First Trip - thoughts and video

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by SteveNZ, May 21, 2018.

  1. SteveNZ

    SteveNZ Earning My Ears

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    Well, we've returned home from our first trip to Aulani, which was also our first trip to Hawaii. It did not disappoint - we had an absolute blast. We are a family of 4 (2 boys, 6 and 9) from New Zealand and we stayed 1st - 5th May in a normal hotel room (2x Queen) as we are not DVC members and couldn't justify the cost of a villa, but we found every second of our vacation worth every cent we spent on it.

    I've made a video of our stay, which I'd love to share with you guys:



    Some random thoughts about Aulani in general:

    LOVED Aunty’s. We found the whole environment and the way it was run reassuring and safe. The kids loved it and would have gone far more times if they'd had their way. We never had to queue, and never struck any capacity issues.

    The salt water in the pools was a surprise - the first time the kids and I felt it on our lips we were quite shocked but it was great to have no Chlorine smell.

    We only really ate from Ulu Cafe and from the snack kiosks but found the food to be reasonably priced The pizzas in particular were great value. For $23 we had more food than all four of us could manage.

    The lazy river was by far our favourite attraction - I have lost count of the times we completed the circuit. We all agreed it rivalled any attraction in the parks - just being in control of how fast or slow, no queuing, and just being so darn relaxing. The animals in the rock work - we didn’t notice it until about the 10th lazy river trip! And from then on each trip was spent trying to spot new ones which the kids loved. In fact, the Kids say they prefer Aulani over DLR (we have not done WDW with them yet).

    The Staff were so friendly - we found great service every time we needed it.

    PhotoPass was a bit of a disappointment. On our DLR trip 2 years ago we came away with around 90 incredible photos which I will treasure forever. We found the PhotoPass people at Aulani hard to find and the quality of the photos somewhat lacking. I ended up not buying any.

    Some of the walkways around the resort were quite slippery. Our littlest guy had a fall and hurt his back, but a cast member was on the scene immediately and sent a lifeguard to attend who took details but also got ice and made sure he was comfortable. He soon forgot all about it and carried on swimming.

    The Check in / check out showers are GREAT but feel they need more seating in the wait area. It got a little awkward and cramped with more than two or three families there.

    I feel like they need one or two more restrooms in the main valley area. Particularly near Ama Ama. If you're around that side, it felt like a long walk to the restrooms near the Lava Shack.

    But we are immediately saving for our next visit - perhaps in a couple of years, and perhaps this time renting DVC points - I didn't know about this until after we'd booked and paid.

    Hope you enjoy the video! Mahalo!

    Steve
     
  2. owensjro

    owensjro DIS Veteran

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    Did something change? When we were there 4? 5? years ago the pools were not salt water. Disney uses a process that reduces the chemical smell and overall burn of the harsher pool chemicals. But it definitely wasn't salt water at that time.
     
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  4. SteveNZ

    SteveNZ Earning My Ears

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    Hmmm. I just googled it and sounds like it’s not. I just went with what we all collectively tasted... definitely tastes salty even if it’s not!
     
  5. olafLover

    olafLover DIS Veteran

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    We asked a lifeguard if it was salt water and in my memory he confirmed. They might be as good as bus drivers though ;)
     
  6. lorenni

    lorenni DIS Veteran

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    It tasted very mildly salty to me as well last week. Not ocean salty, but definitely a hint. Perhaps they are using desalinated water in the pools?
     
  7. kyton

    kyton Mouseketeer

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    Do they not have salt water pools elsewhere? Even our backyard pool is salt water based - much kinder to eyes and skin.

    Re the restrooms - there are facilities within the lobby of Ama Ama that are available to everyone not just diners in the restaurant.

    Glad you enjoyed Aulani - definitely next time do a villa, it’s so much nicer to have the extra room.
     
  8. 94bruin

    94bruin DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for posting your video! I watched the entire video and it gave me a good sense of what to expect. We only have 8 sleeps left!

    Just wondering about the lazy river - do you have to paddle yourself or is there enough current to push you along?

    Also, at the lagoon, I know the waves are really gentle but it looked like they were able to push you to shore if you were on a boogie board. Did you find this to be the case?
     
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  9. olafLover

    olafLover DIS Veteran

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    My husband considered it to go too slow and pushed me along ;)
     
  10. alohamom

    alohamom DIS Veteran

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    @SteveNZ thank you so much for posting your video!

    Looks like you all had a blast and your children are such great travellers.

    I know what you mean about the creature features in the lazy river. A few years back I posted a report in the Aulani DVC section of these boards with pictures but I had put them into the post with Photobucket so the pictures are no longer there.

    @94bruin the lagoon area will depend on the weather. We have been in it when it was very calm and placid and other times when you would get pushed to shore if you were floating.
     
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  11. Pete W.

    Pete W. DIS Veteran

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    Yes and those are the restrooms everyone at the luau are directed to use so they can get quite busy on luau evenings.
     
  12. SteveNZ

    SteveNZ Earning My Ears

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    Thank you! The current in the lazy river definitely varies along the route, but never to the point where you're not moving at all. If you just let the current take you you can complete the circuit in about 15 minutes. I would just kick my legs a little if it was getting too slow.

    Thank you! Yes our boys can be a handful but they were very good on the flights, and they just loved Aulani. They say they'd rather return there than go to DLR... I'm surprised to say I'm almost in agreement.
     
  13. Arizona Rita

    Arizona Rita DIS Veteran

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    Awesome video! Thank you for posting it. Your boys are so cute!
    Planning a college graduation trip for our daughter next year? Any tips for adults? Something you would have tried?
     
  14. SteveNZ

    SteveNZ Earning My Ears

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    Thank you! It was a lot of fun making it. Tips for adults? Hmmm. The Pina Coladas are really good, make sure you try one! We didn’t get to use the spa, but it looks amazing. Maybe one day when the boys are older we will try that! Have a great trip and congrats to your daughter!
     
  15. bbrnca

    bbrnca addiction r bad unless a Mickey one

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    I have a question for you regarding the pools and lazy river.... what time do they close it up? Is there anything else going on at night?
     
  16. SteveNZ

    SteveNZ Earning My Ears

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    Believe they close up by 8pm. After that there are the restaurants and bars (and of course the luau) but nothing more in terms of entertainment. Early nights and early mornings mean you make the most of the sunny days!
    :cool1:
     
  17. SteveNZ

    SteveNZ Earning My Ears

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    For anyone interested after my original post, I finally finished our full vacation video. The first part is the same as the first video, but after that we go to Kualoa Ranch, Dole Plantation, Lanikae Beach (albeit with no turtles), Byodo-In Temple, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Zoo, Kalakaua Ave, and more :)

     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
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  18. rtravels

    rtravels Mouseketeer

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    I'm inserting myself in here to help with adult tips. My husband and I went without kids and I would recommend the spa as the number one thing you should do at Aulani. I've been to a number of spas and we have never received such great service and the facility is stunning. We both loved Ama Ama--I read only so-so reviews and I totally disagree with them. We had dinner and breakfast there and enjoyed both (but especially dinner). We also did a fitness class on a stand up paddle--extra charge but worth it. It was fun (and challenging). I would definitely hit up the monkeypod happy hour in the shops/restaurants across the street. Happy to answer anything else!
     
  19. southerngirl528

    southerngirl528 Dreamin' of Maui

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    Thanks so much for posting, very fun video! :thanks: Currently planning our Aulani trip #4!
     

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