For our 10th wedding anniversary, my husband and I wanted to celebrate the occasion by taking a special trip with our children and renewing our vows. We love all things Disney and tend to mark special days with a visit to the Disneyland Resort (case in point: we celebrated Father’s Day at the Disneyland Hotel this past year). So the Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii was the perfect place for us to go!
We have been fortunate (and perhaps Disney crazy) enough to have visited Aulani twice before. Both of those times we came to Oahu for a wedding, and decided to add on a stay at the resort. It’d been a few years since our last stay there though. A recent addition to this already fantastic family-friendly paradise that we were excited to check out is the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio.
Located on the first floor adjacent to the adults-only Laniwai spa, the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio is for kids ages 3-12 only. Here, they can choose from a full menu of fun makeover options ranging from Moana to Minnie Mouse to mermaids for girls. Boys can opt to become Hawaiian demi-gods, surfer dudes, or luau chic. It’s a similar fantasy makeover concept to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the Disneyland park in Anaheim and Magic Kingdom park in Orlando.
The interior is modern and luxurious, yet also kid-friendly with a Hawaiian vibe. It’s like a stylish oasis within the oasis of Aulani, and one of the resort’s best kept secrets (for now). During our stay we saw several children proudly walking around post-makeover, looking like mini-celebrities. That’s because most other guests are in swim wear or relaxed resort wear so they really stand out, in a good way.
TIP: If you happen to visit Aulani during or immediately after a hurricane, like we did, the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio is a perfect rainy day activity for kids! I also recommend it on your arrival or departure day, when you may not have the time to visit the pool or beach but still want to immerse your child in the resort’s uniquely tropical Disney vibe.
Children must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. But the staff there is so friendly and doting, that as a parent you can sit back and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while they pamper your child. I loved taking in all the design details like the cloud-like chandeliers and hanging artwork.
Here are some more pictures of the decor in the space. It somehow manages to be playful but elegant, using native Hawaiian materials and styles.
My son received the AULANI BY TORI RICHARD package, which promised to transform him into a proper Kamaaina (that’s Hawaiian for “local.”) And it was so much more than a makeover! This was his first experience at a spa or salon, so he was initially apprehensive. But after being greeted with warm smiles from the staff and a gift bag of goodies, he warmed up to the whole experience very quickly.
We were ushered to a large private dressing room which featured a beautiful wooden bench that I wanted to put in my suitcase and bring home, as well as a full length lighted mirror.
By the way, if you look closely at the shirt, the pattern – which looks like water – is actually made up of the Aulani emblem. Subtle, but meaningful. I love this print. Tori Richard is famous for creating high-quality aloha-style shirts for several decades now. My son is picky about how his clothing feels on his skin. This shirt was so soft and yet crisp at the same time. You could tell he felt great wearing it.
We loved it so much we bought one for my father-in-law, who collects Aloha shirts, so they can be twinsies at the next family BBQ. They sell adult sizes as well as other prints in the same fabric upstairs at the Hale Manu gift shop. Now at home, even after being washed, the colors remain bright and the fabric is still soft and wrinkle-free.
After my son put on his new ensemble, he was guided to a salon chair by his friendly stylist, and then the real fun began. He was shown a giant stack of temporary tattoo sheets and allowed to pick one that he wanted.
Not just one tattoo. I mean an entire sheet!
There was a wide variety of Hawaiian warrior style tattoos in the stack that looked pretty cool. However, he had just gotten some temporary tribal ink on his arm at the KA WA’A Luau just the day before. So, he opted to go for the lizards, because:
a) He loves lizards
b) We’d already seen several of them around the resort during our stay so they reminded him of our trip
This makeover package also includes a hair styling. There’s no cutting involved, so hair must be clean and dry when you arrive. If you’re coming from the resort pool, allow for time to shower back up in the room. Thankfully his hair is fairly short so it was dry by the time we walked from our room to the studio.
His stylist offered many fun options for the hair styling including a faux hawk and temporary hair color. Personally I would’ve chosen to match his hair color to the shirt. But all he wanted was to have it combed eeeeeeeeeever so slightly to the side. And no hair products whatsoever. That’s fine, this experience was about him and what made him happy, so we went with it.
But wait, there’s more!
Just when we thought the makeover experience was wrapping up, the stylist presented him with a small dish of mickey-shaped beads. This was not listed on the menu so was a pleasant surprise! She invited him to choose his favorite color bead and make a wish. He picked red, which also happened to match his favorite tattoo lizard. The bead was threaded onto a red string and tied around his wrist. The saying is that whenever the string falls off, his wish will come true.
My son, being a clever one, said he didn’t think his wish would actually come true when that happened. Why? Because his wish was pretty unrealistic and he knew it. He wished that everything he says would come true so he could have unlimited wishes. Yep, this kid has seen ALADDIN. He knows how to game the wish-granting system.
Here’s the complete list of everything he received as part of this magical experience:
- Hairstyling (including temporary color though he opted out of that)
- Gorgeous Aulani By Tori Richard aloha shirt
- Leather Olu Kai slippers (we call them flip flops)
- Leather wrist cuff featuring Mickey Mouse
- Wooden Maui’s hook necklace
- Full sheet of temporary tattoos
- Mickey-shaped bead bracelet in a color of his choosing
We had the entire salon to ourselves during our visit so didn’t get to see any girls having a makeover. But we saw several spot-on “Moanas” walking around the resort at other times during our vacation. At the studio counter where you check in and out, they had this helpful photo guide to the different girls hairstyle options. I thought this was brilliant so that even the clients who can’t yet read could select their favorite style.
How cute are the Minnie Mouse buns?? I can’t wait to come back when my daughter is old enough to visit the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio and get this style done. They’re all so pretty and complex. Definitely worth the expense because there’s no way I could ever do this myself on her hair.
Hidden Disney Touches
While my son was having his “lounge” of lizard tattoos applied (yes, a group of lizards is called a “lounge!”), I was searching for hidden Mickeys and other subtle Disney nods.
Like most Disney attractions, you can’t exit without passing a gift shop! However, I think of this area more as being a showcase for the various items that are included in the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio makeover packages. If you or your child would like to compare options before committing to just one makeover, you can see them visually here instead of listed as text or rattled off verbally. Also, as with my son who is huge for his age, they have a variety of sizes for each item of clothing here and were able to easily grab the exact ones that fit him when we arrived.
The Total Package
The whole makeover for my son took about 30 minutes. It was relatively fast because he requested a very minimal hair style. But the complete look itself lasted the rest of the day. He proudly walked around the resort showing off his tattoos to everyone he could. It’s not every day you see a kid with – say it with me – a lounge of lizards on both arms!
To learn more about the AULANI BY TORI RICHARD package and all the other makeover options, click here for the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio website.
Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made before your trip from the mainland or on property, space-permitting.
Both my son and I had a fantastic time at the Painted Sky: HI Style Studio! I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who wants to add some extra pixie dust to their vacation at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.