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If you’re looking for that magical Disney experience in paradise, you may be wondering – where exactly is the Disney resort in Hawaii? With stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture, Hawaii seems like the perfect place for Disney magic.

Unfortunately, there currently is no official Disney resort in Hawaii.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: There is no Disney resort currently located in Hawaii. However, Aulani, a Disney Vacation Club resort, is situated in Ko Olina on the island of Oahu.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Disney’s history and presence in Hawaii, including an overview of Aulani, as well as other ways you can experience Disney on the islands.

A Brief History of Disney’s Presence in Hawaii

Disney’s Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World

The Polynesian Resort opened in 1971 at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort as one of Walt Disney World’s inaugural hotels. Inspired by the South Pacific islands with tropical landscapes, it was very popular among Disney fans as the perfect family escape.

In 2021, it reopened after a refurbishment that included adding the Disney’s Moana-inspired rooms and suites to embrace the stories, music and cultural traditions of Polynesia and Hawaii.

The Disney Wonder Cruise Ship in Hawaii

The Disney Wonder cruise ship has been sailing regular Hawaiian island cruises since 2012 after a dry dock refurbishment. According to the latest 2022 statistics, over 100,000 cruise visitors toured Hawaii, with Disney Wonder contributing a fair share.

Offering immersive Hawaiian cultural activities and local cuisine onboard, the ship provides a convenient way for Disney fans to experience the Aloha State.

Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa

The Aulani stands out as Disney’s first-ever official resort outside of its theme parks. After years of exploring, Disney chose the picturesque Ko Olina area in West Oʻahu as the setting to build this award-winning vacation paradise blending signature Disney magic with authentic Hawaiʻi charm.

Opening its doors in 2011 with only 351 rooms, Aulani has expanded in 2016 to its current 492 exquisitely decorated Disney-themed suites, all featuring fine Hawaiian art plus clever nods to Disney characters.

Year Opened 1971 2012 2011
Resort Names Polynesian Resort Disney Wonder Aulani Resort & Spa

With world-class amenities from the only ʻŌlelo Room spa infusing Hawaiian healing traditions to Aunty’s Beach House kids club. Plus headline Disney entertainment from beloved shows like Frozen to classic movies under the stars.

It’s no wonder why Aulani wins numerous travel awards as the best Hawaii resort for families. As Disney’s first official entry into the island chain, it surely keeps the magic growing in Hawaii for years to come!

An Overview of Aulani, a Disney Vacation Club Resort

Location and Accommodations

Aulani is situated on 21 acres of beautiful oceanfront property on the island of Oahu in Ko Olina, about 17 miles from Honolulu International Airport. The resort features 359 hotel rooms and 481 Disney Vacation Club villas, with various accommodation types ranging from standard hotel rooms to multi-bedroom villas with full kitchens and laundry.

With the stunning views of crystal blue waters of the lagoon and sunset over the Pacific Ocean, Aulani creates the perfect backdrop for a dream Hawaiian Disney vacation.

Amenities and Recreation

As Disney’s premiere resort in Hawaii, Aulani is truly a tropical paradise for families. The resort boasts a variety of recreational facilities including an amazing water park with a lazy river, waterslides, splash zones for kids, and an infinity hot tub for adults.

Guests can also enjoy beautiful protected swimming beaches, poolside cabanas, character meet-and-greets, kids clubs, and Disney programming throughout the day.

The Laniwai Spa offers indulgent Hawaiian body treatments and therapies along with a state-of-the-art fitness center. There is also a full-service salon and plenty of retail shops selling exclusive Disney collections. With so many amenities, Aulani provides endless recreation for all ages to enjoy.


From quick service to upscale dining venues, Aulani offers an array of tasty eating options with stunning panoramic views. Popular restaurants include the full-service beachside Ama Ama, the dinner show at Ka Wa’a Luau, the poolside Ulu Cafe, and the breakfast destination Makahiki. With cuisine ranging from traditional Hawaiian plates to classic Disney favorites, all dietary needs are covered across multiple locations.

And character dining with Mickey and friends makes meals even more magical.

Entertainment and Activities

Daily entertainment at Aulani includes live music, storytelling, movie nights, pool parties, and more. Cultural activities like hula dancing, ukulele playing, and Hawaiian crafts allow you to experience true island living.

Excursions around the island offer opportunities like submarine tours, water sports rentals, golfing, and helicopter flights to see stunning views of the incredible terrain.

Of course, no Disney resort would be complete without beloved characters. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and other Disney friends host events, meals, and one-of-a-kind interactions throughout each day. Aulani truly brings that special Disney magic to life in paradise!

Other Ways to Experience Disney in Hawaii

Disney Character Dinners and Meets

Even without a Disney resort, you can still meet your favorite Disney characters in Hawaii! Several hotels and restaurants offer opportunities to dine with Mickey, Minnie, and more. For example, Disney characters make appearances at the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Ali‘i Luau for photos and hugs.

You can also find Disney character breakfasts at Rainbow Lanai at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Disney Souvenirs and Merchandise

Bring back those Disney feels from your Hawaii vacation with souvenirs and merchandise. The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet hosts several vendors selling Disney plushies, apparel, mugs, and more on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Meanwhile, DFS Galleria in Waikiki offers a wide selection of official Disney merchandise imported from the Disney parks.

Disney Movies Filmed in Hawaii

Hawaii’s tropical landscapes have been featured as backdrops in several Disney movies over the years. For example, key scenes from Lilo & Stitch (2002) were filmed on Kauai island. Part of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) starring Johnny Depp was also filmed in Hawaii.

Most recently, the live-action movie Jungle Cruise (2021) filmed scenes on Oahu and Kauai. So even without a Disney park, fans can still find Disney movie magic throughout the Hawaiian islands!

Frequently Asked Questions About Disney in Hawaii

Will Disney ever build a theme park in Hawaii?

This is a common question among Disney and Hawaii enthusiasts. As of now, there are no official plans for Disney to build a theme park in Hawaii. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future.

Hawaii is an extremely popular tourist destination and a Disney park there would likely do very well. In 2017, Disney CEO Bob Iger did mention Hawaii as a potential location for a smaller, niche Disney park.

He said that while there are no immediate plans, Hawaii does remain an intriguing possibility down the line.

Disney already has Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii which has been very successful. This shows that there is definitely demand for the Disney brand in Hawaii. The challenges of building a large theme park in Hawaii would be the high cost of land and construction as well as environmental regulations.

So while a full fledged Disney theme park might be a long shot, it’s not completely ruled out for sometime in the more distant future. A smaller Disney park or additional Disney Resorts would be more realistic potential developments.

What Hawaiian legends inspired Disney films?

Many classic Disney animated films have drawn inspiration from Hawaiian folklore and legends. Some examples include:

  • Maui – The demigod hero of Hawaiian legend clearly inspired the character of the same name in Disney’s hit movie Moana.
  • Pele – Some believe the hot-headed goddess Pele was a basis for Te Ka the lava demon in Moana.
  • Kakamora – The bandits that attack Moana’s boat reference the mischievous beings known as Kakamora from Hawaiian mythology.
  • Lilo and Stitch – The entire movie is set in Kauaʻi, Hawaii and makes many references to Hawaiian culture and traditions.

You’ll find connections to Hawaiian folk tales and legends in many Disney movies going way back. From iconic films like Lilo and Stitch and Moana to classic shorts like Hawaiian Holiday, Disney has drawn inspiration from the lush tropical islands for over 80 years!

Disney even takes into account the advice and feedback of native Hawaiians when producing movies set in the culture to try their best to portray an accurate and respectful representation through animation.


Although there is currently no official Disney theme park or resort in Hawaii, the Aulani Disney Vacation Club property provides a delightful way for Disney fans to experience high-quality accommodations with Disney magic on Oahu.

Between character experiences, merchandise, films shot on location, and the possibility of a future Disney park, Walt Disney’s spirit lives on throughout the Hawaiian Islands, delighting keiki (children) and adults alike with ohana fun.

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