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Old 03-07-2013, 12:09 PM   #16
DiznyDi
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Coffee is available at 7 AM at both Kalepa's Store and the Olelo Room. We're early morning walkers so we would take our mugs with us and stop at the Olelo Room on our way back to fill our mugs with coffee and get some breakfast pastries/yogurt parfait. Try the almond croissant - heavenly - had one almost every day. Coffee was always fresh - even at 10 PM.
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:06 AM   #17
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The Oleo Room opened at 6am when we were there in January. Loved it.

For your dinner, I'd pick Ama Ama since a view of the ocean is on your list. It is expensive but has a lovely view of the ocean. Unless something has changed at Azul since we dined there some years ago, there is no view of the ocean there??? Or at least I can't remember one. I will not forget the view from our table at Ama Ama. I've not dined at Roys's but other members of my family have. I'll ask them but don't think it would have a view either or at least not a close one as it's at the golf course behind the resorts.
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:31 PM   #18
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For your dinner, I'd pick Ama Ama since a view of the ocean is on your list. It is expensive but has a lovely view of the ocean. Unless something has changed at Azul since we dined there some years ago, there is no view of the ocean there??? Or at least I can't remember one. I will not forget the view from our table at Ama Ama. I've not dined at Roys's but other members of my family have. I'll ask them but don't think it would have a view either or at least not a close one as it's at the golf course behind the resorts.
Thats a really good point BCV23-- Ama Ama is the only one with an ocean view, Roys looks out on the golf course, which is nice, but not the ocean. Azul does not really have a view that I can recall , of course we were just at the entrance looking at the menu and never went in, but since its kind of tucked in a back corner I don't see how it could have a view....
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:01 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jkpark
I am just 2 ½ weeks from Aulani and have some questions for any experts out there. Quick background – it will be my, DH, DD7 and DD5. 6 nights in a studio. Kids are small so I think we will be okay
First time to Hawaii for the kids, Oahu for me, Aulani for all. I am leaning more towards relaxing vacation at Aulani and less offsite sight-seeing. If we are bored we have a few ideas on where to go – drive to North Shore, etc. – but I would be fine with low key beach/pool vacation. So – on to my questions and thank you in advance for your help!
(1) Coffee – what type of coffee maker is in the room? What kind of filter of or pods will I need? I think I read the studio comes with paper products – are there enough cups for coffee for the week?
(2) Groceries – I plan on buying water, wine, breakfast foods, etc. when we land. I have read Target, Safeway and even Walmart – anyone have experiences to share? Do I need to stock up on paper plates/bowls/cups/napkins/utensils – or does the resort provide those?
(3) Snorkels – I read Rainbow Reef has a fee which includes snorkels – so if we bring our own snorkels – are we still paying the same fee? Is it worth it to bring our own snorkels? Or only if we plan on snorkeling off-site? Can we rent from Aulani and take off site if needed? DD5 won’t snorkel – so I’m doubting we do a big trip off-site around this activity.
(4) Pool – how crowded? How hot? I am not a huge fan of the sun (think pasty white skin). How early should we get to the pool in the morning to get chairs in the shade with still a view of where the kids will be? I have heard there is construction right behind the cabanas right now – so that doesn’t sound like money well spent. Any other suggestions here?
(5) That wine I mentioned earlier, am I allowed to bring it to the pool in non-breakable cups? Bring our own sandwiches? Etc.?
(6) Ama Ama or Azul? I read a lot on here about the onsite restaurants not being that great. Wednesday night we signed the kids up for Surf’s Up with Chip and Dale and were planning on a nice dinner just the two of us. I don’t want to be more than walking distance away. I first booked Ama Ama – then read a lot of negative reviews. Cancelled that and booked Azul next store (I love Italian) and then read a pretty average-negative review of that restaurant – and better reviews of Ama Ama. We want a view, some wine and good to great food. I know everyone loves Roy’s – and we might eat there as a family – but we have one a few blocks away from our house so it isn’t a unique vacation choice for us. I’ve subscribed to the recent threads at dining around Aulani so this is the only meal that stumps me now…
(7) Are the daily planners delivered to your room? Or do you pick them up somewhere? Or is it more of a weekly schedule?
(8) Starlit Hui/Outdoor movies – how early to show up? Are there seats or do we bring a blanket/beach towels to sit on?
(9) Photopass – do they offer the option to buy a CD like the parks do? Do they take pictures at Aunty’s when the parents aren’t around?
(10) Should we bring beach towels or just use the pool towels at the resort?
(11) Has anyone been to the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium?
(12) Beach rentals – I hear chairs and umbrellas (and maybe beach toys) are all free – do you need to get there early or do they have enough for all guests who may be at the beach that day?
(13) Finally – what is the one thing you wish someone had told you before your trip?

I know this is a really long list – just trying to think of all the little questions I have that I know DISers can help with!!
Lots of questions, I will try and answer a few that haven't been answered.

AMA AMA for sure! We ate there almost every day for either breakfast or dinner. We loved dropping our son at Aunties and then headed over to AMA AMA (it's literally right next door). We actually made it out most nights without a huge bill. We would order a glass of wine and share an appetizer and share an entree. Some nights we would have a snack in the room a bit before and then each get an appetizer and hang out and look at the beach. Very romantic. We enjoyed the food and we are picky.

The daily Ewa we had to get ourselves. We would go down for our morning coffee and pick one up. I recommend getting right at check in, we missed the first day of activities because we didn't get our Ewa till second day. Luckily we were there 10 days so we got the hang of it.

Beach towels- use them there. We went thru so many towels, didn't want to schlep wet ones back and forth. They have a lot of towels.
The pool has umbrellas. I too like to sit in the shade. Get there early if you want chairs with umbrellas. It's about half.

Swap meet- yes we went and honestly it was a huge waste of time. Just my opinion, but there were a lot of cheap chachkis that all looked like they were from 1978.
Every stand seemed to have the same things. It was hot and sticky and yucky. Lol. My DH had heard great things about it from a co worker, so maybe it was just me.
We only bought two things. We were hoping to pick up some Tshirts as gifts but they all felt like sand paper. The material and quality was not even worth the $10.
The ABC store across the street had some cute nick knacks that were not as bad price wise as Aulani.
The ABC store also has groceries. We went there every few days and would buy the pre packed salads and sandwiches for our refrigerator to eat for lunch.

Pool crowds depends on time of year- we went last October and we are going back this May so we tend to go on off season. For us it wasn't that bad but I've heard it gets bad. The only issue for me was finding a shady spot. We found the beach was easier and we liked it better anyway.

Wish I would have known- how amazing Auntys was! We waited a few days because we wanted to spend time with our son and felt guilty just dropping him off. The first day he went he literally cried when we picked him up! When we talk about going back in may that's what he talks about most. I'm always apprehensive with child care centers and this one is amazing! The security is top notch. We were there 10 days and still had to give our password every time even after they knew us, this to me is so important. When it comes to my kid, safety first! My DH and I talk about how our vacation to Aulani we spent more time together then we had in 5 years since DS was born. Hence the trip back in 2 months.
Also, the spa is amazing! If you go, ask for Chuck for massage, he trains everyone there and is phenomenal! I have neck issues and went twice to him and he really worked the kinks out. He's super knowledgeable and also gives a super relaxing massage. I had the 80 minute special lomilomi and then the 80 minute poultice (I think that was the name). I spent more than budgeted so I wish I would have known to budget more cause it made our trip!

Oh and find a balance with seeing the island and resort. Next time we go we are not doing all the sites, we are just relaxing. I'm glad we did see the island though because I had been there but my DH is from east coast and never been so I wanted him to experience Hawaii. The resort is not on the green lush side of the island so we loved driving around the island too.

One thing we did was went to a ranch on the other side of island (can't remember the name but you can google it) where they film all the TV shows and films. Aulani does a super pricey excursion there but we just called on our own and drove over. It was super cheap and fun. We just took the bus tour, not the horseback portion. Its where they filmed Jurassic park and the TV show LOST ( one of mine and DH's favorites!). Most films or TV shows filmed in Hawaii are filmed there. You will immediately recognize the mountain ridge. They are currently filming Last Resort. If you like that kind of thing it's fun and a beautiful drive.


Hope that helps. Sorry so long. Have fun!
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:53 PM   #20
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(2) Groceries – I plan on buying water, wine, breakfast foods, etc. when we land. I have read Target, Safeway and even Walmart – anyone have experiences to share? Do I need to stock up on paper plates/bowls/cups/napkins/utensils – or does the resort provide those?

Target and Walmart, while they do offer grocery items, they do not offer as much of a selection as Safeway. Safeway is a little pricey, but if you sign up for their membership (it takes just a minute and its free) the prices are pretty reasonable. You're in Hawaii where everything is costly, esp the food.


(3) Snorkels – I read Rainbow Reef has a fee which includes snorkels – so if we bring our own snorkels – are we still paying the same fee? Is it worth it to bring our own snorkels? Or only if we plan on snorkeling off-site? Can we rent from Aulani and take off site if needed? DD5 won’t snorkel – so I’m doubting we do a big trip off-site around this activity.

Yes, the cost is the same even with your own gear. I'd recommend bringing your own gear in with you because I personally know how many people use the gear on a daily basis that is stocked up at RR, and even though it's disinfected and totally safe to use, it would probably be in your own best interest just to use yours if you bring it!!
(4) Pool – how crowded? How hot? I am not a huge fan of the sun (think pasty white skin). How early should we get to the pool in the morning to get chairs in the shade with still a view of where the kids will be? I have heard there is construction right behind the cabanas right now – so that doesn’t sound like money well spent. Any other suggestions here?

You will want to arrive at the pool area no later than 10AM. After that all the umbrellas are likely to be taken. Chairs are not allowed to be reserved, so if your items are left unattended by the chair for over an hour they will be brought to Lost and Found. There are many issues in the morning, especially on the weekends about this.

(5) That wine I mentioned earlier, am I allowed to bring it to the pool in non-breakable cups? Bring our own sandwiches? Etc.?

Yes, you can bring your own food as long as you don't have a cooler. A small, bag-like cooler is ok but no other type!


(7) Are the daily planners delivered to your room? Or do you pick them up somewhere? Or is it more of a weekly schedule?

They are not delivered to the room, but you can find them anywhere. Front desk, the pool, Pau Hana room, Aunty's Beach House, all the restaurants, etc.

(8) Starlit Hui/Outdoor movies – how early to show up? Are there seats or do we bring a blanket/beach towels to sit on?

Show up around 7:00 for a good seat. There is a pre show at 730 and the actual show is at 8:00. They provide mats to sit on. For those who have difficulty sitting on the ground, such as the elderly or handicapped, chairs are provided in the back rows.

(10) Should we bring beach towels or just use the pool towels at the resort?

Pool towels are provided, unlimited each day of your stay.


(12) Beach rentals – I hear chairs and umbrellas (and maybe beach toys) are all free – do you need to get there early or do they have enough for all guests who may be at the beach that day?
Consider me an expert. Chairs and umbrellas are first come first serve. On busy days the umbrellas tend to all go out, so it's good to arrive either early on, before 10AM, or later on in the afternoon, after 2PM. Between 10 and 2 it's almost impossible on a busy day. I think there are about 50 umbrellas in total. Beach toys and boogie boards for kids are also free, first come first serve, and same with those. get them early, because they go FAST!
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Old 03-09-2013, 11:26 PM   #21
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A few suggestions for you.

Aunty's Beach House - you need to fill out a form in registering the kids. You can download it and fill it in now and hand them to the CM upon the first visit. This is required before you can drop your kids there.

They are open in the morning for parents to go into the Beach House. You can go in with your kids to familiarize them with the place first before dropping them off during the later hours of the day. After the early "open house hours", parents cannot go into the house with the kids. Just the kids stay inside there.

My DD (age 7) was shy and was hesitant about going to the Aunty's. But after spending an afternoon there, she loved it. She said the CMs are very nice, and she had a lot of fun. They had games, story reading, jokes reading by the kids, etc. She had a blast!

Photopass people took lots of pics there. You need to pick the photos to add to your account at the photopass counter located at the gift store. (This same arrangement goes for Starlit Hui)

Starlit Hui - arrive during the pre-show. They have craft stations that kids thoroughly enjoy. You don't want to miss it. Towards the end of the show, the Disney characters come out to dance, and there is also a short time for photos with characters.

Surfs up - we didn't do it. But I have a suggestion for you. There is an activity called "aloha fun with Disney friends" at 4pm. It is actually CM teaching some surf moves. And then Chip and Dale will join also. Photos at the end. This one is Free.

Pau Hana Room - you get to make your own beautiful lei there. Free. Also at specific time, they teach to make fern bracelet and Hula dance. Not to be missed.

Last edited by Minnie222; 03-10-2013 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 03-09-2013, 11:49 PM   #22
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Ok I have more to say:

Aulani postcards - for sale at the gift store. They have disney stamps for sale also. It is very cute and kids love them.

Beach - we were there during low season, so I am no help in what time to get beach chairs and umbrellas. But it's a really nice beach that we enjoyed. Photopass people at beach and in water also.

Character meeting - I suggest to go to the early afternoon ones. They tend to have much longer line-ups at the 5pm, 6pm ones. Donald only appears there, not at the Starlit Hui.

Music - enjoy the music at the resort. It is calming and very nice.

Hope you have a great trip! I would love to go there again soon!

Last edited by Minnie222; 04-12-2013 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:31 AM   #23
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The resort is not on the green lush side of the island so we loved driving around the island too.

One thing we did was went to a ranch on the other side of island (can't remember the name but you can google it) where they film all the TV shows and films. Aulani does a super pricey excursion there but we just called on our own and drove over. It was super cheap and fun. We just took the bus tour, not the horseback portion. Its where they filmed Jurassic park and the TV show LOST ( one of mine and DH's favorites!). Most films or TV shows filmed in Hawaii are filmed there. You will immediately recognize the mountain ridge. They are currently filming Last Resort. If you like that kind of thing it's fun and a beautiful drive.


Hope that helps. Sorry so long. Have fun!
How long did it take you to drive around the island? We would like to see the North Shore and the beaches on the East side.

The ranch is Kualoa Ranch, it is one of the only things on our list of must dos. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! It looks amazing. We want to do the Bus ride also. How long did you stay there? We are trying to decide if we can hit the Kaulua beaches and do this on the same day or if we will need 2 days on the East side.

Thanks for the 2 thumbs up on Aunties, we have been trying to decide if we will drop our DD's there or not...we will at least have to intruduce them to the idea


Thanks, Erika
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:06 AM   #24
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Old 03-12-2013, 12:37 PM   #25
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How long did it take you to drive around the island? We would like to see the North Shore and the beaches on the East side.

The ranch is Kualoa Ranch, it is one of the only things on our list of must dos. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! It looks amazing. We want to do the Bus ride also. How long did you stay there? We are trying to decide if we can hit the Kaulua beaches and do this on the same day or if we will need 2 days on the East side.

Thanks for the 2 thumbs up on Aunties, we have been trying to decide if we will drop our DD's there or not...we will at least have to intruduce them to the idea

Thanks, Erika
I think it took about 40 minutes to get there but can't remember exactly. The ranch is fun if you like movies/tv. And it is gorgeous! I think we spent almost 3 hours there. We got there a little early and then after the bus tour we ate lunch there (food just okay. Cafeteria style) and then shopped at the gift shop. With the drive and the time spent, we really wanted to get back to the resort. I think if you went in the morning you could do both. Just keep driving around to the north shore. Aulani is amazing at giving great directions. They have these cards with directions on them for most destinations. Stop at the valet or front desk. They are super helpful.

I think your DD's will love aunties! They are kid specialists there. They all look like they are having a blast. We did the Surfs up with Chip and Dale and just about any special program they had for the kids, we signed him up. Because we were there for 10 days he did some of them twice.
He loved it. They give them souvineers too. When he did fish are our friends, he got a bag and some cool stuff to take with him. Don't forget to check the pictures too. The photogs go to the events and take pictures for your CD. Some of the cutest ones we have of DS are ones where we weren't even there.

Have fun!
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:43 PM   #26
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I think it took about 40 minutes to get there but can't remember exactly. The ranch is fun if you like movies/tv. And it is gorgeous! I think we spent almost 3 hours there. We got there a little early and then after the bus tour we ate lunch there (food just okay. Cafeteria style) and then shopped at the gift shop. With the drive and the time spent, we really wanted to get back to the resort. I think if you went in the morning you could do both. Just keep driving around to the north shore. Aulani is amazing at giving great directions. They have these cards with directions on them for most destinations. Stop at the valet or front desk. They are super helpful.

I think your DD's will love aunties! They are kid specialists there. They all look like they are having a blast. We did the Surfs up with Chip and Dale and just about any special program they had for the kids, we signed him up. Because we were there for 10 days he did some of them twice.
He loved it. They give them souvineers too. When he did fish are our friends, he got a bag and some cool stuff to take with him. Don't forget to check the pictures too. The photogs go to the events and take pictures for your CD. Some of the cutest ones we have of DS are ones where we weren't even there.

Have fun!
Thank you so much for the info. We are really looking forward to it ALL!!!

Warmly, Erika
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:34 PM   #27
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Thanks for all this great information. 9 days and counting...
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:05 AM   #28
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Having been to Aulani a couple of times, and my family vacationing annually in Waikiki before, let me interject:

The refillable mug is a great deal if you'll drink coffee and/or soda for the week. For poolside booze, I buy "airline bottles" of rum and Jack Daniels at the local liquor store for like $1, pack those in my luggage, and just pop shots into my sodas poolside. Great tip for DCL, too.

As for groceries, my family is big fans of Target on the way from the airport to Aulani. They have a great grocery section and much smaller quantities than Costco. Unless you need a case of anything, we usually (with 2 young boys) only go through the smaller quantities that a grocery store provides. Also, let your kids pick a souvenier at Target (they have a big Aloha-cheesy section at the entrance). Also, Target sells some beach toys for like $5 if they want their own versus using the free ones at Aulani. We literally bought the same ones Aulani was giving out, but our kids liked not being forced to share because they had their own set. Upon departure, we "donated" ours to another DVC family checking in.

Driving to North Shore is only about a 30-45 minute jaunt. Just enough that the kids won't be bored. Same 30 minutes to Waikiki if you want to see it... add 15 min if you want to visit Diamond Head. With the kids, I wouldn't do a "circle tour" drive of the island. Also, if you want, a morning jaunt to Pearl Harbor is easy and educational. Make sure your boys tour the submarine next door. That's awesome.

For snorkeling, we just rented at Rainbow Reef. They'll let you take the gear to the beach and such if you want. But it's such a pain to pack and all that I'd highly recommend just using theirs unless you have an Rx mask or some awesome snorkel. My DD5 brought a special snorkel that goes up the middle of your forehead and used that with the Aulani gear. It worked great for a little guy.

Be sure to tip the "beach boys" for umbrellas. It's the nice thing to do.

Arrive at the pool by 9am for umbrellas (which won't be a problem on your first few days from time change). Then, when you want to sleep in, use those days to explore the island (Dole Plantation to see pineapples?) or go shopping in the morning and hit the pool when all of the "little ones" have bailed for afternoon naps (about 2).

While Ama Ama is fine, we think a trip without going to Roy's would be a mistake. Much better food. And good kids menu.

Do the Menehune Trail with your kids. Check out the "computer" at the Community Room.
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:55 PM   #29
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Check out the Dining thread about Aulani for more food ideas.

In a nutshell - I am a major foodie and we went to Aulani in 2012 and just got back from a trip Feb of 2013.

Ama Ama has MAJORLY improved since last year in menu, food quality and service. I almost didn't make a ressie there for this trip because the experience we had there last year was so bad - but so glad I did! It was AWESOME!

Azul, although it doesn't have an ocean view has a beautiful setting. That is the only thing that is good about it. The food and service were horrible and it was terribly overpriced.

I can see not wanting to go to Roy's if you have one nearby, but I think this was one of the stellar restaurant experiences of our trip - the food was excellent with lots of great choices and I felt that the meal was a good value!
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Old 03-16-2013, 02:27 AM   #30
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Quote:
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Check out the Dining thread about Aulani for more food ideas.

In a nutshell - I am a major foodie and we went to Aulani in 2012 and just got back from a trip Feb of 2013.

Ama Ama has MAJORLY improved since last year in menu, food quality and service. I almost didn't make a ressie there for this trip because the experience we had there last year was so bad - but so glad I did! It was AWESOME!

Azul, although it doesn't have an ocean view has a beautiful setting. That is the only thing that is good about it. The food and service were horrible and it was terribly overpriced.

I can see not wanting to go to Roy's if you have one nearby, but I think this was one of the stellar restaurant experiences of our trip - the food was excellent with lots of great choices and I felt that the meal was a good value!
We too are foodies and I am glad to hear that you thought Ama Ama has improved... when we were there in August we loved it and could not figure out all the negative reviews that we had read... you have now cleared that confusion up for me. Glad to hear that the bar has been raised there from your first experience!

We did not go to Azul... read the menu and it didn't sound good, so sounds like we made the right choice!

Our best meal of our trip was at Alan Wong in Waikiki ... it was amazing!!!
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