Aulani

BethTX

Earning My Ears
Joined
Sep 10, 2019
Aulani intrigues me. What are the "Disney" things at the resort that set it apart from other Hawaiian resorts?
 

kyton

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
The Disney aspect is low key IMO. There are the characters plus hidden Mickey symbols but really Disney has more focussed on the Hawaiian culture aspect.
 


  • OKW Lover

    Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle.
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2004
    As the PP's have indicated, there is minimal "Disney" at Aulani if you equate "Disney" with characters. However, if you equate Disney with story telling then there is a great deal that is unique about Aulani.

    Joe Rhode recently posted an interesting picture on his Instagram account. Its an arial view of the two hotels that share that same cove, Aulan & the 4 Seasons. In the accompanying text he explains that one resort was designed to reflect the culture of the people and the land, while the other was designed to simply house visitors. Yes, its very obvious. The 4 Seasons is simply a white structure with hard edges. Aulani features soaring arches and curved arms all done in earth colors that blend in with the ground.
    http://instagr.am/p/CAaWj0UHyzd/
     

    SteveNZ

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 26, 2017
    I think the "Disney" thing that sets it apart from other resorts is the Disney eye for detail and quality of execution. As others have said the "Disneyness" in terms of IP is minimal compared to WDW or DLR but it's not missing altogether. There are still characters, hidden mickeys, dole whips and mickey waffles, but it's the overall Disney quality that makes it what it is.
     

    sophy1996

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2015
    There are still characters, hidden mickeys, dole whips and mickey waffles, but it's the overall Disney quality that makes it what it is.
    And Disney songs sung in Hawaiian in the elevators.

    It does Disney credit that Aulani went the extra mile to showcase Hawaii, instead of Disney. And the offerings are top-notch. The spa was one of the best we've ever been to.
     
  • CaliforniaGirl09

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 4, 2009
    I guess I'm the odd one out. Aulani was definitely not for me. My daughter (at the time 17), and I did a short inter-island trip from Maui to visit it a couple years ago when my husband and son flew home to get back for something. Background ... I've spent a lot of time in Hawaii, including summer school on Oahu in High School (same school that President Obama went to), regular family trips to different islands since childhood, and in the last 5 years multiple trips a year to Maui where my mom purchased a condo at the Ho'olei (connected with the Grand Wailea). My son is special needs so we spend a lot of time at Disney (DVC owners on both coasts, platinum cruisers, and numerous ABD trips)--we are big Disney fans.

    So in other words, I love Hawaii and I love Disney, but the mix of them in Aulani didn't work for me. The resort was just too big, the pools were a zoo (and this is from someone who regularly goes to the Grand Wailea's pools, LOL), the location of the resort is horrible, and there aren't enough food choices around. I felt as if the resort was extremely expensive even by Hawaii standards and the "value" wasn't there (specifically the resort restaurants).

    My kids are also older so that probably also had an impact on our enjoyment. There were a lot of little kids while we were there. I think families with smaller children gravitate toward Aulani, which definitely makes sense, but for me it wasn't conducive to relaxing. Aulani has great theming and I do think an effort was made to build something culturally respectful, but for me it was completely lacking in the Hawaii "island vibe" that I get from other places.

    If you've never been to Hawaii before and want to check it out, maybe do a split stay at Aulani and maybe a more traditionally located Waikiki hotel or better yet another island like Maui?
     

    Primeval Princess

    Momketeer
    Joined
    May 14, 2020
    I guess I'm the odd one out. Aulani was definitely not for me. My daughter (at the time 17), and I did a short inter-island trip from Maui to visit it a couple years ago when my husband and son flew home to get back for something. Background ... I've spent a lot of time in Hawaii, including summer school on Oahu in High School (same school that President Obama went to), regular family trips to different islands since childhood, and in the last 5 years multiple trips a year to Maui where my mom purchased a condo at the Ho'olei (connected with the Grand Wailea). My son is special needs so we spend a lot of time at Disney (DVC owners on both coasts, platinum cruisers, and numerous ABD trips)--we are big Disney fans.

    So in other words, I love Hawaii and I love Disney, but the mix of them in Aulani didn't work for me. The resort was just too big, the pools were a zoo (and this is from someone who regularly goes to the Grand Wailea's pools, LOL), the location of the resort is horrible, and there aren't enough food choices around. I felt as if the resort was extremely expensive even by Hawaii standards and the "value" wasn't there (specifically the resort restaurants).

    My kids are also older so that probably also had an impact on our enjoyment. There were a lot of little kids while we were there. I think families with smaller children gravitate toward Aulani, which definitely makes sense, but for me it wasn't conducive to relaxing. Aulani has great theming and I do think an effort was made to build something culturally respectful, but for me it was completely lacking in the Hawaii "island vibe" that I get from other places.

    If you've never been to Hawaii before and want to check it out, maybe do a split stay at Aulani and maybe a more traditionally located Waikiki hotel or better yet another island like Maui?
    What time of year did you stay at Aulani?
     

    corgi_monster

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2007
    MICKEY BARS!!! Need I say more?

    Aulani is not a substitution for a DL or WDW vacation because as others have said, there's just a touch of Disney.

    It's better to think of Aulani as a nicer Hawaii hotel that has a Disney-level kids club and characters. When compared to other hotels in its price class, Aulani's service is comparable, the food is worse, the grounds/architecture are superior, and the rooms are subpar. (The food and rooms are great, just not as good as the Halekulani where rooms starts at about $500).
     
  • nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    I guess I'm the odd one out. Aulani was definitely not for me. My daughter (at the time 17), and I did a short inter-island trip from Maui to visit it a couple years ago when my husband and son flew home to get back for something. Background ... I've spent a lot of time in Hawaii, including summer school on Oahu in High School (same school that President Obama went to), regular family trips to different islands since childhood, and in the last 5 years multiple trips a year to Maui where my mom purchased a condo at the Ho'olei (connected with the Grand Wailea). My son is special needs so we spend a lot of time at Disney (DVC owners on both coasts, platinum cruisers, and numerous ABD trips)--we are big Disney fans.

    So in other words, I love Hawaii and I love Disney, but the mix of them in Aulani didn't work for me. The resort was just too big, the pools were a zoo (and this is from someone who regularly goes to the Grand Wailea's pools, LOL), the location of the resort is horrible, and there aren't enough food choices around. I felt as if the resort was extremely expensive even by Hawaii standards and the "value" wasn't there (specifically the resort restaurants).

    My kids are also older so that probably also had an impact on our enjoyment. There were a lot of little kids while we were there. I think families with smaller children gravitate toward Aulani, which definitely makes sense, but for me it wasn't conducive to relaxing. Aulani has great theming and I do think an effort was made to build something culturally respectful, but for me it was completely lacking in the Hawaii "island vibe" that I get from other places.

    If you've never been to Hawaii before and want to check it out, maybe do a split stay at Aulani and maybe a more traditionally located Waikiki hotel or better yet another island like Maui?
    We stayed at four resorts over our 16 day honeymoon in Hawaii, including Aulani. One thing I have read about Aulani is that it was designed with the thought in mind that people would use it as a home base while exploring Oahu, and they underestimated the amount of people that would stay at Aulani just for the resort without leaving to tour. This attributes to the sometimes crowded pool areas, and limited capacity at the restaurants and Aunty's.

    I tend to agree there are "better" resorts around, depending on what someone is most interested in. But for someone who is a Disney fanatic, I think Aulani is a must do on a trip to Hawaii. Even if only a split stay. Of the resorts we stayed at in Hawaii, we did think Aulani had the most history and cultural details to be found. But, we preferred the pool at Westin Maui. At Aulani, the grounds were lushly landscaped, but if you want bright and airy or beachy, Aulani is not it. That doesn't really align with the cultural side of it anyhow.
     

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