whimsical Disney touches include hidden Mickeys in the bed throw, surfboard Mickey lamps, and, in the villas, a surfing Minnie in the living room lampshade.

How much will it cost for me to stay in one of these rooms?

Disney Vacation Club resort rates vary by season (there are nine seasons now), and also by day of the week. The holiday season is the most expensive time of the year. It runs from mid-December to early January as well as during Easter Week.

The rates for a:
— Deluxe Studio Standard View range from $484 – $579 (Holidays up to $704)
— Deluxe Studio Island Garden View range from $529 – $644 (Holidays up to $784)
— Deluxe Studio Poolside Garden View range from $579 – $704 (Holidays up to $849)
— Deluxe Studio Ocean View range from $669 – $814 (Holidays up to $984)
— 1 Bedroom Villa Standard View range from $749 – $864 (Holidays up to $1,054)
— 1 Bedroom Villa Island Garden View range from $819 – $954 (Holidays up to $1,154)
— 1 Bedroom Villa Poolside Garden View range from $889 – $1,029 (Holidays up to $1,244)
— 1 Bedroom Villa Ocean View range from $999 – $1,154 (Holidays up to $1,384)
— 2 Bedroom Villa Standard View range from $1,104 – $1,269 (Holidays up to $1,489)
— 2 Bedroom Villa Island Garden View range from $1,189 – $1,389 (Holidays up to $1,619)
— 2 Bedroom Villa Poolside Garden range from $1,299 – $1,524 (Holidays up to $1,794)
— 2 Bedroom Villa Ocean View range from $1,564 – $1,799 (Holidays up to $2,109)
— 3 Bedroom Grand Villa Standard View range from $2,189 – $2,489 (Holidays up to $2,949)
— 3 Bedroom Grand Villa Ocean View range from $2,799 – $3,154 (Holidays up to $3,699)

What types of amenities are offered?

High speed wireless internet access
Non-smoking hotel
Crib, iron, ironing board, hairdryer and make-up mirror in each room.
Flat screen TV and DVD player
Nightly turn-down service (for cash stays only)
In-room safe
Disabled-accessible rooms available. On-property charging privileges Valet parking

What about parking?

Self-parking is available in the parking garages adjacent to the two towers. Parking is complimentary for DVC Members (or their guests) staying on points, otherwise it is $35/day.

For day visitors, parking tickets can be validated for up to 4 hours when you spend $35 or more. Otherwise, use the automated parking payment kiosks to pay for parking.

How does the Housekeeping work?

Housekeeping follows a different schedule depending on whether you are a Disney Vacation Club member (or guest) staying in a villa on points, or a cash-paying guest staying in either a hotel room or a villa.

Those on “cash” stays will receive daily Housekeeping and nightly turndown service.

For those staying in on points the following schedule applies:

  • Trash & Towel Service – For stays of seven or less nights, Trash & Towel Service is provided on day four. With Trash & Towel service, Housekeeping will: Empty trash and replace liners in trash bins, provide fresh bathroom linens, replace shampoo, facial soap and bath soap, replenish facial tissues, paper towels and toilet paper, replenish coffee, sugar, cream and sweeteners, replenish dishwashing liquid, dishwashing detergent, sponges and laundry detergent as needed in one-, two- and three-bedroom Vacation Homes.
  • Full Cleaning Service – For stays of eight or more nights, Full-Cleaning Service is provided on day four and Trash & Towel Service is provided on day eight. After that, the cycle begins again on day 12. With Full-Cleaning service, Housekeeping will provide everything included with the Trash & Towel Service, plus: Change the bed linens, vacuum and dust, clean the bathroom(s), clean the kitchen/kitchenette and wash the dishes.
  • You may also choose to pay for daily housekeeping or have additional towels etc. Check with the front desk for information and pricing.

What are the dining options?

‘AMA ‘AMA – this beachside casual restaurant is located on the far end of the Waikolohe Valley, above the beach. It features covered open air seating, and serves lunch and dinner (breakfast service starts in November 2011). The menu focuses on “contemporary island cooking” and features fresh local ingredients, including sustainable seafood. It’s a great location for watching a sunset. The restaurant is named after a local type of mullet fish called the ‘ama’ama, which may sound familiar to anyone who has heard “The Hukilau Song”. (We’re going to a hukilau… We throw our nets out into the sea, and all the `ama`ama come a-swimmin’ to me …)

Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands – is a casual buffet restaurant located on the ground floor just below the lobby. There is both outdoor and indoor seating. The buffet selections have quite an international flavor with an emphasis on locally-inspired cuisine and Asian influences. Hawaiian favorites at dinner might include laulau, poi, and poke, while breakfast features the locally popular Loco Moco. Sushi/sashimi, rice, and dim sum are also available, as well as more traditional American fare. “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration” takes place Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays, featuring Aunty and favorite Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.

Lava Shack – this poolside location serves snacks and cold boxed lunches like fried chicken and salmon.

Off the Hook – is an open-air bar between ‘AMA ‘AMA and the Waikolohe Pool. The menu includes sandwiches and wraps, as well as traditional and specialty tropical drinks.

The ‘Olelo Room – this bar is located on the ground floor next to Makahiki. All the bartenders speak Hawaiian, and guests are encouraged to brush up on some Hawaiian words. To help, the decor features the Hawaiian name on things like chairs and tables, with even more names on wooden figures on the walls. The ‘Olelo Room serves a continental breakfast in the morning, and appetizers and drinks in the evening.

One Paddle, Two Paddle – this counter service restaurant is next to ‘AMA ‘AMA. It opens in the late morning with an all-day menu that includes a pork sandwich, burgers, fish tacos, and wraps.

Papalua Shave Ice – the shave ice stand is located in the pool area, with 12 different syrup flavors – select your favorite two or three or five.

Rip Swirl Yogurt – though it’s located just inside the Painted Sky Teen Spa, the yogurt bar is open to anyone. Select from four flavors of frozen yogurt, and as many as three different toppings from the variety of fruits, candies, nuts, and sprinkles available.

Room service is also available from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight.

Sample menus for these restaurants HERE.

What about the menehune?

Menehune are the mischievous Hawaiian “little people”. There are statues of them hidden all over Aulani, both indoors and out, some that are easy to see and others in places where only smaller guests will easily spot them. There’s no formal game associated with finding them, but it can be a lot of fun trying to locate them.

Are refillable mugs available?

Refillable mugs are $19.99 and can be purchased and refilled at Kalepa’s Store (next to the main lobby), the Lava Shack, and One Paddle, Two Paddle.

Tell me about the Waikolohe Valley.

At 7 acres in size, the Waikolohe Valley is the main recreation area for Aulani, and all kinds of activities take place there. “Waikolohe” means “waters of mischief” and the waters in the valley more than live up to their name.

The pool area is exclusively for the use of Aulani guests, who must visit the Kawele Korner booth near the pool each day and show their room key to get a new and different-colored wristband for the day. Each guest, whether child or adult, must show a room key. Pool towels are also available there.

Waikolohe Pool – The Waikolohe Pool is the main pool. It is a maximum of 3′ 6″ deep, with zero-entry access at one end. A large number of lounge chairs surround it.

Waikolohe Stream – this 900′ lazy river follows a course around the upper part of the Waikolohe Valley. Tubes are available for those who wish to float on the slowly moving river. There is a zero-entry point near the beginning of the stream. Menehune are visible along the banks – and watch out for unexpected dowsings by those mischievous waters!

Pu’u Kilo Slides – there are two waterslides located at the top of the Pu’u Kilo volcano. Tubestone Curl is the tube slide – select a single or double tube at the bottom before climbing up the stairs to the slide. The slide dumps into a side tributary of the lazy river, so it’s easy to just continue floating after coming down the slide. Volcanic Vertical is a body slide, and is almost all in the dark – not recommended for those with claustrophobia. It comes out in a grotto off to the side of the main Waikolohe Pool. Both slides are accessible only by stairs.

Menehune Bridge is an interactive water play area for kids 48″ and under. There is a climbing structure with bridges and water flowing all over it, as well as three different slides. Mischievous menehune can be spotted all over the bridge, dumping water from gourds, pipes and other water containers onto those below. There’s an outrigger canoe on top that gradually fills with water and periodically dumps the entire contents all at once (you’ll hear the sound of a conch shell blowing just before it happens).

Wailana Pool is the “quiet” pool, located way off to the side of the valley next to the Waianae Tower. This pool is also 3′ 6″ deep with a zero-entry. Towels and chaise lounges are available at the pool.

Whirlpool Spas – there are four spas in Waikolohe Valley. The round and rapidly bubbling Caldera Spa is located above the Waikolohe Stream. The Waikolohe Spa is next to the pool, and has a hot waterfall flowing into it. The large Sunset Spas – Sunset Upper and Sunset Lower – are at the very end of the valley just above the beach, and as the name suggests, they provide a great location for viewing the sunset.

Poolside cabanas – private cabanas are available to rent at both pools.

Rainbow Reef – is a self-contained saltwater snorkeling lagoon near the center of Waikolohe Valley. The 3,800 square foot lagoon contains a variety of fish that are native to Hawaiian waters, like butterflyfish, tang, and triggerfish. (And there are even some menehune in Rainbow Reef!) There is an additional charge to snorkel in Rainbow Reef: $20/day adult or $15/day child, or length-of-stay access is $39 for adults and $45 for kids. Guests are welcome to come and view the twice a day fish feedings.

Makai Preserve gives guests an opportunity to interact with several brown stingrays. The stingrays are in a Mickey-shaped pool and the guests stand next to it but are able to reach in and touch them. This experience is available by reservation only, $50 for adults and $45 for kids.

Menehune Adventure Trail – pick up a special cell phone at the Pau Hana Room that will allow you to communicate with Aunty as she helps you to explore some of the special surprises in the Waikolohe Valley. (You will be required to leave your room key as a deposit for the phone.) An adventure takes about 45 minutes, upon completion you may return the phone, or start a new adventure.

Po’la’ila’i Sunset Gathering – held most evenings at sunset, Uncle and his assistants welcome the night with a Hawaiian chant.

What other recreational activities are available?

The Pau Hana Room (Community Hall) located on the bottom floor of the Ewa Tower, offers a variety activities. Board games and DVD rentals are available there. Almost every day a local Hawaiian artisan teaches some kind of hands-on craft activity, such as making leis or kukui nut necklaces, or feather work. There are also classes on the hula.

Laniwai Spa – “Laniwai” means “freshwater heaven” in Hawaiian. The spa is 18,000 square feet indoors, and offers a full slate of spa and salon services. Outside is the 5,000 square foot Kula Wai hydrotherapy garden, which includes two warm aromatherapy pools, hot and cold whirlpool spas, and six different warm outdoor rain showers – everything from a gentle mist to a pounding waterfall. A sample of the spa treatments available HERE.

Fitness Center – The Mikimiki Fitness Center is located on the ground floor of the Waianae Tower next to the Laniwai Spa. The fitness center is free for use to all Aulani guests and is open 24 hours a day – simply use your room key for access.

Fitness Classes such as stretching, swimming, walking, and boot camp, are held daily at the beach.

Beach Activities – The Kohola Lagoon behind Aulani is a calm and sheltered body of water suitable for snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. All of these items, as well as chaise lounges, are available for rent at Makiki Joe’s Beach Rentals, located on the beach walkway just behind Aulani. Be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty at the lagoon.

Walking/Running Path – The beach path behind Aulani is a nice place for a morning walk or run. The entire path is about 1.5 miles long – Aulani is about 1.3 miles from the south end, and about .2 miles from the north end.

What entertainment is available?

There are a number of entertainment opportunities available to Aulani guests at no additional charge. Consult the daily ‘IWA for times and locations.

Character Greetings – Disney characters are available to meet and greet guests at scheduled times throughout the day.

Mo’olelo Storytelling – held multiple times a day on most days of the week at the Pau Hana Room or The Circle of ‘Alae’Ula Firepit near ‘AMA ‘AMA. Uncle “talks story” and relates Hawaiian legends and traditions, and sings and plays his ukulele.

‘Ohana Disney Family Movie Night – gather on woven mats under the stars to watch a classic Disney movie.

Starlit Hui – This nighttime show for the entire family allows guests to learn the hula, see a live show featuring traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music and dancing, and concludes with a dance party with some of the Disney characters. It takes place outside on the Makaloa Lawn, with seating on woven mats.

What is Aunty’s Beach House?

Aunty’s Beach House is the kids’ club, and offers day and even evening programs for kids ages 3-12. Like the kids’ clubs on the Disney cruise ships, parents can leave their kids in a fun environment where they will have plenty of things to do, and will be under adult supervision at all times. The house is divided into two sides: Aunty’s side for kids 3-5, and Uncle’s Workshop for those 6-12. There is a secure outdoor play area in the back. The basic program is free of charge to Aulani guests, and activities include costume and dress-up, storytelling with Aunty or Uncle, the magic play tables, video games, crafts, movies, etc. A snack is also included at certain times of the day. Check the daily ‘IWA for the list of activities at Aunty’s Beach House, like Keiki Hula and Stitch’s Space Goo.

Aunty’s Beach House opens at 8:00 a.m. and is open at least until 9:00 p.m. and sometimes later. Lunch and dinner are available for the kids at an additional charge. Childcare is available in the evening hours for parents who might wish to have a nice romantic dinner.

There are some premium programs at the Beach House as well (additional charge, reservations required), which include some kind of themed activity, such as preparing food for the fish in the koi pond, as well as a meal, a character visit, craft, and something they will take away with them.

Does Disney provide transportation from/to the airport?

At this point Disney does not provide a “Magical Express” type of transportation shuttle to/from the airport (though they say they are “looking into it.”) Guests must take a taxi, shuttle, or rental car to Aulani.

A car rental desk (Alamo) is located near the main lobby, and cars are available on-site. Keep in mind the $35/day parking – it may be a better value to rent a car only on days you need it.

What excursions are available?

There are many things to see and do on the island of Oahu. Guests can either sightsee on their own, or book an excursion through Aulani’s Holoholo Tours desk. There are two types of tours available – Adventures by Disney tours available exclusively to Aulani guests, or tours run by selected Hawaiian tour companies, which are also open to non-Aulani guests. Adventures by Disney tours include experiences like a catamaran and snorkeling trip, hiking in a rainforest, kayaking on Kailua Bay, horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch, surfing lessons, and cooking lessons with local chef Sam Choy. These excursions pick up and drop off at Aulani.

Non-ABD excursions travel to places like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and Hanauma Bay. These excursions may require you to provide your own transportation to/from the pick-up point.

A list of tours is available on Aulani’s web site.

For those interested in shopping or dining options at other resorts in the Ko Olina area there is a free shuttle bus service that runs between the Ko Olina resorts. Buses arrive at Aulani about every 30 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The Halihali Shuttle provides round-trip transportation for $30.00/person to either the Waikele Outlets, Ala Moana Shopping Center, or Waikiki. It is not a “hop-on/hop-off” type of shuttle, so you must choose ONE of these destinations only. The shuttle operates three days a week.

What is the nearest shopping area?

For food and beach items and souvenirs, the town of Kapolei, located just a few miles from Aulani, has a couple of large shopping centers. Stores include Costco and Target, as well as Safeway and CVS.

Across from Aulani, less than a five-minute walk away, is the Island Country Market ABC Store. It has a grocery section with essential items, as well as some fresh produce, a deli and a selection of grab-and-go items. There’s a good variety of beach items and Hawaii souvenirs, including t-shirts and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.