If you’re dreaming of a tropical getaway to Disney’s Aulani Resort but are worried about breaking the bank, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to enjoy the magic of Disney’s Hawaiian resort without overspending.
From finding the best deals on flights and accommodations to taking advantage of free activities and dining options, I’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to plan a budget-friendly Aulani vacation.
So, let’s dive in and discover how you can experience the enchantment of Aulani without blowing your budget.
How to Save Money at Aulani
Here are some of my favorite ways to save money at Disney’s Aulani without skipping out on the fun and eats:
1. Take advantage of free activities
There are over 30 complimentary activities that you can take advantage of if you’re staying at Aulani. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- 5 pool areas, a lazy river, and private beach
- character meet and greets
- Aunty’s Beach House and complimentary kids club activies
- ‘Ohana Disney Movie Night
- Hula dancing lessions
- Live Hawaiian music at the Olelo Room
- Mo’olelo fire pit storytelling
- free access to beach toys
Aulani doesn’t have a resort fee to cover all of these amenities and activities, but in my mind, they just basically add that fee into your nightly room rate.
2. Get the refillable mug
The refillable mug is 100% necessary! For $22.95, you can unlimited refills on soda, coffee, hot chocolate and tea at all of the drink stations around the resort.
The initial cost may seem like a shock, but you’d honestly be surprised just how convenient and beneficial it is to have one of those refillable cups.
However, if you only drink water, then you can just bring your own bottle and refill it for free.
3. Shop at Target
Water, snacks, drinks and other vacation essentials are so expensive at Aulani. Not to mention you’ll pay slightly less expensive prices next door at the Island Country Markets.
That’s why we always make sure to stop at the Target in Kapolei (10 minutes aways from Aulani) and buy some water, drinks, snacks, sunscreen, snorkel gear (if needed), and even alcohol.
It’s not going to be as cheap as it is back home, but it is significantly cheaper than what you’ll find in Ko Olina.
Tip: If you need some items in bulk, there is a Costco across across the intersection from Target.
4. Visit during the off-season
If your schedule allows you too, I highly recommend that you visit during the slower season. This is generally when you’ll be able to take advantage of some great promotions and special offers without having to worry about any blackout dates.
You’ll never find deals during the summer or near any major holidays, but Aulani is always running some sort of promotion during late winter, early spring, and fall.
Months you always need to avoid are June, July, and early August.
I’ve found the best deals in February, October, early November, and early December.
5. Compare room rates on Google or any other third party website
You can generally find cheaper room rates using Google Travel. Just enter your dates and Google will find the best deal possible.
It’s genuinely surprising the amount of cheaper room rates you can find compared to what you’re quoted on Aulani’s official website.
6. Skip the Ocean View room
I’m a huge believe in staying in a room with a great view, but only if it’s reasonable priced. Unfortunately, at Aulani, that’s not the case.
On average, an Ocean View standard room costs 35% more than a Standard View room. An ocean view room costs $774 a night on average, while a standard view room cost $574 a night on average.
Don’t get me wrong, the ocean view is spectacular, but I don’t know if it’s worth $200 extra per night…
Skip the Oceanview and save some money!
7. Use a Disney Visa when booking your stay
When you book your trip on the phone using your Disney Visa credit card, you can typically save anywhere from 25% to 35% on select rooms depending on the length of your stay.
Generally, you’ll get the better discount if you stay for 5 nights or more.
Plus, you’ll also get a resort credit that you can use during the entirety of your stay.
During my last visit, we saved 35% on 5-night stay in a 1-Bedroom Villa with Poolside Gardens View, while also receiving a $100 resort credit.
8. Rent Disney Vacation Club Points
By renting DVC points, you can save around $100 to $250 per night depending on the time of year and availability.
I’ve personally never used this method, but a lot of people have found success using David’s DVC Rentals.
9. Don’t rent the snorkel gear
If you want to snorkel out in the Ko Olina lagoon, it’ll cost you $25 per day per person.
That’s why it’s cheaper to just bring your own set or buy one from Target.
10. Don’t eat every meal in Ko Olina
Whether if you’re eating at Aulani, Monkeypod, across the street, or any of the food options on or near the resort, you won’t find anything that affordable until you leave Ko Olina Resort.
But once you head towards Kapolei, you’ll find some popular, and even affordable restaurants nearby.
For local eats that won’t break the bank, I try to eat at Zippy’s at least once a trip.
11. Get your poke from Foodland
This is more of a personal preference recommendation, but I am a huge fan of Foodland’s poke. It’s about 45% cheaper than the poke bowls from Ulu Cafe, but it’s 100% tastier. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
We usually double up our visits and hit up Target first then head to Foodland before heading back to the resort.
12. Visit Aulani for a day
If staying at Aulani just doesn’t work for you financially, but seeing it is still on your bucket list, then I recommend that you at least take a day trip to the resort and enjoy some of the amenities open to non-resort guests.
Even though Aulani doesn’t offer a one-day pass, there are a few things that you can do to experience some of the Hawaiian Disney magic.
I always recommend that visitors book a character breakfast at Makahiki, buy some Disney merch, go to the luau, or even spend a few hours at the spa.
You won’t be able to use the pools, or even sit on the beach chairs at Ko ‘Olina, but it’s still just an amazing experience to explore the property.
13. Don’t rent a car
This is by far the WORST advice I’ll give on this article, but if you’re someone who doesn’t care about exploring the island of O’ahu, then you probably won’t need to rent a car.
Personally, I’ve once stayed at Aulani for 4-nights and never left the resort once, only because we wanted to just relax and enjoy the beach.
That said, it’s technically cheaper to just Uber to Aulani ($40 to $70 one way on average), as opposed to renting a car and paying for parking which costs $37 a day.
Once again, I am not a huge advocate of this idea because there’s just so much to see, do and eat on O’ahu that it’s just not worth spending the entire time at the resort. But, that’s just me!
Is Aulani expensive?
There’s no way to put it, but Aulani is expensive.
A Standard Room (with two queens or one king) with a standard view averages around $574 per night, while a Standard ocean view room averages around $774 per night.
Aulani also offers 1 and 2 bedroom villas (Disney Vacation Club) that cost around $874 per night on average with a standard view.
Parking costs $37 per day and that includes both valet and self-parking.
Although you are paying a pretty penny just to stay at Aulani, your resort stay does come with a plethora of benefits and amenities such as access to the many pools and free activities scattered throughout the resort.
Aulani food prices are a little steep but if you’re already used to the food prices at Disney World or Disneyland, it may not seem as bad.
You can generally get a quick service meal from Ulu Cafe for under $20 per person not including a drink. Snacks like shave ice or Dole Whip cost around $6.
Alcohol is just as pricey with beer costing around $8 on average, wine $11, and cocktails $15.
There are a few add-ons such as the Ka’Waa Luau which costs $189 for adults and $114 for kids, but in all honesty, you’ll get a better, slightly less expensive experience at Paradise Cove next door.
Are there any Aulani discounts?
Aulani is always running a promotion (with blackout dates) that generally range from 25% to 30% off depending on the length of your stay.
You can find deals for Disney Visa cardmembers, Military/Veteran, and even Disney Cast Member rates.
I recommend that you always check this special offers page to stay up to date on all current promotions and offers.
So go ahead, plan your budget-friendly Aulani adventure and use those extra savings for some Mickey-ear shave ice!
Hope these tips and tricks will help you have a magical time at Aulani.
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