Many thanks to Aulani for giving me this resort trip for free.
Dreaming of Disney and Hawaii? A vacation at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, on the island of O’ahu, hits two major bucket list hot spots for many family travelers. Even though the flight might be a little long, an Aulani vacation is ideal for babies and toddlers once you get there, because the footprint of the resort is small — making it easily navigable for little legs. Disney also offers many amenities at Aulani to make vacationing with babies and toddlers easier. And, most importantly, there is just so much to do! An Aulani vacation means never having to worry whether there are age-appropriate and engaging activities for younger visitors.
My husband and I have visited Aulani twice with our young kids. We found there were so many activities that we simply could not do them all. Here are the top can’t-miss things to do that families with babies and toddlers will enjoy at Aulani:
1. Character Dining
A meal with characters is a must-do for families on any Disney vacation. Aulani offers two options at Makahiki restaurant: a breakfast with Mickey and friends, offered daily, and a dinner called “Menehune Mischief,” available approximately three nights a week. Both feature classic Disney characters that young children already know and love, like Minnie, Goofy, Chip & Dale, Stitch, Donald, and more. Both meals also include singing and dancing to keep young kids entertained, as well as plenty of kid-friendly food options on the buffet for picky eaters. Just remember to make reservations well in advance to get the dates and times you want. Character meals are very popular and do sell out.
2. Keiki Cove
Got a water baby? Then Keiki Cove, Aulani’s baby and toddler splash pad, should be your first stop at Aulani once you unpack the swimsuits. This protected area has jets and spouts of water that can keep little ones busy for hours.
3. Menehune Bridge
More adventurous toddlers may want to graduate from the small jets of Keiki Cove to the larger (but relatively still tame) thrills of another water play area, Menehune Bridge. Menehune Bridge is a water playground structure that features bigger splashes and a few kid-friendly water slides. Worried about safety? Don’t be. Aulani has life jackets of all sizes that guests can borrow for free at the beach towel huts. Menehune Bridge is also made for kids under 48 inches tall, so there is no worry about the big kids knocking over toddlers as they play.
4. KA WA’A Luau
Aulani unveiled a brand new luau in the fall of 2016, KA WA’A. While it is certainly a splurge, it is money well spent, even with little kids. The luau is visually engaging and will capture the attention of young children with music and dance performances. While staying until the end of the evening show may mean you have to push back bedtime a bit, it is worth a slightly late night once on your vacation. The pre-dinner hour features activities like arts and crafts, lei-making, and Hawaiian tattoos that toddlers can do. Best of all — children under age 3 can
attend and eat at the luau at no extra charge.
5. Aunty’s Beach House
The kids’ club at Aulani, Aunty’s Beach House, is chock-full of kid-friendly activities. While children need to be 3 years old and potty trained to be eligible for drop-off childcare services, Aulani does not leave out babies and toddlers, either. Every morning, usually from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m., Aunty’s Beach House
hosts an open play hour where parents can bring children of any age to play in the various themed rooms. Toddlers will especially love dressing up, the song and dance time on the main stage, the outdoor playground, and the arts and crafts.
6. Waikolohe Stream
Aulani’s many pools offer water fun for babies and toddlers, but the lazy river “Waikolohe Stream” will likely be a favorite for families with young kids. Grab a tube and take a relaxing water cruise around the property. My 4-year-old son was so relaxed sitting with my husband in a tube together on our last trip that he actually took a nap! Look out for a PhotoPass photographer who is regularly in the river with a waterproof camera to capture your family in action.
7. Menehune Hunting
If you visit other Disney destinations, you may be familiar with the concept of hidden Mickeys. While Aulani has plenty of those, it also has hidden menehune throughout the resort! If you have never heard of menehune, they are mischievous creatures from Hawaiian lore. Disney has built them into the architecture
of Aulani, often in unexpected locations. Toddlers will love trying to spot these creatures behind plants in the lush gardens or even up high in the corner of an elevator or two. Guests can borrow a device from the Pau Hana community room to “hunt” for them all over the resort on the Menehune Adventure Trail. This is an especially fun activity for siblings to do together when an older sibling can help little ones with the technology.
8. Fish Watching
Aulani boasts a saltwater lagoon in the middle of its pool areas, Rainbow Reef, where guests can snorkel with sea life. While babies and toddlers are too young to participate in snorkeling, they can still sneak a peek at the underwater world, thanks to a large picture window that peers under the surface. This window is right next door to Aulani’s shave ice stand. If you have little ones big enough for a sweet treat, a Mickey-shaped shave ice and some fish watching make for a relaxing break.
9. Beach Time
Last but certainly not least, babies and toddlers will love Aulani’s beach. Set one of the three protected Ko Olina lagoons, the water is very calm. Little ones can wade in safely without the worry of being knocked over by waves. Aulani’s beach activities hut “Makiki Joe’s” will loan a set of sand toys to guests totally free. No need to carry your own or pack any from home. Beach chairs are plentiful and free to use, so parents can camp out comfortably while young kids have fun in the sand and water.