It’s not hard to rattle off reasons Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa belongs on your travel bucket list – breathtaking setting, authentic Hawaiian theming executed with Disney’s signature attention to detail, and more opportunities for family-friendly fun than you could ever get to in a single visit.
Another big one? The food. Whether you’re crazy about the food at other Disney parks and resorts or think there’s some room for improvement, chances are you’ll be delighted by what you find at Aulani. From fun, seasonal treats (Pumpkin Spice Dole Whip, anyone?), to Mickey-shaped mainstays, to elevated Hawaiian cuisine, there’s plenty to please every palate.
Here are 15 of the best things to eat and drink at Aulani:
Buttermilk Pancakes with Macadamia Nut-Tahitian Vanilla Sauce
Sorry, Mickey waffles, but this must-try Disney breakfast may have edged you out of the top spot. Start your day at Aulani’s breathtaking beachfront restaurant, ‘AMA ‘AMA, with a heaping stack of the fluffiest buttermilk pancakes you’ve ever had, dripping with a silky, not-too-sweet Tahitian vanilla sauce and a cascade of rich, crunchy macadamia nuts.
Mickey Hawaiian Shave Ice
If you didn’t get the memo, everything is more delicious when it’s Mickey-shaped. So, of course, the only way to enjoy Hawaii’s iconic frozen treat at Pāpālua Shave Ice is by adding ears to your order.
Choose three syrup flavors (we’re partial to the tropical options, like guava, mango, lilikoi, and coconut) plus add-ons like sweetened condensed milk, ice cream, and the aforementioned ears. Starting at just $4.25, this is one of the best bangs for your buck at Aulani.
It’s all about Happy Hour at The ‘Ōlelo Room, where you can kick back with a cocktail on the patio, listen to great local music, and nosh on a range of small plates.
If you only try one thing, promise me it will be this epic French fry/popcorn mashup that absolutely belongs on anyone’s bucket list of the ultimate Disney snacks. A whole laundry list of ingredients ranging from mundane to the exotic – buttered popcorn, French fries, green onions, wasabi oil, Kazama nori, furikake, kabayaki kewpie mayonnaise, and mochi crunch – come together in perfect harmony as one incredible snack.
You’ll work up quite a hunger splashing around in the Waikolohe Valley, Aulani’s intricate network of pools, water slides, children’s aquatic play areas, and a private snorkeling lagoon.
No need to stray too far from the fun though, Mama’s Snack Stop is a walk-up stand right in the middle of the action, serving up delicious lunch options like the Coconut-Breaded Shrimp, perfectly crispy with just a hint of coconutty sweetness.
Local Style Fish and Chips
A second dish from Mama’s Snack Stop too good to leave off the list is the Local Style Fish and Chips.
Four perfectly cooked pieces of Kona Longboard Lager-crusted ono and crispy French fries just beg to be washed down with a poolside can of Kona Longboard Lager.
Center-Cut King Crab Legs
These gigantic, succulent king crab legs are actually on the seafood side menu at ‘AMA ‘AMA and were a total impulse add-on to our order, but they ended up being one of the best things we ate anywhere at Aulani.
Order them as part of the Iki or Nui starter platters, which also feature other seafood delights like oysters, prawns and poke, alongside a steak as some surf and turf, or make them your main course with the help of a couple of the delectable side dishes (more on those later).
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
You’ll feel much better about gorging yourself on fresh seafood dunked in melted butter or Mac-Nut Brown Butter Sauce at ‘AMA ‘AMA if you eat something green alongside it. The Caramelized Brussels Sprouts are so good, you’ll forget you’re even eating a vegetable.
Hawaii is home to a substantial Japanese population, and Aulani is very popular with visitors from Japan, so you’ll find plentiful Japanese food options throughout the resort.
If you’re craving sushi, head to The ‘Ōlelo Room every Tuesday through Sunday from 5-9 p.m. for excellent sushi and sashimi, complete with some charming Disney touches.
ACE Pineapple Cider
If you could bottle vacation in beer form, this is what it would taste like. If super-sweet frozen cocktails like piña coladas and daiquiris aren’t your thing, this is the poolside drink you’ve been looking for.
Available on tap at Off the Hook, Aulani’s main pool bar and restaurant (which also serves great food), ACE Pineapple Cider was inspired by the ACE founders’ annual family trips to Hawaii. It’s the perfect sweet-tart, refreshing daytime drink to enjoy by the pool.
Truffle Macaroni and Cheese
Truffle Macaroni and Cheese isn’t first to my mind when I think of classic Hawaiian cuisine, but is this really the place to nitpick? Honestly, they had me at “truffle,” and we’re not talking a wimpy drizzle of truffle oil here. Big slices of shaved black truffle enhance a rich and creamy mac and cheese with a satisfying crunch of bread crumbs on top. Find this on the side dish menu at ‘AMA ‘AMA.
If you go on a Disney vacation and don’t eat Mickey waffles, were you ever really there? While you absolutely cannot miss the aforementioned pancakes at ‘AMA ‘AMA, set aside another morning for the character breakfast at Makahiki, where you’ll find a great lineup of American breakfast staples like bacon, eggs, and Mickey waffles (don’t miss the coconut syrup for your waffles and pancakes!) as well as traditional Asian offerings.
You’re on vacation, so of course, you must order dessert. If tropical flavors are your jam, the Pineapple Cheesecake at ‘AMA ‘AMA just might change your life. The light pineapple cheesecake sits atop coconut shortbread and is encased in toasted meringue, finished with a roasted pineapple reduction and tropical fruit compote. Yum!
Kalua Pork Flatbread
Ulu Café is a great spot to grab a quick lunch during a day at the pool or beach. Get a made-to-order poke bowl or one of the delicious flatbreads. The Kalua Pork Flatbread is a crowd favorite, and, one can only assume, a more authentic approach to “Hawaiian pizza.” Vegetarians will love the equally delicious Margherita flatbread.
Fresh fruit might seem pretty par for the course on a breakfast buffet, but nothing compares to local island fruit cut fresh at peak ripeness and served at breakfast at Makahiki. Sample fresh local pineapple, (try the version sprinkled with li-hing powder made from ground pickled plum, salt, and sugar), Ewa watermelon, and Hilo papaya.
What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink at Aulani? Let us know in the comments!
Check out our Attractions Adventures vlog where we take our first trip to Aulani below: