Top Budget-Friendly Tips for Visiting Disney Aulani in Hawaii
Disney Aulani is an incredible resort for families. It has something for everyone. It has all the magic of Disney in a very Hawaiian way. With all that being said, Aulani is not cheap! It is quite pricey but once you get there, there are ways to save money. Here are all my tips for planning your trip the Disney Aulani Resort and staying there too!
Save Money When Booking
1) Go on the off season
Prices for Aulani vary depending on their high or low season. The best time to go is when kids are in school. We visited in late September/ early October and it was a great time to go. Occasionally, there will be specials or offers with up to 40% off your stay so make sure you check those out.
When we went, we were able to go with friends that have a Disney Vacation Club membership. This is basically a time share membership. We shared a 2 bedroom villa and it was perfect and saved us a ton of money. We were lucky! If you are not that lucky, try redweek.com. It is a great site where you can purchase a time share week from members at a discounted rate. Disney Aulani is on there quite often. Also, try David’s Vacation Rentals where your can buy points. On David’s site, there is also a really cool option where members post vacations they have already booked and can’t use. You just pay the price listed if the dates and rooms work for you!
3) Set a google flight alert or use airline miles
Flights to Oahu can be expensive. Whenever I see a deal, I am sure to post it because they are few and far between. To make sure you never miss out, set an alert for your route and dates on google flights. It will send you an email when the price changes so you don’t have to check it everyday.
Another great option is using Frequent Flyer Miles. We fly Delta most often so we have a ton of miles to use with them. I like to save them up for when we do a big trip like this. Keep an eye on fares using miles because they fluctuate. Always make sure you are using a private browser so your searches are not being tracked.
4) Split a room with another family
Disney Aulani offers many different room options. A great option is get book the 2 bedroom Villa. We were able to sleep 4 adults and 5 children comfortably. The villa also includes a washer/dryer and a full kitchen which is the best part. We saved a lot of money on food because of this.
Prepare For Your Stay
5) Pre-regsiter for Aunty’s Beach House
Aunty’s Beach house was my kids’ very favorite part of Disney Aulani. It is a complimentary kids’ club for children 3-12 years old. It is so impressive! Pre-register for Aunty’s Beach House at least a week before you go. It will save your a lot of time before you go! You can also reserve spots for certain activities inside Aunty’s Beach house. You will have to check to see what they are offering. My kids loved participating in making slime with Stitch.
6) Stop at a grocery store or Costco on your way
Food is incredibly expensive inside the resort. A PB&J kid’s meal is $10 for lunch. No matter how big the kitchen space is in your room, make sure to buy groceries for your room. It’s easy to keep snacks, breakfast items and sandwich items in your room. This is a great way to save money and spend it on things that will make a bigger impact.
If you don’t have a car, there are grocery stores in the area that deliver! It is easy to go online and order from Costco, Target or a grocery store.
Tips for your stay at Aulani
7) Get your wristband for Aunty’s Beach House right away
As soon as you get settled in the resort, walk around and get your kekei band for Aunty’s Beach House. You can also turn in paperwork if needed. The kekei bands have trackers in them so you always know where your child is. There is a $12.95 deposit that you can get back after you return it at the end of your stay. You also have the option to keep it and take it home with you as a souvenir.
8) Take full advantage of Aunty’s Beach House
Not only is this a great break for parents, it’s awesome for the kids. There is so much to do for all ages from 3-12. There are themes, games, movies and activities. You can check your kids in and out as much as you want. Your kids can let you know when they are ready to leave too. Just make sure you have your phone with you!
9) Always check the Daily ‘Iwa
The Daily ‘Iwa is the schedule of activities for the day. There are so many fun and free activities through out the day and evening. Make sure to take advantage of every single complimentary thing that you can. There are some activities that you will need to reserve your spot for. Make sure to check the ‘Iwa as early as you can so that you don’t miss out. You can find it online or at the front desk! There are also activities for an extra charge too.
Our family loved the movies on the lawn at night, exercise classes on the beach, dance parties, pool parties and stories around the fire with “Uncle” and if you are lucky, Moana will make an appearance too.
10) Buy the refillable mug
In my opinion, don’t hesitate to buy the refillable mug. We bought 2 for the 5 of us and took turns deciding what to fill it up with. The kids loved it. They are not soda drinkers but still found plenty of drink options to fill it with. Currently, the mugs are $18.99 and there are 3 locations where you can refill the mugs.
11) Leave your life jacket home
Don’t worry about bringing a life jacket for your little swimmer. Aulani provides jackets for your kids which is super convenient.
12) Buy the snorkeling pass for your little snorkeler
One of the most unique things about Disney Aulani is Rainbow Reef. They have an awesome little snorkeling pool which is great for beginners. It is filled with tropical fish and other marine life. I would definitely buy a pass for the length of your stay. It’s $39 for adults and $29 for kids and includes your gear. I bought passes for our kids that had never snorkeled before. It was fun for them to try it out in a controlled environment all by themselves. We could also observe them underwater through a window!
13) Water activities
There are loads of water activities in the resort. There are two major water slides, pools, a lazy river and a little waterpark for the younger kids. We used the slides and pools every single day.
14) The Beach
Disney Aulani has a great little beach in a bay. It’s perfect for families with little ones. There aren’t big waves and it’s so calm that you can sit in the water and play in the sand. Perfect for sand castle building. Disney Aulani also has sand toys and boogie boards available for free at the water sports booth on the beach.
As I said earlier, eating at Aulani is quite expensive. A character breakfast for our family was over $200. Yikes. I’m still shocked. It was really fun but definitely not worth the price tag. My kids were able to meet more characters outside of the breakfast than inside. So don’t let that be your driving factor for booking a breakfast. The best part of the breakfast was interacting with “Aunty”. But even that was not worth the money we paid. Meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner at any of the restaurants range between $10-$50 per person. Just keep that in mind.
16) Use the grills or walk across the street
If you bought groceries, making your own breakfast and lunch is a great way to save money and still eat well. We used the complimentary grills a few times to grill hotdogs for lunch and steaks or chicken for dinner.
There are also great restaurants across the street from the resort that are reasonable and delicious!
17) Do the Scavenger Hunt
One of the things my kids still talk about is the Menehune Adventure Trail. The Menehune are cute little imaginary trouble makers around Aulani. The adventure trail is an interactive scavenger hunt around the resort. You use an iPad given to you to start. And then it’s amazing to see the resort come to life and literally light up as you follow the trail. Don’t miss out on this!
18) Find your favorite characters
Your favorite characters can be found all over the resort. Sometimes you can find scheduled appearances in the Daily ‘Iwa. Other times you will just find them hanging with you by the pool. You can even call a special hotline to find out where they will be that day. The Disney Aulani photographers are so great to take your pictures for you with your own camera too. My kids still love looking at these pictures.
19) Make sure to notice all the little details
As per usual, Disney has done an outstanding job capturing the essence of Hawaii at Aulani. There are so many little details all around you, everywhere you wander. My little guy loved finding the “turtle habitat” every day to check on them. Of course, the turtles are not real but pretty cute.
20) Check out DVD’s and games for free
Disney Aulani has a great selection of Disney DVD’s for free rental in the game room. Every room has a DVD player so this great free entertainment after a long day in the sun. You can also check out games to play too. This is perfect if you run into any rainy days.
21) Luau Options
Disney Aulani now has a Luau! This is great because you don’t need to leave the resort to attend a real Luau. However, it is quite expensive. Prices start at $79 for kids and $129 for adults. There are activities before hand so definitely arrive early. If you are willing to take a Disney Vacation Club tour, you can earn up to 2 complimentary adult tickets.
Another option is to head next door to the Paradise Cove Luau. That is what we did. Prices range between $80-$100 per person. This Luau also has tons of activities before hand and there is a lot included. You can usually find a coupon or Groupon to reduce the price even further. We loved this Luau and found it so entertaining. We even loved the food!
22) Activity Bands
Every day you get a new activity band to be able to use the facilities in the resort. My kids never wanted to take them off. It was their little collection. Not my favorite thing, LOL, but the kids sure loved it.
Activities Outside the Resort
23) Boogie Boarding
There are so many great beaches with waves for days. Boogie Boarding is tons of fun for the kids and gives them a little taste of surfing without requiring as much skill. You can buy an inexpensive boogie board at most stores on the island. We found a great beach about 15 minutes north of of Disney Aulani that we spent a whole afternoon at.
Hiking is a must in Hawaii. Oahu has so many great hikes for all abilities. We loved the Waimea Falls hike with our kids. It was paved so it wasn’t too hard for the little guys and it so so beautiful! You just have to pay a small fee to enter. The variation of greens was amazing and the prize at the end was the waterfall. There were life jackets available right there so we could easily swim out to the falls.
25) The North Shore
There are so many great little stops in the North Shore. We found beaches with protected turtles that we got up close to. You can also fine a ton of other hikes and beaches. We especially love the restaurants up there. Our favorite will always be Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. It is the best treat!
All in all, we love the Disney Aulani Resort. It was truly a magical vacation and our kids will never forget it. We feel very lucky to have been able to vacation there and really hope to be able to go back some day!