EDIT: Quick Links to Days: Departure Day & Waikiki- Saturday Hanauma Bay- Sunday Part 1 Pearl Harbor and Aulani Check-In- Sunday Part 2 Resort Day! – Monday Resort Day 2 & Laniwai Spa- Tuesday Resort/Beach Day & Ka Wa’a Luau- Wednesday Dolphin & Snorkel Sail and Stargazing- Thursday Zip Lining at Keana Farms, North Shore Tourist Eating and Photo Session- Friday Check Out and Final Thoughts- Saturday *********** I've never done an actual trip report before but really enjoy reading them on this board as it both helped me prepare for our trip and got me even more excited to go (if that was possible). So I thought I'd try my hand at "paying it back" and do a TR for our Aulani adventure last week. Background & Planning I am a huge Disney fan. I grew up about 30 min from Disneyland and went frequently, especially as a teen with friends. I particularly enjoy the magnificent detail Disney puts into everything they do, in the true spirit of Walt. I don't know for sure but I have probably been to DLR over 100 times, am an Annual Passholder (even though I no longer live nearby) etc. We did a Disney Cruise on the Dream in 2012 which was fantastic. Except for an opportunistic last minute visit to a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party when I was at conference in Orlando last year, I have never been to WDW. Now, DH is not at all the Disney fan I am but does appreciate that Disney goes out of their way to do everything "right" and ensure their guests have, for the most part, fantastic experiences so he goes along with Disney things like the cruise and occasional DLR visits. Usually I visit DLR with just me and one or more of our three daughters. My girls, ages 13, 9 and 7 are proper Disney fans like me When I turned 39 last December, I told DH that for my 40th I didn't want a big party or anything like I had thrown him for his 40th. Instead I wanted to go to WDW or Aulani and he could pick which he'd prefer. Unsurprisingly, he picked Aulani rather than full on Disney immersion at WDW. After some research, it became apparent that it would be quite a bit more economical to do Aulani during my kids 2 week fall break in October vs. over the Christmas holidays which are closer to my actual mid December birthday so with our date range selected the planning commenced. We often travel with family- namely my MIL and FIL as well as sometimes SIL and another family friend. I am always the primary vacation planner/coordinator for the whole group though I try to arrange destinations, places and activities more centered around what others want to do. This time, I invited everyone but told them I was inviting them on my birthday vacation and I was going to mostly plan around things I wanted to do, though certainly not forcing anyone to come or join on parts they weren't interested in. MIL and FIL decided to join us for the whole trip (and stay an extra week exploring more of Oahu out of Waikiki as well as traveling to the Big Island). SIL and friend decided to join us midweek and stay the following week doing their own thing in Waikiki. Overall this worked out pretty well. Several members of our party have food allergies (one Celiac + corn allergy, two gluten-free non-Celiac, one dairy free). This can make traveling difficult as eating out frequently is hard and lots of small exposures can really build up. The option to have a full kitchen in a villa was a huge boon so we decided to rent DVC points through David's for the stay. Although our immediate family of 5 was really better suited to a 2bed after research we decided we could make a 1bd villa work using the sofa bed and twin murphy bed in the living room. In-Laws also booked a 1bd for the first half of the stay converting to a 2bd lockoff part way through (so basically adding the adjacent studio when SIL and friend arrived). We decided on Island/Garden view for the blend of budget friendly and still some view with hopes of a possible room on the outside of Ewa tower where you can still see the ocean. The process with David's was pretty painless. I panicked a little initially as I submitted our request at 7 months and they responded that our dates and room choices were available but they didn't have enough points available for rent. Whilst I stressed out for a bit and started to look at other options, less than 36hrs later I got another email saying that points and our reservations had been secured. Woohoo! We were going to Aulani! Over the ensuing several months I poured over these boards and other resources looking for tips, advice and suggestions to make our trip amazing and learned so much- thank you DISBoards! Next up: Departure Day!