One day only crazy??


Jan 10, 2009
So we are taking a cruise to Hawaii for new years. We have 11 year old twins who love disney. They have been begging to go to Aulani. We were thinking of booking a room for one night and only using it for the day we are in port. We arrive at 7am and leave at 11pm. We would have to whole day. Is this crazy to even think about doing??


Earning My Ears
Aug 5, 2019
Probably since check in isn’t guaranteed to be until 4, unless you just wanted the pool. You could just tour the lobby or eat at one of their restaurants.
How far away is Aulani from the Port?


DVC Gold
May 8, 2019
So we are taking a cruise to Hawaii for new years. We have 11 year old twins who love disney. They have been begging to go to Aulani. We were thinking of booking a room for one night and only using it for the day we are in port. We arrive at 7am and leave at 11pm. We would have to whole day. Is this crazy to even think about doing??
I vote GO FOR IT
Not crazy at all as I think Aulani is the nicest resort I have ever been too. Also if you can afford it and there's one available I would consider renting a cabana. Life is pretty short and I bet memories of that day will keep you warm for the rest of your life.
  • abdgeek

    DIS Veteran
    Jul 29, 2012
    It’s not crazy if that is what your family wants to do. Below are some things to think about as you decide how to best spend the day:

    1) Depending on traffic, Aulani is about 30-45 minutes from Honolulu. You will need to arrange transportation from the port to the resort and back.

    2) All beaches in Hawaii are open to the public. That includes the beach at Aulani. You can also visit the spa, gift shops, and restaurants without booking a room. You just can’t visit the pool area or do their activities.

    3) Check-in is at 4pm. You will have to decide how willing you are to pay for a room if you only plan to use it for about 5 hours. While you can arrive at anytime, don’t expect your room to be ready early. Aulani does have a lounge for resort guests to use which has restrooms, showers, lockers, etc. This is helpful if you arrive early or have a late flight. Of course, you wouldn’t have access to it if you aren’t staying at the resort.

    4) if you’re paying for a room and decide you want to reserve a cabana at the pool, call Aulani now to see whether one is available. They also have casabellas, which are less expensive for rent, but are based on availability and sell out early. While it can be challenging to find pool chairs during certain times of year, there are typically chairs available at the beach for guests.

    Good luck with your decision.


    Jul 10, 2012
    Is there no other sites on Oahu you will want to visit? As lovely as Aulani is, if you are only on Oahu for a day there is so many more things to see and do. A great thing about the island is that it is compact and easily driven so you could have a car booked, maybe even do breakfast at Aulani then continue on a circle tour of the island. Or just visit Pearl Harbor or Diamondhead or Iolani Palace (the only palace in great US) or Bishop Museum or go up to the North Shore.......

    it really is up to your family however as others have said, you will really only be gaining access to 2 slides, a lazy river and 2 pools. You can visit Wet n Wild up the road for all those things for a heap less $$.


    DIS Veteran
    Jan 25, 2011
    If it is something your family has always dreamt of, you should go for it! Book the cheapest possible room since you won't be using it much, if at all. If you want to see Aulani, play in the pools, float in the lazy river, meet characters, snorkel in Rainbow Reef, and play in the kids club, it would make a brilliant family excursion! Since it's a cruise ship excursion, you wouldn't really need the room itself anyway, so the later check in time won't matter too much. Once you have your room key, as soon as you check in, you can get bracelets and towels to enjoy the guest-only activities, characters, and pools. Bell services can hold onto any of your belongings if you have a bag with stuff you won't need until your room is ready.

    Many locals will spend one night and check in early to get two full days at the resort, so you're not alone in this idea.

    Reality: it's probably going to cost the same or less as many other full-day excursions from the cruise ship for a family, so I don't think the price is too much. You will have to pay for transfers and meals separately, plus any extra activity costs (snorkelling, paddle board rentals, etc.) Aulani pools close early in the winter, so after sunset and dinner you should have plenty of time to get back to the ship. I would plan to leave Aulani no later than 8:30 PM, so you can be back at the ship by 9:30 PM, with an hour to spare in case of traffic delays. (They will likely tell you to be back by 10 or 10:30 PM if the ship is scheduled to leave at 11.

    This is such a brilliant idea I may recommend it to someone else I know who is in a similar situation.


    Earning My Ears
    Apr 4, 2013
    Hmmm... One day at the Aulani and won't stay in the room for the night. Well if money is not an option and you and the kids want to spend a day at the Aulani you should go for it. If you get there early and check in with some day bags (if you want to use the room in the evening for showers or a little power nap.. perhaps early check in, but like the above poster says.. 4pm check in time), you can still get your wrist band the day of (morning) and request a key for the shower since a room is not available as an option. One night at Aulani could be from 700 and up... but if you think about the cost of going to Disneyland for a day for family of 4 with park hopper could be 600 (non peak) to 800 dollars (peak) and max pass (60 dollars)... you could be at a similar cost.

    So if the kids want to do the pools/water slides and a fill of Disney, then yes, take advantage of the day and go there. 11 year old twins will have fun with the lazy river and slides. If you want to just tour the facility then no need and grab a tour/eat at a restaurant and check out the rest of Oahu. What would you do if you didn't go to Aulani? Check out North Shore, Pearl Harbor, or Waikiki?
  • heaven2dc

    DIS Veteran
    May 26, 2003
    Since Aulani doesn't have "early check in", you can arrive at the resort in the morning and check into the front desk. They will store your bags with bell services until the room is ready (standard room/suites are not guaranteed to be ready until after 3 pm, deluxe studios/villas after 4 pm) and they'll give you a temporary room key card so you can enjoy the amenities (pools, etc.) earlier.


    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Feb 11, 2009
    Where does your cruise start and end? I would consider adding a night or two in Oahu on if your cruise starts or ends in Hawaii. Its easy and cheap enough to take an inter-island flight to or from Oahu.

    If that's not in the cards, my vote would be to rent a car to explore Oahu in the morning and make your way over to Aulani later in the day. No room. Just use the beach and lagoon there which is available to anyone. Have a meal. Explore the property. Even do the luau if time permits. I personally wouldn't want to spend the money on a room, or dedicate the entire day to Aulani when there's so much more of Oahu to see. You only get to experience the contrived tourist culture there - not the real thing.


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