Disney Aulani Lazy River Scavenger Hunt

The Disney Aulani Waikolohe Stream features the lazy river, which includes a small ‘rapids’ section, and 2 water slides. Waikolohe means “mischievous water” in the Hawaiian language, and I think that is an apt description not only of the water features but of the hidden pictures throughout the rock features.

All the various pool areas are bordered by rock walls and features so seamlessly created as to look real, from the volcano rising in the centre where the two large waterslides culminate to the lazy river twirling around the property. If you look closely, however, you’ll note some hidden features in the rock walls. Every time I went around the property, I found myself spotting a new animal or sea creature popping out of the rocks. 

I fell in love with this feature of the property and thought I would create a scavenger hunt for others to play while staying at Disney Aulani.

Disney Aulani Lazy River Rock Pictures Scavenger Hunt

Aulani-Scavenger-Hunt

If you spot other creatures in the lazy river section (not the whole property, as I know they are everywhere), add a photo in the comments or email me the picture so I can add it! I have some photos that I think are something (here, here, here, here), but I couldn’t figure it out!

Since we had such a great time at Disney Aulani, I’ve created a series of reviews of our experience, including some tips on how to make the most of your stay with your family. For the full series of reviews, check here.

What to Do at Disney Aulani

One of the biggest selling features of Aulani is the variety of activities available for all ages. Since it is a Disney resort, what you’re getting is a full “package” experience – not just a hotel. It’s like the Disneyland of beach hotels. We stayed at Disney Aulani for 8 nights and spent almost that entire time on property, which is truly quite a unique experience that you can’t always pull off with family travel. 

Aulani homepage award 2014 sunset resort
(photo credit: Aulani)

Disney Aulani is a well-designed resort, with the beach, splash zones and many pools, but the resort offers a wide range of daily activities to break up your day, from pool parties to the Menehune adventure trail to fire pit storytelling and the Starlit Hui

Disney Aulani: Activities and Entertainment

This is an overview of how we spent our week at Aulani, for two adults and two young boys (age 5 and 2.5). 

Take Advantage of Scheduled Activities

Check your Daily ‘Iwa for scheduled activities, including the family-friendly Pool Parties, Splash and Play (a mini scavenger hunt, you keep the toy, then some family play time at the beach), beach games, storytelling, the Hawaiian classes and crafts, or the Aloha fun session (where you ’surf’ with Chip & Dale). The activities do repeat more than I expected (I was hoping for more variety in the fun sessions and Aunty’s activities), but that’s really being quite picky! I highly recommend the Ukelele class!!

 IMG 484016227339059 64d62fd9c1

Continue reading

The Aulani Starlit Hui: A Family-Friendly Lū‘au

The Starlit Hui at Aulani is an evening show with “lū‘au-style music” and hula, along with storytelling and a guest appearance by the Disney Characters (Goofy, Chip & Dale, Mickey & Minnie and Stitch). The show runs twice per week on the Hālāwai Lawn, off to the side of the resort. 

IMG 4892

When you enter the Hālāwai Lawn, your family will be given a pre-heated straw mat that you put down on the lawn in a grid, set up in front of the stage. Once you have your family mat down, you can then participate in some of the pre-show activities: hula at the front of the stage, or the mats around the outside that include crafts and songs and stories. These are fantastic!

IMG 4872

The show itself is well choreographed, with bright, vibrant costumes and great elements. It is, as with everything else at Aulani, pristine and well thought-out. Having been to another luau at the nearby Paradise Cove, the quality at Aulani was once again apparent. The show isn’t super long, which is great for kids. If you’re looking for a luau experience, and don’t mind missing the food part, this is a great (and free with your stay) option!

How to Make the Most of the Starlit Hui

  1. Send someone to stand in line early. We showed up a half hour early as a family and the wait was not fun, plus there were about 100 people already ahead of us. Have someone secure your spot and join the line right before it opens. 
  2. Use the washroom before you go in, as there aren’t any near the Hālāwai Lawn area. We were directed to use the washrooms at ‘AMA’AMA, which isn’t close once you’re on the Lawn. They funnel people into the Starlit Hui from only one entrance, so other washroom options are not available (big oversight here, I think). 
  3. Place your mat as close to the front as possible, as eventually everyone stands to take photos. Aisle seats would be ideal, if you have kids, so it’s easy for them to get up and participate when requested. 

IMG 4900

The show is great fun! Our only option to see the show was near the start of our stay, and the show was already at the kids’ bedtime, so they (ok, Aiden, who doesn’t nap) were pretty tired and jet lagged. Aiden was practically falling asleep the whole time, or asking to leave, but we made it through the main show and left when the audience was invited to dance at the end. I’m glad we stayed, as the Disney characters only come on near the end!

IMG 4889

The fire was Damien’s favourite part. He’s been pretending many toys are fire torches since we came back from Hawaii.

Since we had such a great time at Disney Aulani, I’ve created a series of reviews of our experience, including some tips on how to make the most of your stay with your family. For the full series of reviews, check here.

Disney Aulani: Meet the Characters

Aulani is a very low-key Disney resort, in terms of traditional Disney theming. The resort is inspired by local Hawaiian culture, celebrating local customs and traditions more than Disney-themes or characters. Indeed, the characters at Aulani are not “leaders” or “hosts” as they are on other properties, but rather are “guests” just like everyone else. They are only seen from time to time, and their visits are brief. But they are, without a doubt, a huge highlight of the trip! 

IMG 4861IMG 5529IMG 4800

There are several chances each day to meet these Disney characters, particularly if you follow the schedule. I found that the kids were able to spend the most time with the characters as they drifted around the property during the scheduled meet & greets. There were almost never line-ups beyond just a few families, so the kids (ok, let’s be honest, Damien) was able to see the characters quickly and get some personal attention. He made ‘Stitch’ claws with Stitch, Donald Duck played airplane with him, and everyone was hugged. Repeatedly. Especially Stitch, who Damien believed was a dinosaur. 

16226283370 4bbf691761 b16389215106 bf902afd3c b

The Disney Characters currently at Disney Aulani are:

  • Mickey
  • Minnie
  • Donald Duck
  • Chip & Dale
  • Goofy
  • Stitch
  • Duffy the Disney Bear
Duffy is the most elusive of all the Aulani characters. We saw Duffy only once during our 8 night stay. Mickey and Minnie sometimes travel together, but not always.
 
16226229910 e5bc0a4170

Here are all the ways you can meet the Disney Characters at Aulani:

  • Book a breakfast at Makahiki – the “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki” includes a posed photograph with Mickey, plus visits from Minnie and Goofy during your breakfast. See my review here.
  • Take part in a pool party for a visit from Goofy
  • Check your Daily ‘Iwa, your schedule for the day, to find the times and places for scheduled Disney Friends Meet & Greets with the characters. To know which characters are available, you’ll need to call Guest Services or ask at the Concierge. Note: the ‘Iwa is not delivered to your room, but is available all over the hotel (including the lobby)
  • Head to Aunty’s Beach House during the ‘Open House’ / family hours, right when the first open, for a dance party with Stitch
  • Go to an Aloha Fun session, which is basically a surfing lesson with a guest appearance by Chip & Dale
  • Attend one of the twice weekly Starlit Hui evening celebrations, which is like a mini luau, but without the food. We saw Goofy, Chip & Dale, Mickey & Minnie and Stitch all on stage for the end of the celebration

15809343123 8129697ee0

Since we had such a great time at Disney Aulani, I’ve created a series of reviews of our experience, including some tips on how to make the most of your stay with your family. For the full series of reviews, check here.

Food at Disney Aulani: Restaurant Reviews

Disney Aulani offers a wide range of dining options, far more than our experience visiting the resort 3 years ago. The dining options range from inexpensive poolside fare to more elegant dining experiences – and who can forget the buffet! We ate on property for all meals except one, so here’s a rundown of our impressions on Dining at Disney Aulani.

This post gives you everything you need to know about the restaurants, where to buy snacks, and even whether to use the unlimited drinks option.

‘AMA‘AMA – Most Elegant Option, Healthiest Kids Menu

‘AMA’AMA is the most elegant of the dining options featuring more local & island-inspired fare, an open-air restaurant facing the Ko Olina beach. The service here is excellent, with an assortment of more refined dining options that we quite appreciated. I loved the seafood curry! I would even say that this was the BEST place for kids to eat – though upscale, the food was healthy!

IMG 5030IMG 5028

For a full review of this restaurant, read my post here. We had more to say than space would allow!

Makahiki – Buffet Dining Done Right, Home of the Disney Character Breakfast

We went to Aulani having already experienced the buffet experience at Makahiki and were not disappointed in our return. Though some dishes may be rather standard buffet fare, the rest of the buffet will surely impress, particularly if you’re a fan of seafood. 

IMG 4784IMG 5248

Makahiki also serves a breakfast buffet, which is part of the Disney Character Breakfast, also known as “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki.” Though you need to reserve this breakfast in advance (even before you arrive, for the best times), it is a must-do for any visit to Aulani (or Oahu for that matter)!

IMG 4800

Read the very detailed review of this restaurant here.

The ‘Ōlelo Room – Lounge with Live Music

The ‘Ōlelo Room is adjacent to the Makahiki, a small lounge that boasts live music daily. For early diners, the ‘Ōlelo Room boasts a reduced price ‘happy hour’ menu between 5-7pm, boasting about half their full menu at reduced prices of $5 or $7 each. The first night we ate here, we tried to get more kid-friendly items, including the pupu (a sausage in a bun), the garlic fries (too garlicky), and the nachos from the happy hour menu. It wasn’t the fanciest food, but it was ok. 

Continue reading