Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, combines the beauty and spirit of the Hawaiian islands with the magic of Disney storytelling and guest service, creating an unforgettable family vacation experience.
Set on a beautiful lagoon along the coast of Oahu, Aulani welcomed its first guests on Aug. 29, 2011.
Aulani serves as a gateway to the fun and enchantment of the islands, noted Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.
“We are thrilled to welcome guests from around the world to experience Aulani,” Staggs said. “This resort is a unique and exciting project that combines the magic and storytelling of Disney with the rich culture and beautiful scenery of Hawaii. It is the ultimate family paradise with a touch of Disney magic.”
Hawaiian heritage and Disney magic
Each day of their stay, Aulani guests can customize their experience – relaxing on the beach or in Laniwai, a Disney Spa, playing in the pools or discovering the island on a specially planned excursion. Among the unique experiences at Aulani are gathering at the fireside Mo’olelo for storytelling (mo’olelo is the Hawaiian word for story) and spotting statues of Menehune, the legendary island little people, hidden throughout the resort.
Aulani traditionally means “a messenger of a chief – one who delivers a message from a higher authority.” The name Aulani is fitting, as the resort serves as a messenger of the Hawaiian spirit, people and culture.
“The name ‘Aulani’ expresses a connection to tradition and deep storytelling – and its roots are in this land right here,” said Joe Rohde, senior vice president and creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering, who led the design of the resort.
“We want this resort destination to reflect the vibrant culture that surrounds it. We believe in artistry, in excellence, and in the beauty of a well-done thing. Our commitment to excellence mirrors the cultural values one sees in the arts of Hawaii.”
Aulani occupies 21 acres of oceanfront property in Ko Olina, adjacent to a nine-acre, crystal-blue lagoon and white-sand beach. Ko Olina is 17 miles from Honolulu International Airport and less than an hour from Waikiki Beach.
When all phases are complete, Aulani will include 359 traditional hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club villas in two towers, each featuring rooms that offer thrilling views of the ocean, mountains and the magnificent, lush surroundings.
Something for everyone
Family-friendly resort amenities include the 18,000-square-foot Laniwai, a Disney Spa, with 15 treatment rooms and a fitness center. Many spa treatments draw upon Hawaiian healing traditions.
Aulani also features two signature restaurants – the full-service ‘AMA’AMA and the buffet-style Makahiki – offering foods unique to Hawaii.
- At the chic, beachside ‘AMA’AMA, ocean breezes soothe the spirit as chefs use fresh local ingredients and island flavors to create distinctive dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu includes vegetarian options and classic cocktails with new twists, plus desserts house-made daily.
- The buffet-style Makahiki offers guests breakfast among Disney characters or, in a magical midday transformation, dinner in artful surroundings, including a stunning ceiling light sculpture and beautiful wall murals hand-painted by local artists.
Young guests have their very own kids’ club, Aunty’s Beach House. Here children can explore Hawaiian culture through supervised entertainment, including interactive touch tables, wildlife and nature programs, arts and crafts, Disney movies and traditional Hawaiian games.
Children of all ages will delight in Waikolohe Valley, Aulani’s seven-acre water play area. The overall landscape mimics the flow of a watershed as it moves from the mountain to the ocean, complete with the Waikolohe Stream, the resort’s mysterious (yet fun) tube-floating watercourse. Here guests encounter bubbling water, a cloaking mist and several hundred feet of additional surprises.
Adventure, conventions and weddings, too
For those who love waterslides, Tubestone Curl, the resort’s tube slide, and Volcanic Vertical, Aulani’s tunnel slide, provide thrills galore. Guests will also interact with native Hawaiian fish, including angelfish, butterfly fish and tangs, in the 3,800-square-foot Rainbow Reef snorkel lagoon, the only one of its kind on Oahu.
The Makai Preserve conservation pool offers an interactive experience that allows guests to stroke the velvety backs of gentle stingrays (available by reservation only). A portion of the proceeds from this activity will support research and conservation efforts in Hawaii through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Water activities at Aulani also include a quiet adult pool, wading pool and, for the ultimate relaxation, sunset-facing whirlpool spas.
Looking beyond its own magical grounds, Aulani offers a menu of discovery excursions with the aid of local experts. These include exploring tropical forests, hiking local mountains, sailing aboard catamarans, swimming with dolphins, cooking with local chefs, following a ghost tour and more. The excursions are specially designed for Aulani guests by Adventures by Disney and feature a knowledgeable, friendly Adventure Guide.
Aulani is the ideal place for events. When all phases are complete, groups will find nearly 50,000-square-feet of meeting space, including a 14,545-square-foot conference center, the main ballroom (which is divisible by six), four breakout rooms and generous pre-function space.
Since outdoor events are so popular in Hawaii, Disney also has created three distinct event lawns, including an oceanfront wedding lawn for Disney Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons.