Mickey and Mele Kalikimaka belong together…like hula and hot cocoa. Ever since our 4th child was born on Christmas (which was not cool of her) I’ve been trying to make December 25th a spectacular day for her, in addition to making it work as a holiday for the rest of us. A bit of a challenge. A few years ago, I started hatching an idea to make her 5th birthday the most incredible adventure ever. What I came up with was … Disney Magic + Christmas Magic + Hawaii = Vaca/Bday/Sugarplum dreams come true. There is no place to find that magical combination other than Aulani.
Aulani is Disney’s property on the south shore of Oahu about a half-hour drive from Honolulu. The resort features everything you could expect to find in paradise and more – several pools and hot tubs, a world class spa, water slides, a lazy river, a man-made reef where you can snorkel, a protected beach cove for water activities and sports, restaurants, a kids’ club, an incredible luau, and scheduled activities for everything from yoga to Disney animation.
But what I really want to share is how Aulani makes Christmas special for its guests! You will enjoy all the amenities during your holiday vaca, PLUS:
- A festive atmosphere throughout the resort
- Holiday character experiences
- A Christmas Eve Santa visit
- A hot cocoa hula party
- Festive dining at resort restaurants
- Premium holiday activities for kids at Aunty’s Beach House
Aulani is a stunningly beautiful resort. The buildings and landscape are grand and luxurious yet authentically Hawaiian. Disney stayed true to the essence of Hawaiian native culture in the motifs, shapes and colors of the architecture and decor. Add to this beauty the festive decorations of Christmas and you have an amazing sight to behold.
Garland and Christmas trees adorned with lights and ornaments are everywhere from the main building to the restaurants.
Despite the palm trees and warm weather, you will feel inspired to don your fuzzy Santa hat.
This brings me to the next point – the characters are feeling the Christmas spirit too!
There are opportunities every day to meet characters and take photos with them. A schedule of the next day’s character meet ‘n’ greets will be available the evening before in the Daily ‘Iwa (this is a printed schedule of all that is going on at the resort – for kids and adults).
Stitch donned a fabulous Christmas Lei.
The best Christmas-themed character opportunity came on Christmas Eve, when guests could meet Mickey AND Minnie, dressed in their not-so-ugly Christmas sweaters! The “Aloha Kalikimaka” backdrop was there to remind you that you were still in Hawaii and not the Swiss Alps.
Christmas Eve Festivities
You can meet the Big Guy!
No, not Goofy. The other Big Guy. SANTA! From 8am-noon on Christmas eve, guests can come to Aunty’s Beach House (the kids’ activity center at Aulani) to line up and get a photo with Santa, make some Christmas-themed crafts and listen to carolers. My kids were so excited, and Santa always makes the Christmas birthday girl feel special.
Hot Cocoa Hula Party
Christmas party outside by the palm trees! You never knew you would be so jazzed for hot cocoa in 80 degree weather.
For a few hours in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, Aulani sets up a hot cocoa bar complete with marshmallows, candy canes and Mickey-shaped gingerbread cookies. You can enjoy all of this on the lawn while watching a hula performance with live music. It’s Christmas-Disney-Paradise overload and it’s awesome!
We opted to make two dining reservations on Christmas (totaling a small fortune) – one at Ama Ama for a Christmas brunch and one for a character dinner at Makahiki. You can make these reservations online or by calling the resort 6 months in advance! Ama Ama is a table-service restaurant and features elegant dining outdoors overlooking the ocean. It is such a beautiful setting for Christmas morning! Mimosas may have been involved.
At the end of the meal, the servers came to our table and sang to Eliza and brought this adorable Mickey cake complete with Christmas sprinkles.
Dinner at Makahiki, Aulani’s indoor buffet-style restaurant, was a character experience with Pluto, Daisy, Stitch and Donald. The restaurant was decorated beautifully, the characters were sporting Christmas gear, and the food was excellent.
What better way to spend a 5th birthday? And Christmas! A word of warning – there are some not-so-stellar tables on the outer edge of the dining area. It is dark out there and not so festive. Just hold your ground and tell them you want a better table. We did. At this price point, Pluto should be coming back to your room to tuck you in. At the very least, you should be in a bright section of the restaurant.
Holiday Activities for Kids
Aunty’s Beach house is Aulani’s kids club for ages 3-12. This is a drop-off kids club!! Parents, that means once you register your children, you can get a break and hit the pool for grown-ups! There are open-house hours where you may go inside with your kids, but much of the day’s schedule is broken into kids-only activities including games, crafts, and educational experiences focusing on Hawaiian culture. There are a few select Premium experiences available for an extra fee. We signed our kids up for one of those – Cookie Decorating with Santa Goofy. This was a 90-minute activity that included games and crafts, Christmas cookie decorating and a picture with Santa Goofy (with a picture frame craft).
They loved it and I really wish I had a better picture of their cookies, but I’m lucky I got this one. They were hangry.
What about the Presents?
If you travel for Christmas, the question becomes, does Santa come before you leave, after you get home, or during the vacation? I do not recommend attempting what we did unless you like living on the edge…because you run the risk of losing ALL the presents with one misdirected suitcase at a layover. There was some high anxiety anticipation at the luggage carousel but it all worked out. Our birthday girl was concerned about the fact that we would have no Christmas tree in the resort. Not a problem. In Hawaii, Santa leaves the presents outside under the palm trees. On the balcony.
In addition to presents from Santa, a representative from the Disney Vacation Club (we are not members) knocked on our door in the afternoon and delivered Eliza an amazing birthday gift: a Duffy bear and Hawaiian Mickey ears. Talk about exceeding expectations! We really felt like Aulani ohana.
Our Christmas experience at Aulani was triple magical, just as we hoped. The resort was the perfect location for a Christmas 5th birthday extravaganza. Now I’m just not sure what we can do for her next birthday. I’m taking suggestions!!
If you are interested in booking a stay at Aulani for Christmas, it’s never too early! You can call the resort and book it yourself, or I recommend using a Disney travel agent. They are extremely helpful and knowledgeable and FREE! Mine is Jill Wagner at Simply Enchanted Travel and she did an amazing job booking our stay, dining and activities.
What are you waiting for? Christmas is less than 11 months away!