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View Full Version : Family trip to Aulani - 6/25 to 7/2


Iceman13
06-26-2012, 04:12 AM
Our family (myself, DW & DD [11]) arrived at the magnificent Aulani Resort this afternoon for a one week stay. I told myself I would take the time to submit a trip report to share our experiences. The six hour time difference has made for a long day today, but I think I can make it through this first day's report without nodding off at the computer.

First off, you need to understand that this is not our families' first time to Hawaii, but it is our first visit to Aulani. Also, our family kind of plays things by ear when it comes to vacation, we don't usually make a lot of advanced reservation, unless we feel we have too. We went into this trip with a list of possible activities, but not much scheduled in advance.

We drove to Chicago yesterday to catch the flight this morning. We had a delay loading the plane at O'hare, but we made up some time and arrived in Honolulu only 30 minutes late (2:30pm local time). We grabbed our rental car and hit the road to the resort. The drive is an easy one. When you leave the airport, you take "Interstate" H1 west until you hit the Ko Olina exit. Then you follow that road into the resort area and it takes you right by Aulani. We ran into a little traffic that slowed us down slightly, but we still made it in around 30 minutes.

As many have said before, the resort is beautiful. Disney has done a wonderful job building a resort that is wonderfully themed and comfortable. The first thing that we noticed was just how friendly and helpful every person was that we met. Every cast member we saw as we entered the building greeted us with a smile. The valet, host and our bellman all took the
time to make sure we were introduced to the resort an answered all of our questions. They do make one feel at home.

Our room is on the 16th floor with an ocean view. When we first got there, none of our three keys would unlock the door. I made a call down to the front desk and within a couple of minutes they brought up three replacement keys and made sure all of them worked before they left us. They handled the whole thing well. We have a 1 bedroom suite and it was everything we expected it would be. The view is fantastic! At some point I will post a picture.

After I self-parked our car, we took some time to walk around the resort. When we went to the pool area the first thing we saw was Mickey taking pictures with the guests. We got in a short line and had our picture taken with Mickey. They gave us our PhotoPass card and mentioned that Donald would be at the same spot within the hour. We found all the pools/hot tubs, the restaurants, the snorkeling and stingray areas, Aunties' Beach house, etc., then went back to get our picture taken with Donald. At that point it was time for dinner and we were all starved.

The one dinner reservation that I made prior to our trip was today at Roy's, which is near Aulani. Many people have talked about the place and had lots of good things to say, but seeing (and tasting) is believing. Our meals were wonderful. My wife had a Macadamia crusted swordfish and I had a "sampler" platter (I can't remember the name) that had a shrimp, lobster and fish dish. The thing that impressed me the most was that they knew our DD was hungry and made a point to get her food to her right away. Believe me, minimizing the time having a hungry cranky daughter, made the folks at Roy's my heroes.

Before dinner we walked from Aulani to Roy's. We were not sure the best way to get their, and ended up taking a rather non-direct route. During dinner we learned that there is a shuttle that makes stops at the area resorts and at places like Roy's. It stops at Roy's twice per hour and we took advantage of it for our trip back.

When we got back to Aulani, the rest of the family went to the room and sent me for the grocery run. I had some gift cards for Safeway, so that was where I needed to go. I wasn't sure the best way to get there, so I asked the valet. They gave me a card with turn by turn directions to the Safeway, and it looked like they had other places as well. With my card, I made it to the store with no problem. I mainly purchased breakfast, snack and drink items and some lunch meat for sandwiches. When I checked-out the total came out to be around $180. They then offered me the Safeway shoppers card, which I accepted, and the bill after they scanned my card was $133. Even if I never use it again it was worth the time it took to fill out the form that came with the card. If you go to Safeway, make sure you ask for a card if you don't have one.

That is it for the day. Tomorrow we plan to stay at the resort and hit the pool and some of the other activities offered at Aulani.

Robin"D"
06-26-2012, 09:17 AM
Was it hard to get a reservation for Aulani on the dates you wanted?
I know that some DVC resorts are a hit a miss when it comes to getting reservations if it isn't your home resort/ espacilly Grand Califorina

Just wondering....plaining a trip soon we hope

Robin & Angel "D" :thumbsup2

raftislander
06-26-2012, 03:05 PM
So excited about your trip report as my DD(18) and her best friend just checked in late last night for a weeks' stay as a graduation present. I got a couple of texts with photos but you are bound to be more informative! Glad to hear bout the shuttle to area resorts as they could not rent a car due to their age. I will suggest that they take a look around the nearby resorts. Enjoy the Sun!

honeylove
06-26-2012, 03:36 PM
Welcome to Hawaii! :) Hope you have a great trip here!!

Iceman13
06-27-2012, 02:32 AM
Was it hard to get a reservation for Aulani on the dates you wanted?


It took a little work to get a 7 night stay reserved. We tried for the second week of June, but could not get anything. When we looked at the last week of June, the only thing available was the ocean view (we wanted the pool view). I have gone through worse times to get a reservation.

Iceman13
06-27-2012, 03:18 AM
We decided that today was a good day to stay at the resort and see some of the things it had to offer.

After shopping for a few souvenirs, we went down to the pool for a few hours and experienced the lazy river, hot tub, etc. Our DD enjoyed the two slides and even got my DW and I to go on them too. There were a lot of people at the pool, but it did not keep up from doing anything we wanted to do. The resort has plenty of chairs and space. During our pool time we had several small bouts of light rain, which they said was unusual. It did not dampen our fun.

Our DD wanted to try the rainbow reef snorkeling pool, so she and I tried it. We decided to purchase the "length of stay" pass as it only cost a few dollars more than a single session pass and I thought we might do this a couple of times. We also got a 10% DVC discount. Our DD has never snorkeled, and I had only done it two times before. Our DD had a great time. When we were in the reef, they started to feed the fish, which made the area very active. I have to admit that I had a better time than I expected. This is something we will do at least one or two more times while we are hear.

We had lunch at Off The Hook. We were really hungry at the time so we wanted something close by. The food is okay and a little high in price, but you pay for the convenience of eating near the pool.

Later in the afternoon, our daughter went to the teen/tween area and joined a group making hawaiian bracelets. She hung out for about and hour and then wanted to try the Menehune Trail.

The Menehune trail (similar to Epcot's Kim Possible) seems to be a pretty popular activity for kids of all ages (and some adults). We picked up our game device at the tween/teen area and started out to see what this was all about. I have to admit that this is a really impressive "adventure". It is very similar to the things that you do with Kim Possible, but with a Hawaiian theme. I asked my daughter which she liked better and she said she liked them both the same. I would say if you have kids that liked Kim Possible, they will enjoy this as well (I personally like the Menehune adventure better). We completed two of the five adventures and it took a little less than one hour. We will do the other three adventure later this week. I imagine our DD will also repeat some of the adventures she did today as well.

We had dinner at Assagio's in Kapolei (Italian). Without going into details, we had a good meal with an appetizer, three adult meals (all with plenty of food), two glasses of wine (and one soft drink) and one dessert and got out of the restaurant just under $100. No complaints here. It is also easy to get to (15 min. drive maximum).

After dinner we got back to the resort at 8:45, so we decided to call it an evening.

Tomorrow's plan: Spa in the morning and island touring in the afternoon.

Iceman13
06-27-2012, 03:21 AM
So excited about your trip report as my DD(18) and her best friend just checked in late last night for a weeks' stay as a graduation present. I got a couple of texts with photos but you are bound to be more informative! Glad to hear bout the shuttle to area resorts as they could not rent a car due to their age. I will suggest that they take a look around the nearby resorts. Enjoy the Sun!

I hope your DD has a wonderful time. I know we are.

Disney_Mama
06-27-2012, 05:47 AM
Thanks for sharing. :goodvibes

Robin"D"
06-27-2012, 07:08 AM
It took a little work to get a 7 night stay reserved. We tried for the second week of June, but could not get anything. When we looked at the last week of June, the only thing available was the ocean view (we wanted the pool view). I have gone through worse times to get a reservation.

Thank you for the input and have a GREAT TRIP!!!

Robin & Angel "D" :thumbsup2

wdrl
06-27-2012, 09:02 AM
Thanks for taking the time to post your trip report! I love reading about Aulani.

My sister just returned from Aulani and last night we went over to her house to look at her photos. It looks like a beautiful resort. My nieces collected the pool wrist bands Aulani gives out and were very proud that they had 7 different colors. A CM said they actually have 13 different colors and that they have already retired at least one color.

If you get a chance, please post a photo of your view to the thread on Aulani Villas and Views (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2907389). I'd appreciate it!

saintstickets
06-27-2012, 04:01 PM
Looking forward to your TR. DW and I are going to Aulani the week after Labor Day. You've already helped us by posting that there is a shuttle that stops at Roy's. We have reservations there one night. Thanks and keep the info coming! :thumbsup2

podsnel
06-27-2012, 09:27 PM
Looking forward to your TR. DW and I are going to Aulani the week after Labor Day. You've already helped us by posting that there is a shuttle that stops at Roy's. We have reservations there one night. Thanks and keep the info coming! :thumbsup2

Already have your ressies for Roy's?! Uh-oh- you made me call Hawaii tonight to book for our August trip. :goodvibes Thanks- always fun to call Hawaii!

Glad you are having fun Iceman- enjoying reading about your adventures-:thumbsup2

musical2
06-27-2012, 10:27 PM
Hey! We are here right now too!:cool1:

LisaT91403
06-28-2012, 12:34 AM
Great report so far, and I can't wait to read the rest. Is it too early for me to be excited about our Aulani trip coming the first week of November? :yay:

Iceman13
06-28-2012, 04:16 AM
On Tuesday we made some reservations for the Laniwai spa on Wednesday morning. I went for the Lomilomi massage and my wife (who is not into massages) booked a manicure/pedicure package with our DD [11]. I am not a massage expert as I seem to get one about every 4 to 5 years, so I was a little apprehensive that I would not know what to do. Talk about being pampered. The staff took very good care of me and made sure I understood each area of the spa and how each area worked. They were patient with me as I asked questions. They ease my concern from the very start. I arrived an hour before my massage appointment and spent the time in the steam room and in the relaxation room. I then had the 50 minute Lomilomi massage with a specialist with magic hands. After the massage I went back to the relaxation room for a while and then out to the Kula Wai, outdoor hydrotherapy garden. I tried everything in the area (vitality pools, the 6 rain showers, the whirlpool and cold bath). I spent about 50 minutes in the this area and then to the Pulu bar for my custom made body polish. All this was part of my Lomilomi package, so I took advantage. This is not a cheap activity, but I will admit that the way I felt afterwards made was worth it.

My DW and DD spent about 2 hours in the spa doing the manicure/pedicure package. This included a massage chair, and a hand/leg/foot massage. They both had a very good time. Overall it was a good morning.

For lunch we went to the ABC store across the street from Aulani to get some sandwiches. We had heard the DIS unplugged podcast crew talk about these sandwiches. My DD had a custom made roast beef sandwich, my DW had a toasted roast beef and brie, and I had a toasted rueben. This was an impressive lunch and each of these large sandwiches were between $7 and $10 each. This is something we will probably do again.

We decided to wander off the Resort for a few hours so we decided to go the the Dole Plantation. The valet desk gave us the direction card and we where on our way. We knew that the Dole plantation is a heavy tourist area, but it is something that we thought our DD would enjoy (and of course my DW and I wanted a Dole Whip). The place we pretty crowded, but we managed to take their train ride and walk around the gardens, which was nice. We ate our Dole whips ad decided to head back for our Dinner reservation at the resort. We spent about two hours at the plantation.

We called Wednesday morning (before the spa) and got dinner reservations for 6:30 at Makahiki. This is the buffet restaurant on the resort. It has a good variety of food to choose from and my DW and I tried many of the selections. Some of them we liked others we didn't. The food was okay and I ate quite a bit. My biggest issue with this restaurant is the fact that two out of three people in our family did not get their money's worth. The cost for three of us (all considered adults) was $135 before gratuity. Unlike me, my wife probably did not eat enough to justify the money for her meal and DD definitely did not. I am not sure we would do this again only because of this.

We also booked an experience for Wednesday night at the resort ( booked in the morning). It was called " 'Imi Loa Na Hoku Explore the Stars" experience. This consisted of viewing planets and stars through a high powered telescope with the help of a local expert. The cost was $39 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under. The expert also discussed how stars were used in ancient Polynesian navigation. The experience started at 8pm and ended about 9:20pm. We looked at some planets, stars and nebula. Our DD had a great time, I enjoyed myself and my DW struggled a bit seeing many of the things that the expert was trying to show us. My DW said the experience was not worth the money for her, but it was worth doing just based on the enjoyment our DD got out of it. There were about 10 kids in our group and they also seemed to really enjoy themselves. I enjoyed myself and got to see the Southern Cross and the "planet" Pluto for the first time in my life, so I guess it was worth it.

I said on day one that the cast members at Aulani are really great. I talked about how they quickly resolved our key issue, and I have a couple of other examples to illustrate my point. We bought some of the signature products from the spa. When we brought the products to counter, the lady at the desk looked at one of the bottled and noticed it was slightly less full than another bottle we purchased. We didn't even notice. She took this "less full" bottled and replaced it with one that was "more full". Also when we were at rainbow reef yesterday the folks that were in the reef with the guests seemed to spend a little extra time with my DD making sure that she saw all that the reef had to offer. I appreciated them working to make our DD had an enjoyable experience.

I realize that I have not said much about our room. We have been to BLT twice and now Aulani once. The biggest difference we noticed is that the 1 bedroom suite in BLT has two separate bathroom while the Aulani 1 bedroom suite has one bathroom. For us this is not a big issue, but it could more of an issue if there were 5 in the room. The rooms are very comfortable and I have slept really well both nights. We have not been disturbed by any outside or neighboring noises. My wife and I are obviously in the King size bed and our daughter is sleeping in the murphy bed that is part of the TV entertainment center. I will publish a photo of this later. My DD says that it is comfortable as well. We have not tried the pull-out sofa bed, so we can't speak to that.

I think the concierge and valet area have direction cards for every key destination on Oahu. I have asked for directions three times (Safeway, Dole and now Pearl Harbor) and they have met the challenge each time.

Tomorrow: Pearl Harbor in the morning and afternoon is up in the air. It's getting late, so if anyone has asked me questions, I will try to answer them tomorrow.

Neraj
06-28-2012, 06:37 PM
I believe there is an a la carte option at the Makahiki restaurant... if that helps.

Iceman13
06-29-2012, 04:17 AM
When we have talked to people about going to Pearl Harbor we have always been told to get there early to make sure you get a ticket for the video/ride to the Arizona monument. For those of you that are not familiar with how it works, if you want to visit the Arizona memorial, your get a ticket (its free) from the ticket desk at the front of the park. The ticket has a time on it. This is the time that you meet to view the video that you must see before your boat ride to the memorial. We arrived at the ticket stand at 7:55am and got a ticket for the 11:15 showing. If I had my choice, I would have wanted something a little earlier, but overall it was not a bad time. Even though my DW and I have been to Pearl Harbor a couple of times before, we wanted to do the walking tour of the rest of the exhibits that describe the timeline leading up to to an during the attack on Pearl Harbor. We wanted to make sure our DD really understood what she was about to see at the memorial. The tour has a audible headset that you can rent that talks about certain points in the tour. The cost of this is $7.50, which we thought was worth the money. Since we had three hours we were able to go through everything at a leisurely pace. When our time came, we watched the video, took our boat to the memorial stayed for about 30 minutes and then returned. I am always moved when we visit the Arizona Memorial and today was no exception. I was glad to see that our DD really seemed to understand what she was see at the memorial. When we got back to dry land we looked at couple of things at the park and visited the gift shop. All in all we were there for just over 5 hours. I was interested in seeing the battleship Missouri, but by the time we were done at the Arizona, my DD was ready for something different. Pearl Harbor was the priority, so I wash;t going to push it. I think that Pearl Harbor/ Arizona Memorial is a absolute must do at least once if you are on Oahu.

After Pearl Harbor, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and decided to do a little shopping in Honolulu. We drove down to Waikiki and parked our car to walk around the area. Parking was a little toughto find, but we found a parking garage that charged $4 per hour p arking. I don't know if there was something better, I decided I would park rather than spend a lot of time comparing rates. We walked around the area and visited the International Market Place, which for us is something we feel we have to visit when we are in Waikiki. We found a couple of things to buy and decided to head back to the resort for our 6:15 dinner reservations that we made at 'Ama 'Ama (we made these on Tuesday) we left Waikiki at 4:45 thinking that 90 minutes was plenty of time even with traffic. Wrong! We got caught up in stop and go traffic between Waikiki and the airport and arrived back at the resort at 6:45 (Two hours!) Needless to say, I was a little stressed and concerned about what would happen at 'Ama 'Ama. When we got to the restaurant, I explained what happened and they were very understanding, and seated us right away. I have seen some mixed reviews of the food at 'Ama 'Ama, but I will say that we were very pleased with our dinner. My wife had the fish-of-the-day and I had the New York strip. My DD had a small Steak of the children's menu. My DW and I also both had the Maui Onion Soup Au Gratin. Our food came out hot, prepared as we order, and tasted very good. Even though the cost of this restaurant is higher than Makahiki, we considered this the better value for us.

After dinner, we decided to head back to the room and relax for the rest of the evening. Our DD wants to do some more things at the resort, so we will probably stick close tomorrow.

oktracy
06-29-2012, 08:46 AM
Thanks for the wonderful trip report. We will be traveling in September. Sounds like a nice vacation is being had by all. Enjoy your trip and family time.

:yay:

aprincesswannabe
06-29-2012, 11:04 PM
Good to hear that you are having a wonderful vacation! Great job on the trip report.

hjgaus
06-30-2012, 12:21 AM
We called Wednesday morning (before the spa) and got dinner reservations for 6:30 at Makahiki. This is the buffet restaurant on the resort. It has a good variety of food to choose from and my DW and I tried many of the selections. Some of them we liked others we didn't. The food was okay and I ate quite a bit. My biggest issue with this restaurant is the fact that two out of three people in our family did not get their money's worth. The cost for three of us (all considered adults) was $135 before gratuity. Unlike me, my wife probably did not eat enough to justify the money for her meal and DD definitely did not. I am not sure we would do this again only because of this.

We were there last week & had the dinner buffet @ Makahiki. I have read all the previous reports of the food & went in with an open mind & LOVED IT!!!! I am Filipino,my husband Caucasian & obviously my teen boys both soo...... most of the dishes to us were like my MOM's cooking (I DO NOT cook Filipino dishes @ my house) & ANYTHING that goes WITH RICE is a given for us. So maybe if your looking for something that looks or tastes like HOMETOWN BUFFET- this wasn't for you. I can't say it was the best gourmet I've ever had or that the price matched the food but it is Disney in Hawaii (almost anything in Hawaii is expensive anyway) but the food was fine there. Later in the week went to a little hole in the wall type local restaurant called HIGHWAY INN as suggested by one of the beach attendant CM Jordan " if you are looking for local (like your grandma made) dishes stop by there."
We did & loved it! The beef dish (can't pronounce it) was awesome so I had to order 2 servings to take back with us! We ate it with sauteed veggies I picked up at ABC's across from the hotel & of course rice! I love that there was a rice cooker in the villas! Only in Hawaii!! My husband & I celebrated or 21st wedding anniversary @ AMA AMA & the food was good there as well. (yes quite $$$ but that's why it was only for the 2 of us!)

Iceman13
06-30-2012, 02:51 AM
We called Wednesday morning (before the spa) and got dinner reservations for 6:30 at Makahiki. This is the buffet restaurant on the resort. It has a good variety of food to choose from and my DW and I tried many of the selections. Some of them we liked others we didn't. The food was okay and I ate quite a bit. My biggest issue with this restaurant is the fact that two out of three people in our family did not get their money's worth. The cost for three of us (all considered adults) was $135 before gratuity. Unlike me, my wife probably did not eat enough to justify the money for her meal and DD definitely did not. I am not sure we would do this again only because of this.

We were there last week & had the dinner buffet @ Makahiki. I have read all the previous reports of the food & went in with an open mind & LOVED IT!!!! I am Filipino,my husband Caucasian & obviously my teen boys both soo...... most of the dishes to us were like my MOM's cooking (I DO NOT cook Filipino dishes @ my house) & ANYTHING that goes WITH RICE is a given for us. So maybe if your looking for something that looks or tastes like HOMETOWN BUFFET- this wasn't for you. I can't say it was the best gourmet I've ever had or that the price matched the food but it is Disney in Hawaii (almost anything in Hawaii is expensive anyway) but the food was fine there. Later in the week went to a little hole in the wall type local restaurant called HIGHWAY INN as suggested by one of the beach attendant CM Jordan " if you are looking for local (like your grandma made) dishes stop by there."
We did & loved it! The beef dish (can't pronounce it) was awesome so I had to order 2 servings to take back with us! We ate it with sauteed veggies I picked up at ABC's across from the hotel & of course rice! I love that there was a rice cooker in the villas! Only in Hawaii!! My husband & I celebrated or 21st wedding anniversary @ AMA AMA & the food was good there as well. (yes quite $$$ but that's why it was only for the 2 of us!)


It is always good to hear different viewpoint on any aspect of the resort. Thanks!.
There is one thing I want to be sure people understand. My issue with Makahiki was not with the food itself. My DW and I both found plenty that we liked. The issue was more with our DD and the fact that she was considered an adult for the buffet and there was no way she could eat enough to cover the cost. Maybe when she is older it will be better, but not right now.

Iceman13
06-30-2012, 03:37 AM
Our DD really likes the pool at Aulani, so we decided to stick around the resort for the day.

There were a couple of new things that we experienced today. Yesterday, we booked the interactive stingray experience that they have on the resort. Our DD is an inspiring marine biologist, so this was something that she was interested in. The cost is $45 for a child (11 is considered a child) and $50 for adults. There is a 10% is you are a DVC member. A portion of the cost of this experience is donated to the preservation of stingrays. I participated in this experience with my DD along with six other people. The ages ranged from adult to a child that seemed to be around 6. Other family members can come with you and watch. The guides in this area spent the first part of the program talking about the seven stingrays they have in the preserve area. All seven are of a species that is found only in Hawaii. They went through a discussion of the anatomy of the stingray and some of their defense mechanisms in nature. There is definitely a conservation message that is emphasized in this program. For this experience, you will need to get in the tank with the stingrays, but the water is not deep. I am around 6 ft tall and the water was at my upper thigh. The youngest member of our group had no issues standing in the preserve area. The program starts with allowing you to touch the fins and the end of the tail of the stingray while it is not moving. Then they broke us up into two groups. One group fed the stingrays and the other group got to touch a stingray as it swims by you. After a period of time the two groups trade. I will say that the guides took our safety seriously and have things set up to make you feel safe. The experience is scheduled for 45 minutes, but it seemed like it was a little longer than that (about 1 hour). As I am typing this, our DD is still talking about it. She even picked out one stingray as her favorite.

The other new thing we did today was our DD went to a session where they taught tweens to play the ukulele. This was a one-hour session and there were four kids that participated. The instructor taught the kids 5 chords that allowed them to play a couple of songs. We came back near the end of the session and the kids played a little concert for some of the folks that we in the area. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with how the kids did. I told our daughter that I didnít think I could find a decent ukulele teacher in central Indiana ;).

After the ukulele lesson, we spent some time in the room relaxing and then went to dinner. We had some gift cards to Ruth Chris Steakhouse and there are two on Oahu. Since our DD is a huge steak fan, we decided to go. I made the reservation this morning with no problem.

On other interesting thing to note. Yesterday was day 4 of our DVC stay, so housekeeping came into replace the towels. What they did not do was give us any new laundry soap, dish washer soap or bath soap/shampoo/conditioner. This was different than our previous experiences at BLT. We didn't need the laundry or dish washing soap, but we did need some shampoo and conditioner. Today, we called housekeeping to see if we could get some more. We said we would like two shampoos and one conditioner. What they brought us was two shampoos, four conditioners and three shower gels. I think we are set for the rest of our stay.


I think that tomorrow we will head to the North Shore to see what sort of trouble we can get ourselves into.

Iceman13
06-30-2012, 03:39 AM
By the way. Thanks for all the encouraging comments. I am enjoying putting it together. Hopefully people are getting a little something out of it.

saintstickets
06-30-2012, 11:12 AM
Thanks for the wonderful trip report. We will be traveling in September. Sounds like a nice vacation is being had by all. Enjoy your trip and family time.

:yay:
Ditto about the TR. We are also going in September and have made almost all our plans based on fellow DISboard members TR's, including this one.

BTW, has anyone done one of the shark excursions where they lower you in a cage to see the sharks up close? :eek:

WestCoastMama
06-30-2012, 05:35 PM
Subbing!! I'm following along too! Great info! We will be there Oct 21-27. I like hearing about the paid activities. Good to get a DIS perspective. I look forward to your next post.

ramkam
06-30-2012, 06:21 PM
We are enjoying your report. Our family is set to arrive on July 4!

marynvince
06-30-2012, 07:45 PM
great report enjoying it . Thanks

ramkam
06-30-2012, 08:52 PM
Dad 522,

We are thinking about buying beach chairs at Target when we get to Aulani. Do you think we need to do this or are there sufficient chairs, if any, available on the beach?

Thanks,

Dad 707

Hunnypaw
06-30-2012, 11:35 PM
great report Iceman... we will be there at Aulani on Monday! Thanks for the information! :thumbsup2

Iceman13
07-01-2012, 03:14 AM
Dad 522,

We are thinking about buying beach chairs at Target when we get to Aulani. Do you think we need to do this or are there sufficient chairs, if any, available on the beach?

Thanks,

Dad 707

The one time we went to the beach, we were able to find a couple of chairs. From what I can tell it seems like there are enough available chairs, unless you want a bunch (more that 4) all together, then it could get tight. It also depends when you get out there. The middle of the day is the busiest. We are going to the pool and beach tomorrow. I will keep an eye on this and let you know.

Iceman13
07-01-2012, 04:23 AM
Today we climbed in the car and headed to the North Shore. We had a list of some possible things that we wanted to do, but we mostly wanted to drive around and see the various beaches and scenery.

We start by driving up to Waiaula and then drove toward the windward side of the island. We got a bit of a late start and we wanted to get to the shrimp trucks by around lunchtime so we did not stop much at first. We used this part of the trip to scope out some beaches that we wanted to stop at on the way back. Our first stop was at Giovanni's shrimp truck that is along he roadside in Kahuku. This was the shrimp truck that was recommended to us by one of the ladies that worked in the spa. The truck is not much to look at but the shrimp was good. Giovanni's has three kinds of shrimp. My DW and DD split a shrimp scampi plate. Each "plate" consists of 12 decent sized shrimp and two scoops of rice. The shrimp and the rice both have quite a bit a garlic, so you better like garlic (our entire family does). I had the hot and spicy plate that came with plain rice. I did get a little laugh at the menu board when I saw this. The menu board specifically says that this shrimp is very hot and no refunds will be given. I guess they feel they sufficiently warned you up front so there will be no refunds for it being too hot. I, of course, love very hot foods so it was right up my alley. It was not the hottest food I have eaten, but was definitely not something many people would enjoy. The two shrimp plates and two 12 ounce sodas cost $28. Like I said earlier, I have some pictures I will post once we get back home. I got a few of the shrimp truck to give you an idea of what it was like. By the way, the third kind of shrimp was a lemon butter shrimp plate.

There is also a shaved ice/smoothy stand at Giovanniís. We did not get any, but we heard other people say it was good.

After our shrimp, we continued around the island and got to a small town of Kaaawa. This is where we turned around and headed back to Waiaula. At certain points we stopped at a beach area and got out to walk around. We took in the scenery, waded into the water, took at few pictures and then got back in the car. Soon we drove past the Polynesian Cultural Center. My DW and I have been to this before and thought about going again, but our DD did not seem interested and we were not sure we had enough time to do the visit justice. We kept driving around and stopping at various beaches. Our DD loves wading into the water and letting the waves crash into her, so this was what she wanted to do. There are quite a few nice areas along the north shore and there weren't any that were overly crowded (unlike Waikiki beach). We kept on our beach hopping tour and got some nice pictures. We drove by Waimea Bay and wanted to stop in the Waimea Valley to walk through the botanical gardens. The cost of admission is $15 per adult and a little less for children. This is also something my DW and I have done before, and we wanted to do it again. Unfortunately we knew we did not have a lot of time left in our day and had to make a choice. We chose not to stop here and go on to our next destination.

Between Wiamea and Waiaula is the area where the Green Sea turtle come onto the beach. Our decision to skip the gardens was so our aspiring marine biologist could see the turtles. This particular beach is not hard to find, because it is the one with the heavy traffic jam and lots of parked cars along the road. We found a spot and went to the beach. There were a couple of turtles on the sand when we first got there. The folks on the beach roped off an area around the resting turtles to keep the people away. They ask that you stay at least 6 feet away from any turtle. We watched these turtles for a while and then walked down the rest of the beach. During our walk we saw four more turtles. Three were swimming right at the edge of the beach/rocks and a fourth came out of the water onto the rocks while we walked by. This was probably the highlight of our North Shore trip.

By this time we were all pretty tired and ready to get back to the resort. On the way home we stopped in the Pearl Harbor area to eat at Tony Roma's (ribs). Yes, it is a chain restaurant, but it was the first restaurant my family ate at on our first family visit to Oahu in 1995. It is kind of a tradition when we come to Oahu. Also, the three of ate ribs and got out of there for around $70 (our cheapest dinner so far). No reservations were needed and we were seated right away.

The beach hopping today only got our DD in the mood for more beach time tomorrow. Our current plan is to hit the beach and pool at the resort one last time and see what activities are listed in daily 'Iwa (resort newsletter) that we might try. We also want to get some picture with some of the Disney characters that we have missed so far. Tomorrow is our last full day here.

gwensgoofy
07-01-2012, 04:19 PM
What did your daughter think of the Teen area? I've got 2 teen boys going with us in December (will be 17 and 15). Is there anything in the teen area that looks interesting for boys that age (other than the teen girls running around)?

Iceman13
07-02-2012, 03:00 AM
What did your daughter think of the Teen area? I've got 2 teen boys going with us in December (will be 17 and 15). Is there anything in the teen area that looks interesting for boys that age (other than the teen girls running around)?

Our daughter did not spend a great deal of time in the teen/tween area, but when she was there for specific activities, she had a good time. They have movies playing most of the time and there are game consoles in the area. They had separate activities for the teens and the tweens. In our limited time in these areas, we did not see a lot of teen age boys. Most of the boys that we saw that would be around your sons ages were by the pool and on the beach (another place where teenage girls hung out).

Iceman13
07-02-2012, 03:53 AM
Well, as I predicted yesterday our daughter wanted to hit the beach today. We were there from 10AM to 6PM, with only a few distractions thrown in (like lunch).

There are a couple of things I can share. Today (Sunday) was the only one of our three pool days, where I thought the pool was very crowded. We walked by the pool area on our way to the beach at 10am and there were plenty of open lounge chairs, though all the "prime" chairs were taken. I walked back to the pool area at about 11:15am and I only saw a small handful of lounge chairs that were open and no two of them were together. I walked by the pool again at 12:30pm and 2:30pm and it was just a crowded. When I came up again at 5pm, there were open chairs. It appears that weekends are the popular pool days, so if you want lounge chairs on those days, get down there a little early.

The beach, on the other hand, never seemed to get crowded. There are plenty of lounge chairs in the beach area, and I never saw it more that 50% of them occupied. We got an umbrella from the rental area (theyíre free) and the cast member brought it out and buried the pole in the sand for us. We had it all day. There are also some beach chairs available (also free). I counted about 12 that were in use on the beach and also saw a stack of unused beach chairs back by the near the rental building.

The water in the lagoon area of the resort is pretty calm, as there are breaks that cut down the waves before they get to the beach. It is great for small kids and for leisurely wading and swimming in the ocean, but if you are looking for crashing waves to body board/surf/body surf in, then this is probably not the place.

For dinner we decided to stay close and go across the street to a place called Just Tacos Mexican Grill. We did not know what to expect. This is a sit down restaurant. There was a big party going on so when we got there the wait to get seated was about 1 hour. I think this was unusual since the huge party that was taking up all the outside seating. This restaurant specializes in tacos and has all different kind (beef, chicken shrimp, pork, steak, fish, etc). They also have other Tex-Mex items such as fajitas and burritos. We thought the food was pretty good and two adult meals and one kid meal, plus one appetizer cost us just under $50. We thought it was a good value.

Well, this was our last full day and it is a little sad to be leaving. There are a couple of overall thoughts about the resort that I wanted to share:
They keep this resort immaculate. We constantly saw people cleaning, dusting, sweeping, picking up trash, etc.
Every cast member we saw or interacted with offered you some kind of greeting and many asked about where we were from. It seemed like we were constantly saying "hello" or "good morning" or "good evening" as we walked around the grounds.

The staff at the resort kindly dealt with every situation that came up during our visit.

The lines for the Disney Characters were never very long and we never felt rushed. There were a couple of times when they would keep taking pictures even when we thought we were done. There were enough good pictures throughout the week to make the photo CD worthwhile. The charter handler will also take plenty of pictures with your personal camera while the photo pass cameraperson is taking them. So if you don't want the photopass picture you still can get plenty of pictures.

We have to check out around 8AM tomorrow. Though our Aulani visit is concluded, our Hawaii vacation continues as we head to the big island for a couple of days. If there is anything of note as we check out, I will make another entry.

I guess the best way to judge our experience is how badly we want to return. I will say that our DD starting talking about how soon we can come back to Aulani when we were only three or four days into our stay. My DW and I both agree that we need to find a way to get back here sooner than later.

Thanks everyone for reading this. Look for some pictures to be posted when we get back home.

wdrl
07-02-2012, 05:53 AM
I enjoyed reading your trip report. Thanks for sharing!

Did any of the CMs mention when Aulani plans to open Phase 3? The only thing I've read on the internet is 'Winter 2013.'

aprincesswannabe
07-02-2012, 07:34 AM
...does this mean you'll start saving right away to go with us next year?
:banana: :thumbsup2

So glad that you've had a good time!

raftislander
07-02-2012, 11:00 AM
Have really enjoyed reading your report. Thank you so much for sharing with the rest of us!

podsnel
07-03-2012, 01:19 PM
Thank-you so very much for all of your report- glad to hear it's a place your daughter wants to come back to.:thumbsup2 Have a great time on the Big Island!

Iceman13
07-06-2012, 02:38 AM
I enjoyed reading your trip report. Thanks for sharing!

Did any of the CMs mention when Aulani plans to open Phase 3? The only thing I've read on the internet is 'Winter 2013.'

The only thing we heard was that it would be next year. Nothing more specific.

Iceman13
07-06-2012, 02:45 AM
One thing to add on our report.

We had just arrived at the airport, and we realized we left a couple of things in our room. We called the resort and they went and found the items immediately. They are going to mail them to us. No hassle at all.

Iceman13
07-06-2012, 02:46 AM
...does this mean you'll start saving right away to go with us next year?
:banana: :thumbsup2

So glad that you've had a good time!

We'll have to see :)

ckdipp
07-08-2012, 10:45 AM
I have just read through your report and have really enjoyed and appreciated it. Thank you for taking the time during your vacation to offer up this day-by-day review. It has been so helpful.

We are readying for our trip to Aulani. We will be arriving there this Saturday! Can not wait!!!

croppincolburn
07-15-2012, 08:27 PM
Enjoyed your TR and look forward to pictures.

Roy's is "our" restaurant. LOL Went to one in Poipu, Kauai on our honeymoon. Fifth anniversary one that used to be in Denver. Tenth anniverary Roys somewhere on Maui. I think we need to to Roy's in Ko Olina as a few months early 15th anniversary. :-)

Beachbumpirates
07-15-2012, 09:53 PM
Great trip report - really enjoyed it! We will be there in October and I do have 2 silly questions for you:

Did they have paddle boards available at the resort?

Most Hawaiian resorts allow you to bring your own 'cocktails' to the pool -did you happen to notice if that was allowed at Aulani?

Thanks much!

my3princes
07-23-2012, 05:33 PM
Thanks for all the fabulous information. Can't wait for our trip next week.

dvcfan8118
07-23-2012, 06:07 PM
Great trip report - really enjoyed it! We will be there in October and I do have 2 silly questions for you:

Did they have paddle boards available at the resort?

Most Hawaiian resorts allow you to bring your own 'cocktails' to the pool -did you happen to notice if that was allowed at Aulani?

Thanks much!

We took ours we were there just last week. No bottles.

dvcfan8118
07-23-2012, 06:08 PM
Great trip report - really enjoyed it! We will be there in October and I do have 2 silly questions for you:

Did they have paddle boards available at the resort?

Most Hawaiian resorts allow you to bring your own 'cocktails' to the pool -did you happen to notice if that was allowed at Aulani?

Thanks much!

They have paddle boards for rent for use in their lagoon only and you can book an excursion through them for open water boarding

yolie912
07-09-2013, 10:36 PM
Great trip report! So tell us which island you liked the most? Big Island or Aulani??