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If you're looking for some Disney magic in tropical paradise, then look no further than Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. Located on Oahu, this resort focuses on immersing you in Hawaiian culture without laying on the Disney touches too thick. There's tons to do at this resort and Ko Olina makes for a peaceful getaway compared to some of the hustle and bustle of the cities. These are some of the 10 best things to do at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Oahu with or without kids.
Worth noting at the time of this posting that Hawai'i is currently undergoing a bit of a water crisis - everyone has been asked to conserve water when they can because some jet fuel found its way into the water supply. If you're visiting, do your best to practice sustainable, responsible tourism. Support local, be conscious of your water use, and consider volunteering somewhere on the island or donating to organizations like the Hawai'i Community Foundation.
Swim in the Infinity Pool
Aulani has a beautiful infinity-edge pool that overlooks the lagoon. If you’re looking for it on a resort map, it's called the Ka Maka Grotto Infinity Pool. Whether you hang out in the hot tub by the rocks or right on the edge of the pool to overlook the beach, you’ll love this pool.
Ka Maka Grotto is a family-friendly pool, so if you want to enjoy this experience without kids, you can time it just right or you can check out some of the adult-only pools.
Take a Lap around the Lazy River
Did you know that Aulani has its own lazy river? The lazy river is included with your stay and takes you around the entire pool area, including the volcano (which doubles as a slide). This is a great way to get a lay of the land while enjoying the sunshine and the water.
In fact, Waikolohe Stream (the official name of the lazy river) has two different waterslides. The Volcanic Vertical takes you into the nearby pool, but the open-air Tubestone Curl brings you straight into the lazy river.
Don’t worry about being cold. They keep the water temperature in the low to mid 80s Fahrenheit.
Have Breakfast with Mickey Mouse
Makahiki - The Bounty of the Islands is right on the first floor of the resort. You’ll need to book a reservation ahead of time, but you can enjoy a delicious three-course breakfast including fresh pastries, local fruits, and an entree of your choice. We had our photo taken outside with Mickey and Pluto, then saw Max and Goofy inside the restaurant!
When we went in October 2021, they did not have the characters going from table-to-table for social distancing, but we got a kick out of watching Max and Goofy “cook” up some breakfast.
Go to a Luau
The Ka Wa’a Luau is a great way to enjoy a luau without having to leave the resort. If you’ve been to a few luaus before, then this one may not be for you based on some reviews I’ve seen. But if you’ve never been to one (like me!) then you’ll definitely enjoy this. There are some character appearances and you get to learn some hula moves with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, which is super fun. But the dancers were extremely talented and the food tasted great.
Pre-COVID, the food was served buffet style. When we went in October 2021, the food was served in some really nice bento boxes. You definitely get plenty of food - I couldn’t finish mine!
GO for a Walk Along the Ko Olina Lagoons
Ko Olina has a stretch of four lagoons along the beach. One of these lagoons is shared by Aulani and the Marriott next door. But if you take the path down to the lagoon, you can keep walking and explore the others until you hit the Ko Olina marina. This is a short and beautiful stroll. Plus, you may also see some mongoose along the way! We saw some rummaging through a trash bin.
It’s not the same as Hanauma Bay, but you can try snorkeling at Aulani, too! I had never been snorkeling before, so we did this as a sort of test run before tackling Hanauma Bay later in our trip.
The little reef that Disney built here is really beautiful and there are a ton of fish. There are also lifeguards, so if you want to take your kids snorkeling or if you’re an adult who has never been like me, this is a great way to get your feet and fins wet.
Snorkeling gear is provided here. This includes your snorkel, mask, and a vest. No need to bring your own!
Rent a Paddleboard
Did you know that you can go paddleboarding at the lagoon? If you want to try something a tad more adventurous than just soaking up the sun, you can rent out a bunch of different equipment to use at the beach. This includes kayaks, paddleboards, and snorkels.
Set Sail on a Canoe
Aulani also offers sailing canoe excursions from the lagoon. You can book a reservation for Hawaiian Ocean Adventures at Makiki Joe’s. If you’re really feeling adventurous, this is a great way to explore the island.
Get some Shave Ice
No trip to Hawai’i is complete without some shave ice (not to be confused with shaved ice - they're different!). You can get shave ice at Aulani and they even offer it with Mickey Mouse ears! I really recommend trying some flavors that are more unique to Hawai’i here, too. Huapia, for example, is a flavor that stems from a coconut-based Hawaiian treat and is really delicious.
Majestic Circle Island Tour
The Majestic Circle Island Tour picks you up from Disney’s Aulani Resort and is a great way to explore the highlights of the whole island in one day. We made a ton of stops along the way and lunch was included.
check before you go
These were most of the experiences available when we went during our stay, but there may be more as places begin to open back up and relax COVID-19 restrictions. There are tons of other activities to do at Aulani, including a Menehune Adventure Trail that’s engaging for kids, spas, ukulele lessons, firepit storytelling with Moana, and more.
Whether you're on vacation, a business trip, or out of town for a special event like a wedding, it can be nerve-wracking getting out of your routine when you're chugging along on your weight loss journey. Trust me, this is something I struggled with (and how this blog was born!) - when you're making good progress, you don't want to find yourself feeling defeated because the number on the scale went up after your vacation time.
While it's sometimes near impossible to be 100% in control, there are a few steps you can take to help you get pretty close. I've gathered the steps I take - and have helped me lose weight when spending long weekends at Disney or work trips - so that way, you have a guide to help you if you're feeling overwhelmed. Specifically, here are five tips for how you can eat healthy in your hotel room.
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Read more here!
Research the hotel in advance to see what tools you have, and go from there.
Even if it’s a business trip where your boss books the room for you, you’ll still likely know where you’re going before you pack your bags. So if you have the ability, be sure to look up where you’re staying and the in-room amenities before traveling. If you’re the one booking the room, try to see if you can book a place where there’s more you can use. For example, a place like Candlewood Suites has a mini-kitchen in it with more appliances (including a refrigerator) than a standard hotel room, and most places - even the most basic of them all - have a microwave and, sometimes, a mini-fridge. These things should be listed on their website, and if not, available in photographs of the room or something you could call the front desk about. If you know you have a refrigerator in your hotel room, then that makes it all the easier to meal prep.
Stick to basics.
Nonperishables are your friend! You can keep it pretty basic and still stay healthy. Just be on the lookout for high sodium counts with nonperishable food items, but there are plenty of ways you can keep the SmartPoints or calories to a minimum. Look for things like 100 calorie packs of nuts, canned (or pouched) chicken and tuna, fruit (especially apples, clementines, and other fruits that don’t need refrigeration), low-calorie breads with PB2 (and, if you have a refrigerator, sugar-free or reduced-sugar jelly), cold cuts if you have a fridge, and your favorite healthy snacks.
Plan at least your breakfasts in advance.
Whether you’re on vacation or a business trip, chances are there are going to be a few mornings where you have breakfast in the room or on the go. If you can pre-plan with healthy breakfasts or even a protein bar - Built Bars are my favorite at only 3 SmartPoints, and make for a great snack if you have breakfast reservations - then that’s one way to not worry about at least one of your meals. When I went on a business trip to Virginia, I bought a box of protein bars before I left to have for breakfast since I knew that lunch and dinner would be eaten at restaurants every day, and I still managed to lose weight when I stepped on the scale upon my return home!
With Built Bars, you can get 10% off if you use the coupon code magicallyfit at checkout!
Research what restaurants are nearby.
This is helpful to know if you’re on the go so you don’t have to succumb to what you feel is the only option if you’re on the go. This way, you know exactly what your options are and what the healthier ones are. This way, you can confidently say you’re trying your best, which goes a long way when you’re stuck eating out.
Pack some essential tools.
You can base what tools you pack based on what is available in your hotel room (especially after you researched like point 1!). Get some tools that you can have in your hotel room or your purse so that way you can be prepared, even on the go. Some of my favorite tools for this are…
With these tips, you can feel less overwhelmed and nervous about your upcoming trip and feel more in control. People will often ask me, "Jess, why even bother? Calories don't count at Disney!" or, "Why don't you just relax on vacation?" Well, for me - and I know for many others - it just takes one moment of discouragement to throw your groove out of whack, and the last thing you want to do is feel like you are out of control when it comes to that happening.
Just remember that, no matter what happens on your vacation or when you step on your scale, to be kind to yourself. My Weight Watchers leader once said that in every set back, there's a learning opportunity, and you wouldn't slash the remaining three tires on your car if one of them went flat.
Have any questions? No matter how specific, feel free to email me, DM me on social media, or leave them in the comments!
Starbucks is located in all four parks and also has two locations at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Here's a list of the locations (plus keep reading for my favorite WW-friendly drinks and for an alternative option if you aren't a Starbucks fan!).
Magic Kingdom: This Starbucks is located right on Main Street, USA, on the right hand side. It's about halfway down Main Street, where the bakery used to be if you've ever been to Walt Disney World before Starbucks was there. It's still called the Main Street Bakery, but now you can spot the siren logo.
This typically has a super long line, so if you don't mind not having Starbucks coffee specifically, there are other places throughout the park that serve coffee and are typically less busy like Gaston's Tavern over in New Fantasyland. As I'll talk about more below, you can usually find a Joffrey's stand too (like over in Tomorrowland near Space Mountain).
Epcot: Recently (as of early 2020) relocated to the right hand side as you enter the World Showcase. You'll see the siren logo! There's also a brand new restroom there. If you're entering the World Showcase, head towards Canada and you won't miss it.
If you miss the Starbucks here or decide you want coffee later, there are a few Joffrey's stands scattered around the World Showcase.
Hollywood Studios: Under the name Trolley Car Cafe, it's near the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd when you first enter.
This used to be a great spot to watch the March of the First Order that happened before Batuu opened!
If you find this location busy, I recommend either finding a Joffrey's stand or seeing how busy the lines are at Ronto Roasters in Batuu (if you just want coffee) or over at Andy's Lunch Box in Toy Story Land, where they also serve coffee.
Animal Kingdom: Under the name Creature Comforts, it's located just before the bridge that takes you to the Africa section of the park on your left hand side. It's a large building, so it should be hard to miss, and it has the siren logo above it. While most places are phasing out to paper straws now, this one has had them strictly for a while, as Animal Kingdom tries to be more eco-friendly and keeps the safety of their animals in mind.
Disney Springs: There are two locations here! One is near World of Disney (you'll see it near the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty statues), and the other is on the other side of Disney Springs near Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues (directly across from the Star Wars Galactic Outpost and next to the food trucks).
The location by World of Disney is more of a grab and go setup, but if you want to actually sit down for a while and enjoy the views, I recommend going to the one near Galactic Outpost. It has a gorgeous view of the hot air balloon and plenty of seating both inside and outside, and indoors there are tons of outlets if you need to charge your phone or if you're there for business and want to work from there on a laptop.
So, what's the big deal for WW?
Starbucks being at Disney is a Weight Watcher member's or calorie counter's dream come true because it's something you can track and be certain about.
Firstly, there are so many 0 Smart Point drink options available (an unsweetened iced tea on a hot day at the parks? Yes please!) and some other low point and calorie drink concoctions that we've all whipped together at Starbucks.
And unlike the rest of Disney Parks, you can actually accurately track the food here since Starbucks offers more than just junk food and pastries. If you're desperate and you don't mind skipping out on park food (which, in my opinion, isn't anything super special so you wouldn't be missing much) if you're eating at the park, know that these are options available to you that you can count your points for.
WW Tips for Starbucks
If you, like me, struggle with the SmartPoints in sugary drinks from Starbucks, here are a few delicious things you can get that taste like your faves and are little to no SmartPoints! These are my personal three faves:
Not a Starbucks fan?
Joffrey's is the official coffee vendor of Starbucks, and they have little stands located all throughout all the parks and also have a physical shop located in Disney Springs across from The Boathouse. They use a Light Cream, so if you like to put creamer in your coffee, it's one less thing to worry about if you're tracking points/calories.
Joffrey's brand is also usually what they're serving at Disney restaurants, bakeries, etc. that aren't clearly marked as Starbucks locations. So don't worry, you have options!
Jessica is a huge Disney, anime, and Star Wars nerd who channeled that love into motivation to lose 75 lbs.