View Full Version : Just back from Aulani

06-08-2012, 11:44 PM
We just returned from a week at Aulani. I won't go in to great detail about our time there. I'll just give some of my opinions and reflections about the trip and resort. We spent a couple of nights at the Grand Californian in Disneyland as well. Didn't go to Disneyland :sad1:. I wanted to but my DD's would rather see LA so we drove around Hollywood, ate, went to a studio tour, etc. It was a fun day. My wife and I then ate at Napa Rose that evening - great!

Aulani was wonderful, as expected. :love:Pure Disney - beautiful grounds, lots of detail and authentic theming. The cast members were exceptionally friendly. We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa (2 older DD's) and just had a great time. Some thoughts: Jet lag is the opposite from going to Europe. Its actually pretty easy going to Hawaii, but I had a tough time when I returned home, that foggy feeling lasted a few days. We rented a car, and I would highly recommend that. There is a nice shopping district very near to Aulani, with a Target (they are expanding the food section and should be open soon), a Costco (bought wine there, but not much else. Found the Kona Coffee here expensive $22 a lb. - cheapest I found was at Target $10 - 17 / lb) There is Safeway in the shopping village too. Food (store bought) is quite expensive here I found, at least 50% more per item than in my home town. I saved about $16 with a Safeway card (filled out the application there) so I would recommend getting one or bringing your own if you go. (We have no Safeways around here). In Aulani, the umbrellas are free, but you do have to sign up for them. We rented a "casabella" the first day, a wooden, double chaise with a cover. The umbrella worked much better, and, again, was free instead of $30. I agree with just about everyone else's posts: get your groceries and utilize your kitchen for lots of meals. We skipped a luau too, the Starlit Hui is fun, very entertaining.
Well, that's about it for now. I'll post again with my thoughts on the food at Aulani (and elsewhere) as well as excursions / activities on Oahu.

06-09-2012, 04:56 PM
Ok, I'll give my 2 cents worth on the food at Aulani (and elsewhere). I don't take too much stock in restaurant reviews, but I like to read them, get an idea of the items, prices, and atmosphere, etc. Much has been said and written about the food at Aulani. We ate at AMA AMA for dinner and lunch. Also at the Makahiki buffet. So here goes:
AMA AMA Dinner: I timed this for sunset (yes, I looked up the time the sun would set in Hawaii and timed my reservation, strange, I know), and we made reservations a few months out. The atmosphere was great, we had an outer table with gorgeous view of the lagoon (and sunset!). Weather was perfect. I felt very comfortable in khakis and a nice short-sleeved shirt. The dress throughout the restaurant was mostly resort casual, as all nicer restaurants in Hawaii are, apparently. We ordered the fresh catch of the day. There were a couple of sauce choices and methods of cooking - we chose grilled with a lemon-caper-butter sauce. The fish was a local one with, of course, a Hawaiian name. The server said it was much like snapper. I'm a big snapper fan, so I really enjoyed this meal...delicious! It came with a corn chowder and pureed potatoes. We had a nice white wine with it too. One of my DDs had the seafood paella , which she let me try - delicious. For dessert, we all shared a banana bread pudding with ice cream, and the chocolate lava cake thing. Both very good, but I liked the bread pudding more. Kona coffee with dessert. As everyone had said, it was somewhat expensive. Around 50 for the entrée.

The AMA AMA lunch was very good. No reservations needed. We were immediately seated, lagoon side again. I had the kalua pork sandwiches. Absolutely delicious! My DW had the fish tacos which she liked, I thought they were ok. The kalua pork sandwich was $15 (thats $1 less than the one I got a few days later at the Honolulu airport) and the AMA AMA one was much better. That would make 3 times I had kalua pork on this trip- I'm a big fan now. Also try the mango tea at AMA AMA.

The Makahiki buffet was good. You are quite far from the lagoon, but the outside patio next to the koi pond was very nice. This is buffet food, so maybe not quite as fresh, or as warm as would be liked, but, for the most part, everything tasted good. It did give me a chance to try some dishes I might not have otherwise, such as poi or poke. Poke was pretty good! I'd also recommend the kalua pork (make that 4 times I had that) pizza, the short ribs, and miso glazed salmon. The caramel bread pudding was good too. Value was fair.

And for some other meals we had:
L&L Drive In: Not a drive in at all but a chain in Hawaii serving Hawaiian comfort food. I got kalua pork (very good) and lau lau (okay) on the "Hawaiian plate". This restaurant is located all over Hawaii but we ate at the one in the Safeway shopping strip near Ko'Olina.

Anna Millers: As described on the DIS unplugged pod cast. We ate breakfast here on our way to Pearl Harbor. We had the banana and macadamia nut pancakes - great! You have to ask for the coconut syrup! They specialize in pies, especially strawberry but we didn't get one.

Macky's Shrimp truck: On the North Shore, several food trucks around there. Giovanni's is another favorite, but we chose Macky's today. Get the garlic shrimp - delicious:goodvibes. Beverage choices are limited. Go to the adjacent 7-11, bathrooms there too. This is a "must do" if you have a way to get there. Go get shave ice afterwords, Matsumoto's is famous and just up the street -but beware long lines!

Roy's: A few outlets of this chef's restaurants in Hawaii. This one is in the Ko'Olina golf club and is across the street and down from Aulani. A nice walk, we crossed the street and took the golf cart path. We had the prix fixe dinner with the wine pairing. Appetizer of ahi tuna, a pork rib (delicious) and spring roll. I had the macadamia nut crusted fish - again, a Hawaiian fish much like swordfish, a firm fish but not oily at all - very very good. Had the chocolate soufflé which everyone raves about, I thought it was okay. Dinner was a little less than AMA AMA, but not much (did have an appetizer though). Atmosphere was 70's golf resort - could see the golf course through the windows, but nothing great. We actually enjoyed AMA AMA more but Roy's was very good, and we would do it again. A nice walk back Aulani to digest!

Well, that's about it. Take these opinions for what they are worth. Oh! I almost forgot we ate at Napa Rose at Disneyland. Very good! Again, prix fixe with wine flight, more expensive than AMA AMA. But had sea bass, pheasant sausage, NY strip (okay), and bing cherry upside down cake

Also in Hawaii, we tried some Leonard's malasadas (found in a K mart parking lot along H-1). These are Hawaiian donuts, I got some filled with chocolate or haupia (coconut). We also tried some poi donuts at the Kamehameha bakery. They had haupia sauce inside, were purple (poi is purple), and delicious!:love:

06-10-2012, 03:45 PM
I thought I'd mention some other activities we enjoyed on Oahu. One tip I would give is to bring your own GPS navigation if you have one. I was surprised to find that mine had Hawaii maps, maybe they all do. Anyway, it really came in handy in both LA and Oahu, I preloaded all of the addresses for hotels, airports, restaurants, places of interest we had planned.

In LA, as I mentioned, we decided to see the city instead of go to Disneyland. I guess everyone who goes there should see Hollywood and Vine, Grauman's Chinese theater, and the Walk of Fame once, but I probably wouldn't go back. We drove up Mulholland Drive and saw the Hollywood sign. We had a reserved tour at Warner Brothers Studio. That sort of cut into the day, and we had to cut our LA tour short although the studio was neat, and my girls enjoyed it. It took over 3 hours though, and we therefore didn't get to see much else of LA. Its one of the only studios open on Saturday, and there isn't much going on there at this time of year, they mostly tape /film in the fall or early spring.

Regarding Oahu, Pearl Harbor is a "must see" and quite moving. Very nice visitors center with museums, tours, etc. We did the online Arizona Memorial tickets and were quite glad we did. You could really spend several hours there.
My girls did the Hawaii Fire Surf School and had a great time. We got some really good pictures, and they offer Cd's as well
Our Sam Choy Cooking Class through ABD was canceled due to inadequate numbers of participants. Memorial Day week? Really? I wonder if they ever have enough? That was a little disappointing.
We drove into Honolulu and went to the Ala Moana shopping center (did I mention I have 2 daughters?), which was nice but can find those stores in any major city. They did have a few Hawaiian stores like Reyn's and Hilo Hattie which I liked. We went to the big Hilo Hattie in Honolulu too (just happened to drive by it) - that was fun.
Skip the International Market in Waikiki, a waste of time
We went to the Dole Plantation. Worth a stop, I guess, but we didn't find much there. We did buy a delicious pineapple (the cashier was very nice, picked out a nice, ripe one for me). We cut it up back in the room.
A drive to the North Shore was fun, stopping for lunch, and shave ice as mentioned above.
We had a great time at Aulani, we look forward to going back someday.:)

06-11-2012, 12:47 PM
Thanks very much for the report. Hoping to see Aulani and Disneyland together for our 25th anniversary in a couple of years. There's so much to do and plan for in Hawaii, seems like that is going to take some serious planning! :thumbsup2

06-11-2012, 04:49 PM
Thanks - we are headed there in November. I am reading all reports as they come in to get ideas. You have been very helpful.

06-13-2012, 09:03 PM
Thanks for the report! We are headed to Aulani in 3 weeks!:hourglass

06-14-2012, 11:48 PM
Thank you so much for your review! :banana: You answered many of my questions. We are hoping to go in Oct, renting DVC points. We are looking to get a 2 bedroom villa. Was the kitchen fully stocked with cooking supplies?

TIA :flower3:

06-21-2012, 09:08 PM
Thanks for the nice comments. You will love Aulani. We did!:love:

Yes, the kitchen is fully stocked. This included a cookie sheet as my girls baked cookies one night, and a large knife for cutting up that pineapple we bought! There are even chopsticks and a rice cooker due to the large number of Japanese who come to Aulani. The only things I brought were some coffee filters (one for each day), and some sweetener packets. I guess you could buy these there but they don't weigh much and you won't need that many. I also brought a couple of laundry detergent "pods" and wished I had brought a couple of dishwasher detergent tablets. They do supply those, but I needed a couple more.

Have a great time!!:)