When my husband and I went to Oahu a few years ago, we stayed next door to Aulani at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. We toured around Aulani one evening and thought, “This is great, but it doesn’t seem exceptionally Disney”. While it may not be a Disney park, it is still extremely Disney- picture perfect and magical. We went in the beginning of May, and our family (me, my husband, and 4 kids 8, 6, 4, 2) had a wonderful time! I researched a whole bunch before going to make sure we got to enjoy everything Aulani had to offer, and I think we succeeded. Here are my top Disney Aulani tips and tricks:
Pay for PhotoPass
Pay for the PhotoPass for the whole time you’re at Aulani (cost varies depending on stay, ours was $78 for 4 nights). It was worth every penny. I didn’t always have my phone with me, but with the PhotoPass, I could have a professional photographer with professional equipment take all of the pictures I wanted. $78 for that whole time is a steal, and they have a PhotoPass desk at Aulani to answer any questions you might have. They can even add in special effects. The girls got a great Moana picture with Hei Hei photoshopped in!
Sunset Pictures on the Beach
Walk down to the beach between 5 and 6 and have a PhotoPass photographer take sunset photos of your family for free (you can also schedule a longer photo shoot for a fee). There are photographers waiting around on the beach in case families want to have their pictures taken. A wonderful PhotoPass photographer, Glen, gave me this tip and I’m so grateful for it. Look for him when you’re there, he’s awesome!
Refillable Mugs Rule
Buy a refillable mug for your whole stay ($22.95 + tax) We got 2 for our family of 6 and it was just about perfect (how much soda do kids need anyway?). Aulani has every flavor you can possibly imagine – peach Fanta or raspberry root beer. The kids had so much fun making different flavor combinations and having us guess what they were.
Get Your Wristbands
Go to the cabana when there’s no line and ask to get the wristband for the next day. Then you can head out of your room and straight to the pool!
Stay and Play All You Want
You can play as early as you want on the day you check in and stay as late as you want on the day you check out. We arrived at Aulani at about noon and left about one, so we used it as much as we possibly could!
The Pau Hauna Community Room is Your Friend
Ok, I kind of squeezed in a few tips into this one tip. The Pau Hana Community Room is a great resource and has a variety of activities:
You can check out a tablet to do a scavenger hunt which takes you all around the resort. They have interactive areas where when you solve the clue, something cool happens like water shooting out of a rock or lava appearing to flow down a mountain. Moana was out walking around and she helped the kids solve a clue. They were ecstatic!
You can pick up daily crafts, which are fun things like making clothespin butterflies and cards for Mother’s Day. I received some really sweet cards that day.
You can sign up for the daily activities. Some, like the ukelele lessons, are really popular, so make sure you’re at the community room in line before 8 am to sign up. I was there at 7:50 am (not hard when I was on PST) and I was about fifth in line. The lesson was so fun and they gave out a little ukelele chord cheat sheet afterward.
Plan Your Day the Night Before
The activities list sometimes goes up the night before. It’s nice to be able to plan out the next day if you have certain things you want to do. For example, we wanted to make sure we got to do the hula lessons. It was hot in the sun, but it was fun.
Use the Disney Outlet Store to Save Some Cash
Go to a Disney outlet store beforehand and get some gear. We got Aulani hats for all 6 of us for $8 apiece. The exact same ones were at the resort for $26 each (plus tax!). We also got our girls Moana swimsuits ($30), and my husband and I each got orange Hawaiian Stitch sweatpants ($12). Your mileage may vary, I discovered that there are only 9 Disney outlet stores left in the US. We just lucked out living by one. This was going to be my number one Disney Aulani tip but now I put it at the end since it won’t be as helpful to most people.
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