All About Aulani

From a massive water play area to dining with Disney characters, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa will raise the bar for family travel to Oahu

By: Skye Mayring
Guests should keep their eyes peeled for hidden Mickey Mouse images in guestrooms. // © 2011 Disney
Guests should keep their eyes peeled for hidden Mickey Mouse images in guestrooms. // © 2011 Disney

The Details

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
The resort opens on Aug. 29, and introductory room rates begin at $399 per night.
Come August, Disney will unveil its first-ever family destination resort in Hawaii -- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, located at the Ko Olina Resort & Marina on west Oahu. The 21-acre oceanfront property will feature 359 guestrooms and suites, a signature Disney kids' club, an 18,000-square-foot spa and a massive water play area that is sure to be a highlight for children, teens and adults alike.

"There is a great deal of excitement and anticipation surrounding the opening of Aulani," Djuan Rivers, vice president of Aulani, told TravelAge West. "The resort will provide a new immersive vacation product that focuses on rich culture, storytelling and fun activities that the entire family can enjoy together or individually."

From the comfort of a poolside cabana, available for a fee, parents can watch their kids swoosh down a waterslide into the 8,200-square-foot Waikolohe Pool. A saltwater snorkel lagoon, called Rainbow Reef, and a Conservation Pool will allow guests to get up close to Oahu's indigenous marine life, including tropical fish, sea urchins and stingrays.

The nearby Wailana Pool, an infinity-edge leisure pool, and four sunset-facing whirlpool spas with beverage service will also prove to be popular respites for adults.

Incorporating a lazy-river concept throughout the water play zone, Aulani will equip kids with inflatable tubes for use along its Waikolohe Stream. The swift-moving, manmade stream will flow alongside lava rock formations and the Menehune Bridge & Trail, an interactive walkway decorated with statues of mischievous menehune (dwarf-like people popularized in Polynesian mythology). Menehune statues will be created the style of ancient Hawaiian carvings, and observant kids can also spot menehunes in inconspicuous areas including the lobby, under tables and in the corners of buildings. Children should also keep their eyes peeled for hidden Mickey Mouses throughout the resort and in their guestrooms.

Standard rooms feature flat-panel televisions with DVD players, a clock radio with MP3 capability, a small refrigerator and a Graco Pack 'N Play Playard for babies and toddlers.

The one-bedroom Lei Hulu Suite, measuring 1,528 square feet, sleeps up to five guests comfortably, and the 1,910-square foot Ahu Ula Suite features three bathrooms and two bedrooms, which can accommodate a family of six.

The kids' club, called Aunty's Beach House, offers a number of supervised activities from traditional Hawaiian games and crafts to wildlife and nature programs. Also at Aunty's, kids can watch their favorite Disney movies or play the latest Wii and Sony PlayStation video games.

Dining will also prove to be an experience in and of itself. The full-service Ama Ama restaurant will serve cuisine unique to the islands in an inventive setting. Guests will enter the restaurant through an abstraction of a fishing trap, revealing Ama Ama's ocean-colored, Venetian-plastered walls and a pond filled with glass fish. The more casual Makahiki, a buffet-style restaurant, will feature murals painted by local artist Al Lagunero and will provide opportunities for children to dine and interact with their favorite Disney characters.