I had been told to get a shave ice at Aulani from a couple friends. They told me to expect a tasty treat on a warm day, and that we would love it.
What they didn't tell me is this:
1. Papalua Shave Ice is actually CHEAPER than the store across the street in the Ko-Olina village. Save yourself a walk.
2. Papalua Shave Ice actually offers way more flavors than the store across the street in the Ko-Olina village. Save yourself a walk.
3. Papalua Shave Ice is adorable.
4. Eat your shave ice poolside or walk to the ocean for an even more exotic feel.
Tip: If you don't know what all the flavors are, be sure to ask. I recommend any flavor you can't easily get on the mainland such as guava, passion fruit, and mango. In fact, I am pretty sure we made this shave ice famous, so go grab one for yourself while you visit Aulani.
Disclosure: Although we purchased our own shave ice, my family was an invited guest to the Aulani Resort during a press trip. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.
If you're heading to Aulani on a budget, I definitely recommend making an early visit to Mama's Snack Stop as part of your routine. This adorable little snack stop was one of our family's favorite lunch and early dinner options during our week at Aulani.
Dinners at Aulani are really pricey, with all sit down restaurants starting at about $40/adult and $13/child. Ulu Cafe (also reviewed) does offer a much more reasonable dinner entree price, although the rotation changes daily so your kids may or may not like the current offering.
At Mama's Snack Stop, they only do a couple things, but they do them well. Here you can grab chicken tenders, hot dogs, and coconut shrimp and take them to-go to enjoy poolside (different food options than the poolside dining menu), to the beach, or to your room.
Mama's does close at 6pm, so head here for lunch or an early dinner to save some money while dining at Aulani.
The portions at Mama's are actually pretty large. French fries are fresh and tasty, and the coconut shrimp is absolutely amazing! Love the sauce they serve them with.
We didn't get to try the macadamia nut cupcake that was raved about due to some food allergies in our family, but it certainly looked fabulous.
Disclosure: My family visited the Aulani Resort as a guest of Disney on a press trip. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.
The brand new Ulu Cafe, located in the Aulani Resort, is a fabulous option for families looking for an easy, casual meal without the fuss.
The walk-up style restaurant features a variety of made fresh, but still grab-and-go options including sandwiches, salads, yogurt parfaits, and more. Entree selections change out on a daily basis for all three meals, and daily hot options are always available including mini flatbread pizzas, fish tacos, and more.
The view at Ulu is great; enjoy your meal while overlooking the sparkling pools and Pacific ocean on the horizon while palm trees sway with the breeze. It really can't be beat.
Breakfast is a busy time at Ulu, so arrive early or plan on waiting a bit for your turn in line during the rush.
Don't fall in love with the daily special, it literally changes every day giving families the chance to try a variety of Hawaiian and close-to-home favorites while vacationing.
Ulu Cafe is also a great spot to fill up your refillable mug (good for your entire stay!). Here you can fill with soda, coffee, and a wider variety of fountain drinks.
After a morning splashing in the many Aulani pools, we were in need of some recharging that didn't require us to venture too far away from the pool. Off the Hook serves the same poolside dining menu offered throughout the pool area, but is actually serviced a bit quicker since you don't have to wait for waiters to find you and notice your growling bellies.
My caesar salad was average. Nothing to write home about, but it was a substantial portion and what I expected. My daughter's burger ran on the small side, but in the end was just enough to fill her up after downing the accompanying french fries.
Word of warning: this restaurant switches over to an appetizer only lounge come 5pm daily, when poolside dining immediately comes to a halt. If you are planning on grabbing burgers for dinner, be sure to make it an early meal and get seated and ordered just before 5pm to ensure your kids aren't disappointed by the menu change. (The appetizer menu does serve up sliders, but there are no kids meal options.)
Disclosure: I dined at Off the Hook while on a press trip with Disney Aulani. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.
This was my 11 year old's favorite ride of all. During World of Color (which we had seen the previous night), the line was incredibly short so he rode Goofy's Sky School about 6 times in a row. He would get off, then run back in line and would wait behind one or two people. He was grinning from ear to ear. Because the queue is a short area, we stood outside, watched World of Color from the side, and let him ride to his heart's content.
This ride can have a wait time of up to 1 hour during the busy parts of the day. It is a fast ride and can jerk you around, and then drop you suddenly. All things that are fun for tweens and teens. Thankfully it isn't too jerky for moms (at least for me) but one ride was enough. I didn't want to feel sick! It's a fun ride, but might not be worth a 1 hour wait. So come during World of Color!