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Thinking about booking the aulani luau ? This is a full guide to the luau at disney’s aulani resort and some feedback on whether it's worth the high price tag.
During our recent family trip to the Aulani disney resort , we tried a new to us activity…..our first luau. I've been to Hawaii many times (growing up on the West Coast, it's a very common vacation destination) but….I've never been to a hawaiian luau .
As I mapped out our vacation days in ko olina , I knew we'd want to try traditional hawaiian food and to hear some live hawaiian music . Aulani has a ton of really cool cultural activities but for me? I thought a luau would be a really fun way to learn more about hawaiian culture right on property. I actually did quite a bit of research into different luau offerings in the area and every disney aulani luau review I saw was very positive (especially for experiencing a luau with family and young kids ).
If you are considering booking this experience during a visit to the disney aulani resort …..I'm hoping these details will help you to decide if it's right for you and your entire family ).
aulani luau : is it worth the money?
Let's talk timing and pricing. We visited Aulani during late March. This is definitely a busier time because of spring break travelers. That being said, I booked our aulani luau reservation over two months in advance. By that time, the preferred seating tickets for all three luaus offered during the week of our trip were sold out. We sat in the general seating area.
Preferred Seating – $199 Adults/$119 Keiki (ages 3 through 9). There is no charge for children under 3.
General Seating – $170 Adults/$99 Keiki (ages 3 through 9). There is no charge for children under 3.
Pricing for the aulani luau after May 1, 2023
Preferred Seating – $204 Adults/$124 Keiki (ages 3 through 9). There is no charge for children under 3.
General Seating – $175 Adults/$104 Keiki (ages 3 through 9). There is no charge for children under 3.
General seating includes the buffet, bento box meals for children, all drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages ) and a kukui nut lei or a moana shark tooth necklace for each guest. Preferred seating is closer to the main stage and also includes earlier entry (giving you a little extra time for the pre-show activities ). Preferred seating also includes a digital download of photos from the luau.
My thoughts in terms of which to reserve? We were perfectly happy with our general seating. The stage is raised, so we could easily see front of the stage all the way to the back from our seats. There are also smaller stages throughout the h?l?wai lawn where you can see more dancers. You WILL be further back, but with a clear line of sight. I think most people will be satisfied with either seating option.
aulani luau : entry and pre-show demonstrations
Since we did general seating, our reservation specified that we would be able to enter the luau at 5:10 pm. For reference, the evening we attended dinner was served at 6 pm and the main show started at 7 pm. The pre-show activity demonstrations took place from the time we entered until about 6 pm.
We lined up at the entrance behind the aulani pool at about 4:50 and we probably could have gotten there earlier. I learned that general seating enters on a first come first served basis. You initially check in, then are placed in a line. The line will lead you through receiving your hawaiian lei then taking a group photo THEN being sat at your table. The tables are filled from front to back (at this point the vip guests with preferred seating have already sat). So the sooner you enter? The closer to the front your seats will be.
AFTER you sit, then you can get up to participate in the pre-dinner activities. So the sooner you sit? The better seats you'll have AND the more time you'll have to learn a bit about hawaiian history through these fun experiences.
During the pre dinner time, there was great live music and the following activities:
flower arranging / floral bracelets : this was definitely one my daughter's favorite things from the aulani luau . You can choose between accepting a premade floral mini lei (a bracelet size) or making your own and learning a bit about the art of lei making.
ukulele lessons : these casual lessons are a great way to learn about this traditional instrument (and at aulani the lessons from the community room book up REALLY quickly so this is a perfect alternate option).
tattoo art : want to get a really cool traditional tattoo? You can choose from a few options and designs (it's acrylic paint so will wash off the next day).
taro root pounding : this was such a fun way to learn about the traditional foods created from this practice. I loved seeing it BEFORE we ate so we could really conceptualize how some of the delicious food was made.
disney luau food
Let's talk food. Our family definitely has some food requirements (I'm gluten free and our daughter isn't the biggest fan of certain foods)……so I was pretty interested to see if with these restrictions we felt the food was worth the hefty price tag.
Spoiler, I can see why people said this was the best luau on the island. The food is AMAZING and we had so many options. If your family has food allergies or restrictions, you'll have plenty of choices. You'll have the ability to let the luau team know in advance, and there will also be plenty of options available the night of.
I found that the main buffet for adults had everything labelled and arranged careful so nothing was touching. I personally do not have issues with cross contamination (I have more of a food intolerance than an allergy)…..so if this is a concern for YOU, I'd let them know in advance. The cast member in charge of our section brought me MULTIPLE extra desserts so that I had options even though I had two available on the regular dessert table.
aulani luau : kids dining options
For kids, there were a couple of things that I thought were especially well done. My daughter is 9 years old and I saw most kids under teenage years who had the same dining experience. She was absolutely welcome to try any food she wanted from the buffet BUT at the start of the buffet service the kids were served bento boxes with some great food options. The kids' meal had macaroni and cheese (and yes my daughter ordered a second serving), chicken tenders, traditional kalua pork , and steamed veggies. They also got a bowl of fresh fruit and a mickey mouse shaped marshmallow.
Dessert was also VERY well done. Kids could select from the adult dessert table but they were also given some special options at their seats. In addition to their fruit bowl, each child got a piece of guava cake (not Lydia's favorite) and a moana surprise dessert (a chocolate cupcake that she LOVED).
There were also multiple fun drinks available for kids. My normally not a fan of juice child drank three glasses of a bright blue concoction that was similar to a virgin blue hawaiian and lived her best life all night long.
So the aulani luau dining for kids? A HOME RUN.
aulani luau : adult dining options
I absolutely loved the food at the ka wa'a aulani luau . I'm normally fairly limited at buffet meals but…..dining for allergies and food restrictions is one of the best components of disney magic . They really do an amazing job and this luau experience was no exception.
After the pre dinner activities, one buffet table at a time was called up. There was no long wait, and since the luau isn't that big….there is plenty of time to go back for more food if you'd like.
Now, all the food at Aulani is amazing. The food at the aulani luau is no exception. I loved the salads, vegetables, the pork and the prime rib. In terms of dessert, they had an amazing coconut pudding that was gluten free and absolutely delish!
There were also a variety of tropical cocktails available. We tried a few and enjoyed them all. In addition to cocktails, they did have beer and wine.
Aulani Luau : live entertainment
The live entertainment is the MAIN REASON to attend a luau right?!? We were all really looking forward to learning more about the hawaiian islands and the culture of their people….but honestly? We didn't REALLY know what to expect during the show portion of the luau. The performances were absolutely stunning!
The Aulani Luau does a great job of sharing the rich history of this popular destination in a way that is engaging for kids and enthralling for adults. The show truly provides beautiful entertainment for the whole family . We loved seeing the hula dancing and learning about different types of dance.
They sprinkled in just the right amount of disney characters and magic while keeping the focus on the the hawaiian islands. Who doesn't love seeing minnie mouse do the hula? We learned a bit of hula ourselves and the music was absolutely incredible.
The performance portion of the evening is about an hour long. For us it lasted from 7 pm to 8 pm. After the show, the performers do stay on the lawn to say hello and to take pictures. This part was really fun, so I do suggest not rushing out at the end.
aulani luau : frequently asked questions
These are some of the questions we were asked the most when I shared that we were attending the luau at Aulani.
What happens at the aulani luau if it rains?
The night before OUR luau, there was a storm. And yes, the luau was rained out. Another guest told us, they did receive a refund.
How often are there luaus at Aulani?
The week we visited Aulani there were three luaus offered. We saw a Tuesday night, a Wednesday night and a Friday night offering.
Should I book the luau our first night?
I have to admit, I vastly underestimated the effect the time change would have on us. Coming from the west coast, we had a three hour time difference and it really took a full two days to adjust. We were pretty tired by the early evenings since it felt MUCH later to us. We did the luau on our third night and by then we felt better in the evening. I'd suggest taking that time change into account when you select which day works best for you.
Are all drinks included in the luau cost?
Yes. They really are. You can go back to the bar as many times as you'd like. They did have last call about 30 minutes before the performance ended.
Do you think it's worth it to pay more for preferred seating?
I think that really depends on your needs for the evening. For us? The general seating was perfectly fine. We were about 5 rows back. If you want a close up view….then yes the preferred seating is worth it. You'll also get a little extra time to do the pre show activities.
Can anyone attend an aulani luau?
This is unique. Most parts of aulani require that you stay on property to book….but not the luau. Anyone can reserve seats at the luau.
How far in advance should I book the luau at Aulani?
We booked about 2 months in advance and the preferred seating was already sold out at that point. Now we did visit Aulani for spring break, so it was definitely busy season. But I'd suggest booking 3 months in advance to get the night and seating selection you'd prefer!
How long does the Aulani Luau last?
The Aulani luau is about three hours long. Ours started at 5 pm and ended a little after 8 pm. During the summer months, it starts a bit later and ends a bit later.
What do you wear to a luau?
We wore fun tropical themed pieces. I wore a brightly colored dress from Farm Rio (a nicer sundress) and wedge sandals. My husband wore chino shorts and a polo shirt. Our daughter did the Painted Sky Luau Makeover at Aulani and wore the dress she chose during the experience.
So, the Aulani Luau Worth the Money?!?
In my opinion, absolutely yes. We had a wonderful time, the food was great and the performance was stunning. I would 100% recommend booking the Aulani Luau during a visit to the area.