How To Vacation with Your Kids - Disney Aulani Style!

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Thanks to Disney Vacation Club for providing this vacation to my family. All opinions are my own.

I’ve always wanted to bring my kids to Hawaii because, well...Hawaii is paradise. When I think of a holiday I don’t necessarily always equate that to “bringing my kids” because a lot of resorts and hotels aren’t built FOR kids!

When I got the opportunity to take my 4 year old and mom to Oahu to visit Disney Aulani, I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I was excited!

The moment we arrived at the resort we were greeted with true Hawaiian hospitality. We were given leis and beads and as we walked into the grand lobby we were amazed at the unrestricted ocean view. The lobby also houses a lot of Hawaiian art and pieces that that stay true to the culture, including a rose compass right in the centre.

There is a children’s check in area where my 4 year old waited patiently as I checked in (thank you Disney for thinking of everything!)

From the beginning to end, our stay at Aulani was nothing short of magical and I can’t wait to share my tips and tricks and favorite activities, restaurants and extra’s!

Getting There

I recommend leaving as early as you can in the morning on your travel day. We took a 10:30 am flight from Los Angeles, and landed at 1:30 pm Hawaii time. By the time we arrived at the resort, we still had time to explore, and have a nice dinner and acclimate to the new time zone. We had a 4 night stay at Aulani but it felt like we maximized our stay because we had that bonus afternoon and evening.

Disney Vacation Club vs Hotel Room

Hands down, I would join the Disney Vacation club just to get the amazing Villa’s available at Aulani. The villas are exclusive just for DVC members and boast a kitchen stocked with everything you could possibly need (including a rice cooker), a washer/dryer (hello packing light) and the one bedroom had a King Bed and huge ensuite bathroom with separate sinks. The main room had a pull out and a Murphy Bed. This room sleeps up to 5 people comfortably.

Where to Eat

We explored all the amazing restaurants at the resort, you truly never have to leave. There is something for everyone - casual lunch spots for a quick grab and go and also sit down style. There is a restaurant to have breakfast with the characters and a fancy sit down right on the ocean!


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Makahiki - this is where you can book a reservation and dine with the disney characters! There is an amazing buffet complete with Mickey eared waffles.

Room Service: We had a great time having breakfast in the room! It was delicious and a great way to start the day.


Off the Hook - this was one of my favorites! We ate lunch here twice. It is right off the main pool and has delicious burgers, salads and lots of healthy options.

Ula Cafe: This grab and go spot has salads, sandwiches and Poke. It is also a great place to grab snacks for your room.


Hands down we loved AMA’AMA. This fine dining spot is right on the water and it absolutely stunning. The menu features fresh and local fare and the wine list is fantastic too. I suggest ordering the steak!

*Get a plastic tumbler when you arrive and you can fill it up unlimited times throughout the resort for free during your stay with any fountain drinks!

What to Do

We really wanted to try everything, so we spent one day poolside, one day oceanside and one day exploring Auntie’s Beachhouse, The Pua Hana Room and the spa.

Here are the highlights:

  • Waikolohe Pool (Family Fun Pool): We spent hours enjoying this amazing pool where Asher and I floated around for hours making new friends!

  • Pu’u Kilo (Volcanic Vertical and Tubestone Curl): This was honestly a highlight! I love waterslides and even though my 4 year old and mom didn’t join me in this activity - I definitely recommend it to ANYONE!

  • The Lazy River: We floated along on our inner tubes on a lazy river that circles the entire pool area - it was so relaxing and fun for everyone.

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  • Rainbow Reef: I have always been a little nervous to go snorkeling (hello coral reef) but Aulani has created a safe space to try it for the first time. I had a blast taking selfies in my snorkel gear (and Asher loved watching me do it) and it was incredible seeing all the colorful fish.

  • Menehune Bridge: This is a children's water play area and is a great spot to take a break from the bigger pool, especially on a hot day.

  • The Beach: The beach at Aulani might be one of the highlights for us. It’s a small protected lagoon with minimal waves. I have also never gone stand up paddle boarding before this trip and Asher had never even stepped foot in the ocean. Within minutes of getting our gear from Joe’s beach rentals right on the beach, Asher was cruising on his boogie board and mama stood up for the first time ever on the paddleboard and stayed out for over an hour! It was a huge accomplishment for us both and only happened because of the unique lagoon area Aulani has created.

  • The Circle of ‘Alae ‘Ula (Fire Pit): There are Mo’Olelo (Fire Pit storytelling) nights and we checked out one with Uncle and Moana. It was at 5 pm as the sun was starting to get lower and it was so magical for the kids and the adults! I mean.. we got to meet Moana (hello!) and Uncle shared with us some Hawaiian legends and lore.

Laniwai Spa:

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I love hanging out with Asher but sometimes, I need some “me” time. At Laniwai Spa, that’s exactly what you get. There are actually family spa services where your little ones can join you, but my mom and I decided to make this an adults only experience. Aunty’s Beach House is a great spot to have your kiddo play while you indulge in all that the spa has to offer. And fun fact, Laniwai is the first Disney owned and operated spa in the world. From the moment I walked into the spa I was truly transported somewhere else. I was asked to pick a rock out of a bowl, and each rock had a word on it that was an intention. I let the rock “choose” me and picked it with my eyes close. I chose harmony! After that I was asked to place the rock into a big body of water that anchors the spa’s grand entrance. I was then escorted to the outdoor area that had hydrotherapy showers and pools, a reflexology path to walk on with your bare feet and hot tubs. Next I got to indulge in my 60 minute Lomi Lomi signature massage which included rocks and warm sticks to help ease sore muscles.

I left Laniwai refreshed and ready to jump back into Disney Aulani fun!

Stuff for the Kiddos:

  • Aunty’s Beach House: Aunty’s Beach House is complimentary (yes, thats right!) and is a fun-filled space for kids of all ages to explore, create and be entertained while you enjoy some adult only time! Asher had a Mickey sighting within minutes of stepping foot into Aunty’s. This is truly such a unique service that only a Disney Resort could offer.

  • Pua Hana Room: As if there wasn’t enough fun for the whole family, there is also a community family space called the Pua Hana Room. Here you can check out the multitude of activities available daily and choose from crafts, treasure hunts and more. Or you can use the space before of after checkout if you have a later flight and need somewhere to change and unwind.

Painted Sky:

As a boy mom, I have never been able to visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland. As soon as I heard Painted Sky had options for boys to dress up - I knew Asher would love it! Painted Sky is a spa for kids and teens and they have many different themed outfits to choose from, including Moana, Lu’au outfits and more. Asher chose a Hawaiian themed outfit and upon arrival was greeted with his new Hawaiian shirt, necklace and sandals. He then was sat down with his stylist who gave him as many temporary tattoos as his heart desired and then gel’d his curly blond hair back and added in some blue hairspray. To say he was over the moon is an understatement!

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Ka Wa’a, A  Lu’au

On our last night, we were treated with true Hawaiian hospitality at the famous Lu’au, rumoured to be the best on the whole island! We feasted on a buffet filled with endless delicious options including a special kids buffet. The kids learned how to make flower crowns and were taught traditional Hawaiian dance (that I obviously have on video because it was the cutest thing ever!) To top off this memorable night, Mickey and Minnie arrived to wish us farewell and took photos with all the kids and families.

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From the moment we arrived till the moment we departed, my son, my mom and I were truly whisked away into another world that intertwined the magic of Hawaii and Disney. Every detail is thought of at Aulani, and all the staff went above and beyond to share the rich history of the island with us and make sure we were having the best holiday. Which we did. As we drove down the long winding driveway that takes us back to the main road, I said “A Hui Hou’ Malama Pono” until next time, we’ll see you again with much love. Because…. we can’t wait to come back!

During Aulani Mahalo Season, summer extends to December, for a whole lot less……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 or more consecutive nights! Book now–October 24, 2018, for consecutive stays Aug. 20–Dec. 21, 2018 (excludes travel November 19–23, 2018).

Samantha Gutstadt