One thing that struck me about Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa on our recent visit was the sheer beauty and detail of the resort. Part of this was to be expected–Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World is striking–but Aulani takes this to the next level. Overall, Aulani exceeded our expectations with its amazing collection of art (one of the largest private collections of Hawaiian art in the world), its “Disney Details,” and its incredibly engaging design.
As I was organizing and editing Aulani photos this morning, the beauty of the resort continued to strike me again and again. While Aulani certainly has its fans, I think it’s relatively unknown to a lot of Disney fans beyond the basic look of the buildings. This is understandable, as a trip to Hawaii is very expensive, and tough to justify solely for a Disney resort.
Still, I thought it would be fun to share some photos from Aulani to showcase the beauty of Disney’s new resort on Oahu in Hawaii. This article is sort of a change of pace from the norm here, as it really doesn’t offer and tips, commentary, attempts at humor (that’s probably a good thing!), or really anything useful. It’s just some photos that illustrate why we loved Aulani so much.
Let’s take a look at the beauty of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa…
This tree, which I’m going to dub “The Dreaming Tree” after being able to find out zero information about it online, is my favorite detail of Aulani. It’s actually a bit unfortunate that this tree is out at the street, where Aulani guests are least likely to see it.
These characters, the Menehune are prevalent at Aulani, and are even incorporated into a scavenger hunt-esque game for kids. Aulani seems to characterize them as mysterious mischief makers, although it seems Hawaiian culture skews more towards them being skilled builders with supernatural strength.
My favorite thing to do at Aulani was float around the lazy river. This isn’t a lazy river akin to the one in Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Beach Club or Yacht Club, this is more like what you’d find at Typhoon Lagoon. Lush and filled with cool details, caverns, waterfalls, and more, this is the epitome of relaxation.
What I love about Aulani is the sheer amount of totally unnecessary detail. This is Disney at its finest. Many places would look perfectly fine (or great) without the extra little touches, but those extra touches are there anyway.
All of Hawaii is beautiful at sunset and sunrise. I enjoyed getting up early and watching the dawn sky change color as the sun moved up the horizon.
The new adult pool is gorgeous, especially this little grotto where the hot tub is found. At night, the grotto glows with the twinkle of lights embedded in the rockwork.
Besides being found in The Dreaming Tree, these lanterns hang throughout Aulani. They really enhance the mood, and I’m sure are culturally significant somehow. I just don’t know how, and The Google was no help on that one.
Here’s one of those cool details in the lazy river. Everyone knows that the best lazy rivers have certain soak points that–if you’re being too lazy and they catch you off guard-can quickly wake you back up.
Outside of the main lobby on the lower level and just across from the lazy river is a large area of water that has a lot of detail and gradiation. One of the details is koi that swim in a portion of the water.
Here’s another look at that water-area. This is not a pool for guests, but it does add a lot of kinetic energy to the open air dining area on the other side. Sitting there, listening to traditional live Hawaiian music is another incredibly relaxing experience.
This bridge crosses over the lazy river. There are a lot of little islands and spots to explore in the Waikolohe Valley pool area. This is part of what I think makes it so interesting. Nothing is plain, nothing is simple.
Here’s another Menehune on the Menehune Bridge water play area for kids. These guys are hidden all over Aulani, and finding them is sort of like Aulani’s version of Hidden Mickey hunting.
Here’s the rear of the lobby at dusk. Arches are a common part of Aulani’s design, with ‘canoe house’ inspiration being common. This is one of many ways that Aulani fuses traditional and contemporary Hawaiian styles for something unique, yet authentic.
Here’s another piece of art just for the sake of art. These can be found around walkways at Aulani. I love how the sun lit them up in the early morning and late afternoon. Almost as if they were natural light fixtures during daylight hours.
Here’s another look at the lazy river with a tower of the hotel behind it. I just love the leapfrogging water fountains.
Here’s an unconventional view of the Maka‘ala lobby. Again, you can see the strong canoe house influence. This photo isn’t really representative of what you’d see with the naked eye when walking into the lobby, but I thought it was useful for showing the level of detail and texture in this lobby. It’s really quite stunning.
I have a ton more Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa photos to edit and share, but I think that’s enough for now.
I’ve asked this in the past, but what other types of Aulani posts interest you? I’m considering a few topics (Pool Info & Tips, AMA AMA Review, Laniwai Info & Review, and Hawaii Off-Site Activities), but would like feedback on what would be most helpful/interesting to you. Thanks!
Trying to figure out if Aulani — A Disney Resort & Spa is right for you and your party in the first place? Already planning a visit and need to know more? To get a better idea of whether it’s for you and how to prepare for a visit to Aulani (and what to do once you’re there), we recommend reading our Aulani — A Disney Resort & Spa Trip Planning Guide.
Have you visited Aulani? Did you find the resort to be as stunning as we did? What were your favorite details? Anything else to add? Any questions about Aulani? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments!