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Old 05-20-2013, 12:49 PM   #286
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Patrick was SUPER-bummed that the Menehune Bridge was closed during our visit. I’m pretty sure I could get him to agree to an Aulani return trip in a heartbeat if I used it as bait.












This is where you show your room key to get a wristband and towels. Tip: Grab your towels for Hanauma Bay here the night before if you’re leaving early in the morning



This cave is part of the Menehune Adventure Trail, which we didn’t have time to do. But there was time to stand in the cave!







This cave allows you to look into Rainbow Reef at the flitterin’ fish and, if I’m in the water, a flailin’ frau!










Reportedly not as good as Matsumoto’s...



Patrick had so much fun shooting underwater in Hanauma Bay that we splurged on a second disposable underwater camera at the gift shop. Wish I’d thought to buy two at Amazon’s prices, though!






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Old 05-20-2013, 12:52 PM   #287
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“Aw, MAN! Are you old people gonna make me get out so you can have a boring dumb old vow renewal again?!”







This one feels like Stalker-vision!








“Coming soon to the site of the old Polynesian burial ground.... Raging Spirits Haunted Splash Zone!”






Finally it was time to visit the fishes. We paid the $20/person day rate for access to Rainbow Reef, but if we’d had more than one full day at Aulani, I prolly woulda bought Patrick the $39 length-of-stay pass. They gave us wristbands and pointed us in the direction of life vests. We used the snorkel gear we brought with us for Hanauma Bay.



Where we stashed our stuff...







This was still only my third time snorkeling ever, so I had my third mini panic attack when I hit the water, but this time the Disney lifeguards didn’t yell at me. Once again, Patrick sweetly lead me by the hand out into the water until I figured out how to swim and breathe simultaneously.



I enjoyed exactly 34 seconds of serene flotation before a cast member plunked a head of lettuce in the water in front of me and set off a TERRIFYING feeding frenzy among the fish.





Berserk fish swarmed me, some gunning straight for me before veering off sharply at the last second. Not one of them actually touched me, but in that frantic moment I could understand EXACTLY why Jensey’s afraid of fish! I do think it’s a good way to let guests see a lot of fish all at once, but I probably should’ve waited for the later feeding so I’d be more accustomed to being in the water with them first.





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Old 05-20-2013, 12:55 PM   #288
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The lettuce pretty much vaporized within seconds, and then things calmed down a bit.







Here’s me, totally not panicking










There was a completely different species behind the windows in the tank wall...



I did eventually calm down enough to enjoy myself in Rainbow Reef, but nobody can outlast Patrick at snorkeling, so I eventually migrated to the infinity Jacuzzi to warm up and bliss out. I don’t have a photo of that, so here’s a repeat Root shot to show you the view I was enjoying.



Now, frequent readers of my trip reports probably figured this out way before I did, but I realized then that I am not actually very good at relaxing. I’m always, always, ALWAYS thinking ahead to the next activity, which is not just a terrible way to vacation, but also a terrible way to experience life in general. So at that moment I worked very hard to shut my brain down and just enjoy the moment. I concentrated on how lucky I was to be spending a Tuesday morning floating in warm water overlooking a glorious beach and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with not a care in the world.... It was the most serene 45 seconds of my life!

When Patrick was done, we explored the main pool, backup Jacuzzi, and water slides.




Like Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life, the “rockwork” of Aulani’s Waikolohe Valley is carved with hundreds of animals. Because I don’t feel like counting them myself, I am offering a prize that I don’t know what it is yet but will be super-awesome to the reader who can list the most from our photos...







(I mean all the photos from this day, not just those three....)















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Old 05-20-2013, 12:58 PM   #289
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Aulani has two water slides: the enclosed “extreme” body slide Volcanic Vertical, and the open-air tube slide Tubestone Curl, which you can go down in single or double tubes. I liked the tube slide better—it was fast but fun. The dark slide was too ... everything. Too dark, too fast, too, well, extreme! It’s telling that the tube slide consistently had long lines, while the dark slide was always a walk-on.




“Aaaa-ha-ha-hoooeyyyyyyy!!!”









“I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!”





For non-English speakers, the graphics indicate that you should go to the right for the relaxing tube ride or to the left for the morgue.






















































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Old 05-20-2013, 01:02 PM   #290
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The not-quite-as-picturesque Jacuzzi













Look who we ran into in the Lazy River—our pals the Roots!




OK, so I'm going to stop here for today and then post the rest of this day tomorrow. Hopefully that will tide you over for 2 weeks, since I won't be able to post on Memorial Day. ...
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:15 PM   #291
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Great updates! A great way to relax by the pool.....or at least trying to. I'm sort of like you in how my brain usually tries to keep thinking about the next activity while on vacation. I was able to successfully turn that part of my brain off for a couple of hours once when we were staying at the Poly and had rented a cabana for half the day. That was relaxing and fun for the whole family.

I wonder how many people a day attempt to lift this outrigger up and into the lazy river to use as their personal "tube". I bet it happens more often than we can guess.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:47 AM   #292
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Originally Posted by lurkyloo View Post
I also called our wedding planner to let her know that our leis had never shown up. She felt awful about all the things that had gone wrong with our ceremony and seemed to feel personally responsible even though it was vendors who’d dropped the ball in both cases. She said she’d like to make it up to us and asked if we were Champagne drinkers. Sensing an opportunity, I blurted out, “No, but BOY did we love those robes at the spa!” Tee-hee!
Hey, the worst she can do is say no.

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I think Aulani has the bestest Disney lazy river. It’s longer than Stormalong Bay’s but shorter than the ones at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. However, I love it cuz there’s so much shade!
It looks really cool. I love the way Disney incorporates fountains, caves, bridges, etc. into the lazy rivers so there's always something of interest around the corner.

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Patrick was SUPER-bummed that the Menehune Bridge was closed during our visit. I’m pretty sure I could get him to agree to an Aulani return trip in a heartbeat if I used it as bait.
But the rest of the resort wouldn't be worth a return trip, right?

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“Aw, MAN! Are you old people gonna make me get out so you can have a boring dumb old vow renewal again?!”
Beat it, kid.

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Originally Posted by lurkyloo View Post
I enjoyed exactly 34 seconds of serene flotation before a cast member plunked a head of lettuce in the water in front of me and set off a TERRIFYING feeding frenzy among the fish.
Wow! I guess this is the part where you're glad your skin isn't green.

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Originally Posted by lurkyloo View Post
Now, frequent readers of my trip reports probably figured this out way before I did, but I realized then that I am not actually very good at relaxing. I’m always, always, ALWAYS thinking ahead to the next activity, which is not just a terrible way to vacation, but also a terrible way to experience life in general. So at that moment I worked very hard to shut my brain down and just enjoy the moment. I concentrated on how lucky I was to be spending a Tuesday morning floating in warm water overlooking a glorious beach and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with not a care in the world.... It was the most serene 45 seconds of my life!
I know what you mean! I'm not real good at sitting still, either.

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Because I don’t feel like counting them myself, I am offering a prize that I don’t know what it is yet but will be super-awesome to the reader who can list the most from our photos...
I see 3!

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Originally Posted by lurkyloo View Post
(I mean all the photos from this day, not just those three....)
Oh. I don't know about the rest of your readers, but I'm a very, very lazy one.

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Aulani has two water slides: the enclosed “extreme” body slide Volcanic Vertical, and the open-air tube slide Tubestone Curl, which you can go down in single or double tubes. I liked the tube slide better—it was fast but fun. The dark slide was too ... everything. Too dark, too fast, too, well, extreme! It’s telling that the tube slide consistently had long lines, while the dark slide was always a walk-on.
Yeah, I think the tube slide definitely sounds more appealing.

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For non-English speakers, the graphics indicate that you should go to the right for the relaxing tube ride or to the left for the morgue.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:59 AM   #293
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I wonder how many people a day attempt to lift this outrigger up and into the lazy river to use as their personal "tube". I bet it happens more often than we can guess.
Dang, I wish I'd thought of that!

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I see 3!
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!!!! ... A winner of the "Laziest Reader" contest...
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:08 AM   #294
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Rest o' Day 5!

We went back to the room for a quick break before lunch and a trip to the beach below Aulani. There was a surprise waiting for us: Not only had our leis finally shown up, but our bed was covered in Aulani loot!



In addition to TWO of my beloved Aulani bathrobes, we got Mickey & Minnie plush, a tote bag, a baseball cap, a pin and two travel mugs. Best of all, Elena had written a very sweet note apologizing (unnecessarily) once again for the mixups. We were so touched by her thoughtfulness!














Later, after Jensey mentioned she’d seen the tote bag going for $60+ in the gift shop, we added up the value of our goodies and estimated it at more than 300 clams—not too shabby! But what’s nicer is that we still use most of those things a lot, and it’s a really nice reminder of our trip.

Before we hit the beach, we went looking for some lunch. Well, I did. Patrick was full of shave ice. I remembered reading in several Aulani trip reports about how great the sweet potato fries were at the One Paddle, Two Paddle quick-service place, so I thought that and maybe one of their mediocre burgers would make a good pool-day lunch.... Except when we got over there, we discovered it doesn’t open til 5pm!

This was absolutely confounding to me. What kind of pool-area snack bar is only open for dinner? That leaves Mama’s Snack Stop—with its boring menu of hot dogs and chicken tenders and NO sweet potato fries—as the only quick-service option for lunch. Oh wait, no, there’s a snack bar down on the beach that also doesn’t serve sweet potato fries...

So Patrick suggested I just get lunch at ‘AMA ‘AMA. And it was great! There was NOBODY in there, we got to try out the “modern” section of the restaurant, and they had sweet potato fries on the menu! And, since we split an order of the super-tasty Kālua-roasted Pulled Pork Sandwich in Steamed Rice Buns, we got outta there for around 20 bucks. Sorry I don’t have any photos... you’ll have to call on your memory of the 3,741 shots of ‘AMA ‘AMA I posted for the day before. Then it was off to the beach...


PHOTO BOMB!!!!






When we were there, there was only one path down to the beach. But when construction is finished, there will be two.














Little Opihi’s: A place to not buy sweet potato fries











We brought all our snorkel gear down to the beach and staked out a chair, then strapped our flippers on and flapped awkwardly backward into the water.













I was not as huge a fan of the real-water experience. I think a lot of it was cuz the sun was REALLY bright and squinty-making, and I was still flailing more than I was snorkeling, and there was hardly anything to see under the water. It didn’t seem worth coughing down gallons of seawater for... Instead, I tried just lounging on our beach chair, but the group next to me was smoking, and the sun was sneaking around the edges of the umbrella I kept hitting my head on, and BOO-HOO-HOOOO! I was stuck in crummy old Hawaii having a lot of first-world problems! (I did tattle on the smokers, though it was hard to find someone to tattle to. I settled for the guys running Aulani’s rental booth, who could not have cared less.)

Meanwhile, Patrick was splashing happily in the bay. He found somebody’s cell phone on the ocean floor and put it up on the floating jumping platform Aulani has moored there. I guess it was probably toast, but I grabbed it anyway and took it back to the guys running Aulani’s rental booth to see if they had a lost and found, discovering in the process that last time they actually could have cared less!




“Crap, she’s headed our way AGAIN—lock the roll-down door!!!”






After that it was back to Rainbow Reef, which was much calmer at that time of day. This was our last chance to snorkel for the trip and, lo and behold, I finally got the hang of it! When I’d had my fill, we went down the tube slide one last time and then headed back to the room to shower and change for dinner.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:12 AM   #295
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We did a little more exploring on our way to dinner.




Wallpaper!






I wanted to see if we could get some shots of Aulanis conference center (I mean, after staring at it every day for our entire trip, who WOULDNT be desperately curious to know what was inside?) for my Disney weddings book, so I dragged Patrick over there. Ill spare you, dear reader, but if you are curious, I have put all the photos on my website, HERE.


This is the Holoholo Tours and Travel Desk, where you can go to arrange for pricey excursions and car rentals.
















In case you were curious about the snack selection in the gift shop...







Duffys all dressed for a day of being your mom in the 80s...










How much you wanna bet that seashell was added at the last minute by a panicky Imagineer?














Painted Sky is the teen spa at Aulani, which comes complete with its own frozen yogurt bar, Internet cafe, and gift shop that stocks every hipster-baiting piece of merchandise youll find in the theme parks. If I were a teen, I would think this place was the cats pajamas, as the kids say. But there were no actual teens present when we visited.






















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Old 05-21-2013, 11:14 AM   #296
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Mix-your-own spa treatment bar










And here’s the “fitness center,” whatever THAT is....








For dinner, we were headed back to Makahiki Buffet so I could give it a well-rounded review.




















Once again, we vowed we’d order off the a la carte menu to save money, and once again it was deadly dull. So once again, we emptied our wallets for buffet ($43 a pop!). You know the drill: Here come a TON of food photos with shots of their labels!































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Old 05-21-2013, 11:15 AM   #297
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The A La Carte Menu









A guitar duo was playing on the ‘Olelo Room’s patio






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Old 05-21-2013, 11:20 AM   #298
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Oh yeah, we wore our leis to dinner, and they brought us a free congratulatory dessert!



Not content to stop at just five desserts, and in an effort to wring every last drop of value from the price of the buffet, I grabbed a few cookies and krispie treats for the road with the Grandma Hayward-approved Ziploc bag I smuggled in from our room.

After we’d sat around groaning for a while and debating whether to use Magical Express at WDW in a few days, we decided to get out and stretch our legs... by walking to the ice cream parlor across the street!





Two Scoops proved to be something of a disappointment. They only had eight flavors and nothing else: no shakes or sundaes or anything. They did inexplicably offer Philly cheese steaks, though!
















I took two bites of my icy, flavorless Coconut Macadamia ice cream and dumped it in the trash. Patrick didn’t even try to fit any ice cream in!







Warning! This photo will make you really woozy if you don’t know what you’re looking at—it’s the roof over Makahiki’s patio, with the lazy river up in the top of the frame...






Then it was back to the room to pack for Walt Disney World! (Don’t worry, we still had a full last day on Oahu before our red-eye the next day.)


Oh yeah! Here are the candies and personalized menu that Alan Wong’s gave us! (My heart always skips a beat when Patrick is given the wrong last name...)



While we were packing, there was a knock on the door. It was private dining, bringing us more pixie dust! (I think this might be the “amenity” that Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings’ alludes to as part of the Memories Collection package... or maybe it was our planner at work again!)





Once we were mostly packed, we took a break to go sit in the infinity Jacuzzi again. Being out there at night was a revelation—if only we’d done all of our swimming after dark! No sunscreen, no squinting... no seeing the fish, though, I guess... Or using the water slide!

When everything was finally packed, we took three boxes to the Aulani’s concierge, who helped us ship everything home at USPS rates. It was still way more than we’ve ever paid to ship anything back from WDW. Lesson learned! We actually had a lot of fun chatting with the concierge—he’d grown up on the island, lived in LA, and chosen to come back to Oahu after school. It was fascinating hearing about life on the island and how much he enjoyed living there. He was definitely one of those enthusiastic cast members who makes your day a little brighter.

In Two Weeks: Exploring the Polynesian Cultural Center + Saying Goodbye to Hawaii... and Hello to Florida!
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:08 PM   #299
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17! Okay frankly I have no idea because I wasn't quite sure if half of them were just rocks! Although I think there may have been a giant lizard in there. I would have paid $43 for the buffet for the poke alone! So yummy!!
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:12 AM   #300
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Wow - you really outdid yourself with the last two updates! I felt like I was reading a novel and you definitely had me LOL'ing more than once.

For example - 45 seconds of serenity

The Philly cheesesteak

The attack of the feeding fish

The rental guys closed door



and those are just the ones I remember after reading for 15 minutes.

Your pool day sounded absolutely A-Mazing! I didn't know all those unique features existed at Aulani. Now I am so jealous of eandesmom who is there RIGHT now as I type.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of your TR. But there's more, right?
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