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Old 03-06-2013, 05:21 PM   #1
Jkpark
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Lots of Last Minute Aulani Questions

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!!
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Old 03-06-2013, 06:49 PM   #2
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Whew! Thats one long list of questions! I will try and answer some below in green.

More importantly here is a link to allears's fact sheet on Aulani, super helpful and may answer a lot of your questions and more:
http://allears.net/acc/faq_aulani.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkpark
(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 paperplates/bowls/cups/napkins/utensils – or does the resort provide those?
Depends on how much in room eating you really plan on doing. They give you a set of four paper bowls and plates and you can ask housekeeping for more if needed. But if you are gonna use a whole lot then I would buy some more.

(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.
You cant take the snorkels rented from Aulani off site so a lot of folks have rented from Snorkel Bob.

(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 need to get there pretty early to get a prime spot say before 10am... at least when I was there.

(5) That wine I mentioned earlier, am I allowed to bring it to the pool in non-breakable cups? Bring our own sandwiches? Etc.?
I am sure you can bring sandwiches... not so sure about your own alchohol though... maybe someone else can answer to that.

(6) Ama Ama or Azul? I really did not understand the negatives folks gave on Ama Ama... we loved it! Had great service and good meals. Of course I booked it for a late lunch (around 2:30pm) as we were still on west coast time (so it felt like dinner time to us) and I thought the lunch menu options looked better and the prices more reasonable for what you got.

We wound up eating there 2 times (both a late lunch). We went over to Azul one night to check it out but did not wind up eating there as the menu just didn't sound apetizong to us that night.

Loved Roy's so if it has to be a dinner time meal/date night and you dont want to do Ama Ama I would probably do Roys.... the walk back if there is an issue with the kids would not be too bad.


(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 usually have them in the hall by the lobby or you can just ask. On Sunday we went down and got a Weekly Ewa (which was nice for planning things out). Then on the other days there was a more specific Daily Ewa. We never had them delivered to our room, but then it may be different now.

(8) Starlit Hui/Outdoor movies – how early to show up? Are there seats or do we bring a blanket/beach towels to sit on? Its on the grass and you sit on the ground but I think they have mats... we arrived late so had to stand in the back. Someone else may have some better tips on this.


(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?
They have Photopass cards and Photographers but not a cd option like in the parks, so I just wound up buying one picture and downloading it. Can't answer the Aunty's question.

(10) Should we bring beach towels or just use the pool towels at the resort?
Pool Towels, they are not stingy with them.

(11) Has anyone been to the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium?Not me, (see my Island Time statement below) but I have read that it is cool.

(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?On the beach there were plenty of chairs available.

(13) Finally – what is the one thing you wish someone had told you before your trip?That "Island Time" would take over at around day 3 and my list of all the things we were going to do would go out the window- in favor of hanging by the pool/beach.
Hope that helps!
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Old 03-06-2013, 07:12 PM   #3
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The Aulani coffee is the best I've had in a long while. Buy the refillable mug - well worth the price even if you only drink coffee. We made only 1 pot (at 3:00 AM) and that was the morning we were to go to the big island for a tour.
We also took alcohol to the pool in our mugs and filled with soda when appropriate.

There is a Photopass CD available. The photopass counter is in Kalepa's store. The price is $99.00 and comes with a variety of Aulani photos. You cannot do the pre-order online.

Enjoy yourself and the resort. It is amazing. Even as seniors, we enjoyed the mennehune game. Don't forget the sunscreen.
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:58 PM   #4
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(1) Mister Coffee 4-cup, Honolulu Aloha Blend and de-caf Aloha blend (we're tea drinkers, irrelevant to us)
2) We went to Target for cereal, but since we are a couple, it wasn't too important to us to buy a lot.
(3) I rented the snorkels for the week today, they did not tell me I couldn't take them off-site and I intend to. I brought them back to the room. Maybe you're not supposed to, but they didn't tell me I couldn't. We have a rental car, and we're planning on driving up to the north shore. I want to be prepared if a snorkeling opportunity pops up. DH doesn't swim or snorkel, so I'll be on my own.
4)I agree with Cinderpamela on the chairs. We were told that if you left your stuff on the chairs for over an hour it would be picked up and left at the pool towel check-out place (don't know if that's true or not) We went to the beach today, not really early, got chairs and an umbrella - no problem. The pool is different though.
(5) Yes, I'm sure you can bring sandwiches - you might want to get a small soft cooler if you won't be eating right away. You could probably have your wine in a travel cup, I haven't seen any rules on that for sure.
(6) FYI, our room overlooks the lawn where the surf lessons were. You will not be able to drop your kids off and have dinner. It was only about a half hour long. Looked like all the parents were there to me, taking pictures, etc.
We only had breakfast at Ama Ama our first day, haven't eaten there again yet, or at Azul so we can't help you with that.
(7) Daily planners are not delivered to your room but you can pick one up in the community center or at the tour desk or I'm sure they must be at the front desk as well. Didn't know about the weekley planners, if you can get one, that would be your best bet cause it would be good to know what's going on the next day.
(8) We watched the Starlit Hui from our balcony. I'd show up early if I were you. They have mats (or you could bring your own beach towel) I'd suggest bringing snacks or sandwiches/drinks if you get there early. It seemed like there were less people there for the movie (Muppets Movie 2 last night).
(9) can't help with Aunty's/photopass
(10) Ditto Cinderpamela - you don't need your own beach towels
(11) We did the Swap Meet - Giant flea market, most stalls had variations of the same items. We bought hooded sweatshirts, but would not make the trip to do this again.
(12) We had no problem getting an umbrella - and someone who 'installed' it for us. Maybe during busier times this might be a problem.
(13) I agree with Cinderpamela - although I still want to drive to the North Shore, and hike Diamond Head - things I might never have the chance to do again.
That being said - we LOVE Aulani and now hope to return - perhaps in two years. We're so happy that this is another 'welcome home' place for us!!


Good for you DisnyDi! - I'm a senior too, DH is a tad younger. We're here now!Where are you from - we're from NJ (loooong plane ride!!)
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DiznyDi View Post
We also took alcohol to the pool in our mugs and filled with soda when appropriate.
Great suggestion DiznyDi... I plum forgot about the refillable mugs... even though we bought some. That would be a great way to bring your own adult bevies to the pool in an inconspicuous way!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiznyDi View Post
There is a Photopass CD available. The photopass counter is in Kalepa's store. The price is $99.00 and comes with a variety of Aulani photos. You cannot do the pre-order online.
Thats good to know, I never knew there was a cd... though we didnt get nearly the amount of PP pics to justify the $99 pricetag. There were not that many PP photographers out and about... maybe someone else would have better luck than we did.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:53 PM   #6
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You can take food to the pool area. I made a sandwich every day and ate it by the pool just last month. Also had chips and salsa by the pool. Bought a small cooler at Target and filled it with beer and ice everyday for the pool and beach. As long as you don't have glass containers you will be fine.
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinderpamela View Post
Whew! Thats one long list of questions! I will try and answer some below in green.

More importantly here is a link to allears's fact sheet on Aulani, super helpful and may answer a lot of your questions and more:
http://allears.net/acc/faq_aulani.htm



Hope that helps!
I love your #13-THIS IS WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST! We have very little planned and if we don't do anything but hang at the pool/beach and connect as a family that is fine with us! 10 more days and we will be there-yippee!

Erika
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:23 PM   #8
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The photopass photographers do come to Aunty's both during the premium events and at other various times during the day. The catch is that the photos don't get automatically loaded onto a photopass card for you. You have to keep track of the days and times your kids are there, go to the photopass station at the gift shop and have the staff find the pictures to load them onto your card. It's not quite as painful as it sounds if you can manage to hit up the photopass desk when they aren't busy.

Also don't get your kids too excited about Surf's Up with Chip & Dale just yet. They won't run it unless they have a minimum of ten kids signed up. When we were there in late January we got a call at noon the day of telling us the event was canceled because of insufficient numbers. My daughter was devastated. Thankfully they did actually run it later in the week so she did get to go.

If they do cancel you can still check the kids into the regular program so you won't have to worry about missing your dinner reservation.
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jkpark View Post
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!!
When are you getting there? We are arriving the 15th and leaving the 23rd. We have 2 DD's also and are staying in a studio.. If we overlap and have any leftovers I would love to pass them on to you.

Erika
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:33 AM   #10
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That is quite a list!!!

Here is my advice....

If you have a Costco Membership, go there... 5 minutes from Aulani and it has everything your family will need.

We were there last December and Costco/Target was the best combo. Prices not too bad either, compared to Southern California.

For the pool/beach we bought a 7 dollar cooler tote from Costco, brought it to the pool with no problem. Even showed it to the security guards who said it wasn't a hard side cooler and we could bring it.

We filled it with snacks, water, and a fair amount of adult beverages. My buddy and I had canned beer (which they did not care about, no glass) and the wives made a fruity drink with Rum and tropical juice we called "Hawaiian Holiday" (My idea, a shout out to Disney).

Here is the trick for the mixed drink. Target sells 2-3 dollar Rubber Made pitchers with lids. Mix it up in the room and bring it down. Bring your plastic cups or mugs and have a good time.

For the seating, if you want the row overlooking the lagoon get there early... and have someone wait with chairs.

I am not sure the items on the beach are free to use, I thought you had to rent the chairs, umbrellas, etc.....

Have a good time, we are going for 9 days in May... CANT WAIT!!!
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Cinderpamela View Post
Great suggestion DiznyDi... I plum forgot about the refillable mugs... even though we bought some. That would be a great way to bring your own adult bevies to the pool in an inconspicuous way!


Thats good to know, I never knew there was a cd... though we didnt get nearly the amount of PP pics to justify the $99 pricetag. There were not that many PP photographers out and about... maybe someone else would have better luck than we did.
I had pre-purchased the CD online prior to arrival ($119.99). Never saw any photo pass people until day 3. While shopping in Kalepa's store, noticed the photo pass counter and began conversation with the CM. They were not able to adjust or refund my pre-purchase price. At this point, I wasn't putting more money into pics. In retrospect, I'm glad we didn't purchase the CD at the store at a price of $99.00. Our experience - we were 4 senior adults traveling together - the limited times we encountered the photo pass folks, they were more interested in taking pics of families with children than seniors. The photopass folks were always very visible for character meals and meet and greets; neither of which we participated in.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:59 AM   #12
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Sorry, forgot this...
parrotheadlois We're from Ohio and yes, it is a very long flight. Total time traveling is about 14 hours. While I love Hawaii and Aulani, realistically it will be a very long time until I go there again.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:39 AM   #13
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Sounds like we might be there the sanme time..

JKPark-
Sounds like we will be there around the same time- we will be there 3/22-29....and we are two families traveling together with DD ranging from 7-11.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:14 AM   #14
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We just returned from Aulani, and we LOVED the resort and the area. I doubt we would have done it in a studio though. We did tend to spend more time in the room out on the balcony just enjoying the ocean view than we ever stay in a room at WDW. Actually, we did a lot of "up and down" and "back and forth" to the room, since we could always see what was going on from our balcony and could run down and take part in it.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:31 AM   #15
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Thank you for all these replies

Quote:
Buy the refillable mug - well worth the price even if you only drink coffee.
I had forgotten they offer the refillable mug here. Are there places early am to go fill them up?

Quote:
We did the Swap Meet - Giant flea market, most stalls had variations of the same items. We bought hooded sweatshirts, but would not make the trip to do this again.
Thanks - I hadn't heard it mentioned a lot so I thought it might not be all that.
Quote:
The photopass photographers do come to Aunty's both during the premium events and at other various times during the day. The catch is that the photos don't get automatically loaded onto a photopass card for you. You have to keep track of the days and times your kids are there, go to the photopass station at the gift shop and have the staff find the pictures to load them onto your card. It's not quite as painful as it sounds if you can manage to hit up the photopass desk when they aren't busy.

Also don't get your kids too excited about Surf's Up with Chip & Dale just yet. They won't run it unless they have a minimum of ten kids signed up. When we were there in late January we got a call at noon the day of telling us the event was canceled because of insufficient numbers. My daughter was devastated. Thankfully they did actually run it later in the week so she did get to go.

If they do cancel you can still check the kids into the regular program so you won't have to worry about missing your dinner reservation.
That is really good information to have. Sounds like I will try to keep track and then decide whether to get a couple prints or the whole CD at the end of the trip. And I won't hype up Chip & Dale to the kids

Quote:
For the pool/beach we bought a 7 dollar cooler tote from Costco, brought it to the pool with no problem. Even showed it to the security guards who said it wasn't a hard side cooler and we could bring it.

We filled it with snacks, water, and a fair amount of adult beverages. My buddy and I had canned beer (which they did not care about, no glass) and the wives made a fruity drink with Rum and tropical juice we called "Hawaiian Holiday" (My idea, a shout out to Disney).
Perfect!

Erika and jjgarv: We will be there the 23rd through the 29th. Erika - sounds like you will overlap with jjgarv - maybe you can pass things on there - so nice of you! And jjgarv - you should be able to find us at the pool. I'll have pasty white skin and a soft sided cooler from Costco with adult beverages.
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