Disney Aulani Resort on Oahu, Hawaii, Isn’t Worth It for Kids Under 5


She’s never been to Disney parks, but we thought she’d love the beach, pools, and characters, while her dad and I were excited about the beautiful location.

A child in a white and pink dress walking on the sand of a beach in between rows of beach chairs.

The beach at Aulani was a big draw for us to visit.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

It’s not cheap. We booked our ocean-view room six weeks in advance and paid $775 a night. At the time, the cheapest standard view room ($550/night) was sold out.

A view over the lazy river and hotel grounds including the hotel tower and beach in the distance at Aulani Disney resort.

The view of Aulani from our balcony.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

Source: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

With taxes and parking, the two-night stay ended up costing $1,900.

A woman taking a selfie on the beach with her husband and child.

On the beach at Aulani.

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That price was for one of the more affordable rooms with a garden view and the ocean in the distance.

A hotel room balcony with chairs and a table and views of lush trees, pools, and the ocean in the distance.

The balcony of our room.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

The room was 382 square feet with two queen beds and felt like any other standard hotel rooms I’ve booked.

A hotel room with two beds, a dresser, TV, coffee station, and ceiling fan.

Our hotel room.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

We’d never usually pay so much, but Aulani felt like a splurge we could handle. The rest of our trip, we stayed at two other hotels; one was far cheaper, and the other we paid for with credit-card points.

A child laying on a hotel bed watching TV.

My daughter watching TV.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

The resort has six pools, a lazy river, daily character meet-and-greets, a private beach, and 10 dining options.

A view of a lazy river and pool area at Disney's Aulani Resort.

A view of the lazy river.

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The resort has all sorts of activities, most of which are included in the nightly price. According to the hotel’s website, more than 30 activities are complimentary, in addition to others that incur a small fee.

A young girl being embraced by Minnie Mouse

My daughter meeting Minnie.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

Source: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

On the hotel’s app, I saw activities listed that included t-shirt art classes, scavenger hunts, movie nights, nature walks, ukulele lessons, and more.

A screenshot of the Aulani Disney app listing activities for the day.

Daily activities were listed on the hotel’s app.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

Source: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

The only problem was, none of those activities applied to my daughter. At 21 months old, she was too young for every free, or premium, activity.

A toddler on the sand of the beach holding onto a white cone.

My daughter playing on the beach.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

(Representatives for Disney did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the activities and amenities available to young children.)

Read more: Photos show why I need a vacation from my vacation after taking my toddler to Hawaii

She was also too young for Aunty’s Beach House, which is a complimentary kids’ club with daily activities for children over 5.

A group of people waiting outside a building in a tropical place.

Parents waiting outside Aunty’s Place to pick up their kids.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

Because of my daughter’s young age, I felt like we only got a fraction of the value of our nightly room rate and what was included in each stay.

A man, woman, and baby take a picture with minnie mouse

We posed with Minnie Mouse, one of the few activities available for my daughter’s age group.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

While my daughter had a blast in the splash pads and pools, and loved meeting Minnie and Moana, we couldn’t do many of the things most people come to the hotel to enjoy.

A man holding his baby posing with the Disney character, Moana.

Character meet-and-greets are free for all guests.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

Even those character meet-and-greets were limited, as we had to miss some to work in my daughter’s nap schedule.

A woman wearing a big floppy hat taking an elevator selfie with her sleeping child.

My daughter, ready to take a nap.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

My daughter also needed to go to bed before any nightly events.

Mom and daughter sit in hotel bed with baby drinking milk.

Sitting in bed with my girl.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

She was also too young to zip down the big waterslide or explore the hotel’s snorkeling reef, aside from viewing it in one area.

Side by side images of a pool surrounded by rocks and a hotel and a baby looking and pointing at an aquarium with a swimmer in it.

The snorkeling reef (L), my daughter watching swimmers and fish in the reef from the viewing area (R).

Emily Hochberg/Insider

Since my daughter can’t swim, more than half the pools were too big or deep for her. We really only brought her into this zero-entry pool with a shallow end ….

A child wearing a green life preserver standing in a shallow pool.

One of the six pools at Aulani.

Emily Hochberg/Insider

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