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Photo Essay: Exploring Disney’s Aulani Resort

After years of planning and anticipation, Disney’s new Aulani Resort welcomed its first guests in August 2011. Walking around the grounds for the first time, I was struck by the grand scale of everything. For an Oahu resort, Aulani is large, sitting on 21 acres right on the beach at Ko Olina on the west side of the island.

I think that, overall, Disney has succeeded in bringing Hawaiian culture, heritage, language, and history to a new audience in a way that only Disney Imagineers could. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect from Aulani.

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Book Your Stay at Aulani

To book a stay at Aulani, use the widget below to search your preferred dates and enter “Ko Olina” or “Honolulu” for your destination. The next page will pop up your choice of booking sites – Expedia or Orbitz both worked for me – so that you can compare prices.

Aulani is located in the Ko Olina resort area on the west side of Oahu, approximately 17 miles from the Honolulu Airport (HNL). You will also want to look into renting a car or booking a vacation package that includes car rental, as Ko Olina is a bit of a drive from the rest of the island. (If you’d prefer to stay in Waikiki, check out our list of Best Waikiki Hotels for Families.)

Tip: If you’re only interested in visiting the restaurants, spa, and grounds of Aulani, there are other properties in the Ko Olina development (Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club or the JW Ihilani Marriott) so you may also opt to stay there if the rates are significantly cheaper. Keep in mind that the pool area is for Aulani guests only, so you will miss out on the lazy river and other amenities.