Live Blogging Aulani Jan 7-15!!!

Discussion in 'DVC Resorts' started by mgodfre3, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    We are here, Live at Aulani! and I am live blogging it for all you folks on the mainland, in the cold, work and otherwise not vacation modes. But don't worry I'm sure your trip counter is slowly winding its way down to single digits, while mine is now growing to a large number i won't want to think about until this summer!

    Here is my flickr photo stream to keep up with photos. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjxWDr5g

    My DW Andrea (27) and me (29) arrived after an exhausting flight from Denver at 8pm to Las Vegas at 930PM. Then we caught a really RED EYE flight from Las Vegas 130AM arriving in HNL at 530AM :eek: We should have paid for a nonstop flight is all I'm going to say!

    We rented a jeep from Alamo, and since I lived on this island for 10 years and haven't been back since 2004 I was fairly sure I could navigate without a map. I did fine.

    We arrived at Aulani when most guests are still sleeping, 715AM and did not get our flavored water and lei upon arrival. They checked us in, gave us our lei's and valet managed our Jeep for free, until we could get a Key to Aulani card to use at the self parking.

    We then wearily wondered the resort in our jeans and dropped off our carry ons at the Late Checkout lounge. This is an amazing lounge that is very useful for all guests, but you don't need a room key to get in, so if locals are smart they would use the bathroom, watch football and use the free lockers all day. Which they did. I also suspect that due to the weekend all the locals using the Pool and slides was high, but will drop off significantly starting today.

    We went to Waikiki to grab lunch at Wolfgang Puck express (as it is one of our must hits in WDW, but its not the same.) Seriously. A Kama' aina (local) tip when going to Waikiki, park at the Zoo on Kapahulu avenue for $1/hr and walk into Waiks its what all the locals do anyway. We also hit Ala Moana and bought our Hawaii Tiki Vinylmations. We drove around the east side of the island, checking out my homes and high school in Hawaii Kai, went down memory lane and drove past Hanuma Bay along the cliffs. I stopped to do some whale watching and show my DW some amazing views. Then we took the Pali back into town and went to Target to get some milk, Kona beers (a six pack for the cost of a pint at Aulani, and you have a bottle opener in your room) and we got the text that our room was ready. We got room 711 an island view in the Waianae tower, which is moved hotel and DVC. Its a great view as you can see from the photo stream http://flic.kr/s/aHsjxWDr5g . We put on our swimwear grabbed a towel and our wristband and stoked out a great shady spot. We went on the lazy river and enjoyed it. Then we moved to a prime sunset viewing spot in front of Ama Ama and got some grinds from One Paddle Two Paddle.

    This QS is hard to find, tucked back by Aunty's Beach house, the service was defiantly on par with MK QS staff, quick, uncaring and not interested in you more then they have to be. I got the Fish Tacos (O paka paka) and the wife got the Kalua Pork sandwich. She need BBQ sauce cause it was bland and my tacos were good, not great. The food on day one was, ehhh not that great. We then explored some more, bought a lot of Aulani Vnylmations at Kalepepe Store and knocked out in our beds. First impressions of Aulani are amazing hotel with some definite growing pains.

    We did notice that while the cast are great, they are defiantly missing that Disney spark, I'd call it Pixie Dust. We put on our Pins and Lanyards to walk around the resort at night and we were looked at like we were freaks. The hidden mickey's are few and far between and we just our missing some of the Disney touches. Its defiantly a hint of Mickey and not a splash, just something we would like more of, but we are kind of Disney freaks.

    Day 2 will come later, but for now I got to catch some sun and sand! Aloha!
     
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  3. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    Following along...sounds like fun. That's awesome that you got to live in Hawaii Kai. I have some friends whose families live there. My dream retirement (we're from the West Coast) is to live at one of the houses on the marina and take a boat to the Hawaii Kai Costco instead of driving :thumbsup2

    I agree w/you about the resort being just a hint of Disney w/not too many ppl who looked like Disney "fans." DH wore his DCL lanyard for convenience to hold the room keys in at the pool and was one of the few ppl wearing lanyards. He kinda looked like a Disney groupie :)
     
  4. ciao_gina

    ciao_gina DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the real time trip report. Are there photos on that link? I didn't see any.
     
  5. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    So Day 2
    On Day 2 we took it easy and spent the day enjoying all Aulani has to offer. We started with breakfast on our balcony in our Aulani robes. DW asked for glass bowls and cups in our studio and that was a great idea, instead of stupid paper ones. We then got dressed and went to the lazy river. The valley was packed with locals but that was ok, as we found two shady loungers and relaxed in the hawaiian sun. We also gave Rainbow Reef a try, and bought the day pass and hopped in. IT WAS COLD!!!!! but was amazingly fun. It took all the work out of snorkeling and just allowed me to float in peace and safety amount the fish. After 1/2 hour I decided to upgrade to length of stay on Rainbow Reef, as it allows snorkel rental at the Reef and down at Makaiki Joes for ocean snorkeling. I knew i would be back at feeding time every day to swim with the fishes. We then went back in the pool and tried out the slides which are fun and just enjoyed our day. We decided to walk across the street for lunch at Just Tacos and like others said it was Just Ok, if you skipped it you would not be missing much to tell the truth.

    Oh before I get to far, I have never been one for the refillable mugs and DDP but the mugs are totally worth it Aulani, partly because I spend all day here and at the parks you can't refill them anywhere. Just a FYI.

    Well, I got to run to my Hawaiian bracelet making class with the DW, but lets call Day 2 part 2 as coming later???? I updated the FLIKR link above but here it is again. It seems to be working now and the permissions have been reset to public levels. Thanks and see you real soon!

    http://flic.kr/s/aHsjxWDr5g
     
  6. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    After a disappointing lunch we visited the Waikalohe Valley once more and took a few Kona beers with us as well. We scoped out another choice shady spot and relaxed in the sun. The staff have a rule hey try to follow of 60 minutes, if they see your stuff has been left alone for more then 60 minutes they gather it up, free up your chairs and leave your stuff for collection at the wristband distribution tent. If you are in the front rows or really popular spots, it may be an issue but we tended to choose chairs in secluded spots and it really became a none issue.

    I visited Rainbow reef again and it was AMAZING as usual :rotfl: We then gather our belongings and went to prepare for dinner at Ama Ama.

    The sunset at 6:05 so we made reservations for 5:45. This restaurant has a perfect viewing of the sunset! we had a table immediately in the front for two and it was really romantic. But to be honest, we sat in front of it the night before and had 1 Paddle; 2 Paddle so its not necessary to eat at Ama Ama to get the dinner & a view. Dinner was good, not amazing, I had the Salt Crusted Sustanible Fish, O'Paka Paka and the wife had NY Strip. The menu was serious, a solid piece of wood with metal hinges about 1/4" thick and heavy but to be funny the menu hasn't changed since 8/29/11. DW and I rated the restaurant to Cali Grill at the Contempo Resort and Napa Rose at the GC and we rate them this way overall CG, NR, then AA. For view CG, AA, NR and food was CG, NR,AA. We would eat there on each visit, but once per visit is enough to Ama Ama. As a kama' aina my money is with Roys (in Hawaii Kai of coarse as it is the original.)

    Then we hopped in our Jeep and I took the wife for some views of Honolulu on locals know about (hint Sierra drive in Kaimuki:cool2:) We also stopped by Bubbies ice cream in the UH Monoa campus.

    Keep checking Flickr for more photos, I'm adding as fast as I can, just hard to carry a iPhone around when swimming.
     
  7. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    So today Im officially live blogging, as it is actually Day 3 of our Trip.

    Started the day in robes on our lanai with breakfast, grabbed swim apparel, snacks and our refillable mugs and hit the valley! Its so nie compared to a WDW and DLR visit to not have anything planned or alarm clocks, a nice change of pace for DVC members I might add.

    I jumped in Rainbow Reef for a real wake up with the freezing water and played with the fish, I really want to get my money worth with the Length Of Stay pass, the cast members are starting to recognize me haha. We hung out in the Valley for a few hours then walked over to the JW for a take away lunch of a burger and chicken fingers. Again good not great. The surprising thing is, we are spoiled at Aulani. At JW they have a tiny pool that is kind of depressing and you really start to notice a huge Disney Difference.

    We then drank more beers, relaxed and snorkeled at feeding time in the RR. This is a must do if you haven't figured out yet.

    We then grabbed a shave ice and headed upstairs to get dressed for crafts, photos dinner and Starlight Hui. The crafts was fun and we made feather bracelets, more guests should try these out, as they make cheap souvenirs :thumbsup2 . We then tried out the Menhune Challege while we waited to take photos with Donald, Goofy, Stitch, Mickey & Minnie. The challenge is fun and we will continue it all week. After photos we headed to Pearl City to eat at a place I loved when I lived here, Teddys Bigger Burgers. It was good, but Im beginning to think the young me had different taste buds 10 years ago. I have a few more memory lanes stops, I hope they live up to expectations.

    We rushed back to catch Starlight Hui and as many of the previous Aulani Trip Reports have read, the show is a CAN'T MISS! Skip all the other Luaus and Tourist crap and see this. They do check for your wrist band when entering. They have bamboo mats on the grass, are teaching kids hula, taking photos and making ti leaf character (like balloon animals out of green ti leaves) while waiting for the show to start. The show is a half hour with a dance party with Disney character afterwards. The show also involves the kids hula they just learned and it really makes you get the Disney Difference.

    We then grabbed a Mickey Premium ice cream bar from the Kalepepe Store cause what disney trip is complete without them? Then we headed to the Pau Hana room for a stargazing tour and learned so much about the resort that we never would have learned. It was well worth it. The lights in the pool, are arranged into the constellations the Anchient Hawaiians used to navigate to the islands. The torches use kukui nuts, like ancient times, as fuel for the fires. The murals on the side of the building tell the story of Hawa'ii and represent the masculine and feminine sides of the resort, meeting in the middle or the lobby as one, with each one having distinct features about it. There are so many small things you can find that Disney really put a lot of hard work into. I learned more at this resort about Hawaiian culture then I did in my Hawaiian History classes in High School just on the other side of this island!

    We also tried a video postcard in the Pau Hana room, this was a fun freebie, try it!

    Off to bed see you tomorrow with Day 3!

    Any questions from anyone yet? Or am I losing all of you?
     
  8. spleen

    spleen Mouseketeer

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    I figgah you wen go Kaiser fo high school? ;)

    FWIW, I don't think the Pearlridge Teddy's is as good as the Hawaii Kai one. :thumbsup2

    Enjoyed reading about your experiences so far. Glad that you're enjoying Rainbow Reef - it certainly is convenient!
     
  9. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    Shoot Spleen I did go Kaiser, grad in 2001. And I will have to try Koko Marina for da grinds but I have choke places to go out there in da kind.

    I told the Pau Hana staff they need one pigeon class for da tourists so they can see how da locals speak da kine.


    Haha.

    I forgot to mention. I talked to the staff and learned why there is so little Disney. Disney had a motto when creating Aulani, "Big H, little d." And after our tour of the resort I start to get it. Mickey Minnie and others are on vacation, and the resort is about celebrating Hawaiian Culture, which to be honest no other resort or hotel in HI does. After visiting other hotels I start to see that and appreciate it. Though I still wanted a little more disney.

    Today we are starting with breakfast at Makahiki, we are skipping character breakfast because we don't have children yet and we can just grab photos at the free times. I don't like the guy who comes and wants to add a photo for $30 to my already expensive buffet. It is also our full cleaning day, which since we joined DVC I haven't had. We always end up switching hotels at WDW before 8 nights and 4 nights is plenty for us at DLR. To be honest I didn't like the idea of no daily cleaning for DVC members but now I don't ever want to go back. I don't need to worry about waking up so the housekeeping can come in, or worry about tipping them or having the room presentable enough that Im not embarrassed when they come by.

    We are also planning to do the lei making class this afternoon, more menehune trail and we might go to Cha Cha Cha Salsaria in Hawaii Kai for dinner(I used to work here in high school). We may even stop by Leonards and get some hot malasadas.

    I will say the Kalepepe store is smaller then I thought, with not as many items as I hoped. Maybe thats good to save me on incurring another baggage fee, but we have been waiting for them to get a shipment of Sketch Medium Size Dooney & Bourke bags for the wife...heres hoping (I need Tebow's pray power!). Also why isn't there Vinylmation trading anywhere on this resort?? That was disappointing.

    I will continue to add photos as we go along so keep checking flickr.
     
  10. bgraham34

    bgraham34 Wilderness Lodger

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    I am enjoying your blogging, please keep it up and enjoy the rest of your trip.
     
  11. taaren

    taaren "There is more treasure in books than in all the p

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    Maybe its just because I never lived outside of the Manoa/Kaimuki area, but the University Teddy's is the best. That being said, we still hit the one in Waikiki when we stay there just for the convenience.

    Is Roy's Ko'olina open again? Going to be heading back in a couple of weeks just for one night, not sure if we'll be staying at Aulani or the Ihilani yet but would love to finally get my souffle!

    So cool that you got to enjoy the Rainbow Reef so much! Hoping I get to next time nobody will have colds ...:sick:
     
  12. Yvonneb

    Yvonneb Earning My Ears

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    Awesome blog so far! Do you remember how much it was to upgrade to length of stay for the snorkeling? We'll be there for 10 days next month with my 12yo DS and I know I'll never get him out. Also, do they publish a little book or something with all the times of the different activities so you can plan? And if so, can you get it ahead of time or is it easier to just wing it without missing too much? (Can you tell we always go to Disney?) Thanks!
     
  13. SuperRob

    SuperRob DVC Members Since 2011 (SSR)

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    Yvonne,

    Rainbow Reef costs $20 for the day, and $40 for length-of-stay. Basically, if you plan on using it twice, go for length of stay.

    Glad to hear the OP loved it so much. I think I'm just about convinced to go LOS for our five nights.
     
  14. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    What I would suggest regarding RR is to try it out then consider upgrading. You get a 10% DVC discount on it making it $36 and you can rent snorkel gear from Makiki Joes to use in the ocean with it. Every day they punch a heart shaped hole in your wrist band indicating the lengthy of stay pass. They also punch the heart into your key to Aulani card as well. If you were less then honest you could go to michaels to get the same hole punch, but is it really worth it?

    We skipped the buffet because it wasn't worth the money and went to Koa Pancake House 3 miles to the east from here. It was resonabile and cheap, spent $12 for the two of us. Today we have played more menehune trails, made leis, toured the DVC member tour and will head to the north shore. Tomorrow we plan on staying in the valley. And I'm curious to find the Black Pearl around here. See you all laters.
     
  15. abrych

    abrych Earning My Ears

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    Have trip planned Jan 25 for 9 nights in a studio. What are the laundry facilities like. Trying to plan how much to pack or is it feasible to do wash half/way through trip.......

    Thanks,

    p.s. throughly enjoy your posts
     
  16. Yvonneb

    Yvonneb Earning My Ears

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    Thank you! Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Enjoy!
     
  17. ciao_gina

    ciao_gina DIS Veteran

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    Thanks again for all of the details.

    What is the Menhume challenge?

    Can you get regular (non Kona) coffee at Aulani?

    Do you know if Roy's is opening soon?
     
  18. leelee9878

    leelee9878 DIS Veteran

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    So happy to hear that they have Miley ice cream bars!! :banana:

    Do they offer the star gazing tour every night? Is there an extra charge? I'd love to learn about the resort while we are there.
     
  19. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    Ok so the trip is halfway over, why does it come along so slow, but go by so fast.

    The Daily IWA is a newsletter akin to a cruise ships activity log. We pick up the next day's nightly at the front desk and it tells you Charector Photo Ops, Craft Activities, shows and other events around Aulani. It is a great guide to plan out Activities.

    The Menehune Adventure Trail is a exploring activity using a Android device provided by the Pau Hana Cast members on the 1st floor in the Ewa tower. The device has you video call Aunty, whose friends keep calling her to ask for help with various things. You are guided to a spot, where with the help of the Menehune magical things start to happen around the resort. Today we made rocks rise out of the rivers, helped baby sea turtles and sprayed tourist with water from fountains as a joke. It is worth doing and actually a lot of fun.

    There are 2 laundry facilities in both the Ewa and Wainane tower. They look good and secure with a key to Aulani card. I heard that studio guests can ask the front desk for 6 free tokens to the laundry room, but haven't confirmed that yet.

    We drove by Roy's today and it looked closed still. I will call tomorrow to get an idea, as we would love to go for Happy Hour. We are going to the one in Hawaii Kai (the original) for dinner Thursday night.


    The star gazing tour is in two versions a free one that is a broad over view and it I think twice a week, defiantly on Monday nights I will check the Weekly IWA and let you know, Also I will scan in the IWA's when I get home for all of you to see. They have a more advanced Stargazing activity with a NASA expert who brings a telescope. Im not sure about the details on that one though.

    Today like I said we skipped Makihiki because it honestly did not look like it was worth $27 each. When then went on a member tour of the 2BR & GV room 1001. It was a breathtaking room but all we can afford are studios. But like an idiot I forgot to take pictures up there! We also sent a photo to our DVC Rep of us at finally making it to Aulani, and he sent us back that he is on the Disney Wonder this week...too funny. After the lei making activity, which was fun, we took the hard top off the Jeep and drove to the Dole Plantation. We got a small Dole Whip at this tourist trap and it wasn't as good as at the Parks. If we all comment about it I am sure we can get Dole Whips at Aulani, just saying. Then we headed ton the North Shore to show my DW the CHOICE Waves and Halewia Town. As we went through town, I saw Matsumotos was not busy, so we stopped to try it. In all my 10 years of living in Hawaii I never had Matsumotos Shave Ice. To be honest I liked the one at Aulani better, a lot of syrup is not necessarily a good thing, who knew! Then we continued on to Waimae Bay, Turtle Bay, Kahuku and along the cost down to Hawaii Kai. We grabbed dinner at Cha Cha Cha Salsaria in Hawaii Kai, a place I worked at 12 years ago and it was great like I remembered, if you go try the Papaya Chicken Quesadilla. A quick drive back and we went to the infinity tub to chill the night away.

    TIL that the Front Desk, Aunty's Beach House, the Lava Shack and Kalepepe's Store all have pin trading books with Kalepepe having 2, so buy some cheap pin lots on ebay and bring them with you! As far as vinylmations, none are traded on property, the closest place is at the Disney Store in Ala Moana which is under remodel right now.

    Tomorrow, I think we will just enjoy the day at the resort again, why not eh?
     
  20. ciao_gina

    ciao_gina DIS Veteran

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    Thanks again!

    Do you mind telling me what you paid for the jeep? We have a sedan rental and I am thinking a Jeep would be way more fun.

    Thanks!:thumbsup2
     
  21. mgodfre3

    mgodfre3 Earning My Ears

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    Somehow through Alamo we got a jeep for 8 days for $263. I think my wife applied the DVC discount but I'm happy. We originally had a ford focus for $200 but what the heck we are on vacation!
     

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