The Toddler Bucket List – Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa has Us Covered

Goofy Kiss at Character Breakfast, Aulani

We spend the better part of our lives making our bucket list dreams come true. Darren and I think about our wildest dreams and make them a reality. We try to include Athena in the process as well. I consider what would make her the happiest and include her in the bucket list planning process. Resorts like Windjammer Landing in St. Lucia, Atlantis in the Bahamas, and Kinderhotel in Germany were all part of incorporating the best family-friendly destinations on this year’s list. Similarly, activities like visiting Disneyland, Europa Park, and the San Diego Zoo were all Athena focused, although they, unquestionably, brought us great joy as well. There was one item on this year’s list that was entirely, 100% Athena’s idea. I didn’t come up with it and think she’d like it; nope, she decided it would be the greatest thing in the world all on her own. She wanted to hang out with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii made it possible this weekend. She danced, sang, hugged and laughed with the most famous characters in her world at the Disney Character Breakfast. This is what dreams are made of. 

Our breakfast was scheduled for 8:15 am but we arrived at 7:50 am. I couldn’t keep her away any longer. Dressed in her Minnie outfit, she was waiting at the door and couldn’t contain her excitement.

We walked toward the restaurant and her eyes were wide with anticipation. Then, she saw him. Mickey Mouse was greeting guests. There was a line and each family was given time to chat with Mickey and have their photo taken. Not that I’m proud of this (well maybe a little), but Athena saw him and forgot about everything else in the world. She made a B-line for Mickey. Like a crazed fan, she was unstoppable. The staff were as shocked as I was, but Mickey just knew what to do. Rather than anyone stopping her, they let it happen.

Mickey Mouse at the Character Breakfast, Aulani

She ran into his arms and threw hers around him. They embraced for a few seconds before I, embarrassed, apologized to the others in the line and told Athena we’d have a turn shortly.

At 2.5 years old, she looked at me and said, “This is so exciting I’m going to die!”

When it was actually our turn, Mickey was well aware of Athena’s intensity. He hugged her again and played with her like they were best friends for life. The process wasn’t rushed and we had time to take photos and share in her joy. This might have been the best moment of her life.

Goofy at the Character Breakfast, Aulani

Inside the restaurant, Goofy and Minnie were spending time with every family. Athena was so excited when Goofy arrived at our table that she grinned from ear to ear and it never stopped the entire experience. This was her happy place.

Minnie Mouse at the Character Breakfast, Aulani

Minnie Mouse at the Character Breakfast, Aulani

She stood up and prepared to jump out of the high chair when Minnie arrived. I had to lift her down before she actually did it. She told Minnie how much she loves Minnie’s Bowtique and did her best Minnie impersonation.

Singing & Dancing at the Character Breakfast, Aulani

The experience included singing and dancing with Minnie and Goofy. All of the children were actively involved and the place was buzzing with energy. Athena didn’t want to just see the characters; she wanted to hang out with them. Shaking maracas with Minnie, doing the conga with Goofy, and belting out tunes with the Club House gang, this was the adventure she imagined.

We stayed for more than an hour and I will replay those moments over and over again for the rest of my life. Some of my greatest accomplishments include watching dreams become reality for my family. This one might have been for Athena but it brought me just as much joy. I think we’ll be checking this item off our list again in the near future.

***Many thanks to Aulani for hosting our stay. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.***

46 thoughts on “The Toddler Bucket List – Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa has Us Covered

        • I think she’ll remember it. My brother was the same age as Athena when we visited Disney World. He says he remembers certain things and I truly believe that he does. We’ll continue to jog her memory by showing her photos and reading posts to her. Hopefully that will help as well 🙂 With the media available now, it’s easy to keep things current and in the front of your mind; wouldn’t you say?


  1. My friend takes her children to Euro Disney every year. Her little boy is obsessed with Minnie Mouse, and my friend’s husband then spends the whole weekend stalking Minnie so they can meet her. I’m surprised Minnie hasn’t taken out a restraining order yet 🙂


    • Hahahaha. That’s so cute, and I can now relate. They made appearances throughout the day and we called every morning to found out where they’d be. We were always the first ones in line waiting. It really is a magical place. 🙂


  2. My little granddaughters, Aveline 4 and Estelle 2, will be making their way along with parents and Mime (me!) to Disneyland for the 7th time this year. We’re getting the most out of our season passes. But Hawaii is definitely on the Disney list. The two-year old hugs anything big and furry with such fervor that OTHER families take photos. The four-year-old is just tall enough for the big rides and does Space Mountain at least a half dozen times each trip–sans Mimi who gets too nauseous!


  3. Haha- I loved the “this is so exciting I’m going to die!” We love Disney at our house- even my teenagers :). A couple of my kids went through a stage where they were afraid of the characters, but doesn’t sound like Athena will 🙂


    • I think she got the “this is so exciting I’m going to die!” from Despicable Me. That’s another movie she’s seen more than 1000 times.

      She’s never been afraid of the characters but it could change. You never know with kids. She has this fear of lipstick that seems odd. She gets upset when she see’s it in a magazine. I’m sure it came from something and it will pass but every kid has something.


      • Sounds like a trip to Universal Studios is in order if she likes Despicable Me :). I know they have a ride called Minion Mayhem but I don’t remember if there is a height requirement.


    • I try to expose her to as many different things as possible and never act fearful myself, although it can be difficult at times. If big insects are involved I tend to get nervous. I’ll still hold or touch them to show her there is nothing wrong, but I don’t enjoy it. I’m sure she can sense it. Fear is a crazy, irrational thing some times even for adults.


  4. I don’t remember much before the age of 4, but the adventures we have when young help to shape our lives regardless of whether we remember them or not. I’m sure she will be as adventurous as her Mom and Dad. I love Disneyland/Disneyworld and loved taking my young boys there. They were soooo into pirates and jungle cruises, etc. It was always fun. And, they are adventurous kids grown up.


  5. Too sweet Lesley, I live 50 minutes East of Disney World, Florida. I see the joy on my own Lil’ ones faces. Let me say, I love Mickey too. Goofy, Minnie and the whole Disney gig. We are in fact Big Fans even if we live in Florida. We know the joy it brings families since 1971 here in Florida. Long time! Millions of visitors, many smiles later. Cheffie


  6. Awesome! I’ve been debating something like that for my daughter who’s 4, but hubby thinks she’s too young to appreciate the experience. This makes me re-evaluate.


  7. Adorable! And everything Disney and vacationing with family should be. I think its amazing that you travel the world as a family. I.e. not just stay local because Athena is small. You are an inspiration! xx


  8. Absolutely beautiful. It’s all right there on her face and in her eyes. She’s never forgetting this adventure, and though I don’t know how exactly (I’m not that smart) this is, at some level, a life-changing experience. Traveling with the world’s largest carnival for thirteen years, working spots like the Dallas State Fair, The Pacific National Exhibition, and so many other huge locations, I have seen a lot of happy children, but your child looks like she invented a level all her own, and I commend you for all you did, and are still doing to give her the childhood that so many people dream of giving their children. You didn’t settle for dreaming, you made it a reality, and that is just not easy to do. So once again, I commend you. Every child deserves parents so devoted to their happiness, and to the formation of a memory base that will serve them well as they develop into amazing adults who will no doubt treat their children according to the amazing example which you have taken the time and effort to set before them. God bless.


  9. Adorable! I love it how she ran right up to hug Mickey. That zest for life, love and unconditional acceptance makes my heart melt. You teach her how to appreciate a wonderful magical world and that dreams do come true, what a great gift!


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