Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa Ko ‘Olina, Hawaii, can best be described as paradise Disney style. The enchantment of Disney and Hawaii come alive at this one-of-kind beachfront family resort nestled between the lush green mountains and beautiful ocean waters in Ko Olina, on the western shore of O’ahu.
Aulani is the work of Walt Disney Imagineers who collaborated with the Hawaiian locals to create a place celebrating Hawaiian history, culture and artwork. Not surprising, given the Imagineers gift of storytelling, Aulani tells the story of Hawaii with authenticity and a tremendous amount of detail.
At Aulani Guests can expect that familiar, world-famous Disney service, plenty of fun and relaxation for the whole family, opportunities to be immersed in the Hawaiian culture through unique excursions and experiences, as well as encounters with some old Disney friends when the Disney characters make surprise appearances at special events and during meal times! -Cara Goldsbury
- The full resort name is Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i.
- The resort’s name is pronounced “ow-lah-nee.”
- “Aulani” traditionally means “a messenger of a chief” or “messenger of a greater authority.” The name is fitting as the resort serves as a messenger of the “higher authority” that is Hawai‘i, its spirit and its culture.
- The resort is located on 21 oceanfront acres on the western side of O‘ahu in the Ko Olina Resort Community and Marina.
- The two towers of Aulani Resort feature 351 hotel rooms, including 16 suites, and 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas, including 21 Grand Villas.
- Rooms are angled and views include ocean and partial ocean, poolside garden, island garden and standard.
- Laniwai, a Disney Spa, features 15 treatment rooms, including a family treatment room, as well as a hydrotherapy garden, full-service salon and fitness center in 23,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. Painted Sky, a space at the spa just for teens, features a mixology station and a special menu of treatments.
- Aulani Resort is the ideal place for events. The conference center includes 14,545 square feet of space with a main ballroom, four breakout rooms and generous pre-function space. Meetings and conventions also enjoy two distinct event lawns, along with private patios and terraces.
- The resort obtained Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Silver Certification in 2013. Aulani Resort is the first resort in Hawai‘i to obtain the certification.
- The resort offers wedding planning through the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings program.
- Aulani Resort is the 11th Disney Vacation Club resort.
- Aulani Resort opened to the first guests on August 29, 2011.
Entertainment and Recreation
- Aunty’s Beach House is an interactive, complimentary kids club providing children ages 3 to 12 with activities, entertainment and games that explore the mysteries of Hawai‘i. Teen and tween programs also are available at the resort.
- KA WA‘A, a luau at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa is an exhilarating dining and entertainment experience at the Hālāwai Lawn. Guests feast on a sumptuous, local island buffet, and enjoy lively music and traditional Hawaiian dance. The show’s story is inspired by the sacred canoe that brought the ancestors of Native Hawaiians to Hawaii.
- Each night, guests gather for Mo‘olelo Fire Pit Storytelling to hear Uncle, the Hawaiian Elder, share stories and legends of Hawaii under the tropical stars.
- During ‘Ohana Disney Movie Nights, guests take a seat on the Hālāwai Lawn and watch family-friendly Disney movies under the stars.
- Live Hawaiian musical artists perform live each night on the patio at The ‘Ōlelo Room.
- Guests discover fun surprises when they tour the Menehune Adventure Trail, a high-tech scavenger hunt that explores the resort to solve riddles, search for statues and discover surprises left by the Menehune—the legendary “little people” of Hawai‘i. Many of these are concealed at a level where only the smallest guests can easily find them.
- In addition to the adjoining beach, resort guests enjoy the resort’s seven-acre water playground, featuring pools, water slides, the Waikolohe Stream waterway, and a fun play area known as the Menehune bridge. Poolside cabanas are also available for rental.
- Aulani Resort offers a lineup of excursion adventures led by local experts. Excursions include horseback riding in the Kualoa Valley, kayaking, a catamaran cruise, a surf school and more.
- As part of the Ko Olina Resort Community & Marina, resort guests have convenient access to a 330-slip Marina and a Ted Robinson-designed 18-hole Championship golf course.
- The heart of the Aulani Resort is a lush and vibrant oasis called the Waikolohe Valley, named for its “mischievous waters.”
- Lava formations play a starring role in the Valley, which is home to the resort’s many pools, waterways and spas.
- The stunning grounds of Aulani include gardens with its own personality. The center garden, between the two towers, is designed to simulate O‘ahu’s overall landscape: dense and wet in the center; sandy and palmy on the outskirts.
- Waikolohe Stream is a 321,000-gallon mischievous waterway, covering 900 linear feet that guests explore on two tubing adventures – one serene and one with tube slides.
- Menehune Bridge is a 2,200 square-foot interactive water play area for children with three slides, interactive water elements and a climbing play structure.
- There are three pools – Waikolohe, Wailana and Ka Maka; a snorkel lagoon – Rainbow Reef; and four whirlpool spas – Sunset Upper, Sunset Lower, Waikolohe and the Caldera.
- Rainbow Reef is the only private snorkeling lagoon on O‘ahu and offers an up-close look at the many brightly colored fish found in the Hawaiian waters. This serene 3,800 square-foot snorkeling lagoon offers a safe environment where guests can snorkel without worrying about unpredictable waves and currents. It’s an ideal experience for beginners—or those simply seeking a soothing escape.
Dining and Lounges
- Two onsite restaurants feature foods unique to Hawai‘i with ingredients from local farmers and fisherman – the contemporary, full-service ‘AMA‘AMA and the buffet-style Makahiki:
- The beachside ‘AMA‘AMA restaurant, named after a traditional Hawaiian fish, features ocean-colored walls, a reflecting pond centerpiece and both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
- The buffet-style Makahiki restaurant is named after the Hawaiian harvest festival season. Décor highlights include murals painted by Hawaiian artist Al Lagunero and a stunning lighting sculpture that hangs from the ceiling.
- Disney character dining is available on selected days at Makahiki restaurant, and guests enjoy a different ambience from day to night as the light transforms from a warm rose-amber glow to nighttime indigo hues.
- Among the lounges and bars is The ‘Ōlelo Room, which offers tropical cocktails, Hawaiian beers, lemonade, iced tea and more.
- Celebrating the Hawaiian language – ‘Ōlelo means “word” – guests find the Hawaiian names for objects in several places, including 150 shadow boxes with wood carvings. Bartenders at the ‘Ōlelo room speak fluent Hawaiian and help guests with proper pronunciations of words.
- Ulu Cafe is a poolside venue serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features an outdoor patio with a beautiful ocean view.
Art and Architecture
- Aulani Resort has one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary Hawaiian art.
- The resort’s interior design features lustrous wood and bright, geometric patterns inspired by Hawaiian kappa cloth (textiles made from tree bark).
- From the Maka‘ala Lobby, guests see an ancient lava rock outcropping and they may catch the scent of ginger, pikake and plumeria wafting on the cooling kaiaulu breeze from the water garden.
- Artist Martin Charlot conceived and painted the lobby mural, a 200-foot long tribute to Hawaiian history and culture with multiple stories and meanings. In the late 1930s, Martin Charlot’s father, muralist Jean Charlot, wrote one of the first serious critical essays about animation as an art form, claiming that animation was a continuation of the great mural traditions of Europe and that Disney animators were the masters of this art form.
- The center of the lobby features a 12×12-foot compass rose embedded in the floor. The four points of the compass do not point to the traditional North, South, East or West. Instead they correspond to directions the ancient Hawaiians relied upon – up is toward the sea, down points to the mountainside, the left arrow corresponds to the feminine side of the resort (made of lava with a smooth finish) and the right to the masculine side (made of lava with a rough finish).
- Guest rooms feature many details of Hawaiian legend, from carpet patterns to lighting:
- The taro plant, a staple food and spiritual symbol of the Hawaiian people, is depicted in the carpet.
- Tribute is paid to the importance of the outrigger canoe to Hawaiian history and culture in the design of the ceiling fan blades which resemble paddles. Also, light fixtures in the bathroom resemble outrigger canoe sails.
- Butterfly joints are carved into the headboards and side tables, evoking the ancient Hawaiians’ method for artfully repairing their prized calabash bowls.
- The design of Laniwai, a Disney Spa, explores the cultural and spiritual significance of rainbows. Treatment rooms are named after rainbows, including “luahoano,” a rainbow around the sun or moon.
Ko Olina Resort Community and Marina
- “Ko Olina” means “Place of Joy.” Part of an original royal land division, Ko Olina was once a sacred area for Hawaiian monarchs and leaders to rest and unwind. Today, the area is an inviting vacation destination for those seeking relaxation.
- Ko Olina is part of the Leeward Coast region of Oahu (western side of the island), which is famous for its breathtaking sunsets.
- Ko Olina is 17 miles from Honolulu International Airport and approximately 30-45 minutes from Waikiki Beach and 20 minutes from the smaller surf towns of the North Shore.
“Dennis ~ OH MY, that trip was simply amazing! The new pool area and splash pad was a huge hit with the kids. Two awesome water slides makes for some great times! The room itself was amazing, loved the upgraded rain showers, the cool hide away bed (which the kids fought over who got to sleep in it), how close it was to the transportation center so we could hop on the express monorail and skip all the resort crowds, just amazing!
We truly appreciate all your assistance in making that such an amazing trip! Can’t wait to do it again!!!!”
Rebecca W., GA