This blog post was updated on November 15, 2018.

Hawaii with a Touch of Disney

Kids Will Love the Disney Characters!


Disney has capitalized on parents’ penchant for Hawaii with two cruise itineraries, a resort, and additional excursions exploring this Polynesian paradise. Here’s how to get your dose of Disney on your next Hawaiian vacation.

Hawaiian Disney Cruises
After overwhelming interest in Disney Cruise Line’s first Hawaiian cruise in 2011, they have scheduled two cruises to Hawaii this year. The first sets sail in April for a 15-night cruise (which includes nine days at sea). A second, 14-night cruise (with eight-at-sea days) departs in October.

Leaving from Los Angeles, Disney Wonder will cross the Pacific to visit four Hawaiian Islands, and make a stop in Ensenada, Mexico before returning to LA. While cruisers can explore the isles on their own, “The best shore excursions in the land for families are by Disney,” according to Carolyn Brown, editor-in-chief of

Sample poi and Kalua pig while watching hula and other traditional Hawaiian dances at a luau on Maui (all ages). Visit the calderas and craters of Kilauea via bus (all ages) or bicycle (age 12) in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. The beauty of “The Garden Isle” of Kauai can be explored via helicopter (all ages), kayak or surfboard (8), and zip-line or horseback (10).

On Oahu, history is brought to life at the Pearl Harbor Memorial (all ages). Travelers looking for a more leisure-focused experience can opt to swim with dolphins (3), embark on a submarine tour (4), or spend a day at Disney’s own Aulani Resort.

Aulani Resort
Disney opened Aulani, its first hotel not attached to a theme park in 2011. Those seeking in-your-face Disney rides and themes might be surprised by this hotel. In planning Aulani’s focus, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “Let’s let Hawaii be true to itself.” Of course, there are characters like Mickey and Minnie posing for pictures at character breakfasts and throughout the grounds, but they are secondary to the resort’s star: Hawaii. The culture of Hawaii comes to life via artwork, music, dance and storytelling.

Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, says, “Aulani is about everyone in the family.” The whole gang can play together along the crescent-shaped shores of Ko’Olina Beach and take turns zooming down water slides in the Waikolohe Valley pool complex.

Disney made sure to create experiences to meet the unique needs of differing ages and tastes. Aunty’s Beach House, a childcare entertainment center keeps kids (ages 3-12) content with activities like paper lei-making and interactive game tables. Meanwhile, mom can sneak off to Laniwai Spa for a Lomilomi massage while dad sips a Mai Tai at the ‘Olelo Bar (where chairs, tables and everything in site is labeled with its Hawaiian word).

Adventures by Disney Hawaiian Excursions
Disney is a master of customer service and attention to detail. As Staggs says, “We never want people to go away saying we didn’t over deliver.” Aulani guests looking to explore Hawaii beyond the resort can book excursions through Adventures by Disney. Rather than simply paddling across the ocean on the sea-kayaking excursion, Disney takes kayakers to Popoi‘a – also known as Flat Island, for an ecological tour led by knowledgeable and passionate local tour guides. Transportation, Aulani beach towels, and snacks are other bonuses of booking through the resort.

Additional Adventures by Disney excursions include a cooking class with Celebrity Chef Sam Choy, whale watching from aboard a catamaran, and a visit to the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Bishop Museum.


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