From Laniwai, the first-ever spa created by Disney, to the elevator music with Disney classics sung in Hawaiian, there are unique features to find peeking around every corner.
Sure, there are other family-friendly resorts in Hawaii. And sure, there are other places around the world to experience Disney’s legendary immersive storytelling. But nowhere else in the world do these things come together like at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina on Oahu’s west side. Here are some of the resort’s most unique features:
Navigating Aulani prepares you to navigate the island
In Hawaii, the cardinal directions of north, south, east and west take a backseat to geographic and landmark-based navigation markers: mauka (toward the mountain), makai (toward the sea), Diamond Head for east and Ewa for west when on Oahu’s south shore. Aulani prepares guests to navigate the island in a way more kamaaina (local) than any GPS could. Aulani’s lobby is at the top of the ahupuaa (traditional Hawaiian land division), step out onto the lanai (balcony) and behold Waikolohe Valley, the lush oasis stretching from mauka to makai. The two towers are named Ewa and Waianae, and these kinds of directions are used throughout the resort.
Storytelling is everywhere
Disney is known for its immersive storytelling, and their team brought their talents to Aulani to tell the stories of Hawaii. The name Aulani means “a messenger on behalf of a higher authority” –in this case, the culture of Hawaii. Fitting with the name, the stories are everywhere.
Take the menehune. Hawaii’s legendary little mischief makers appear many times at Aulani. Keiki (children) can play the Menehune Adventure Trail, a high-tech scavenger hunt that takes players around Aulani, solving riddles and joining the menehune in helping the good people of Waikolohe Valley. The whole ohana (family) can enjoy Menehune Mischief at the Makahiki Buffet, a dinner experience where Uncle tells stories of the menehune as they scurry around the restaurant. Later in the evening, hear more stories of the menehune’s good deeds around the fire pit at the Circle of Alae Ula. And then there are the statues: small wooden or stone carvings of menehune hiding all over Aulani.