Last week we had a family vacation at Aulani Disney Resort in Ko’Olina. Here is my review with tips and tricks to save money at Disney Aulani Resort Hawaii!!
First if you can travel off peak season (like NOT on Kid’s school breaks – Christmas & New Years, Spring Break, Summer, etc..) They usually run some good promotions like Stay 3 nights get the 4th night FREE, Kama’aina and Military get as much as 30 – 35% off, Disney workers get 40% off, and more! Just go to this link and check the special offers as they change frequently.
Our check in was on a Monday and check in time is rather late 4pm. We arrived early to try to make it a full day. We did valet parking which is $35 a day. The bell man took our bags including a cooler and wine! We brought lunch with us, some sandwiches to eat at the pool while we waited for our room. Previously they told us we could check in as early as we wanted. So we arrived, checked in around noon. We received a card to go to the hospitality room for each adult. We than headed to the pool where we waited for a text message to say our room was ready. When we checked in they gave us the room card already so we just had to head straight to our room once we received the text.
Another tip is when you arrive to the hotel at the front desk and the concierge desk there is a schedule of activities for the resort. Make sure to pick one up and plan your day for the activities. Majority are free. The first night we went to the Luau Show, the second night we went to story telling around a fire and of course the activity sheet will tell you the times and places to find the characters around the resort to take a photo.
We booked a room with a microwave and fridge. I bought some frozen burritos and put them in a cooler that I gave to the bell man that were holding our bags until our room was ready. Of course with other snacks and food options. Since we were paying a lot for the room we wanted to keep going out to eat to a minimum. The restaurants at the resort are resort prices so be aware that you can easily spend $100+ for 3 people to eat at one of the resort restaurants. If you don’t want to bring food like we did, you can walk across the street where there is Just Tacos, a Pizza place and a few other less expensive restaurants.
Next tip, if you can avoid staying on the 1st and 3rd floor do so! They are the floors with the most traffic. We originally booked a room garden view since my daughter is a light sleeper. They told us at checkin they had an upgrade. The upgrade was on the 3rd floor and facing the pool. I wish I would have known sooner but after the first night and already unpacked it would have been too chaotic to change rooms. Therefore, ask which floor your room is on. 1st floor is pool level which means lots of foot traffic through the first floor to restaurants, events, pools, beach, etc. Third floor is where the gift shops, lobby, and more are. So both floors if you can avoid – AVOID!
On the day you leave check out is 11am but you can ask for late checkout which is noon or 1pm. In addition, have the bell man pick up your luggage and hold until you are ready to leave. We went to the pool and made an entire day out of the resort. Something we learned is the hospitality key they gave us at check in seemed to work the day we checked out as well.
We stayed 2 nights and made 3 full days out of it. I would say on the third day we were a little bored but my daughter was still enjoying the pools! Even though we stayed almost 3 full days we were only charged 2 days of parking. Still a lot, in my opinion!
Daily Resort Guest
for 4 Hours:
In addition, if you do not want to pay the money to stay at the hotel and don’t really care about the water park, you can still enjoy the grounds. Do self parking at the garage to the right before you get to the very front of the resort. Bring your parking ticket with you. As a guest to the resort, if you spend $35 at a restaurant at the resort they will validate parking for free for 4 hours. You can go eat breakfast or lunch and enjoy the beach. Remember to get your parking validation. At the beach in front Aulani, is beach chairs that are first come first serve. You do not need to be a guest to use these; they are open to anyone. However, the rule for the resort pool and beach is if the chair has been unoccupied for 1 hour they will remove the items and bring to loss and found. Therefore, remember to frequent your chair at least once per hour. I have taken advantage of the 4 hour rule several times by spending $35 (not worrying where to park with like the 15 public parking spots at each lagoon) and going to the pretty beach for a few hours.
By taking advantage of the 4 hour rule, remember to first stop at the front lobby and get the activity sheet for the day. If you wish to take a photo with the characters go find them and take that photo, the activity sheet will tell you what time and where they will be. The characters are usually out at the gardens for photos after lunch time for anyone to take photos with, so remember to bring your camera or phone for photos! I did this almost every month until Avery was one year old! You can walk around the pool but you are only allowed in the pools if you have a wristband which only resort guest who are paying for a night receive. But again you can walk the grounds, go to the beach and see the characters!! Trust me after the 4 hours you will feel like you were a resort guest!
Hope this helps you enjoy Aulani on a budget!