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Old 02-20-2013, 08:44 PM   #1
ONealFamily
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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Aulani TR - AKA - BEST VACATION EVER - 2/8 to 2/18 - UPDATED WITH MORE PICS!

Hey Everyone!

This whole journey started way back in November of 2011. During a holiday trip to Disneyland we spoke with one of the guides and bought into DVC for Aulani. We are a Disney family and have been considering DVC for a long time and finally decided to pull the trigger.



The moment we bought in we started planning the trip. We booked our dates right at the 11 month mark and time just flew by. We booked a two-bedroom standard DVC villa from February 8th to February 18th to enjoy our 4th anniversary.

There would be a cast of five characters on this journey.

Me, my beautiful wife Renee, our beautiful 9 year old Angel, our 2 year old son Caleb and my sister-in-law (wife's sister) Misty.

If you asked my wife, I became a bit obsessive with planning our trip. I read every review and trip report, slowly stewing over what plans to make, where to eat, etc. I was very close to setting up a corkboard on my office wall with pictures and yarn and thumbtacks to connect them. Much like an FBI detective would use to solve crimes in the movies. Needless to say, I didn't go that far, but I felt I was thorough.

With all of that research, we were able to make a pretty solid plan of what to do each day and what to explore on the island. We booked a rental car for our entire stay. However, as the vacation drew near, we decided to throw most of that out the window. We decided that the best value for our time would be spent at the resort, enjoying all that Disney has to offer.

During the planning stages some of the resources that helped were:

-Oahu Drive Guide
-Oahu Gold Magazine
-Dis Trip Reports
-Trip Advisor
-Oahu Revealed Book


We booked our air travel back in March of 2012 with Alaskan Airlines as soon as we could book. We booked 5 tickets for our family and my sister-in-law. The original price was $503/pp after tax flying from Oakland, CA to Honolulu. However, Alaskan has a nice policy where, if their prices go lower, you can get a credit for the difference. The prices went down quite a bit and we received a $155 credit for each ticket. Multiply this by the four people in my family and we decided to book another two tickets to Hawaii to invite my parents to come with us. They had never been to Hawaii and we hoped this would be a great blessing for them to get to vacation with us and their grandkids. We thought this might make our 2 bedroom villa a little more crowded but honestly, the rooms were more than big enough!

So now we have an updated cast of characters.

Me, my beautiful wife, our beautiful daughter, our son, my sister-in-law, and Mom and Pops. I was even able to book them on the same flight as us in the same area of the plane!

The rental car planning was another adventure. After a lot of looking around at different discounts, I found that the Costco discount with Alamo was the best value for the time spent there. We were originally given a rate of about $600 for our trip from Feb 8-18th but after checking a few weeks before our trip, it went down to $400! Score! We also were paying for a car for my parents and that went from $400 to $200. Double score!

So….

After months of planning, the little one got his carry on backpack ready with all of his fun airplane surprise toys.



On Feb 7th we made the drive to Oakland, but not without stopping at a familiar location for some animation fans.



After staying in Oakland one night, we caught the shuttle to the airport and were on our flight to Hawaii!



You can see my wife's excitement!



However, a 5 hour flight can take its toll!



It wasn't long before we were close to the island and they started serving complimentary Mai Tais!



I will post the Hawaii pics as soon as I can but just wanted to set the stage!

Mahalo!
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We own at Aulani and will be heading there in February 2013 for me and my wife's 4th anniversary. We can't wait!

Have a great day!

Last edited by ONealFamily; 02-21-2013 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
ONealFamily
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Day 1

Day 1

Our plane landed in Honolulu with no excitement. While I did half expect to wake up and find myself on a beach and having to set up camp to protect family from "The Others" and a smoke monster, it didn't happen and we had a peaceful landing. The kids were excited to be off the plane!



We took the Alamo bus to the Alamo rental counter. The guy working the counter was nice until I denied him on each upgrade he tried to sell me on. After that, his mood soured and he even told me that he thought that the Leeward side of the island wasn't any fun and would never stay there himself. While I appreciate his honesty, I don't know if that's the best way to welcome people to Hawaii. However, Alamo outdid their customer service (and not in a good way) a few days later. More about that later. :-/

After getting both of our cars, we made our way to the resort. It was beautiful seeing Aulani off in the distance while traveling down the H1 freeway. The Disney resort sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the other Ko Olina resorts except that it's more like a shiny, beautiful thumb that I want to live inside. If I were the kind of person that ever wanted to live inside a thumb. Anyways&more pictures!





We arrived at the resort and began the check in process. We encountered the friendliest cast members ever during our welcome. Every member of our party had their eyes well up as soon as they walked into the lobby and had the "We're home" feeling. It was beautiful. I would have taken more pictures during our immediate arrival but I honestly forgot I even had a camera because it was so beautiful.



Of course, everyone was given a lei!



While we waited for our room, we decided to have lunch and make a quick grocery run to Walmart. We ate at the Hawaiian BBQ restaurant across the street from the resort. It wasnt great. It wasn't bad but wasn't great. Didn't eat there again during our stay. We made our way to Walmart and picked up a few groceries (and copious amounts of chocolate covered macadamia nuts) and, after receiving a call that my room was ready, headed back to the resort.

Upon getting back to the resort, Bell Services was great in getting all of our luggage and groceries up to our room on the 7th floor of the Ewa tower. We had to check out this amazing two bedroom villa we booked.

We started in the living room and kitchen!





Checked out the 2nd bedroom.



Of course we checked out the Master Bedroom!



My wife wanted to welcome Mickey to the resort as well (since he is also on vacation) by putting a lei on the lamp with his likeness. He and Minnie were very nice to leave a card wishing me and my wife a Happy Anniversary!



My Mom gave the kids some surprises to enjoy during the stay.





I had to check, as a 6'2" man, if I would be able to enjoy the tub in our Master bedroom. Yes, I would fit, and yes, I did enjoy it.



Finally, I really wanted to check out the view from our balcony!



My daughter had the friendly Photopass photographers take a picture of her and our alien friend Stitch.




Then we explored the property a bit, checking out the pools, etc.





We noticed the chapel next door that literally had at least one wedding going on each day.



We ended the day at the beach watching the sunset where my daughter and sister-in-law had their photo taken.



We ended the night not being able to wait for Day 2!
__________________
We own at Aulani and will be heading there in February 2013 for me and my wife's 4th anniversary. We can't wait!

Have a great day!

Last edited by ONealFamily; 02-21-2013 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:26 PM   #3
MissMet
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Enjoying your trip report! We'll be there in 70 days!
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:10 PM   #4
ONealFamily
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Day 2

Day 2

We awoke early on Day 2 and realized it wasn't a dream. We really were at Aulani! Now, I know many people go for the ocean view or the pool and garden view, etc. We were happy with the standard view on the 7th floor. We were able to watch this beautiful sunrise over the island every single morning. Beautiful.



Enjoying a cup of the resort supplied Kona coffee on the lanai.



Morning shot of our wonderful accommodations. My wife made our bed each morning. She is wonderful and made the trip magical!



Every day, we went and got a copy of the Daily 'Iwa to plan our day.



Studying the 'Iwa to make the most of our day!



My daughter Angel cannot decide what to wear. Hawaii gives you so many choices. Should I wear shorts…or shorts…



Looking out from the lobby of Aulani.



The photo pass photographers were in the lobby every morning taking memorable snapshots! Here are some photos of our family as taken by the photo pass friends.









We decided on Saturday to visit the Aloha Swap Meet at the stadium. After a short drive we found our way to the stadium and did some shopping. Some of the highlights include the cheap iPhone 5 Lifeproof case I bought for $50.00 or the delicious Hawaiian sweet bread. If you have the time, it's worth a stop only because they sell all the same stuff you would find pretty much anywhere else on the island, including the international market in Waikiki. Be sure to master your bargaining skills.





Once back at the resort, we wanted to relax so we made our way to the beach. Here is a pano shot of the beautiful lagoon taken on my iPhone.



Of course this isn't complete without a shot from being out in the water looking back toward the resort!



The photo pass folks visited us in the water and took some more photos!





The water was so relaxing I couldn't help but kick my feet up and look back at the beautiful resort.



Upon leaving the water I could see the kids were also having fun playing in the sand and my daughter magically turned into a mermaid.





And this time, we ended our day in the lazy river. The lazy river was an amazing trip. We spend many hours floating down the river!





Another wonderful day at Aulani…stay tuned for day 3!
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We own at Aulani and will be heading there in February 2013 for me and my wife's 4th anniversary. We can't wait!

Have a great day!
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:11 PM   #5
ONealFamily
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMet View Post
Enjoying your trip report! We'll be there in 70 days!
Thanks! I have no doubt you will enjoy it!
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We own at Aulani and will be heading there in February 2013 for me and my wife's 4th anniversary. We can't wait!

Have a great day!
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:09 PM   #6
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Can't wait to hear more! We will be there in September.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:32 PM   #7
parrotheadlois
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Really enjoying your TR - we're going to be there next Saturday!!
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:48 AM   #8
dvcdudes
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Best Pic Ever

The picture of your daughter as a mermaid would make a great picture for the DVC Files magazine. You should submit it to them.
Looks like a great time.
My wife and I are going in April for nine days. It will be our first trip to Hawaii. It's a gift to each other for our 25th wedding anniversary and our 50th birthdays.
Seeing the pictures and reading your trip report is making more and more excited about our trip.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:50 AM   #9
lulubelle
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We could seriously have a Pirate Party in there!
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Love your TR so far. Your family is lovely.
The mermaid pic is exceptional! You guys did an awesome job!
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Old 02-25-2013, 11:07 AM   #10
ONealFamily
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I'm glad you guys are enjoying! I will be posting more pictures later today!

One thing that helped me personally take a lot of photos was the waterproof cases I got for my iPhone 5. I put my iPhone 5 in a LifeProof waterproof case which I bought at the Aloha Swap meet for $50.00 (it retails for much more) and then I bought a Beach Buoy waterproof case off of Amazon for around $12.00. This is like a fancy ziplock back that you can wear around your neck. In the bag I put my iPhone and my hotel key, DVC Member card, ID, and Photopass. I put the photopass QR code facing out so whenever I got pictures taken, I never had to remove it, they just had to scan it. I also was able to control the phone through the two layers of plastic protecting it allowing me to take underwater pictures in Rainbow Reef etc.

Just some thoughts on something that worked really really well for our family!
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We own at Aulani and will be heading there in February 2013 for me and my wife's 4th anniversary. We can't wait!

Have a great day!
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:09 PM   #11
HarperAnnesNana
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Are floats allowed in the lagoon? We can't thank you enough for sharing your pictures with us. Can't wait for our Christmas 2013 trip.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:19 AM   #12
MatthewsMommy
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Loving your report so far! We just became DVC Members and also own at Aulani, and are thinking of booking Feb 2014. Looking forward to the rest of your TR!
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:21 AM   #13
Marianne H
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Enjoying this report! I am traveling to Aulani in August and, like you, am devouring every TR I can find.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:50 PM   #14
ONealFamily
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Have been very busy. I hope to post update by this weekend!
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We own at Aulani and will be heading there in February 2013 for me and my wife's 4th anniversary. We can't wait!

Have a great day!
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:32 AM   #15
ddoconnell
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Thank you so much for this fabulous TR!! We will be there this time next week so loving the pictures and helpful hints! Thanks again and so glad you guys had a great time!
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Many times before but first time on property:
1996 - Port Orleans; 2001 - CBR (bought DVC); 2003 - OKW; 2004 - WL; 2005 - OKW; 2007 - SSR; 2009 - OKW ; 2010 - SSR & YC; 2011 - AKV & YC; 2012 - SST, VWL
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