HAWAII WITH A LITTLE PIXIE DUST!
A few weeks ago, my family and I had the incredible opportunity of being hosted at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa for their Mahalo Season which is going on now through December 21st.
I’ve sat down to write this post SO many times, but in all honesty, trying to summarize our experience at Aulani and what it meant to our family in actual words other than “amazing”, “incredible”, “awesome”, “exceptional”, etc. seems nearly impossible! Meaning it was one of those epic vacations, one that will be tucked away in my heart for a lifetime. A day hasn’t passed since our return that we didn’t talk about our time in Hawaii and truly how magical it was!
So here it goes… My attempt to do justice to an experience that my family will cherish for a lifetime…
Please, please be sure to read on for more details on the Mahalo season and some incredible deals going on NOW!
From the moment you walk into the resort lobby, down to every detail of decor, Aulani is truly “the” Hawaiian experience with Disney Magic sprinkled in.
The rich Hawaiian culture is story-lined into every facet of the resort. You do feel as if you stepped into the movie Moana with Maui’s presence surrounding you, along with vibrant tropical plants and literally a view of where the ocean meets the sky.
We stayed for 4 nights in a One Bedroom Villa geared towards Disney Vacation Club Members, which was quite literally the perfect place to rest our heads after VERY full days exploring the resort. You may be wondering how a family of 4 fit into a one-bedroom, however with a sleeper sofa AND a pull-out bed, we had more than enough space! Each villa also comes complete with a full kitchen, dining area, bathtub & separate shower, PLUS washer and dryer! Now, you might be thinking who wants to do laundry on vacation, but we came home with CLEAN clothes that I didn’t have to wash the minute we walked into the door! That was a win in my book!
In terms of length of stay, we were there from a Sunday to a Thursday, which I think was the perfect number of days and nights. We were never bored (I mean it’s Disney so how could you be), yet had enough time to soak in every ounce of the resort, activities and beach!
FOOD AT AULANI
As expected, the food was fantastic! It was fresh, beautiful and Mickey-shaped. Well, not all of it was Mickey-shaped, but if you could make it into a mouse it was! A flower adorned quite literally every plate, which made even the PB&J look like a gourmet meal. It was these little touches that made everything that much more special.
I’ll be honest in that my family is no picnic in the food department. We’ve got a vegan, a pescetarian, a kid who’s only protein is chicken nuggets and an herbivore in our crew. Like I said, we are FUN to cook for. With all that said, we found plenty of healthy options wherever we went – which was refreshing!
Here are a few of our favorite dining experiences:
A staple of any Disney experience is a character breakfast and the Makahiki at Aulani was nothing less than exceptional. There is a gorgeous selection of fresh fruit, create your own omelets, Mickey-shaped waffles and even bananas that look like dolphins! Oh and of course the table-side visit from Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Mickey himself was truly magical!
We were so busy most days bouncing from pool to ocean that lunch for us happened on the go or it was more like a pit stop! Most days, we hit up Ulu Cafe for a quick bite and continued on with the fun!
There “may” have been a day that we called Papalua Shaved Ice our lunch. When in Hawaii, right?!
Dinner was by FAR my favorite meal each day, and with restaurants like AMAAMA providing modern Hawaiian cuisine, complete with an ocean view, it’s easy to see why. I loved coming together at the end of a fun-filled day and sharing what our favorite part was.
FUN IN THE WATER
Most of our time was spent poolside at the Waikolohe Valley or splashing in the Ko Olina Lagoon, which is only natural, given that it’s Hawaii and we live in the Midwest, which is now on the brink of Fall.
Between the waterslides, lazy river and splash zone, getting the kids to the beach took some convincing on that first day. However, once their toes hit the ocean they were hooked. There were so many beachside activities, from paddle boarding to boogie boarding. but our kids had the best time trying to find seashells and rocks to take home!
FUN ON THE LAND
When we weren’t splashing in the water, we were taking in all the activities Aulani offers for families of all ages! Each day you are given an event calendar that outlines all the activities happening around the resort that day. I found this super helpful when trying to plan your day’s agenda!
FOR THE KIDS
Aunty’s Beach House helps kids immerse themselves in the Hawaiian culture, with a dash of Disney Magic. It also allows parents to connect for a relaxing spa treatment (more on that next), fine-dining experience or even a date on the beach! All the while, kids can enjoy singing, dancing, crafts, video games, story times and SO much more in a safe environment. Aunty’s Beach House is open daily 8 AM to 9 PM.
My kids also had a blast visiting Painted Sky: HI Style Studio, where they got made over into Moana and a supercool Hawaiian-boy! These magical makeovers include hairstyling, makeup, temporary tattoos, outfits and of COURSE a little Disney twist. Just think Bippity Boppity Boutique with a Hawaiian-twist!
FOR THE ADULTS
One of my favorite treats from our time at Aulani was my spa treatment at Laniwai, a Disney Spa. There are 15 treatment rooms, including a family treatment room and hydrotherapy gardens.
FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY
The most common question I’ve received after sharing our experience with friends is whether there was enough to do besides swimming. My answer is undoubtedly YES! I was surprised at first to be honest, but I shouldn’t have been, because Disney leaves no story untold and does a beautiful job intertwining storylines and experiential activities.
A few of our favorites were the scavenger hunts throughout the resort. You could do 3 different hunts and earn kukui nuts then placed onto a keychain as a keepsake. Our keychains are already on backpacks as a reminder of our time together.
There was also Mo’olelo Fire Pit Storytelling, where we got a surprise visit from Moana, and movies on the lawn to fill any possible down time!
What I was giddy excited about was the KA WA‘A, a Lū‘au. To experience the culture and beauty of the Hawaiian islands through traditional dance, music and storytelling was a highlight for sure! And the food… there are no words… you just have to try it for yourself!
THINGS TO KNOW
After sharing our experience at Aulani with family and friends, a few common questions got asked, which I thought would be helpful for you to know as you plan your own Hawaiian Disney Adventure.
Yes, the flights are fairly long from most parts of the country. We live outside Chicago and were looking at a 9 hour flight. With that being said, I would recommend booking non-stop flights if at all possible. We flew out around mid-morning on Sunday and landed at 3 PM Hawaii time, which ended up being perfect timing. The kids were SO excited and eager to get the fun started, so we threw on our suits and visited the ocean before grabbing dinner and getting some sleep! On the way home, we took a red eye flight, which I was skeptical about. It’s one of those, this is either going to be the best decision or the worst decision ever. For us, it turned out to be a good decision! The kids slept on the flight best they could and it felt like we were home in no time.
My biggest piece of advice is to have NEW activities (ones your kids haven’t experienced before) and make it a “surprise” for them on the flight. I wouldn’t let my kids peek inside their travel bags, building the excitement!
Here are a few of the activities we took on our journey:
- Doodle Pads
- Travel Hangman
- Melissa & Doug On-The-Go Secret Decoder
- Melissa & Doug On-The-Go Color Packs
- Tangram Travel Games
THE TIME CHANGE
Luckily, the time change GOING to Hawaii didn’t seem to phase us after that first night and morning. We lost 5 hours in the time change. We were dragging ourselves to bed that first night at 7:30 PM and the kids were up bright and early around 5:30 AM. However, the days were so jam-packed with fun that we didn’t notice after that first full day. I would recommend having your kids and you take a nap that first day just to prevent any meltdowns!
Now, the way home was a different story. Gaining the 5 hours on the way home threw us for a loop. We got home on a Friday morning at 4 AM and it took us a solid 3 days to get our internal clocks reset. But it was BEYOND worth it, so I’m not complaining!
THE LENGTH OF STAY
We stayed for 4 nights and 5 days, which was just right for Aulani! We had enough time to fully experience the resort, but not too much time at the risk of hearing the dreaded, “I’m bored.”
So, would we go to Aulani again? Absolutely. Hands Down. No Question. Yes! We left a little piece of our hearts where the land meets the sea.
Now is the perfect time to plan your trip to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii! During Aulani Mahalo Season, summer extends to December, for a whole lot less. You can book a 3-night stay and add a 4th night for free. Or stay longer and save more with 30% savings on stays of 5+ consecutive nights. Book now–October 24, 2018, for consecutive stays Aug. 20–Dec. 21, 2018 (excludes travel November 19–23, 2018).
Visit DisneyAulani.com for more details on the Resort and how to book.