Plan a Disney Aulani Vacation on a Budget

Plan a Disney Aulani Vacation on a Budget

Planning a trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa can be overwhelming. How do you get to Disney Aulani? How much will it cost? Isn’t Hawaii expensive? If you’re wondering how you can avoid cashing in your 401(k)or taking out a second mortgage, then this is the Disney Aulani Budget Guide for you. While we’ll share our best tips here, we’ll be honest, getting to Hawaii alone is expensive. Disney Aulani rooms are pricey and so is the dining. But don’t let that scare you. Here are our best Disney Budget Strategies to help you visit Disney’s Aulani Resort.

How Much does Disney Aulani Cost?

If there’s one thing we love, it’s saving money on a Disney Vacation.  So although we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to travel to Disney’s Aulani in Oahu, Hawaii on the cheap, we can definitely help you make your trip a little less expensive. The Cost of a Disney Aulani Vacation varies based on airfare, time of year, room chosen, excursions booked and more. And chances are you’ve been trying to figure out what magical algorithm can get you and your family to Disney Aulani on a budget. Thankfully, this is easy to break down. Where does your Disney Aulani Vacation Budget go? We’ll share cost estimated in this post for each of these budget items to consider. 

  • Travel to and from Hawaii
  • Travel to and from Aulani Resort
  • Rooms at Disney Aulani Resort
  • Dining at Disney Aulani 
  • Disney Aulani Excursions
  • Disney Aulani Activities

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Traveling To and From Hawaii

The biggest issue with a Disney Aulani Vacation on a Budget is the transportation to and from Hawaii. You can check any airline for flight costs to and from your hometown and they’re not pretty. While there is a slew of airlines that fly cheap to Hawaii, we best like Alaska Airlines and Southwest. You may think Hawaiian Airlines would make the most sense but they are often a little pricier than other tried and true choices.

Which Airline is Closest to Disney’s Aulani Resort?

The Honolulu ( HNL) Airport is the closest Airport to Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa. Once you arrive in Honolulu you will need to arrange transportation over to Aulani on Oahu, of which there are several options we dive into below. 

How Much Does it Cost to Fly to Disney’s Aulani Resort?

You can expect to pay anywhere from 400 to 1000 per person each way when traveling to Hawaii from any distance. That said, consider that flights from the West Coast are significantly cheaper! For instance, a flight from San Diego to Honolulu on Southwest is $99. Crazy, right? So, if you can figure out how to get out west first, and then fly from there, you’re sure to save some money. 

Best Airlines for Disney Aulani Resort

  • Southwest Airlines flights to Hawaii include seats and luggage with the cost of your flight, so you don’t have to worry about additional costs taxing your Disney Aulani Vacation on a Budget plan. 
  • Alaska Airlines is another favorite and flies right into Honolulu (HNL), which is the Airport Closest to Disney Aulani Resort. We also love that this airline has an affordable first-class option which is wonderful when you’re on long flights and can often be purchased with points from a variety of loyalty programs or credit cards, like the Capital One Venture Card. 

Traveling To and From Disney’s Aulani Resort 

Another barrier to a cheap Disney Aulani vacation is traveling to and from the airport. Disney’s Aulani Resort has Transportation services available to this, at a cost. The Hele Hele Shuttle services, Platinum Limousine services, and Charley’s Taxi service are all for hire and what Disney recommends. You can find out more about getting to and From Disney Aulani Resort on Aulani’s Transportation page. 

How Much does it cost to Get to and From Honolulu airport to Disney Aulani Resort?

The Hele Hele Shuttle service is $24.00 per adult and $10 per child and by one of the best ways to get to from the airport without the hassle. Check out the Hele Hele shuttle service website for more details. You can also try Disney’s partner Taxi Service, Charley’s Taxi Service, which has a variety of flat rates and vehicle options for small or large families. 

Should You Bring a Car to Disney Aulani Resort?

We’d recommend you DO NOT bring a car to Aulani. Unless you’re a DVC member, bringing a car will cost you $37 per day at Disney Aulani Resort. We do recommend renting a car for a day to explore more of the island as we did on our Oahu Road Daytrip. But having a car that you have to pay for daily at Aulani doesn’t make sense. Especially since we’d suggest getting the most out of the resort while you’re there since it’s pretty expensive in itself. 

Renting a Car at Disney Aulani Resort

Aulani actually has an Alamo rental on the property so it’s pretty easy to rent a car and return it the same day. This helps you to avoid paying for those Disney Aulani parking fees. Because who wants to pay a rental fee for a car that’s literally just sitting in a parking lot? If you want to explore Oahu, we spent some time on the North Shore for part of our trip and actually stayed off-property one night to save money. While we were staying at Aulani, we made the most of everything the resort had to offer and really only left the resort to go across the street. You can also Uber to different parts of the island as well as take their bus system. Again, it’s really going to depend on how you’re planning to spend your time in Oahu and Aulani. Coming up with a plan beforehand can show you when you’re really going to need a vehicle and when you can skip it. Check out our Top 5 Places to Visit on Oahu if you’re looking for fun, budget-friendly things to do in Hawaii during your stay. 

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Disney Aulani Cost Resort Rooms and Vacation Packages

Now on to the actual cost of your vacation! From room rates to vacation packages, Disney’s Aulani Resort has a variety of options. We’re sharing the best times to visit Disney’s Aulani Resort, and how to get discounts on Disney Aulani Rooms by going through a third party or Disney Vacation Club (DVC) website. Read on for our best tips. 

What’s the Cheapest Time to Visit Disney Aulani Resort?

If you’re serious about getting to Disney’s Aulani Resort on a Budget, then you NEED to consider visiting in the off-season. Aim for Low-Season in Hawaii, which includes Mid-April through Mid-June then again from September– Early December. And try to avoid High-Season in Hawaii, including months between Mid December – Mid April. And of course, as with all holiday travel, the last two weeks of December are the busiest. For cheapest airfare, lower crowds, and better room deals the cheapest time to visit Disney Aulani is in May, September, or October. 

How Much Does a Disney Aulani Resort Room Cost Per Night?

As you’re pulling together your numbers for a Disney Aulani Vacation on a Budget, it helps to know what the Average Room Rates are at Disney’s Aulani Resort. Know that these room rates will vary throughout the year depending on the season, events, weather, travel interest, etc. The range below is depending on the kind of room chosen. Oceanview, Island, Poolside, etc. On the website, you can check out all of the Disney Aulani Room Types to get an idea of what may work for your vacation. Disney Aulani Rooms and Villas cost from $550- 3200 per night. 

  • Standard Rooms: $550-750/ night
  • Lei Hulu Signature 1 Bedroom Suite: $3100/ night
  • Deluxe Studios: $575-800/ night
  • 1-Bedroom Villa: $875-1200/ night
  • 2-Bedroom Villa: $1300-1800/ night
  • 3-Bedroom Grand Villa: $2500-3200/ night

How to Save Money on Resort Rooms at Aulani using a Third Party

If you’re not buying a full vacation package and opting for a Room Only option, this is it. Because if you’ve been following us for any amount of time, then you’ll know that we almost always check third-party sites for hotels before booking directly. While the prices on third-party sites (aka not the official Disney Aulani website ) really depend on a number of factors, it can save you hundreds. Things like the time of year you’re traveling and room availability are deciding factors to getting the best deal. We’ve talked before about using for Walt Disney World trips, and you can use the same strategy here.

On our recent trip, we used to book our trip and also redeemed nights. While our value of nights didn’t equal the cost of our room, it did allow us to deduct a significant amount of money from our stay. Using nights towards the cost of your stay is a strategy that can take some time and planning, but when you see how much it can save you, it’s definitely one to consider.  Between the savings we got by using the site and applying our nights, we were able to save over half the cost of the room just by using this strategy alone.

Rent DVC Points to get Aulani Resort Rooms for Cheap

If you’re not comfortable using a third party, or if the room type you’re looking for isn’t available, another option is renting DVC points. Again, the savings will differ based on season and availability, but Dave’s DVC Rentals is reputable and has some good deals. By renting DVC points to cover Disney Aulani Room costs, the savings we found ranged from $100 per night to $250 per night.

Just like any Disney Vacation, there are ALWAYS special offers that can help you take advantage of sales, specials, and perks for booking at certain times. Check out the Disney Aulani Special Offers page for details for more ways to Save Money on a Disney Aulani Vacation. 

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Dining at Disney Aulani

As with any Disney Vacation dining at Disney Aulani can get expensive! From signature dining experience to those grab-and-go meals to that morning coffee, food costs can add up daily. Much like our Disney Dining Budget guide for Walt Disney World, Aulani may also cost you about 80-100 dollars per person per day. BUT, there are ways to curb these costs. 

Get the refillable mug

If you’re an avid Walt Disney World visitor, then you’re familiar with the Disney Resort Refillable Mugs. If you’re not, here’s how they work. You can buy the mug for $21.99 and use it for unlimited drink refills during your stay. Having the mug allows you to get UNLIMITED REFILLS on choices including vitamin water, coke products, coffee, tea and lots more. They do have water and ice machines as well, so if you’re more of a water-only drinker, you can skip getting the mug and save a few bucks.

To start with, the coffee for the refillable mugs is not just any coffee; it’s KONA COFFEE guys. And let us tell you, as avid coffee drinkers, that stuff is not cheap. And for good reason too! I got an iced from the on-site coffee bar one morning and it was $6.80 for an iced coffee the size of a grande from Starbucks. I love coffee, probably a little too much, but that’s a little steep, even for me. Sure, you’re on vacation, but if you’re also on a budget, we’d recommend getting the coffee from the refillable station instead. This is where that refillable mug really comes in handy. You can even grab some ice from the ice machine to make your own iced coffee. Iced or Hot, it’s delicious either way and was honestly one of the things I most looked forward to every morning.  If you’re planning on getting most of your drinks from the resort and want to drink more than just free water, the refillable mug will definitely save you a chunk of change.

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Don’t Eat All Your Meals at the Resort

As fun as it might sound to be completely immersed in Disney’s Aulani Resort while you’re there, eating on-property is expensive. If you’re looking to try some of the best Disney Aulani restaurants, it’s going to cost you. Ama Ama and Makahiki are the table service restaurants on property and while both meals we had were delicious, they were also quite pricey.

  • Ama Ama is the signature dining experience and the more expensive of the two and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also has beautiful sunset views, and an elevated, fine dining menu.
  • Makahiki is the Disney Aulani Character Meal and a buffet serving both breakfast and dinner. While we enjoyed both restaurants at the resort, the cost can really add up. The quick-service restaurants on property are ok but for the same price or even cheaper, you can find better options across the street.

Remember though, you’re in Hawaii; so although you should always be aware of your surroundings when traveling somewhere you’re unfamiliar, this isn’t one of those don’t-go-off-the-resort type scenarios. The area that Aulani is situated in is clean and safe and it’s perfectly fine to leave the resort.

MonkeyPod is probably one of the most popular restaurants across from Aulani and they have an amazing happy hour with $10 pizzas with half-off appetizers and great drink specials. Pizza Corner has great pizza and is located across the street, but if you’re not up for the 10-minute walk over, they also deliver to Aulani. Island Vintage Coffee was one of our favorite spots on the Island and also had breakfast sandwiches, acai bowls, and all sorts of coffees. 

Head to the Grocery Store Near the Disney Aulani Resort

One of the best ways to save money on food is to just buy it yourself from the local grocery store. The closest grocery store to Disney’s Aulani Resort is ABC grocery, just across the street. So you can grab snacks, granola bars, and more. And if you have a Disney Aulani villa then you have a kitchen, so you can make your own meals. You can even stop at the Target near Disney Aulani at the exit right before the resort to grab whatever else you may need. The cost of food can definitely add up quickly. And if you’re hoping to dine at one of the more expensive restaurants on property, saving on those smaller meals can help offset those costs. Check out what dining is available in the Disney Aulani Resort area

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Share Meals at the Disney Aulani Restaurants

Sharing larger meals is one of the easiest ways to do a Disney Aulani Vacation on a Budget. If you’re still not sold on skipping out of eating at the restaurants at Disney Aulani, consider sharing dishes instead. While this isn’t really feasible at the two table service restaurants, we found the portion sizes at Ulu Café the perfect size for sharing. With meals ranging from $14-19 dollars each, you can grab a variety of foods here. We loved the Acai bowls in the morning and flatbreads later in the day and the portions were definitely big enough to share. Since just my daughter and I were traveling together on this trip, sharing our meals was a great solution for us. Ulu Café also offers pizza at night, so if you’re traveling with a party who loves pizza, take advantage of this cheaper, sharable meal. 

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Disney Aulani Resort Excursions

Just like any vacation, excursions off property can cost you. whether it’s the cost of travel, an admittance fee or the food, here are some things to consider when adding excursions to your Disney Aulani vacation. 

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Skip the Excursions at Aulani Resort

Did you fly all the way to Hawaii to only experience Aulani? Maybe you did, and if that’s the case, that’s ok! But most people tend to want to see some of the islands while they’re there. Because, really, how often are you going to be going back to Hawaii? And with so much to see and do, we highly recommend you at least fit in a day trip somewhere. You can book excursions through Disney Aulani if you want a Disney quality guide, however, these excursions are quite expensive. Plus, the Disney Aulani excursions don’t really warrant a guide.

Again, it’s Hawaii; it’s still the U.S, and the people still speak English. Take a day to explore on your own. You don’t have to worry about driving on the wrong side of the road, or not being able to figure out the currency conversion. So if you’re looking at the excursions offered at Aulani, just know that you can most likely find the same experiences outside of the resort for a cheaper price. And truthfully, some are actually sometimes even free. Consider visiting the location where Jurassic Park was filmed, or the Dole Whip Plantation. Even shopping in town is a great way to get to know the area and experience the local culture. 

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Disney Aulani Activities

Another way to save money on a Disney Aulani Vacation is to find ways to cut costs while still experiencing some of the Disney Aulani Resort Activities. 

Bring your own snorkel gear

Hoping to snorkel in the lagoon at Aulani? Or anywhere else on the island? If snorkeling is something you’d like to do on this trip, we recommend bringing your own snorkel gear. Although Aulani does let you rent boogie boards and sand toys for free, they will charge you $20 per day to rent. And you can easily find much more inexpensive options on Amazon disney castaway cay snorkeling

Is Disney Aulani Worth the Cost?

While everyone’s opinion of a Disney Vacation will be different, for us Disney’s Aulani Resort WAS Worth it! Mind you we found loads of ways to SAVE MONEY and used all the tips and tricks we’ve shared here. The island of Hawaii is beautiful, the weather was amazing, and the experience is one we’d do again and again. While cost is always a factor, don’t let it be a deal-breaker. Try to use one of these strategies, a couple of them, or all of them. It’s definitely easy to make your Disney Aulani a little more affordable.  And you can still have a great time. Have you stayed at Disney’s Aulani? What tips have you used to save money? Let us know!! We hope you love your vacation as much as we did. 

Planning a Disney Aulani Resort Vacation on a Budget. Costs, Dining Travel and More. #disneyaulani #polkadotpixies

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website

Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .

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