My Mom lives in Hawaii. That means, sometimes she can get a Kamaaina discount at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. When she realized she could get a 40% off discount for a room at Aulani in February, she immediately booked us for a 2 night stay at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. As a family travel blogger, my first thought was how to get tons of Aulani photos where I got to be in some of the pictures. I didn’t want to spend the entire trip hauling a camera around. I wanted to enjoy our Hawaiian vacation! That’s when I looked into the Aulani PhotoPass!
What is a PhotoPass and How Does it Work?
Disney Parks and Disney Resorts use a program called the Disney PhotoPass Service. They are Disney cast members who will take photos of you and your family on your Disney vacation. These photos are digitally attached to a PhotoPass Card. There’s a special code on the back of the card so you can view your photos online. It’s free to use the PhotoPass Service, however you will pay to download the photos.
At Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, you can also view your PhotoPass photos on your television back in your room. It’s a fun way to reminisce about your trip at the end of the day! You can also view your photos at the PhotoPass kiosk at Kalepa’s Store near the Main Lobby. If you are looking for an Oahu photographer for your Hawaiian vacation, this is an easy way to do it!
What Does the Aulani PhotoPass Include?
I was surprised just how many Disney Aulani PhotoPass locations were around the resort. We personally saw PhotoPass photographers stationed at the following locations:
- Disney Character Meet & Greets
- On Ko Olina beach
- Near the pools
- Lazy River
- Stitch Statue
- Shake a Shaka Pool Party
- Aunty’s Beach House (registered activities only, such as Aloha Fun, Surf’s Up, Stitch’s Space Goo, Fish Are Friends, Keiki Hula and Ohana Hula.)
According to the website, Disney PhotoPass photographers can be found at Rainbow Reef, Waikolohe Stream, Keiki Cover, Waikalohe Pool, Ka Maka Landing, and Ko Olina Beach.
For $99, you can get digital copies of photos from your entire stay. Or, you can purchase individual digital copies. I downloaded my photos into Lightroom and applied a filter to the photos in this post.
What About the Disney Aulani Character Breakfast?
If you are doing the character breakfast at Makahiki, you’ll have the opportunity to take photos with Mickey Mouse! During breakfast, a cast member will come around and show you the photos. You’ll have the option of purchasing printed photos or a photo CD. We asked about digital copies, but were told by the cast member they were unavailable.
We later learned that Character Breakfast photos can be added to your PhotoPass Card once you’ve purchased the Breakfast Package at Kalepa’s Store. I think this would be the way to go!
Photos at Aunty’s Beach House
One of the perks of registering for one of the kids activities at Aunty’s Beach House is that an Aulani PhotoPass photographer will take photos of your children. Normally, photography is not permitted at Aunty’s Beach House. However, they have photographers during the pre-registered activities.
I signed my son up for Stitch’s Space Goo, which he STILL raves about! It was free to sign up. The cast members give each child a wristband that has an Aulani PhotoPass code on it. The Disney photographers got so many cute shots of him in his little lab coat and goggles! Then, they added the photos to his wristband. Just take the wristband to Kalepa’s Store and get them added to your PhotoPass Card.
Can I Take My Own Photos at Aulani?
Of course! In fact, for all Disney Character Meet & Greets, there is a cast member there to assist the PhotoPass photographer. He or she can take photos and videos using your own phone or camera. There is no charge for the cast member to take photos.
Personally, I recommend doing both. I usually gave the Aulani cast member my cell phone to take video and photos. They were awesome about taking as many photos as possible. Then, I could scroll through and pick my favorites. These were perfect to post on Instagram and Facebook. But, I love the higher quality of the PhotoPass photos that we downloaded. These are great for printing or creating photo books of our first trip to Aulani.
How to Maximize the Disney Aulani PhotoPass Service
Get an Aulani PhotoPass Card as soon as you arrive
You can get your free Aulani PhotoPass Card from any Disney PhotoPass photographer. Take a photo of your PhotoPass Card and share it with your whole party. You can even make it your phone background for easier scanning. Everyone in your party can use the same code so all your photos will be on one PhotoPass Card.
As soon as you get your PhotoPass Card, you can start using it! We hopped right in line to meet Moana, which was a highlight of our Aulani family vacation! My son spent two full minutes telling Moana about his temporary tattoo and how he saw her canoe near the Lazy River. She asked him to help her find Hei Hei and Pua!
Check the Aulani Daily Iwa
So, the Aulani Daily Iwa is your Aulani resort guide. This is where you’ll see the daily schedule of events taking place at the Disney resort. They usually post the Daily Iwa online about one week ahead of time. You can also pick up hard copies around Disney’s Aulani. This is where you’ll find the number to call for Disney Character Meet & Greets.
Call the number for Character Meet + Greets
In your Daily Iwa, you’ll see a number to call for Character Meet & Greets. Usually, you can start calling around 8am. Grab something to write with because they rattle off the characters, times and locations pretty quickly. Thankfully, you can call the number as many times as you like!
We were there for two nights and we saw Disney Character Meet & Greets for Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Moana, and Stitch. It’s worth noting that not all characters do meet & greets every day. Daisy Duck did photos on the day we arrived, but we never had another opportunity.
Photos with Mickey Mouse + Minnie Mouse
One of the huge perks about the Disney character meet and greets at the Aulani Disney Resort is that Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse take photos together! This is quite rare!
I recommend getting in line about 15 minutes before they are scheduled to arrive. That’s what we did. I stood in line with my toddler while my Mom walked around with my 4 year old. By the time they joined me in line, they only waited about 5 minutes. My only regret is not throwing on a dress over my swimsuit!
Sign up for Aunty’s Beach House activities
While I was at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, I found out that Aunty’s Beach House will only have Aulani PhotoPass photographers take photos during a scheduled activity. Many of these activities are free, but you do need to sign up in advance. My 4 year old was signed up for Stitch’s Space Goo and the Aulani PhotoPass photographers got great shots of him looking like a mini scientist!
Do sunset photos every night
No, you don’t need to dress up every night. But, there are usually multiple photographers down on the beach about an hour before sunset. Get photos of your kids playing at the beach in that perfect “golden hour” lighting. Make the rounds and hit up every photographer. They are stationed at different parts of the beach, so your background will look different. Plus, every photographer has their own style.
Go in the off season
For our family, the best time to go to Aulani Resort was February. We never waited more than 20 minutes for Character Meet & Greets. We also were able to walk right up to photographers at Ko Olina Beach with no wait at all.
If you are going during Aulani’s busy season (summer or the holidays) you might consider paying to reserve time with a PhotoPass photographer.
Get special photos with relatives
Since this was our first trip to Aulani, we wanted to commemorate it. We were so thrilled to get lots of photos of my kids with their Grandma. We wouldn’t normally take so many photos, so it was very convenient that Disney photographers were always nearby to help us remember this amazing trip!
Ask the Aulani PhotoPass photographers to take your photo!
There are Aulani PhotoPass photographers stationed throughout Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Take advantage of them! I saw one standing near the lazy river ready to take photos. This is a good reminder to have your Aulani PhotoPass card on you at all times!
At one point, I was walking back from dropping my preschooler off at Aunty’s Beach House when I saw an Aulani PhotoPass photographer standing near the pool. I asked if she’d like to take our photo and I got some fun shots with just my toddler! She gave me so many photo shoot suggestions. I appreciated all the direction!
Check in Early + Stay Late
Something I didn’t realize at first is that you can check in to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa early. They will hold your bags and give you your room key, even though your room won’t be ready. You will get a text when your room keys will let you into your room. But, since you have your room key, you can get an Aulani PhotoPass card and start getting photos!
Your room key and pool wrist band will also allow you to use the Aulani PhotoPass Service the entire day you check out. So, if your schedule is flexible or you have a later flight, use your time to get more photos with Disney characters.
Private family photo session
If this is your first trip to Hawaii, you might want to schedule a private family photo session with a professional Oahu photographer. Aulani Resort makes a gorgeous backdrop for Christmas card photos.
Guests can choose a resort location for your photo background. A Disney photographer will help you get the vibe you want, whether it’s formal, fun or something in between! Private photo sessions last 20-40 minutes.
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