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View Full Version : Disney Aulani Trip Report (June 7-11) - Day 1


RunnerMomO
07-17-2012, 08:08 PM
This is another trip report with some slightly different adventures I thought we could share.

My DH and two DS (6 and 10) had already been in the Hawaiian islands since May 26 and we were spending our last 4 nights at Aulani. We had an early flight from Maui and were at the Honolulu airport before 8 am. We wanted to see a bit of the island, so prior to driving into Ko Olina, we headed to Pearl Harbour - a perfect stop over on the way to Aulani.

They don't allow ANY bags, so you have to pay a couple of bucks for a bag check, but it can be liberating to be purse-less! We had previously reserved a tour time for the Arizona Memorial online for the early afternoon, so we got tickets and headed to the USS Missouri or the Mighty Mo! A bus took us to Ford Island and to the mighty ship that was most recently in service during the gulf war. While on board we saw a Destroyer heading into the harbor with the sailors manning the rails and all of the other ships blaring their horns and welcoming it home. There was even a giant lei on the front of the ship likely returning from a 6-month cruise. The boys loved the ship and we explored all over - galleys, crew quarters, etc. before we needed to be back for our Arizona tour. The Arizona Memorial tour included a very moving film about the attack on Pearl Harbour and the present day memorial. We then got on a small boat and were taken to the somber memorial, definitely an experience that was moving for the entire family. We were anxious to make our way to Aulani, so we headed out and to the west of the island.

The Ko'olina resort had security as we entered and drove by the JW Marriott and Paradise Cove Luau. I had already checked in online, so when we pulled up to the front, they greeted us by name! I was given a lovely flower lei, my DH a Kuki nut lei and both DS received special menehune necklaces. We were also offered a refreshing cold glass of fruit infused water as we were lead inside and shown the lobby. No need to go to the check in desk, we were handed our room keys and we headed upstairs to our one bedroom villa with a view to the east on the front side of the resort.

Our room was beautiful with the full kitchen and nice touches. Our younger son discovered the pull out bed in the tv console. We had a knock on the door and were given a couple of photo cards with Mickey wishing us a happy birthday and anniversary for our stay. After getting our luggage we changed into our swim suits and headed down to the pool, after checking in on my parents who were also staying at Aulani in a studio. They were taking ukulele lessons and when finished, we all headed to the pool area. The kids loved the inner tube slide that put you right into the lazy river. My younger DS loved as he called it, the slide with the dark, dark tunnel! They also loved playing in the kids area with all of the water showers,dumping boats and mini slides. There was also infinity jacuzzi tub overlooking the beach on a quiet cove shared with some wedding chapels and the JW Marriott. The kids were all clamoring onto a floating mat out in the ocean to jump and slide across. The water was pretty clear and very minimal waves.

After learning that the Starlit Huli was only tonight during our stay, we postponed grocery shopping and ate dinner at One Paddle, Two Paddle poolside. They had a choice of a salad instead of fries with the entree which was a nice option. Afterwards, we wandered to the show area where they mattes were set up on the ground and they pulled out some chairs for folks who couldn't sit on the ground. There were termites flying all over and landing on us, but the kids didn't seem to mind. They played some games and did some crafts like weaving palm fronds. DH got us some tropical drinks to enjoy during the show...a "Disneyfied" luau without the food. It was led by "Uncle" and included singing and dancing and two amazing Ukelele players! We didn't stay for the character dance party afterwards and instead the family went to the room and I went with my parents to Safeway for groceries!

RunnerMomO
07-17-2012, 08:40 PM
Disney Aulani (day 2)

I started the morning with a run around the connecting lagoons of Ko Olina. It was a pretty popular area and I even saw some folks doing a little triathlon training by swimming across coves then running on land to the next one! We had a nice breakfast of eggs, sausage and muffins cooked up in our room before we dressed and headed to the beach. We rented a paddle board (fair price and with discount for DVC, cheaper then other resorts we had stayed at on our vacation) for an hour and took turns paddling around. The DS's enjoyed riding on the front and trying to spot sea life through the clear plastic window. While I was riding with my DH, we spotted a green sea turtle swimming around.

When our hour was up, we headed back to the pool and hit the lazy river, slides and kids area before we needed to cleanup for our lunch reservations at AMA AMA. We had a table overlooking the beach and the nearby wedding chapel. We watched as couple after couple came out to the beach for cookie cutter posed pictures, in almost a production fashion. The food was very good with a bit of a Hawaian flare. My DH had a lunch plate special with pork, chicken and fish and I enjoyed some pulled pork sandwich trio with the pork flavored in three distinct ways. The DS's finished their lunch with chocolate fondue using a Mickey straw for dipping.

After lunch the DS eagerly ran to Aunties House to check in. We had hoped they would do some crafts and activities like the volcano, but who were we kidding, they went and stayed right in the video game area. Our younger DS said but Mom, I played video games with Chip and Dale!? We took the time alone to go for a walk and check out more of the resort. We walked across the street where there is a small shopping center with a few restaurants and more to come and an ABC store. There is also a historical railway that runs on Sunday I believe. We picked up the boys later and grabbed a DVD to occupy them while I made dinner and my DH got in his run. We had quite the feast with my parents joining us for baked chicken, veggies, salad and some ravioli topped off with wine and macadamia nut ice cream. Great to have the full kitchen at our disposal!

After dinner, the kids went back to Aunties House and we walked around the resort in the dark. We came upon Abe from engineering who was checking out the Menehune trail and he let us follow him while he checked it all out. He was able to use an iPhone to activate all the various features of the trail like the fire in the rock wall, the islands rising out of the waters sea turtle swimming and drums playing. He told us some more about the resort, the Island, etc. and we decided we definitely need to bring the DS's back tomorrow to do the hunt. It was getting late, so we all headed back to the room after picking up the kids.

RunnerMomO
07-17-2012, 08:52 PM
Trip Report - Day 3 to Dole Plantation and Polynesian Culture Center

I got another run in this morning, but it was cut a little short when I spotted something on the beach and a few folks standing behind a barrier. It was a Hawaian Monk seal who was napping on the shore, right in front of Aulani! They said he had a girlfriend in the area and sometimes came into he cove looking for her. He was really big and quite a beautiful sight! Alas, we had plans for the day,so we got our breakfast and dressed to head to the North side of the island today. Our first stop was the Dole Plantation, a bit touristy, but still fun. We split up and DH and our older DS went into the former Guinness book of world records maze while the rest of us went on the Pineapple Express train into the pineapple fields. They had a very green Koi fish pond and for 25 cents you could feed them and they absolutely went crazy, practically climbing over each other and splashing about to get to the food! No stop at Dole is complete without a Dole Whip...even better then the one at the Magic Kingdom in Adventure Land, I had mine with fresh pineapple on top!

Back on the road and heading North, we drive past the North shore, famous for surfing, in the winter. The waves were relatively flat, so we didn't bother trying to stop. We headed instead to the Polynesian Culture center. If it wasn't for the kids, we likely would have skipped it since we have been here in past trips. However we had collected some coupons that we basically got both kids in free! We had a brief picnic lunch in the parking lot before we headed into the entrance area.

We worked our way around to the various villages seeing dancing, coconut husking demonstrations, got tattoos in New Zealand, sampled some food, wove palm fronds and even got my DH volunteered for drumming show. We order canoes and are arched the Long Canoe Pageant where they still knock one of the guys who is pushing the canoe along. Old joke. The DS also got to try their hands at throwing wooden spears, playing stick games and spinning poi balls and learned about early Hawaian voyagers. The day was coming to an end and we didn't have luau tickets, so we headed out after our DS turned in their scavenger hunt forms for prizes.

Back at our car, we had a surprise waiting for us...a dead battery! Luckily the security had a portable jumper and got us going a bit later back to Aulani. We had leftovers for dinner and went out to the lawn to grab grass mattes and watch the Muppet Movie under the stars. We had some macadamia nut cookies from earlier in the day and some more tropical drinks. A perfect end to our day of exploring!

RunnerMomO
07-17-2012, 09:10 PM
Day 4 Trip Report - Disney Aulani Spa, Paradise Cove Luau

Today was our 17th wedding anniversary and we had afternoon spa reservations for a couples massage. We couldn't wait! We started our morning at the pool (after we recovered the boys room keys from the washing machine) so they could get their wrist band collection added to. We hung out around the pool for several hours before DH went to check out a console for the Menehune trail. We wandered all around the gardens by the pool following the clues Auntie gave us. It was really neat how when we looked in the mailbox outsiders her house, she took a picture and sent it to the game console. The boys loved the fire in the shark silhouette in the lava rock, the lava flow inside the cave, sea turtles and drums. We could have gone on for a long time, but the boys were getting hungry, so we cleaned up and had some leftovers for lunch in our room. The boys went to Aunties House, Jenn ran across the street to get some last minute souvenirs from ABC store and then we met up at the Lania Spa.

What a beautiful and relaxing oasis in the resort! We were greeted with pineapple infused water and each asked to select a stone from a basket with a Hawaian word on one side and the English translation on the other side. Ironically we both selected "listen". We took our rocks with us seeing more of the water features in the spa as we headed to the dressing rooms and relaxation room. We first stopped at a small pool where we gently placed our rocks in ( they didn't like the idea of us skipping it across). My DH was taken to the dressing room and I hung out in the women's relaxation room before they showed me around the dressing area. I got to select scents for a custom salt scrub to be made up and then was given a locker and robe. They have you arrive an hour before your treatment to enjoy all the amazing pools in the gardens. They have various types of water for detox, jet lag, etc. there are also rain showers and one that sprayed you from the side like a car wash. We both tried very briefly the cold water tub, but decided to stick with the warmer water were we chatted with another DVC owner.

A little before our massage time, they invited us back inside to change and get ready for our massages. We met in the co-Ed relaxation room ( apparently the men's room had televisions in it!) they had little gourmet cupcakes with French macaroons on top, organic gummy bears and some chocolate covered berries plus the fruit infused water. Our massage therapist came to get us for our Lomi Lomi massage. It was in a nice room where we could select the music and enjoy the massages with hot stones, sticks and their hands. Very relaxing! We relaxed a little while longer afterwards, not wanting it to end, but we had to get the kids and prepare for our Luau.

We did have enough time for some shopping in the gift shop. I had my eye on a Dooney and Burke wristlet that was decorated with images of Aulani. It was a little pricey, but I decided I didn't know when I would be back and I had overheard a shop keeper tell someone on the phone, they couldn't ship any items, the kids picked out a shirt and a Mickey souvenir before we dressed for our Anniversary Luau.

The Paradise Cove Luau is literally in walking distance from the hotel. While it isn't as nice as say the Old Lahaina Luau in Maui, it has it's charms. They had activities and events around the grounds before the actual show and dinner started. We took a canoe ride, played games and earned sea shell leis and our older DS tried freesh coconut. The food was okay but their show is quite impressive and our DS loved the fire dancer. We got a nice picture to remember the evening for our anniversary...we had been here back on our honeymoon all these years ago. It was sad to know our trip was coming to an end!

RunnerMomO
07-17-2012, 09:21 PM
Day 5 Trip Resort Aulani to Home

Today was our last day of the trip and we had an afternoon flight from Honolulu to Lax and then a red eye to Orlando. We spent the morning at the resort and in the pool of course. We hung out in the jacuzzi and tried snorkeling a little in the cove, but still had poor visibility. The boys loved played in the kids area and waited anxiously for the Menehune to tip over the boat full of water on them. It was finally time to go, so we cleared up and checked out, heading for the airport.

Our Delta flights home were pretty uneventful. My older DS and I had a Disney imagineer sit next to us on the red eye, so we chatted a little before we tried to get some rest. He has been hopping between coasts working on Cars Land, Fantasyland and even helped a little on Aulani. We told him how much we enjoyed it and also said we were looking forward to more updates and changes in Orlando. The new reservation systems for fast passes coming in a couple of years sounds interesting. Guess we will just have to wait. Anyway, it was a great trip and we really enjoyed our time on all of the Islands, but Aulani by far was the most luxurious feeling. Our Disney Vacation Club membership definitely has been a great purchase and we were glad to get to experience the resort first hand.

In closing, a couple of things I can think of randomly that were helpful.
- we bought an entertainment book for Hawaii - saved us on places like Paradise Cove Luau, USS Missouri and more
- safeway card is worth it if you want to shop there
- brought our own grocery bags folded flat in our luggage ( a couple) Hawaii is going away from plastic bags over the next years.
- definitely have to have a car if you want to see anything else in the island...we actually hit the Waikiki area when we first arrive in Hawaii at the beginning of the trip when I ran the Hibiscus Half Marathon around Diamond Head

Cheers! Hope this was helpful.

oktracy
07-18-2012, 01:44 AM
Thanks for your lovely TR. Sounds like a wonderful vacation. We are looking forward to our trip in September. Can't Wait!!:beach:

my3princes
07-23-2012, 04:13 PM
Thank you for your TR. We're headed to Aulani on Saturday and can't wait:cool1:

RunnerMomO
07-24-2012, 08:01 PM
Enjoy you two! I am sure you will have a fabulous time.