Need a Vacation? New Disney Resort in Hawaii Will Put the Magic Back into a Family Holiday


A relaxing family vacation with young children is easier than ever at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on the island of Oahu. Whether it’s splashing around at the pool with toddlers, building sand castles on the beach, or having a magical encounter with Mickey Mouse, children are entertained and engaged with whimsy around every corner at the new oceanfront resort. Aulani combines the magic of Disney storytelling and guest service with the beauty and traditions of Hawaii, creating an unforgettable family vacation experience on a beautiful lagoon along the coast of Oahu.

Bob Iger, president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, and Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, joined Hawaiian officials for the grand opening event at sunset. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse added to the fun at the beachside event.

“Aulani is a stunning resort that offers something unique in the vacation industry,” said Iger. “It’s an incredible family paradise that combines the beauty and culture of Hawaii with a touch of Disney magic and we are confident that guests from around the world will continue to enjoy it for many years to come.”

Aulani serves as a gateway to the islands of Hawaii, noted Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

“Aulani truly has something for everyone,” said Staggs. “With specific spaces and experiences created for kids, teens and adults, as well as places where families can relax and make memories together, Aulani is just the answer for families who want to experience the incredible storytelling and great guest service of Disney while enjoying all that Hawaii has to offer.”

Each day of their stay, Aulani guests will be able to customize their experience – relaxing on the beach or in Laniwai, a Disney Spa, playing in the pools and snorkeling at Rainbow Reef, or discovering the island on a specially planned excursion. Among the unique experiences at Aulani are the Makai Preserve stingray adventure, the Painted Sky teen lounge and spa, and the Menehune Bridge, a water play area full of fun and surprises.

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 approximately 30 minutes from Waikiki.

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.

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.

A host of child-friendly amenities and enhanced services make this destination resort an ideal choice for young families. Here are some tips for a hassle-free getaway:

  • There’s fun for kids ages 3-12 at Aunty’s Beach House, a 5,200-square-foot club open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Disney-trained counselors will inspire and entertain with dance contests, science experiments, Hawaiian storytelling, dress up, movies and snacks. Children must be potty-trained.
  • There is no need to pack all the baby gear, as strollers, swings, car seats and other baby essentials can be rented through Paradise Baby Company, which also provides in-room delivery.
  • Baby-care products such as disposable diapers, baby wipes, formula and teethers are for sale at Kālepa’s Store.
  • Aulani has bed rails, bottle warmers, outlet covers, booster seats and high chairs that can be “checked out” (with a deposit) for use during a stay.
  • Accommodations include spacious Disney Vacation Club villas featuring kitchenettes and a washer/dryer.
  • All guest rooms have portable cribs/playpens, bedding and a mini refrigerator.
  • Pint-sized stools, televisions and interactive fun at Nā Pua Place kid’s lounge keep young guests entertained during check-in.
  • Water works wonders for kids, and Waikolohe Pool is “zero entry” which makes it easy for little minnows. Lifeguards are on duty from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and tot-sized float vests are offered.
  • Sea, sun and sand beckon youngsters to the beachfront to build sand castles, frolic in the waves and take in the beauty of the island.
  • Youngsters can splash at Menehune Bridge, an interactive water-play area with three slides, a climbing structure and more. Here, tots can discover menehune, the mythical little people known for mysterious happenings on the islands.
  • Private poolside cabanas offer added shade and privacy for a peaceful afternoon slumber.
  • Curious kids can peek through giant windows embedded in caves at Rainbow Reef, a private snorkeling lagoon filled with colorful marine life and some fun surprises.
  • Laniwai, the family-friendly spa, cradles babies in the lap of luxury with a special session geared toward teaching parents how to massage their child (up to two years old) to help with sleep and digestion. While one parent learns the art of baby massage, the other parent relaxes with a massage treatment. Family massage is on the menu too, for kids over five years old with a parent or guardian.
  • Dinner for two or an island excursion are just a phone call away, as nurturing babysitters are on site to care for and entertain either in-room or at the resort pool, beach or restaurants. Reservations required.
  • There’s lots of bonding on vacation, and families can take advantage of age-appropriate crafts, dancing and games.
  • The Daily ‘Iwa is a handy planning tool to check daily schedules for poolside games, storytelling and Disney character meet and greets.
  • Disney chefs have kids in mind with all-time favorites on the kid’s or “keiki” menus. Plus an elaborate buffet with Mickey and pals is sure to delight at Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki on select days. Reservations are required.

For more information click here for bookings.

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