Thanks Disney for providing me this trip for free. All opinions represented in this post are my own. Also, Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
A vacation to Hawaii sounds like a dream, right? Well, as a mom who is seven months pregnant with a 4-year-old, between the six-hour long flight and the time change, I will admit I was pretty exhausted by the time I arrived.
Thankfully, on the other end of our flight was Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on the island of Oahu. Which meant we were all in for some much-needed fun and relaxation.
From check-in to the complimentary kid-care, the whole process was super smooth — which will make any parent who’s just spent 12 hours traveling weep with joy. My little one was thrilled with the water adventures and spontaneous Disney character sightings, while I could see older kids loving the variety of group activities or paddle boarding on the ocean. And Mom and Dad got in some lounging time on the beach (that’s right, I lounged on a family vacation!).
I’ve compiled a few family-friendly tips and tricks to keep in mind as you plan your time at Aulani. Go ahead and get that bathing suit out, I have a feeling you’ll be packing before you’re done reading.
1. Only Pack the Essentials
Before you haul every piece of baby equipment across the ocean, make a phone call to the resort to reserve a high chair, Pack ‘N Play, or bed rail to make Baby’s stay just as comfortable as yours. If you’re staying more than three nights, consider opting for a one-bedroom suite, which includes a kitchen, washer, and dryer (all of which we thoroughly appreciated).
2. Pre-Register for Complimentary Daycare
Be sure to pre-register online for Aunty’s Beach House, 90 days to 48 hours before your arrival. Potty-trained kiddos ages 3-12 can enjoy the 5,200-square-foot licensed childcare facility from 9:30 AM-9 PM. Introducing your kids to the room after room of dress-up clothes, craft activities, interactive technology, and backyard play area is guaranteed to make them lose their mind. AND it will buy you time for a massage or date night.
Pre-registering gives you first dibs on the premium (paid) activities that fill up fast like “Fish Are Friends,” during which the kids learn about fish conservation and make food to feed the fish themselves, or the surf-themed party with Chip and Dale. Aunty’s also offers lunch and dinner for the kids for a small price, but call first thing in the morning to snag a spot. There is an open house at 8 AM giving parents and little ones the chance to become acquainted with the space. But fair warning: our kid didn’t want to leave.
3. Take Advantage of In-Room Babysitting
Looking for some kid-free time but more flexibility than Aunty’s Beach House? I recommend the resort’s paid in-room babysitting service, offered for kids ages six weeks to 14 years old. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance and can include walks around the resort or playing in the sand. You just flew across the ocean with one to several children. You deserve this.
4. Grab the Daily ‘Iwa
The ‘Iwa includes all of the resort activities (and character sightings) — categorized by family, kiddos, and teens. We would grab a copy on our way up to bed and make a (flexible) game plan for the next day.
Many of the activities are casual and need no reservations, like movie nights on the lawn or fire pit story times with “Uncle” and Moana. Those that require day-of sign up include ukulele lessons, hula lessons, and animation classes. There’s always more going on than meets the eye so be sure to browse the options before starting your day!
5. Make Reservations for the Disney Character Breakfast
While you can reference the ‘Iwa to know when and where characters will be throughout the day, we let them come to us! At the Disney Character Breakfast, our little one snuggled with Minnie and did the conga line with Pluto all in-between bites of eggs benedict and Mickey-shaped waffles at the Makahiki restaurant.
6. Book a Family Spa Service
I would book a spa service for your first or second full day. What better way to give your body a break after a long flight than with a little pampering? This is vacation, after all!
Sneak away by yourself, or take advantage of the one-of-a-kind family spa experiences. Laniwai Spa offers massage packages for the whole family to enjoy, while the Painted Sky Teen Spa specializes in services for older kids.
And for the adults, I recommend taking advantage of the outdoor hydrotherapy garden in-between your treatment, which includes baths, soaking pools, waterfall rain showers, and whirlpool jet spas. It doesn’t get any more relaxing than this!
7. Attend the KA WA’A Luau
This was hands down our favorite part of the trip. What’s a Hawaiian vacation without attending a luau, after all?! The KA WA’A Luau combines Hawaiian culture with Disney storytelling (plus lots of delicious eats).
Before the show, you have a chance to interact with the dancers as they help you make leis, hook you up with a temporary kakau tattoo, and assist as you pound some taro. And once your belly is full of the most delicious Hawaiian foods, sit back and enjoy the hula dancing and Hawaiian history brought to life. Set a reminder to make your reservations up to 60 days in advance as these spots fill up fast!
Are you packing yet? Aloha!