Not many people know that Disney has a resort in Hawaii, so it’s no surprise that few people know about the Disney Aulani Luau that goes with it. Aulani is Disney’s premiere resort on the island of Oahu. This resort offers both DVC and regular rooms. This article will focus on the Disney Aulani Luau review, for more info on the Aulani resort, click here.
With an onsite waterpark and beachside lagoon, and endless activities for people of all ages, not many people discuss Aulani’s food and night entertainment, but that is what we are here to do today.
The Disney Aulani Luau pairs a variety of delicious Hawaiian foods with a well thought out luau show performed by a talented and enthusiastic cast.
Disney Aulani Luau Review
I can honestly say I have nothing but great things to say in this Disney Aulani Luau review. The experience is immersive, the staff and performers are wonderful, and I learned a lot about Hawaiian culture.
Arriving at the Luau
When you first arrive at the Disney Aulani Luau, you will notice many stations scattered about with people chatting and doing hands-on activities. But first, you’ll be adorned with a Hawaiian necklace, and take a photo with some of the performers.
After your photo, you are free to explore these stations which showcase different Hawaiian activities. Stations include things such as making poi, getting a temporary tribal tattoo, making a flower bracelet, and even ukelele lessons.
The cast members enthusiastically offer these activities and answer any questions you have.
Seating for Your Dinner Performance
Seating at the Disney Aulani Luau is done family style, so be prepared to share a table with others. This can be a bit alarming at first if you aren’t prepared, but we had a great time meeting some of the people at our table.
While being led to your seat, you can pick up a complimentary house cocktail, which consists of rum and pineapple juice, or a nonalcoholic one, if you prefer.
All drinks are included with your luau ticket, but unless you are in preferred seating, be prepared to order your own drinks from the bar. The cast members did check in on us from time to time, but not the same way a waiter would at a normal restaurant.
Disney Aulani Luau General VS Preferred Seating
In this Disney Aulani Luau review, we need to discuss the differences between general and preferred seating, so you can decide which is right for you. Remember, if you decide on preferred seating, be sure to book your Disney Aulani luau in advance, as there is less preferred seating available.
Preferred seating at the luau is just how it sounds. It is the seating you would prefer to sit in given a choice. Preferred seating at the Disney Aulani Luau means you will be seated closer to the stage and many tables have a front row view.
Preferred seating also comes with early check-in, which means more time for the pre-show activities and cocktails. The digital download of your family photo with the cast is also included.
Additionally, the preferred seating guests will receive first access to the buffet and have drink refills brought right to their tables. You won’t need to visit the bar each time you want a new drink.
Preferred seating costs about $30 more per adult than general seating, and $20 more per child than general seating.
All drinks, alcoholic and nonalcoholic, as well as unlimited buffet trips are included in both general and preferred seating.
In general seating, your view will vary greatly, depending on when you arrive. If you arrive early, you have a higher chance of being seated closer to the stage, but there is no chance you’ll be in the front row with general seating at the Disney Aulani luau.
General seating has a later check-in time, meaning less time for the pre-show activities. Lastly, general seating will be called up to the buffet after the preferred seating tables.
During our experience at the Disney Aulani Luau, we had general seating, and we still had a great time. While we could still see the show fairly well, neon our next trip, we will probably splurge for the preferred seating experience.
The Buffet at the Disney Aulani Luau
The buffet at the luau is expansive and authentic. The first section is the salad station. Here, you can make a salad from greens and veggies, and enjoy their homemade papaya seed dressing, poi, or fresh ahi poke, as well as a traditional macaroni salad.
The entrée section has sides such as rice, purple potato puree, roasted veggies, and rolls. The meats are phenomenal to say the least. A traditional style Imu Braised pork us the show stopper. But the teriyaki chicken, and local catch fish with yuzu macadamia nut sauce offer a very close second place.
Our plates were entirely full after the first two stations, so we had to make another trip back for dessert, which includes a macadamia nut brownie, coconut pudding, guava and passionfruit cakes, and an array of fresh fruit.
Enjoying the Luau Show
The show experience of the Disney Aulani luau was mesmerizing. Incorporating song with various instrumentations, hula dancing, and spoken parts, the show details the history of the island and the culture of Hawaii.
Exciting moments that take your breath away include the fire dancing finale, the warrior clothing and headwear, and the intricacy of hula dancing. The two hosts are charismatic and engage with the audience throughout the show, even teaching t some hula, encouraging the audience to dance along.
Disney Aulani Luau Tips
No Disney Aulani Luau Review would be complete without discussing some tips on how to make the best of the experience.
The luau can and often does sell out during the peak travel times, such as spring break, summer, and holidays. If you are visiting during this time, you will want to make reservations up front, around the time you book your trip, especially if you want preferred seating.
During our trip in January, we were able to book while at the resort, but we could not get the preferred seating. We are now in middle of March, and I just checked reservations for research of this Disney Aulani Luau Review article, and the luau is entirely sold out for both seating categories until May, so be sure to book early!
The website says when to arrive based on your ticket type and the time of year, but we suggest arriving a bit before that, 15-20 minutes early if you can. The line to get in can often stretch around the resort pathways, and check-in takes some time. To ensure you have ample time to experience the hands-on activities, and settle in before dinner, arrive early.
If you have general seating, it is assigned on a first come first served basis. This means, if you arrive early, you will have a better chance at receiving a seat closer to the stage.
The check in process takes time, which means it will be a bit before you are actually eating, so be prepared and do not show up ready to dine immediately. Singers will provide background music as guests are called up table by table to fill their plates from the buffet. Those in preferred seating will be called up first. The show will not start until all guests have had the chance to get food and eat for a bit.
We knew where to find the luau during our trip, but that is only because we had scoped it out the night before. To find the Disney Aulani Luau check-in location, you will head from the lobby to the pool area, and make your way towards Aunty’s Beach House.
Take the pathway that goes behind Aunty’s Beach House and follow it around to the left until you get to the lawn,. Here you will find cast members ready to check you in.
Is the Disney Aulani Luau Worth It?
This is the big question of every Disney Aulani review, and I have to say, as well as many other reviews do, that the answer is a resounding YES.
The food is delicious, and plentiful. They handled my gluten allergy well, and I could eat 90% of the menu. The food is fresh, authentic, and well prepared. The options are diverse, and even the pickiest eater could find many things to enjoy from the selection.
The only bad thing about the food is that my stomach could not hold enough to try all the things I wanted to!
Besides the food, the Disney Aulani Luau is worth it for the show. I enjoyed all the dancing, singing, and the various instruments. The performers were top notch, and their costumes were thoughtfully and authentically designed.
Each performer poured their hearts out, and they all genuinely seemed to be having a wonderful time doing the show.
The experience of watching the luau was magical, mesmerizing, and immersive with cast performing behind, beside, and in front of you.
I would not think that a true Aulani experience could be achieved without attending the Disney Aulani Luau. You will not regret your time and money spent on this experience.
How Do I make a Disney Aulani Luau Reservation?
Making a reservation for the Disney Aulani Luau is quite easy. Before your stay, reservations can be made by calling the resort if you prefer, or even easier, reservations can be made on their website.
For Preferred seating reservations, click here.
For General Seating reservations, click here.
If you are already at the resort and forgot to book the luau, don’t fret, they might still be able to get you in. Head down to the tour desks across the lobby from the concierge, and ask them about luau availability. They might be able to work some magic and find you a seat.