How To Do Aulani For Cheap
Aulani is Disney’s most relaxing vacation. Guests enjoy the Hawaiian sun, tropical drinks, the warm ocean, snorkeling, fantastic dining and pools like you wouldn’t believe. And it’s all endless and this Hawaiian paradise called Aulani. While Aulani is one of our favorite places to visit, it can also be one of the more expensive places to visit. Because of this we decided to write a guide on how to to Aulani for Cheap. We’ll give you our insider opinions on how to save and break down every aspect of your trip and how you can sneak out some savings to make your Aulani vacation more affordable.
Discounted Aulani Rooms
We’ve written a whole other article on how to book your discounted Aulani rooms for your vacation that is worth looking at. It takes you step by step on where and how to book them. We highly recommend booking your Aulani room with Get Away Today. They’ve been selling Disney vacations for over 20 years and specialize in offering discounted rooms and offers.
Our main goal is to keep you from paying what hotels refer to as rack rate. This is a room price that features no discount in anyway shape or form. It’s the highest dollar amount you could pay and one that you want to avoid.
For Aulani, Disney is constantly offering discounts and special offers for their Aulani rooms which makes doing Aulani for cheap much much easier. You just want to make sure you time your booking right. We suggest looking about 4-5 months in advance of the time you plan to visit to see what special offers are available.
Most of the time you are going to get an offer that includes rooms discounts up to 30% off. This bring down that rack rate we mentioned by quite a bit. It’s the perfect time to book! Other offers will include a room discount plus free dining or resort credit. This is just icing on the cake if you can snag one of these deals.
Outside of offers there are a few other things that can help you maximize your savings. The first one we like to mention is a rewards card. Be sure to book Aulani on your Disney Rewards Visa card or another card that give you at least 2% cash back, if not more. If you’re a Costco Member and have the Citi Card you can get 3% cash back. $80-$100 back into your pocket is worth several meals and souvenirs at Aulani.
Saving Money on Flights
Anyone who’s looking to do Aulani for cheap will definitely want to purchase their flights at a discounted price. This is the second most expensive part of your vacation! We recommend joining our Crazy Cheap Hawaiian Flights Newsletter to stay up to date on the best flight deals. Overall you’ll want to search almost daily to find the cheapest flights for your trip. Most people don’t have time to do this which is why we suggest joining the newsletter above.
Hawaiian Airlines is one of the most popular airlines to fly to Hawaii but they mainly service the west coast, however, there are a few flights from New York and Boston. If you’re coming from the East Coast we recommend taking a look at United or Delta. You’ll most likely have a layover somewhere before landing in Hawaii.
Southwest recently started flying to Hawaii from California and has had some amazing deals on those flights. It’s worth taking a look at what they have to offer. Their flights are a bit limited since they’re new and most of the time you’ll have a layover in California somewhere.
Many airlines have started offering restricted economy seats for pretty cheap. It’s basically like flying a saver airline except you’re on a major carrier. You don’t get to choose your seat without paying for it. You can only bring a personal bag, no carry on or checked bag. If you can make this work you can save a lot of money. We don’t suggest this option for families with younger kids as you’ll want to be sitting by them.
Saving Money on Food
Outside of your hotel room and flight expenses comes your food expense. Aulani is not an all-inclusive so you do need to purchase your food each day. Of course Aulani has several food options for you including quick service, lounges, seated dining and a buffet. Here’s a list of what’s offered:
- Ulu Cafe – All day cafeteria and made to order dining. Grab breakfast, lunch and dinner here with plate options, cereal, cinnamon rolls, bagels, sandwiches, salads, flatbread pizza and more.
- Mama’s Snack Stop – Quick service food out by the pools that includes french fries, fish and chips, chicken tenders, dogs, drinks and more.
- AMA AMA – Seated dining with amazing views of the ocean. Order a fresh catch, most seafood options, steaks, salads and more.
- Makahiki – Character dining buffet open for breakfast and dinner. Enjoy plentiful foods and some one on one time with your favorite Disney characters.
- Off The Hook – Bar with a fantastic drink list and some small plates including mac n cheese, sandwiches and salads. Poolside.
- The Olelo Room – Lounge offerings classic Hawaiian bites and tropical drinks and live music every night.
- Wailana Pool Bar – Adults only pool bar located next to the adults only pool. Serves a great drink list and some small plates.
- Little Opihi’s – Beachside snack shop serving very small plates like nachos, drinks, beer, and dole whips.
One place that Disney doesn’t mention with dining (and it makes sense) that we like to pint out is Kalepa’s Store. It’s mostly merchandise but they do sell groceries including milk, cereal, eggs, cheese, bacon, sandwich items including bread, jelly and peanut butter and more. If you’re a DVC member you get 10% off your groceries here.
The best way to save on dining is to book when Aulani is offering free dining with your stay or a daily resort credit. That money brings your food spend down quite a bit, even if it just covers one meal a day.
If you are staying in a 1 bedroom villa or bigger then we would highly recommend you stop at Costco or Wal-Mart on your way in and buy your weeks worth of food. We always get cereal because it’s the cheapest meal to replace. Then we grab sandwich items and chips for lunches. For dinners we try and keep it easy with meals like spaghetti or other noodle dishes. You can request a rice cooker for your room which is always a good cheap meal. We’ll even do BBQ pork sandwiches with pre-cooked meat from the store. Heat it up and throw it on some rolls.
Guests do have access to grills on the resort where they can grill some meat which we have also done before. They are located behind Auntie’s Beach House.
Saving Money on Activities
Aulani does offer lots of options for activities for guests including at the resort and around Oahu. Obviously if you really want to do Aulani for Cheap just use their free activities including all their pools and waterslides and the ocean. They also offer free child-sitting at Auntie’s Beach House for kids 3 and older. They have a lounge with games and DVD’s to rent as well as daily activities including Ukulele lessons, drawing and more. It’s easy to stay busy everyday for free!
If you’re looking to do activities around Oahu we would suggest purchasing them directly from the vendors instead of from Aulani. The Oahu Go Card is a great way to save and experience a lot of what the island has to offer. The North Shore has some fantastic activities including Jungle Jeep tours, kayaking and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
If you want to stay around Aulani without needing to rent a car there are several activities including snorkeling and dolphin excursions that can pick you up from the resort. If you’re a pretty good swimmer and want a really great, free snorkeling experience then head to Electric Beach. It’s one of the coolest spots to snorkel at and is just down the road from Aulani. A short swim out will have you in warm waters and surrounded by tropical fish!
Many guests who visit Hawaii love to participate in a Luau which is a giant buffet with Hawaiian-style food and live entertainment. Aulani does put a Luau on every week called KA WA‘A. It does require reservations and costs $139 per adult and $98 per child.
However, right next door to Aulani is Paradise Cove which also offers a Luau for a bit less. It includes:
- Arts & Crafts Demonstrations
- Games of Skill and Daring
- Shower of Flowers
- Imu Ceremony
- Hawaiian Revue
- Shell Lei Greeting upon Arrival
- Mai Tai Greeting
- $12/Adult, $8/Youth & Child Cove Card
- Wing Seating
- Hawaiian Luau Buffet Menu
Prices are $102 per adult and $80 per child. Reservations are also required. Park Savers can book your Luau here at a discounted rate, simply contact us at [email protected] with your information including date, time, package type and how many people in your groups including ages.
Doing Aulani for Cheap is so easy to do when you follow this guide. The key is to plan ahead, wait for the good deal and then take advantage of everything the resort has to offer. Our kids stay busy all day long between swimming and daily activities. When their tired they take naps and then go back at it. We’ve found that mid-day naps for everyone keeps attitudes at bay and everyone is happy. In the evenings be sure and stop by the Olelo Room for some small bites, drinks and relaxing music.
Be sure to book your discounted room with Get Away Today to get the best price!
Aulani is a magical place for your to relax while doing Disney at the same time!
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.