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Old 07-07-2013, 03:44 PM   #1
magicron
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Aulani - 07/06/2013-07/14/2013 - day 5, Wednesday!

Aulani TR Ė 07/06/2013-07/14/2013
Cast is me, DW, DD(17), DD(14). We are DVC members and decided to do something special this year, given that DD17 graduated high school and is off to college in about 6 weeks, DD14 ďgraduatedĒ from middle school, and DW and I hit the big Ď50í this year. So, I cashed in this yearís points, borrowed into next yearís points, used credit card points for airline tickets and rental car. Booked 6 nights on points, and 2 nights with cash.

I learned much from lurking this forum, but didnít have time to research as much as I would like. So, disclaimer upfront is that I may repeat what may be obvious to others whoíve poured through the forums more than I.
Left Columbus, OH at 8:00 on 07/06, with a 90 minute stop in Phoenix, and then landed at HNL around 2:15 pm local time. Both flights on time, so we were fortunate to have no issues on arrival day. Biggest hassle was waiting on about 15-20 minutes for the plane to get access to park at the gate. We walked to baggage claim, rather than taking the shuttle. Turns out the walk is quite far and a bit confusion to find the right baggage claim area. But it felt good to walk after a 6 hour flight from PHX.

Shuttle to rental car and weíre on our way to Aulani around 3:20. Traffic was somewhat light and we arrived at Aulani by 4:00. We pulled up and were greeted by several CMs to help us get luggage of the car and park our car temporarily while we checked in. Self-park is complementary to DVC members. We were greeted by Juko, who asked our names and handed us our room keys right at the front doorÖno registration desk required (we checked-in online). The unloading area reminds me of pulling up to AKV or WL.
We reserved a 1BR pool view for first 5 nights, and island view for last 3 nights. We originally thought of staying near Waikiki for the first couple nights, but then decided to just stay at Aulani the entire trip rather than moving hotels, finding a large room near Waikiki, etc. We are waitlisted for last three nights for pool view, so hopefully that will come through so we donít have to move mid-week. We are in room 306, which is the lobby floor. Nice view of pool area, though too low to see much of the ocean. It appears that ocean view for similar room location start around the 6th floor.

We unpacked, and spent some time walking the resort to see where things
are. I also went to Monkeypodís website and made a reservation for 7:00pm. No problem. DW and I drove to Safeway to get food for our room, while the girls explored the pool. Siri was not very helpful getting us to Safeway, as we passed Safeway from H1 and had to exit and drive back. As with most grocery stores, they have a loyalty card that provides a discount or sales prices on many items. We donít have a Safeway card. At checkout we told the cashier that we were from out of town, so she gave us a new card and told we could fill out the application later. All told we saved about $40, with grocery bill of about $120 Ė weíre generally only planning to eat breakfast, and have some snacks for the room. This is our usual plan when visiting WDW Ė weíll see how it goes here.

Came back unloaded groceries and got ready to go to Monkeypod. Monkeypod is right across the street, so no car required, and thereís a small parking lot there anyway. Monkeypod was hopping. Itís a nice open-air, two story restaurant with several unique items ranging from burgers, to seafood, and several pizzas.

The kids went to check on the animation class that was offered at 8:30, but when they went down no one was there, so they went to the hot tub for about an hour. Itís been a long day, and since weíre on Eastern time, our body thinks it 2:30-3:00am by now. So, itís time for bed. Tomorrowís plan includes exploring Aulani in the morning, and then driving over to Wakiki beach for early afternoon.

Last edited by magicron; 08-12-2013 at 06:52 PM. Reason: Update title for day 5
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:16 PM   #2
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Can't wait for more! Enjoying it!
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:47 PM   #3
Halle
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Loved your report. How was MOnkeyPod?
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:41 PM   #4
magicron
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Day 2 report

Day2
As I would expect, being on Eastern Time still, I woke up about 3am this morning and tossed and turned for a couple hours. I finally decided to get up and go outside a little before 6:00am. I went to the front desk to get a jogging map, and thereís a nice 2.3mile concrete path that goes by the four lagoons (coves) in the area. I walked about three of them, and came back. If you jog or walk, this path is probably one of the best views youíre going to get while walking or jogging. If youíre not a walker or running, perhaps this will inspire you to do it while at Aulani. I saw a large snail, the size of my room key, sliding across the sidewalk.

After my walk, I settled in to a beach chair, with very few people out this early. People were just starting to save chairs at the beach and pool, and it was a very nice quiet setting to sit in the morning shade and read a book on my Ipad. A Yoga class started meeting at 7:00, and it looked quite intriguing. Iíve never done Yoga but with all the work stress Iím still carrying around, perhaps this week will be a good time to try it. As 8:00 neared, the time when the beach rentals shack opens, more people started coming to the beach. One lady was sitting on her beach chair, with her Bluetooth earpiece, and while I couldnít really hear what she was saying, it was apparent that she was ripping into someone on the other end. Iím trying to mellow out on the beach, so I moved to where I couldnít hear her. After 8:00, people where reserving the 2-person cabanas at the rental shack, and were getting complimentary beach umbrellas tagged with a number. I left the beach around 9:30, and by that time there was no line, so I asked the CM at the beach what the tags were all about. While the beach umbrellas are complimentary, they will move them and tag them for you, indicating that they are taken. Thatís a nice touch that Iíll remember for tomorrow. Of course, since I already had a spot taken, all I would need to do is have the CM give me a tag my spot. As expected, the front row of beach chairs were beginning to get taken, with very few people actually sitting in them. Chairs by the pool were getting scarce, by now.

I left the beach around 9:30 to go get cleaned up to drive to church in Honolulu. Church was 11am and itís always good to meet others and try to make some connection back home. Sure enough, an older gentlemen talked to my wife, and we found out that heís from the same county as her parents, and that his grandfather and my wifeís great-grandfather are brothers. Small world. While the church is in Honolulu, it turns out this gentlemen lives right across the street from Aulani. This Sunday was potluck Sunday, and visitors were invited to stay for lunch, so we did. It was great to sit a talk with some locals, telling them about our plans for the week, and asking for some advice, and eating some local cooking.

Next up was Waikiki beach. I Googled for information about parking, and suggestions were posted on various forums to park at the zoo or the Shell. A lady at church also mentioned the Shell, so thatís where we went. Free parking, and itís about a 0.5 mile walk down to the beach. We settled into a spot on the beach Ė but itís rather tight. I was at Waikiki about 18 years ago, so I knew what to expect, but itís a bit different with kids along. DD14 swam out past the barrier, where the waves were a bit rough. I swam out in a panic to get her back in since she didnít have anything on for floatation. There were several people surfing there, but again the waves were a bit rough for someone not used to that. So, we moved down further where things were a bit calmer. The good waves were out probably 100-200 yards, out too far to keep an eye on kids. We only stayed a couple hours, but may come back again later in the week, and may sign up for a group surfing lesson (around $40, I believe) where DD14 would at least have some instruction, supervision, a board tethered to her, and a bit further away from the rough waves. It was nice to see Waikiki again, but itís much more hustle-and-bustle than the calm of Aulani. We plan to go to the North Shore sometime this week, so perhaps that will be a better option for surfing, even though the large pipeline waves are not here this time of year.

We were getting tired. Being jet-lagged, up early, and out in the sun, took its toll. The drive back to Aulani was about 45 minutes. Perhaps it was a good idea to go Waikiki on the weekend to avoid rush-hour traffic on a weekday.

The girls spent some time at the pool until coming back in to get cleaned up for dinner. We were tired, and didnít feel like a big production for dinner, so we walked across the street to the Pizza Corner. It was busy, but no wait, and there were chairs. You order pizza at the counter and they bring it out to you in about 20 minutes Ė think counter service at WDW, not table service, but with the pizza being made to order. There are not a lot of casual dining options in the area. Even at Aulani, the most casual thing this time of day was appetizers at a couple of the lounges. Given the large number of families, it seems like Disney would consider providing a good casual option Ė not just food by the pool deck. Do we really want to pay $30-50 per person every night, including kids over 9? Poolside dining closes by 6:00. The pizza place was busy, so it looks like the owner is meeting a niche not met by others in the area.

After dinner, a quick trip to the hot tub, and in bed by 10:00. I went ahead and picked up some towels while out at the pool tonight, thinking they could come in handy tomorrow morning to reserve a spot at the beach (though I actually plan to sit at the beach).

Tomorrowís plan is to just hang out at Aulani all day and enjoy the resort. Itís always a struggle with Disney resorts to strike a balance between enjoying the resort, and enjoying things outside the resort like the parks, or in this case the other attractions in Oahu. Our trips to WDW usually consist of getting up early in time for the rope drop, going the resorts for pool time, and then back to the parks for evening activities. I want to be sure we build in enough time to enjoy Aulani, and get some rest.
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Old 07-09-2013, 10:23 PM   #5
yolie912
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The pizza place sounds good..
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:25 PM   #6
jraz
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Looking forward to reading about this trip. How are the renovations going at the resort?
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:39 PM   #7
magicron
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Answers

Monkeypod was good. We will probably try to go back again sometime this week.

Construction is hardly noticeable. I heard a CM say that they are building an adult pool. You notice the noise only if down by the beach on that side of the property. But, really, other than the construction walls blocking the area off, it's not noticeable.
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:44 PM   #8
magicron
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Day 3, Monday

Aulani Ė day 3 Ė Monday
Itís nice to sit down and reflect each night on the activities of each day, but Iím getting a little behind. Itís vacation, so other priorities prevail.

Our plan for the day is to stay at Aulani all day and enjoy the resort. I woke up around 6:00am, went out to the beach to sit in a chair a read a bit on my iPad. The sun is not too bright that early, and the umbrella shades the sun enough to see a book on my iPad. I like this routine of getting out the beach while itís quiet.

At 7:00am there was an organized walk through the four coves in the area, a little less than 2.5 miles round trip, I believe. It was a nice walk out the fourth cove, and then a more leisurely walk back, with the guide explaining several things about the area. It was a nice way to hear about the area, but if youíre a serious walker and want to move faster, youíre better off walking on your own, or at least walking back on your own.

Side story. Iím on my fourth set of keys, already. First set received at the front door did not have charging privileges, due to some snafu with my credit card during online check-in. Could have been me typing something incorrectly. Second set received about an hour later under the door, with charging privileges Then, our first reservation expired on Monday, but no room change, so new keys were under our door Monday morning. Problem is they were issued to three other people, not in our family. So, up to the front desk I go to turn those in, and get new ones. Weíre back to the credit card snafu again, even though this was taken care of on Sunday, so it took a bit of time to straighten that out. Now on third set of keys, not counting the ones not in our name. However, they now work for charging, but not for room. 2nd set still works for room. Back to the front desk for a complete (4th) set that will do both. Not a huge deal, but this is not the kind of hassle a DVC member wants to deal with on vacation. I also noticed they were giving people room keys with Aulani pins. I read on this forum that they were giving these out due to the construction. So, asked the CM at the front desk for a pin, since we didnít receive on at check-in, and he gave me one. Again, a small attention to detail missed at check-in. Thursday, starts our third reservation, in a different view, so weíll have to move unless our waitlist comes through. Weíll see how the 5th set of keys goes.

Ok, back to our story. I stayed at my chair and umbrella to read more, and this time I had my umbrella tagged around 8:00am when the beach activity shack opened. I stayed for about 90 minutes, and then went to the room to eat breakfast. We came down to the beach as a family, and spent a few hours at the beach just relaxing, reading, etc. The girls each rented a paddleboard. This process was a little confusing. Itís first come, first served. No reservations or waitlists. The CM said to just come up to the shack when someone brings one back (all were in use). I did this but someone else was already ahead of me. So, then I was told to just wait to the side (like a standby line) and weíd all be taken in order. I had to stand about 30 minutes to wait for two people in front of me to get thereís and then two boards to come in. It seems like some sort of waitlist would be more convenient, rather than having to stand to the side of the shack, in line, waiting for a paddle board. But, Iím sure theyíve had other systems that ended up being too complicated Ė people reserving and leaving, etc. so perhaps this is the best system for them to keep things moving along.

In addition to the beach, we swam in the pool and lazy river for the afternoon. We got some frozen yogurt and Mickey Ice Cream bars at the Lava Shack, near the pool. A very nice CM named Vince (I believe) was very chatty and asked what we were planning for the week. He spent time telling me about the north shore, what to see, how to get there, etc. Iíve noticed this about most CMs here. They ask where youíre from, how long youíve been here, what you plan to do this week, etc, and then offer advice if you need it.

We ate at Outback Steakhouse this evening so we could stop by Target and get back in time for the Starlit Hui tonight. I know itís a chain, available at home, but itís near Target. The kids wanted to get to a yogurt social and lei making activity in the teen club at 6:30, so we were at dinner by 5:00.

DW and I wondered over to the lawn around 7:00 just to find where it was (for the Starlit Hui). There were already two lines of about 50 people each waiting to get on the lawn, so we stayed to get our seat. Around 7:15 they issued grass mats that seat 4-5 people, and then there was a stamped like old rope drop at HS, heading to TSM. We dropped our mat about 4 rows back from the front and the CMs help place the mats to pack them in, with one row of mats touching the one behind it. There are 3-4 craft stations for younger kids to participate in, until the show starts at 8:00.

I would describe the show as Luau light: singers, dancers, very nice set with two Ukulele musicians, and at the very end a dance party with characters. Itís a little campy, but itís a nice 30 minute show of some cultural dance and music without paying $72 next door at Paradise Cove for the luau. We see people lined up before 5:00pm each night for the Paradise Cove Luau, with several tour buses parked in the lot and just canít get enthused about spending that much time and money for it. It looks like people get back from the Paradise Cove around 9:30. So the Starlit Hui is a nice alternative, investing only about an hour or so, and free. But, if a Luau is a Ďmustí on your list, itís a very easy walk to it.

Following the Luau we went out to enjoy the hot tub for a bit, and then called it a day.

Tomorrowís plan is to go through our morning routine of jogging or exercise class, breakfast in the room, and then head towards the North Shore around 10:00am.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:16 AM   #9
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Was there a fee for the teen yogurt social and activity?
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:07 PM   #10
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Can't wait to hear more! We will be there in September.
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Old 07-16-2013, 02:28 PM   #11
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Im loving this report. We are going in 4 1/2 weeks!! Can't wait!
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:45 PM   #12
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Love reading about your trip!
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:54 AM   #13
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Love your report! Interested in reasonably priced dining options with local foods and any activities you do outside of Aulani!
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:24 PM   #14
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Great TR, one question is Aulani your home resort, or did you book at the 7 month window? If you did book at the 7 month window, how hard was it to secure a 1 bedroom for a week? Thanks.
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fsued123 View Post
Great TR, one question is Aulani your home resort, or did you book at the 7 month window? If you did book at the 7 month window, how hard was it to secure a 1 bedroom for a week? Thanks.
We're going in a month and we had no problem getting an ocean view for 9 nights as well as another one for our son and DIL for 4 nights.
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