Jan 24th
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Aulani-Hawaii Disney Family Vacation

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Aulani-Hawaii's Disney Family Beach Adventure 

    My eight-year-old daughter, Katie was excited to experience the new Aulani Disney Resort, however she was a bit nervous about our planned snorkeling trip. “What if a shark or puffer fish come up to me?” she asked. I reassured her that the Disney Resort would not have sharks or puffer fish in the protected bay.
    I learned that a Rainbow Reef was constructed at this Disney resort, hundreds of tropical fish, including many bar goatfish and colorful butterfly fish swim in this controlled environment. The reef houses 40 different species of fish that are found only in Hawaii. For $15 for kids and $30 for adults, guests receive an all-day pass to snorkel as often as they like.

    Guests float and snorkel on the surface of the resort’s 165,000-gallon saltwater playground. As the fish It's family fun at Aulani Disney Resort on Oahu, Hawaii.swim about in schools, you and the kids can seek out underwater statues and animals. “It’s great for people who’ve never snorkeled before,” explained assistant curator Marjorie Awai

    Our daughter enjoyed a day of gentle snorkeling without waves, strong currents or sharks. You’ll find the calm environment perfect for children of all ages who are able to float and swim. The fish are tame and used to the swimmers. Guests who don’t want to enter the chilly water can watch the fish from two viewing windows. Feeding times are at 10:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

    The Aulani Disney Resort is a fantasy playground both for kids and adults. Located on the Leeward Coast of Oahu  in the Ko’ Olina community, the resort opened to guests in late August 2011Aulani offers countless activities-a hit with our daughters.. It is located just 17 miles from bustling Honolulu and Waikiki.

    This family-friendly resort features water play areas and two pools; spas for 'tweens, teens and adults; Auntie’s Beach House kids' club; Disney character experiences throughout the day and two restaurants. In the center of the resort, a seven-acre water play area, called Waikolohe Valley, is filled with Hawaiian flower and tree species along with a lava-formed mountain that erupts throughout the day.

    Walking into the third floor grand Maka’ala lobby of the resort, you and the kids will notice carved wood sculptures and a 360-degree mural of the Hawaiian Islands. Its history begins before the arrival of Captain Cook to the islands. Artist Martin Charlot painted a 200-foot wrap-around pictorial depicting the heritage of Hawaii, the native people, and the land and wildlife. Two streams in the lobby meet in a gentle waterfall that spills into a colorful Koi fish pond.

    After checking in, we walked to our room and passed the Waikolohe lazy river. Guests were floating by on tan colored inner tubes. “I want to do that!” said our Katie. We floated on the inner tubes twice a day and had a great time. You can also take your inner tube down one thrilling slide and into a tunnel slide that splashes into the river.

    Another fun family activity we enjoyed was the interactive hand-held electronic touch-screen device. Aulani Resort offers the best of Hawaii's beach and surf.It’s like a mini iPad with “Auntie” as the tour guide. Auntie guides families around the resort in search of the legendary menehune, the Hawaiian "little people." With a push of a button, guests learn about local folklore with plenty of fun to excite everyone in the family. 

    A local production company, Searider, helped create this self-guided tour. There are four outside tours and one inside the magical lobby. While walking around the resort, you and the kids can also learn about Hawaiian artwork, history and architecture. Push a button at a designated spot and you’ll learn about the Hawaiian sea turtle. With another command, a sea turtle rises out of the water. Kids can build a sailing canoe with the push of a button and also activate a volcano.
    Our room on the 23rd floor had a king size bed and pullout sofa bed. The room was spacious and had a balcony for sitting outside and taking in the views.

    For dining options we enjoyed buffet-style dining with daily character breakfasts below the lobby inDisney characters are a favorite with the girls. the Makahiki Buffet.  We picked up sandwiches, sushi or salads at the Little Opihi’s beach shack and relaxed on chairs in the sand with our tasty lunch. For dinner we dined one night at The Olelo Room during Happy Hour. Between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. small plates and cocktails are served, from $5 to $7.

    Another night, we walked across the street from the resort to the Monkeypod Restaurant. The food was delicious and live entertainment was included.

    At the Aulani Disney Resort, children enjoy many fun activities and experiences. Auntie’s Beach House is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Children can participate in Stitch Space Goo making, learn how to hula and explore Volcanic Science. Parents are allowed inside Auntie’s Beach House during the 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Open House times. Some of the activities and meals served have additional charges, however many of the activities arFamilies can find lots of activities at Aulani Disney Resort.e free.

    Don’t miss watching the Aulani Starlit Hui on the Halawai Lawn, a free family event where guests receive a mat to sit on and watch live Hawaiian music from local artists. The kids can dance with some of Disney’s favorite characters. Another interesting family activity is the Mo’Olelo fire pit storytelling. A warm fire overlooking the beach is turned on as “Uncle” shares age-old stories and traditions from Hawaiian elders. These stories are passed down from one generation to another.

    On the beach, you and the kids can go on a sailing canoe ride, check out sand toys, or snorkel in the bay. You can also relax under an umbrella with a good read.

    There is a paved walkway in Ko’ Olina especially lovely for a morning or sunset stroll. The JW Marriott hotels have a few different properties in this area. The scenic path takes visitors all the way to the Ko’ Olina Harbor. We stopped one morning at Longboards at the Marriott Beach Club for a beachfront breakfast buffet.

    You can walk around the JW Marriott to a beach where sea turtles and Monk seals like to play in the warm waters. Note: Be sure to wear hard soled shoes on this walk due to sharp rocks near the water.
    At the end of our stay at the Aulani Disney Resort, we had a new appreciation for the history, people and culture of the Hawaiian Islands. 

More Information:

Jill Weinlein

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