Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

The iconic American Idol stage and production has landed in beautiful Hawaii this season! If you’re wondering exactly which Hawaiian locale is hosting the talent search, we have all the inside details.

If you don’t have time to read the full article, here is the quick answer: American Idol’s Hawaii shows for Season 20 are being filmed primarily at the Disney Aulani resort in Ko Olina on the west side of Oahu.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the American Idol Hawaii location including:

The Main American Idol Hawaii Filming Spot is at Aulani Resort

Overview and Layout of Aulani Resort

The premiere location for American Idol’s Hawaii filming is Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa situated on 21 acres of beautiful beachfront property in Ko Olina on the island of Oahu. This family-friendly resort features stunning Polynesian architecture, lush landscaping, and top-notch amenities perfect for contestants to relax between takes.

Layout highlights at this filming hotspot include the main 3-story hotel building called the Waianae Tower which houses most of the 490 guest rooms and suites. The rooms feature Polynesian-inspired decor, private lanais, and modern amenities.

The resort also boasts an array of family-friendly swimming pools including the large Waikolohe Valley pool, lounge pool, infinity pool, and quiet pool.

Other layout features include the 18,000-square-foot Laniwai Spa tucked away in its own secluded area and the beachfront Makahiki restaurant serving Hawaiian-inspired cuisine beneath a soaring thatched roof.

With lush gardens, hidden alcoves, koi ponds, and water features throughout, Aulani Resort provides a tranquil atmosphere between American Idol’s energetic shoots.

Behind-the-Scenes Filming Spots at Aulani

At the heart of Aulani lies the lush, beachfront Waikolohe Valley which serves as the resort’s main gathering place and provides breathtaking backdrops for American Idol filming. This area encompasses the largest pool, a sandy beach lagoon, swaying palm trees, and the central dining and shopping venue called Hale’A’ule’a.

Some key behind-the-scenes filming spots include:

  • The sunset-facing infinity pool overlooking the Pacific, framed by palm trees where contestants like Kelsie Dolin filmed solo performances.
  • The sandy beach lagoon with the charming Kapolei Island as a background for segments like the duet between Tristen Gressett and Cameron Whitcomb.
  • The lush tropical walkways bordering the Waikolohe Stream for one-on-one interviews or vocal warmups before performing.

Other top on-site filming locations utilized by American Idol’s production crew include the Kamalani Garden Terrace to capture artfully framed contestant shots with scenic vistas of the Pacific and lush gardens.

Location Scenes Filmed
Laniwai Spa Fritz Hager’s preparations and behind-the-scenes moments
Rainforest exploration trail Fun b-roll and contestant bonding footage

With luxurious indoor spaces and dazzling outdoor scenery, Aulani Resort provides an unparalleled Hawaiian paradise for American Idol’s Season 20 contestants and production team to call home during the iconic Hawaii episodes.

Other Oahu Locales Used for American Idol in Hawaii

Kualoa Ranch

The sprawling Kualoa Ranch on Oahu’s windward side has served as a filming location for major Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Godzilla. With its lush valleys, towering mountains, and pristine beaches, this 4,000-acre private nature reserve also provided a picturesque setting when American Idol came to Hawaii in 2018 for a special episode.

Contestants were filmed riding horses and playing ukuleles with scenic backdrops at Kualoa Ranch. The show made use of various spots around the ranch, capturing the island’s natural beauty. Since American Idol’s visit, Kualoa Ranch has continued to be a popular tourist attraction and filming site on Oahu.

North Shore Beaches

Oahu’s legendary North Shore is home to some of the most famous surfing beaches in the world. When American Idol arrived on location in Hawaii, producers knew they wanted contestants to get in the island spirit by visiting these iconic beaches and doing some surfing and stand-up paddleboarding.

Contestants were brought to beaches like Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Sunset Beach to try their hand at water sports with professional instructors. North Shore scenes even made it into the “What’s Love Got to Do With It” music video the contestants filmed.

Showcasing surf-worthy waves and postcard-worthy shorelines, Oahu’s North Shore beaches contributed to Hawaiian atmosphere the show wanted to capture.

Historic Locations in Honolulu

Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu holds the distinction of being the only official royal residence in the United States. The palace served as the home of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani in the late 1800s when Hawaii was still an independent kingdom.

When American Idol visited Oahu in 2018, producers and contestants were granted access inside Iolani Palace for filming. Contestants wore flower leis and posed for photos while audio engineers recorded ambient sound.

Incorporating Hawaii’s last royal residence reinforced the island history and culture the show wanted to highlight for viewers.

The History of American Idol Filming in Hawaii

American Idol, the wildly popular singing competition show, has had a special relationship with Hawaii over its 20-season run. Though the show films its audition and theater rounds primarily in Los Angeles, it has made the tropical paradise of Hawaii a home away from home during the all-important Hollywood Week phase of the competition.

Hawaii’s Natural Beauty as a Backdrop

Hawaii first served as a filming location for American Idol in Season 4 in 2005. The producers were drawn to the state’s legendary natural scenic beauty as an inspiring backdrop for the high-stakes Hollywood Week.

As contestants face pressure-packed solo, duo, and group performances that determine whether they will make the top semi-finalist group, the lush green mountains and sparkling blue ocean provide a visual representation of the highs and lows the singers experience.

The History

Over a decade-plus run, American Idol has filmed Hollywood Week in Hawaii in seasons 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 20. In the early years, the show took over the lobby and grounds of the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island to film.

Star singers like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson graced Hawaii with their talents amidst tropical foliage and ocean breeze.

More recent locations have included Oahu, with Hollywood Week filming at the Disney Aulani Resort in Ko Olina during Seasons 14 and 15. For its milestone 20th and final season in 2021-22, American Idol returned to where it all started by shooting again on the Big Island.

Local Pride and Economic Impact

Beyond providing a beautiful backdrop, Hawaii has also benefited from the visitor influx and economic impact of hosting a major network production like American Idol’s Hollywood Week. Tourism is a huge industry in Hawaii, and the national exposure from appearing on the show has boosted interest.

Local pride has also swelled when Hawaii singers like Jasmine Trias from Season 3 and Alyssa Raghu from Seasons 16 and 17 made their start representing the Aloha State.

As American Idol caps its final season, Hawaii can look back fondly on the key role it played each year supporting aspiring superstars on their journeys. The state’s inspiring natural beauty reflecting contestants’ emotional peaks and valleys will be forever intertwined with iconic Idol moments.

What to Expect for the Hawaii Episodes

Performances by Contestants and Stars

The iconic American Idol stage will be temporarily moved from Hollywood to the tropical paradise of Hawaii for a special episode this season. As contestants soak up the Aloha spirit, audiences can expect incredible vocal performances with Hawaii’s picturesque landscapes as the backdrop.

In between critiques from judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, contestants will belt out songs on pristine beaches with palm trees swaying behind them. And you never know which music legends will make surprise appearances to mentor the up-and-coming vocalists!

Previous seasons have featured advise from superstars like Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Iovine, and Bobby Bones to push the contestants to soaring new vocal heights.

Viewers can also look forward to amazing duets between the contestants and Hawaiian music artists. With Hawaii’s blend of folk, contemporary, and traditional island music, these special on-stage collaborations will showcase the contestants’ versatility and expose audiences to new fusion sounds.

Focus on Natural Beauty of Hawaii

While American Idol spotlights emerging musical talent, the Hawaii episodes also shine a light on the archipelago’s unparalleled ecosystems. Dramatic cliffsides, volcanic landscapes, and coral reefs in shimmering turquoise waters provide picture-perfect backdrops that showcase the islands’ magnificent biodiversity.

Between jam sessions, audiences get a glimpse into Hawaiian culture through beautifully filmed segments featuring silhouette dancers, ukulele strummers, and lei makers. Viewers can delight in these vignettes that reveal Hawaii’s indigenous traditions involving nature, community, and song.

Ultimately, the Hawaii episodes allow audiences to experience the harmonious fusion of talent and tropical paradise that contributes to the state’s one-of-a-kind charm. And that unique spirit is sure to inspire contestants and viewers alike!


We hope this inside look gets you excited about the special Hawaii episodes of American Idol this season! Tune in each week to follow the budding superstars on their journey amidst island paradise. And maybe start planning your own Hawaiian getaway to check out the amazing filming locations yourself!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts