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View Full Version : Our awesome Disneyland to Aulani trip!


Psychodisney
06-16-2012, 09:59 PM
We've been home for a week from our trip to Disneyland and Aulani! Still have one suitcase to unpack! We had such an awesome trip and I know there are a lot of people looking for Aulani and Oahu info so I thought I'd share our experiences and excursions. I'll skip the Disneyland stuff...not that it wasn't great too!

Day one: We arrived at the Honolulu airport at 11:30 am and promptly gathered our bags and jumped on the Alamo bus to pick up our minivan. It's a short bus ride and there were several agents working which equalled a short line. We headed out to pick a car and were disappointed to see how dirty and worn the minivans were. We're used to the cars in Orlando being like brand new. I guess they don't turn them over very frequently in HI. We settled on the best Dodge Grand Caravan we found. We were off to find Snorkle Bob's to get rental snorkle gear for the week. We brought our GPS from home. It took several minutes for the GPS to find satellites and realize we were in HI! We found Snorkle Bob's no problem(they have a parking lot) and drove by the original Leonard's Bakery which we promptly went back to . The specialty is the malsadas which we read about on someone else's trip report! They are like a filled donut, very heavy and delicious! We also had a burger at a little place before heading west to Aulani! One word on the GPS. Make sure yours is updated.....otherwise Aulani isn't on there!

We hit some stop and go traffic which really lightened up by the time we got west of Honolulu. After the approx 40 minute ride we pulled up to Aulani and were greeted with leis and a birthday button for my DH. Our room was ready(about 2:30), so DH went and parked the car while we chatted with the hostess. She was full of info and so friendly. The resort is beautiful. It's a lot to take iin all at once. We headed up to our villa, 1008. We had a dedicated 2BR ocean view. I had debated about spending the points for an ocean view, but I'm so glad I did! We had a great view of the ocean to our right, the pool and the island to our left. Once we were settled, my DH, DD13 and I headed to Target and Costco. We picked up tons of provisions and dinner (costco pizza) and headed back to cook dinner and enjoy the evening. We were planning on going down to the fire pit for stories but it was drizzling and we were exhasted so turned in early.

More later.

Psychodisney
06-17-2012, 02:56 PM
Day 2 I found myself wide awake at 4:30 am. That's a big 5 hour time difference from Chicago! I decided to stroll around and enjoy the morning calm of the resort, check email etc. I found a great couch to relax on in the lobby and waited for the Oleo room to open at 6am for coffee. Once I got coffee, I strolled down the beach path and explored. The resort seems full of life by 7am! People in the ocean swimming laps, kids playing, character breakfest etc!
We had a couples massage scheduled at 11am so we checked in the spa at 10am to enjoy the hydrotherapy area. The staff was very friendly and the spa was fabulous. We enjoyed trying out the various soaking tubs and showers. The couples Lomi Lomi massage was outstanding! We both received some bath salts and our complimentary scrub(I think that's the DVC upgrade).
After our relaxing morning we met up with the kids for lunch in our villa before heading to the beach. It was nice to find plenty of lounge chairs still available at 1pm! The lagoon is perfect. We all shared a paddleboard rental for an hour. The kids managed it very easily.....me, not so much! But I'm glad I tried it!
We had reservations that evening at Paradise Cove so we kept our beach time short. We didn't get over to Paradise Cove until about 5pm. Apparently, we should have arrived much earlier. We were shown to our picnic table and issued drink tickets. Then, we were supposed to enjoy the activities. Everything was pretty crowded. We sat and made bracelets and vine crowns. I needed to get change for tips....so pack some small bills for the crafters. The dinner was fair. Unfortunately, the time change caught up to us and we were all exhausted midway into the show. We ended up walking back early. So, I can't really comment on the show. This was the only activity that we did all week that I wouldn't recommend. Defintely not worth the cost(and I used an Entertainment coupon).

HannaBelle
06-19-2012, 02:18 PM
Hi OP! I am anxious to hear more about your trip...it sounds wonderful! How old are your kids?

We went to HI in '09 and I was literally passed out by 8pm every night and up at 5am each morning...lol...DH was not impressed.

Cruiser1969
06-19-2012, 09:18 PM
Looking forward to reading more!! Is it normal to wake early and sleep early the entire time, or is it just the first few days of jet lag? We are flying in from the east, so there is a 6 hour time difference. Trying to plan my days realistically.:goodvibes

Psychodisney
06-20-2012, 09:21 PM
Day 3 I still found myself awake early.....but not as early. The rest of my family seemed to sleep in no problem. Not wanting to wake the kids, my DH and I went to the fitness room for a workout. It's nicely equipped and seemed pretty crowded at 7am. We headed back and got everyone moving for our trip to Haunama Bay. Snorkel Bob's had recommended getting there early(before 9) or waiting until after 1pm to avoid crowds. We didn't listen. ;) WE packed a cooler with lunch, snacks and drinks and arrived about 11:30. The drive there is pretty easy. It's east of Honolulu so you get to see a different part of the island. Hanauma Bay is absolutely beautiful from up top. To me, it's the Trunk Bay of Oahu (for those who have been to St. John). We all snorkeled but I didn't see too much. It was quite breezy and choppy. The coral seemed very close to the surface which freaked out my DD13! I must say I had a bit of adrenaline rush at times too. My DS18 and DS16 seemed to have no trouble and apparently saw plenty. Due to the conditions, the lifeguards kept people out of the deeper zones.
After enjoying the afternoon at the beach, we headed to Waikiki to find Jimmy Buffet's at the Beachcomber. GPS comes in very handy and took us right there. You get 3complimentary valet with validation at the restaurant. It wasn't very crowded and made for a nice casual dinner.
Once again, everyone was pretty beat and went to bed early as we had another big day planned on Monday!

Psychodisney
06-20-2012, 09:44 PM
We all got going early Monday as we had 9:30 tickets to Pearl Harbor. I had secured tickets ahead of time through the goverment website and totally recommend doing so. Traffic was surprisingly light...I expected much worse. We pulled into the free parking around 8:30. There is a window for will call tickets and we walked right up. I overheard other people picking up walk up tickets already for 1:00 pm. We did the audio tour and walked around with the grounds until it was time for our ferry to the Arizona. The entire experience is very moving and filled with great history. All of my kids and DH love history and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. We would have stayed longer but teenage boys get hungry and the little snack bar was not going to do it!
We headed back to Waikiki for lunch to the Shorebird at the Outrigger Reef Hotel. It's a cute cafe/bar right on Waikiki Beach. Nothing special about the food but it was nice to people watch on the beach.
We were all eager to get back to the beach for more paddleboarding and relaxing. Still had no trouble finding beach chairs midafternoon! My DH and I also enjoyed the "quiet pool". I really think this space should be dedicated as adult only(similar to DCL).
We were able to get a reservation at Makihiki for 6pm (which I was unable to do online a week earlier). The kids looked at the buffet and decided it looked good. Unfortunately, none of use thought it tasted as good as it looked. Overall a C for quality and a D for value. I think a place like O'hana at the Polynesian would do awesome there.

I forgot to mention that DH and I made it to Starlit Hui on Sunday night. As most people have said, it's a nice production. They do have some foling chairs set up in the back, otherwise you sit on mats on the lawn. This seemed to take many peoole by surprise. I also found out they will only sell you one grownup beverage at a time...so I had to make two trips to the bar. Our two Mai Tais cost as much as the bottle of Absolut we bought at Target! We kept our plastic cups and made our own drinks for the rest of the week!

Psychodisney
06-23-2012, 09:23 PM
I woke everyone up early on Tuesday for a hearty pancake breakfst before heading over to the Ko'olina Marina for a catamaran snorkel trip with Ocean Joy. I found them in the Entertainment book so decided to give them a try. We had a great day. It's a big catamaran with room for about 40 people. We went up the coast past Aulani and snokeled off the beach by the electric plant. The fish were plentiful and the staff of the boat helped us find sea turtles and dove to pick up craetures for show and tell. Then it was back on the boat for the open bar and lunch ......which was actually quite good! We spent the next hour or 2 sailing and looking for dolphins! We also got to see military helicopters fighting the wild fires west of Aulani in the Waimea valley. We had a great ride and loved seeing the spinner dolphins! I'd totally recommend this trip! We actually considered doing it a second time!
I had preordered the in room dining for DVC members that evening. We had the baked pasta dinner for 4, which completely satisfied our family of 5 with leftovers. For $75 we got a nice salad, garlic bread, grilled veggies, baked mostacolli and a cheesecake for desert. They delivered it right on time and you just call to have the dishes picked up. There are a couple of other in room meals: salmon, meatloaf and baked chicken.

Wednesday was time to head to the North Shore. I had purchased a groupon for Jetty Betty's for surf lessons. We met Vanessa right outside Haliewa. She had us follow her to a little beach just up the shore. Summer time doesn't have big waves but she said this beach is nice for beginners with typical 2-4" waves. The kids and I donned our rash guards and paddled out. I got "up" on my first wave for about 1 second, did 2 more on my knees and I was done. That's hard work! The kids did awesome. Vanessa had them all up by their second waves! DH stayed on the beach as the photographer as he had rotator cuff surgery in January! After surfing we drove into Haliewa for lunch and Matsumoto's Shave Ice. Our timing was great...short line! Highly recommended! we drove up the shore and pulled into the parking lot at Waimea Bay but no spots to be found. On our way back to Aulani we stopped into the Dole Plantation to sample the Dole Whip. They have quite a gift shop. We browsed but didn't take any tours. I ws shocked to find out pineapples don't grow on trees......my kids thought that wa quite funny!
That evening we drove around Kapolei trying to find something for dinner and ended up up Chili's......not what I was hoping for but good enough.

WestCoastMama
06-24-2012, 11:25 AM
Enjoying your trip report! :thumbsup2 Looking forward to more. We are going in October and are also staying in a 2 bdrm ocean view suite. :banana:

Psychodisney
06-24-2012, 01:05 PM
Thanks Westcoastmama!
On Thursday we went on a trip with Dolphin Excursions out of the Waianea Harbor (about a 30 minute drive). This was another trip I found in the entertainment book. We enjoy water based excursions if you hadn't noticed! This trip takes you out on a small boat...I think they called it a Zodiac. It was a small group, maybe 20. Once we found the spinner dolphins, we put on our snorkles and masks, no fins and slid into the water. We floated over a pod of roughly 60 dolphins! They would surface and swim around us. Pretty amazing experience. WE were in about 60ft deep water. We did see a stingray as well. After a generous time in the water with the dolphins, we got back on the boat and went to another reef to snorkle. Apparently, this reef has a type of fish that the turtles like to have them clean their shells. We saw 6-10 sea turtles of various sizes! There is a photographer on board who takes great pictures of you and your family in the water. The CD was an extra $50 but worth it for the unique shots she is able to take! We were served lunch back at the harbor. Great trip!
I noticed that there is a drop off station on the way to Waiamea for recylables. In Hawaii you pay 5 cents per bottle/can for a deposit. You can take them back there for your deposit.
That evening, the kids and I went next door to the Marriot for dinner. DH didn't join us as his ankle was swollen and painful. They have a nice open air cafe, not crowded at all. Enjoyed it much more than Makihiki. We brought DH a sandwich back from One Paddle Two Paddle. Let's just say, Aulani has a long way to go on their food.

HannaBelle
06-24-2012, 01:55 PM
Psychodisney, it sounds like a wonderful trip so far! I definitely need to steal some of these ideas for our next trip, my kids are 19 & 15 and we love the water & marine life as well. The dolphin excursion sounds amazing!

Psychodisney
06-24-2012, 02:19 PM
HannaBelle,
That's exactly why I'm writing this trip report. I've never written one before but this trip was amazing. I found a lot of info on the boards so I figured I'd give back what I could on our adventures!

Friday was our last full day. :( DH and DS16 went over and played a round at the Ko'olina golf club. They enjoyed their round but said the course won. My DS did have a great shot and landed on the green with his tee shot on a difficult par 3......that's waht keeps you playing the game. My DD13 and DS18 and I went off on a different adventure! They had really wanted to find a waterfall so thanks to our GPS, we found the trailhead to Maunawili Falls. It's a beautiful drive to the trail. You head north of Honolulu through the mountains. You park in the neighborhood. Definitely bring water and wear shoes you can get dirty and wet. Don't wear flip flops. I had read it was a mild to moderate hike. I'd say more moderate! Not too steep but a lot of steps, tree roots and you cross a stream a few times. The falls were nice but not huge. The kids joined a few other hikers in climbing up and jumping off into the pool. There are signs warning of bacteria(which made me nervous...but it's 2 weeks later and they aren't sick). It was a great thrill for both of them. Tired and sweaty, we made our way back for some relaxation at the resort!
For our last evening we had dinner at Chuck's Steakhouse at the Marriot. There are some earlybird specials and happy hour drinks ;). We got there early and had a very nice table with a view. We finished up in time to take pictures of the sunset. (Now I have my Christmas card picture all set!)

Saturday morning came too soon. My DH and I planned to get up early to enjoy the peace and quiet of the resort and beach once again. After getting our coffee, we strolled down by the water and saw a monk seal that had beached itself. Another awesome sight! We eventually headed back and finished packing. Our flight wasn't until 7:30pm, so we had all day. WE loaded the bags in the car and enjoyed the beach and pools all day. There are lockers in the day room if you get there early. It's nice that they have this available but it's crowded! The women's locker room had only 2 showers and was quite busy at 2:30 in the afternoon! My advice is to allow extra time to get ready!
We got off to the airport in good time as we also had to return the rental car. Having a direct flight home was nice. Advil PM worked well!

I'll try and post some pictures at some point. If you have any questions, please ask!

Psychodisney
06-24-2012, 10:39 PM
Here are some pictures from our trip!
http://s851.photobucket.com/albums/ab73/momdex/

NC State Tigger
06-25-2012, 05:51 PM
[QUOTE=Psychodisney;45276025]
DH and DS16 went over and played a round at the Ko'olina golf club. They enjoyed their round but said the course won. My DS did have a great shot and landed on the green with his tee shot on a difficult par 3......


How difficult is the course? I know my DS and DSiL would love to play a round in "Hawaii", but don't play enough to be great players. Do they rent clubs? Do you remember what it cost to play a round? Thinking, if the boys could get a golf day, then the girls would not feel guilty having a spa day:rotfl:

Psychodisney
06-25-2012, 06:12 PM
My DH said it is nice and fairly difficult as a resort course goes. Apparently they were busy the day my DH and DS played(busload of Japanese business men) and DH said the ranger pushed them quite a bit. They did rent clubs and they do have junior rates. All of their fees are on their webiste and you would qualify for resort rates.

NC State Tigger
06-25-2012, 06:26 PM
Thanks. Will put this on my list of things to investigate.

Really enjoying your TR. Thanks for posting!

Looking forward to what will probably be my one and only trip to Hawaii!!

raftislander
06-26-2012, 03:28 PM
Psychodisney -thank you for your report. My daughter (18) and her best friend are at Aulani now but do not have a car. What were you favorite places to eat - within walking distance or reachable by the resort shuttle bus- that are inexpensive ( or a good value for the $$) FYI -my daughter's friend is gluten intolerant. Also what would you reccomend for a birthday dinner for these two? Thanks for any help suggestions you can offer.

Psychodisney
06-26-2012, 07:56 PM
Hmmm....I'd say try the restaruants at the Marriots. There is one next door and another one down the beach. We didnt' try Just Tacos or go into the ABC store but I heard the ABC store has a good selection.

Robin"D"
06-27-2012, 07:29 AM
WOW....Great report....

I have a couple of questions:

did you also go to DL on this trip?

If so, may I ask where you stayed?

We are plaing a trip to Aulani in 2014 for a week then to DL for 4 days...hopefully at the GC

We now how ahrd it is to get a DVC reservation @ the GC if it is not your home resort, so trying to get the week we want with the GC could be challaging

Is this what you did, if so, how was it getting the reservations?

Thanks in advance

Robin & Angel "D" :thumbsup2

Psychodisney
06-27-2012, 08:43 AM
Yes, we went to Disneyland first. We stayed at GCV in a dedicated 2BR. I called at exactley the 7 month window and had no problem. We stayed midweek(Weds and Thus nights) so that may have helped.
We are seasoned WDW veterans and this was our first trip to DL. You say you're planning 4 days at DL. Are you doing other California things? IMHO, 4 days at DL would be a lot. 2 days would be perfect. We jammed a ton into one very long day. DL is much more compact that WDW. We used our no-expire WDW park tickets at the gate which get converted into DL park hoppers.
Grand Californian is beautiful. We had a view of CA from our villa and could watch WOC from our balcony! The 2BR is huge, nice to have the full third bath! We ate dinner at Storytellers cafe and it was very good. You get DVC discounts on food just about everywhere....even at counter service!

Robin"D"
06-27-2012, 09:14 AM
Yes, we went to Disneyland first. We stayed at GCV in a dedicated 2BR. I called at exactley the 7 month window and had no problem. We stayed midweek(Weds and Thus nights) so that may have helped.
We are seasoned WDW veterans and this was our first trip to DL. You say you're planning 4 days at DL. Are you doing other California things? IMHO, 4 days at DL would be a lot. 2 days would be perfect. We jammed a ton into one very long day. DL is much more compact that WDW. We used our no-expire WDW park tickets at the gate which get converted into DL park hoppers.
Grand Californian is beautiful. We had a view of CA from our villa and could watch WOC from our balcony! The 2BR is huge, nice to have the full third bath! We ate dinner at Storytellers cafe and it was very good. You get DVC discounts on food just about everywhere....even at counter service!

We stayed @ the GC this past May for 2 days before the DCL trip to Hawaii...
This was our first trip to DL and LOVED IT!!! Not to mention the GC...but need more time @ the GC & DL....
We are from the East coast....and when it came to DL, we went with an opened mind....not to compare it to WDW....WOW we were not disappoited at all. While on the DCL cruise, DVC had a made specail arrangements to go to Aulani to show it off, and went through a studio / one bedroom and the grand villa....very, very nice....right then and there we decided we are going back. So in 2014 [2013 doing a 2b2 DCL 4 day cruise out of Miami/ then the WBPC taking the Wonder back to LA] we are thinking when we go to Aulani/DL is going during the off season, so trying to get Aulani & the GC booked with in the same trip....that is our dilemma....so you think the 7 month mark...start calling DVC yes?

Robin & Angel "D" :thumbsup2

Psychodisney
06-27-2012, 10:19 AM
Wow! That sounds like a terrific itinerary. I'd say definitely try at 7 mos out. That's what I did for Aulani and GCV. I'm not sure if it matters what size accomodations you're looking for or not but I always feel like sooner is better!

Robin"D"
06-27-2012, 10:27 AM
Wow! That sounds like a terrific itinerary. I'd say definitely try at 7 mos out. That's what I did for Aulani and GCV. I'm not sure if it matters what size accomodations you're looking for or not but I always feel like sooner is better!

it is just my wife & I so we go for a studio....You got the Entertainments book...Worth it?
Everytime we trval, we order on from the city the we are traveling to.
Every penny counts huh?

Thank you for taking the time & answering our questions...
This is why we love the DIS & The boards!!

Thanks again

Robin & Angel "D" :thumbsup2

Psychodisney
06-27-2012, 10:39 AM
I love the Dis boards too!
We benefited from the Entertainment Book but I think it depends what you want to do. There weren't many restaurant coupons that we looked into. Did save $5 at Jimmy Buffett's. You can browse the book online and decide if it's worth it for you. Depending on when you're going, try to wait until it's offered on sale. Recently it was offered for $5! The expiration dates run November to November.