My family just returned from our third trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. One of the amenities we took advantage of most at Aulani was the on-site kids club, Aunty’s Beach House. Aunty’s is probably the best kids club we’ve ever encountered anywhere in our family’s travels. Even if your kids are ambivalent about hotel kids programming elsewhere, Aunty’s might well make them converts.
Many families have questions about how Aunty’s Beach House works as they consider an Aulani vacation. I gathered below the most common questions I’ve been asked after our Aulani trips so Trips With Tykes readers will have no surprises. Aunty’s is an amazing benefit of an Aulani vacation, so I want you to be able to hit the ground running and make the most of it during your family’s vacation.
Here are some of the most common questions families have about Aunty’s Beach House answered.
And if you are planning an Aulani vacation, be sure to check out all of the Aulani content here on Trips With Tykes:
- A Comprehensive Review of Disney’s Aulani Resort
- 9 Splurges at Aulani Worth Your Money
- Disney’s Aulani vs. Disney Cruise Line: Which is Best for Your Family?
- How to Rent DVC Points to Save Money at Aulani
Frequently Asked Questions about Aunty’s Beach House at Disney’s Aulani Resort
1. How much does Aunty’s Beach House cost?
An Aulani vacation is expensive. The thought of adding to that already pricey trip with kids club costs makes many families pause. But I won’t bury the lede: Aunty’s Beach House is FREE.
Well, more accurately, it’s included in the cost of your room reservation. But that’s a huge difference from so many other resorts around the world (many of which have pricey room rates too) that charge by the hour or day for kids club drop offs. It’s one of the major reasons I recommend Aulani to families who want to have a family vacation experience where parents can also get some guilt-free alone time too.
There are some premium activity offerings at Aunty’s that do charge a fee (more below), but you do not need to do them. It’s entirely possible to go for a week or more to Aulani and never spend a dime on programming for your kids.
2. What age kids are accepted in Aunty’s Beach House?
Aunty’s Beach House accepts kids ages 3-12 years old who are potty trained.
Aunty’s can require proof of age like a birth certificate if there is any question about the age of your child. It is licensed by the state as a childcare center so unfortunately the rules can’t be bent to accommodate a child who is even a day or two too young. Plan your vacations around birthdays carefully!
3. What hours is Aunty’s Beach House available?
Aunty’s Beach House is open for regular drop-off programming daily at Aulani from 9:30am-9:00pm. So no matter what parents want to do kid-free — pool time in the morning, a spa appointment in the afternoon, or a romantic couples dinner in the evening, there is childcare available.
Aunty’s also has an open house every morning from 8:00-9:30am when parents must accompany their kids. This time is a great opportunity to introduce kids to Aunty’s on your first day or to let babies and toddlers experience the fun who are otherwise too young to be dropped off.
4. What activities are there for kids to do at Aunty’s Beach House?
As you might imagine with Disney, the activity offerings for kids are robust. Each day of the week at Aunty’s is loosely organized around a theme (from Hawaiian culture to Marvel superheroes) to give a bit of structure to the activity offerings.
Aunty’s Beach House is made up of 6 large rooms made to look like a typical Hawaiian house where kids really might visit their “Aunty.” Each room has different activity offerings that are available all the time.
The front room has a stage and dress up area connected to another room with tables for crafts and snacks. The rooms in the back include a movie room, computer lab, game room, and arts & crafts “garage.” My kids could not get enough of the electronic game tables in the back room.
The house also has a large backyard. The yard has multiple play structures as well as hidden menehune for the kids to find (the hidden menehune are a feature throughout the resort). The yard is well-shaded by trees so I never felt I had to worry about sunburn if my kids chose to spend their time there.
Kids are free to roam and choose what rooms they want to visit. There are staff strategically located in every room who help facilitate play and keep kids having fun and being safe. Disney photographers even stop by to get shots of your kids in action that you can see and purchase later with PhotoPass.
Finally, Disney characters do drop in unannounced too. Stitch, Moana, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Minnie, Mickey, Chip ‘N’ Dale, and Duffy are regulars around the resort.
5. Do I need to do anything before my Aulani trip to get my kids into Aunty’s Beach House?
Before your trip, the only essential thing you need to do is pre-register all the kids in your family who will be going to Aunty’s. You can pre-register kids as early as 90 days in advance and as close as 2 days prior to your trip. There is a simple form here that takes no more than about 5-10 minutes to complete online. Completing it before your trip expedites everything for when you do arrive at the resort so you can get on with your vacation.
6. Do any of the activities require a special signup process or extra cost?
A few. Currently, Aulani offers three premium activities at Aunty’s Beach House that do cost extra. These premium activities are a great chance for your kids to spend some extra quality time with a character they adore or to focus on an activity they are passionate about while getting a few souvenirs to take home.
As of the time of our most recent April 2019 trip, the premium offerings were as follows (please call the resort before your trip as these will likely change dates and times or check here):
- Fish are Friends: Mondays & Wednesdays 11:00am-2:00pm ($69, includes lunch) – Perfect for budding marine scientists, kids get to observe and feed the fish at Aulani.
- Kakamora Chaos with Moana: Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays 12:30-2:00pm ($59) – Kiddos get a visit from Moana and play games.
- SURF’S UP! – A Surfin’, Fishin’ and Dancin’ Party!: Sundays & Wednesdays 3:00-4:30pm ($59) – Enjoy music and games with Chip ‘n’Dale and decorate your own wooden surfboard.
My kids adore Chip ‘n’ Dale, so we signed them up for Surf’s Up on our most recent trip. They gave it rave reviews for the extensive character time and photo opps. We thought the souvenirs were very high quality as well.
These premium activities do fill up so I recommend signing up before your trip (especially for Kakamora Chaos which seems to be the hottest ticket right now with Moana’s continued popularity). You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance without a cancellation fee.
Note that Aunty’s used to offer a number of free pre-reserved activities but eliminated those about a year ago. If you see references out in the blogosphere to free activities like Stitch’s Space Goo, know that those no longer take place.
7. How does drop-off work at Aunty’s?
In order to drop your kids off, you have to complete the final registration process first. This process only takes about 5-10 minutes in person at the Aunty’s Beach House front desk. I recommend doing it on your arrival day, especially if you have some time to kill before you can get into your hotel room.
Once registered, kids will be given a special custom Magic Band that is secured to their wrist for the entirety of their stay. Note that there is no way to remove it, so your kids may be bothered by it the first few hours, but ours have always adjusted to having it on after a bit.
Once the kids have the band, they scan it to enter and exit the club (and even to track their whereabouts inside the club!). I’ve been to some kids clubs where the security made me a bit nervous, but this device makes the process iron clad. Parents additionally have to give a secret code word and show either a room key or an ID to pick up a child.
Note that you do have to return the band at the end of your stay so you aren’t charged $12.95 plus tax per child for it. Take a photo of your receipt you will get at initial registration to show at the end of your vacation to get your refund.
8. What should kids wear to Aunty’s Beach House?
While your kids may spend most of their time in swimsuits at Aulani, wet suits are a no-go at Aunty’s. Change your kids into play clothes so they’ll be comfortable inside on furniture and in the air conditioning. We found sneakers were better for play (especially outside on the play structures) over flip flops too.
9. Does Aunty’s ever fill up?
It is possible on some occasions for Aunty’s Beach House to reach capacity. And that of course means parents can’t always get childcare when they need it. If you have read some reports on message boards and blogs in the past, this was a not-entirely-uncommon complaint that has definitely turned some families off from Aulani.
I’m happy to report, however, that the capacity problems are significantly improved! Due to some changes that were implemented within the past year, guests are much less likely to have these issues. When Aulani eliminated the free pre-reserved activities, the changes alleviated strain on the system overall and created more availability for parents who want to drop kids off on a whim. The many cast members I talked to about these changes were very pleased with how they are working out (presumably because they are hearing a whole lot fewer guest complaints now).
The only time we found Aunty’s to be filled on our most recent vacation was mid-afternoon on Wednesday. With two premium programs on Wednesday (the only day of the week that has two), a lot of kids stayed in the club keeping it full for about 2 hours. The resort was at 90-95% capacity our whole stay, so the fact that Aunty’s was only at capacity for a less than two hour window the whole week was a very good sign to me.
It’s important to know that when rain is in the forecast, Aunty’s is most likely to be filled. So watch the weather!
10. Can I guarantee my kids get a spot in Aunty’s at a given time?
If you are worried about Aunty’s reaching capacity at a given time – like when you have a spa or dinner reservation – there are some fairly easy ways to dodge that concern. Aunty’s guarantees admission to any child that has a reservation for a premium activity 30 minutes in advance. So there’s always the option of paying your way around the problem if you have an extra special outing that you don’t want to risk.
Aunty’s also guarantees admission to all children who have a lunch or dinner reservation at the given meal dropoff time (10:30am for lunch and 4:30 pm for dinner). As a result, simply signing your kids up for meal times will make sure you can make kid-free plans at a set time. And once your kids are in, they can stay in indefinitely.
11. Does Aunty’s Beach House serve meals or snacks?
Speaking of food, Aunty’s does make sure kids don’t go hungry during their visit. Snacks are served every 2-3 hours at no cost. My kids reported that graham crackers and goldfish were commonly available.
Lunch and dinner are also available with same-day reservations. Both meals cost only $10 per child, which is roughly equivalent to what you would pay for your kids at a quick service restaurant anyway.
My children ate 4 meals (3 dinners and 1 lunch) at Aunty’s over the course of our 6 night stay and were very happy with the offerings. My kids most often chose pizza which is always served at dinner. Other choices often included hamburgers and chicken fingers. There are three entree choices per meal, so chances are good your kids will find an option they like.
Sign-ups for meal reservations start at 8:00am at Aunty’s on the same day only, right when the open house hour begins. My husband always hopped in line a few minutes before 8:00 and was done with signups in minutes. If you wait until later in the day, it’s possible meal times may be full. I recommend always signing up to start your morning. With the Hawaii time change, I promise you’ll be awake!
12. What happens if my child is tired, upset, or not into Aunty’s?
Even though Aunty’s Beach House is an amazing kids club, 100% of kids aren’t going to enjoy it 100% of the time. Sometimes kids are just overtired or just not used to separating from parents. I remember on our 2017 trip my son (unbeknownst to us) was a bit under the weather one time we dropped him off. He quickly got sad and wanted to be reunited with mom and dad.
The staff at Aunty’s is well-trained at handling anything and everything that can arise. They know how to deal with younger kids who have separation issues and give them some time to adjust. They will call parents to come check in with or pick up kids who are having any problems if the issues persist.
So how do you avoid having some of these troubles on your Aulani vacation? I highly recommend talking to younger kids about Aunty’s before your vacation to get them excited about it. Show videos and photos if you can. Take them to the open house hour on the first morning of your trip so the can explore with you and get their bearings. If you have more than one child in your family, dropping siblings off together often helps with easier transitions too.
13. Is there childcare at Aulani for babies & toddlers?
Unfortunately, there is no on-site group childcare option for babies and young toddlers under the age of 3 at Disney Aulani. If you are familiar with the paid nursery on Disney Cruise Line, there is no Aulani equivalent.
For parents with younger kids who need a night out, the resort concierge can recommend Aulani’s preferred sitter service, Kama‘aina Kids Sitters. We have not personally used a sitter service at Aulani, but have used other services in Hawaii and have found the quality of care to be amazing. Hawaiian culture is very family-focused and so many locals make excellent sitters as a result.
14. Are my older kids/tweens going to like Aunty’s?
Now that I have a 10 year old, this is a question we’ve thought about a lot. On our second trip to Aulani, my daughter was 8.5 and started to complain a tiny bit about being “with the little kids.” We feared that this trip she might finally be too old or too cool for school when it came to Aunty’s.
But since our last visit, Aulani really made a push to improve its tween and teen offerings, presumably hearing a bit of this kind of feedback from guests. Aunty’s now hosts a Tween Zone activity hour every night in Aunty’s from 7:30-8:30 pm where kids ages 10-12 get a special space all their own. My daughter adored it. She made so many friends, several of whom she’d meet up with at the pools and on the beach every day. She went every night of our trip to the Tween Zone – it was that much of a can’t-miss.
The teens are, of course, too old for Aunty’s but there are special activities for them elsewhere at the resort that have been expanded to multiple nights a week.
We thought that this was going to be our last trip to Aulani for awhile as we entered the tween and teen years with our oldest child. But we’ve absolutely thought again with these substantially improved offerings and are already considering our 4th visit!
The Bottom Line about Aunty’s Beach House at Aulani
If you are still with me after this marathon post, I hope all your Aunty’s Beach House questions are now answered. But if I’ve forgotten something, please leave your questions in the comments and I’ll update this guide. My family thinks that Aunty’s Beach House is one of the highlights of an Aulani vacation and being able to use it during a stay most effectively really increases the value families can get out of Aulani.
Featured photo courtesy of Disney Aulani.