Just back. Some tips on navigating the chair situation.

jerseygal

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 1, 2008
A little "off topic":offtopic: but anyone that has been to Aulani recently, hear anything about the status of the Atlantis resort which is supposed to be built? :confused:TIA!:-)
 

happymommy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
This is why I only stay at the Marriott; we were there last week, and any time about 11am or so, there were plenty of lounge chairs in the shade by the quiet pool (which I love). Although the resort was 98% occupied, it was never busy at all! We walked by Aulani on Monday, and it was wall to wall people.

The Atlantis is years off, if it gets built. I’ve been following it a bit, and am not keen on it. Aulani already shares one lagoon with the FS, and Atlantis (if it ever does get built) will be right next to Aulani. The renditions look like the Jetsons. Ugly.
 

kiford

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
We were there in November and it wasn't that busy. We had a very quiet check-in about 5 pm and had no problem finding four lounge chairs at any time of the day. It may just the time of year.

We found the food at the luau to be delicious. Monkeypod was so-so IMO. But, yes, food is expensive regardless of where you eat. We bought breakfast items from Costco and Walmart (we had a 2 bedroom). It wasn't just less expensive, but really nice to eat out on the deck in the morning. Although we did do breakfast a couple of times in Makahiki, one of which was a character breakfast.

Wow, OP, makes me glad we can stay at WDW and enjoy a much less stressful, peaceful, relaxing vacation with lots less $$$'s. Doesn't sound like Aulani is all it's cut out to be in comparison!! Not to mention the long flight to/from would just do me in.
We found Aulani to be all that it's been described to be. We thought that it was beautiful and relaxing. Some days we spent pretty much just in the resort. Not saying it wasn't expensive, but so is a vacation at WDW. And the long flight was a pain although going there we cut that in half by flying to Disney Land for a few days and then heading to Hawaii.
 
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  • gatechfan99

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2013
    Just wanted to add my experience since I had read this thread with high interest before our trip. We’ve been here since Memorial Day weekend. Currently, it’s Wed AM about 7:30. I’m sitting on a chair between the Kids Play area and Lazy River and there’s not a single other person on a chair in this area. I walked around the chairs looking out at the ocean before coming here and there were a few people but probably 95% were still empty. Pools open at 8:00 today.

    Now, Sat and Mon of the holiday weekend were definitely busier and you probably did need to be in a chair or have a towel on it by 8:30 at the latest to get one. So I would say time of year plays a key role in that availability. The good thing of course is that if you’re coming from the Eastern Half of the US, 8:00 still feels like early afternoon to your body so it’s not hard to get up and get out here.
     

    Mommy2Logan

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 11, 2019
    I'm glad to hear that some of you had better experiences with the chairs at Aulani. I just got back from a 4 day weekend to DLR and I would say that trying to find a chair at Aulani while we were there was probably comparable to trying to find a spot for the fireworks and/or parade. I typically do reserved seating for fireworks and nighttime shows at WDW and DLR though, so overall I would say that Aulani was more stressful with regard to the chair situation.

    As far as the cost of a Disney park trip versus Aulani, I would say that Aulani was significantly more expensive for us (Thousands).
     

    t3hWheez

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 12, 2016
    Hey there, we are going in Jan 2020! How do people feel about the crowds at the ocean chairs? Has anyone been in January before? We chose that month due to cooler temperatures, school is in session and prices were good for us.
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Hey there, we are going in Jan 2020! How do people feel about the crowds at the ocean chairs? Has anyone been in January before? We chose that month due to cooler temperatures, school is in session and prices were good for us.
    I'll be there in Jan 2020 as well. From what I have heard, its not a problem with the beach chairs as it is with pool chairs
     
  • heaven2dc

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 26, 2003
    I'm sorry you had such a rough first day of your trip! I'm confused on the pool references.

    In order to get wrist bands from the towel attendant, all guests must be present to show their room key cards (at least that's what's supposed to happen). How were you able to get wrist bands when all of you weren't present (unless I read that wrong)?

    Also as far as getting chairs and saving them, I didn't know guests can come down as early as 7 a.m. to claim chairs. The pools don't until 8 a.m. and thought that was the earliest you can grab a chair. Also if you do come down to claim a chair and if there is no activity at the chair(s) after an hour, the towel attendants will come remove the items left and store them until claimed.

    Were you there the first week in April? Spring break is definitely one of the busiest times of year besides Christmas holidays! I'm glad you had a better stay after the first hectic day.
     

    cedricandsophie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2014
    We have to aulani several times, always in may, for 10 days. We were just there may 6 to may 16. Because we are not there during the busy season, we don’t have much trouble with chairs. But as I’m an early riser anyway, our routine is that I get up between 630 and 7, head down to the small coffee cafe for a latte, go to work out and then get 4 chairs. If you are sitting there, you can hold as many chairs as you want. I put beach bags, sunscreen, hats, etc on the chairs while I go get my wrist band and towels. The line is never very long. Then it put towels on the chairs and head upstairs to get my swim suit and Kindle. Then I return alone and wait for the rest of the family. On weekends even in may, it is much busier. And lots of families will reserve a whole row of chairs at a time.

    Instead of calling for character times, you can simply go to the community house after 8 am. They always have a copy of the schedule and you can take a picture of it with your phone.

    We stop for food at Safeway on our way to aulani. We have always rented a car but I think next year we will try not. We really never go anywhere and we can get an Uber or cab to go to dinner outside of the resort area or to Sunday mass. We get parking free as dvc members but it’s still expensive since we need a van for 4 people plus luggage.

    We do breakfast in room, make sandwiches for lunch and bring them to pool and usually go out to dinner. Hawai’i is expensive so expect to pay well over 100 for most dinners out, depending if you get wine or cocktails which we always do.

    We do buy wine and sit on the lanai in the evening with snacks and listen to music below in the bar before heading out to dinner,

    We always get a one bedroom ocean view and request Ewe building, 50 series rooms which have the longer balconies and 10th and above, we have never been disappointed.

    The four seasons next door has a happy hour from 3 to 5. You can sit on the Terrace overlooking the beach, choose from some select drinks and small plates at half price. We always walk over at least once for a drink. If you are early eaters you could make a meal of the small plates, that’s just too early for us

    Another fav restaurant is Longhi at the Marriott, just down to the next lagoon. Food is good, not overpriced. If you go on Tuesday when they have their luau, you can hear or watch the luau,depending on where you sit. We always ask to sit right next to the koi pond which is just across the pond from the luau,

    Speaking of luaus, you really won’t find a better one than Disney, in my opinion, the dancers and singers are superb, the food is great and they tell a fascinating story about the legends of Hawaii which is lovely. Like everything else, it’s pricey but not that much more than other luaus and you get what you pay for.

    The land for Atlantis has been cleared but nothing is happening, the last I read, the developers were out of money. We hope like everyone else that it never happens.

    Finally, there are restaurants across the street like Just Tacos and the Monkeypod. The food st Just Tacos is ok. The food st the Monkeypod is good but pricey for what you get. They do have live music though every night.
     

    wilbret

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 1, 2018
    I can confirm the chair situation May 11-19 was the same as the original poster. There were people staking out claim to front row chairs before 7am.
    Umbrella and front row chairs were definitely gone by 8am. Chairs in the full sun were generally available, as well as chairs that don't fully recline.

    We didn't worry about it too much, but 2 days we did make a point to get there early to get the chairs we wanted. We also moved to better chairs when some early-birds left.

    Towel line was never really a big deal for us, but I did notice a couple inconsistencies. They were pretty strict about us both being there to hand out wristbands, but I witnessed them handing out multiple wristbands to some guests. Not sure why. The DVC towel line wasn't very exclusive, in that pretty much any time I dropped by, there were non-DVC people getting towels. No big deal, but it happened.

    ProTip: (Don't tell anyone) Get some towels late in the day and bring them down the next day with you.
     

    Sepo

    11-3-2016 12:47 a.m.
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2014
    Are there any pics of the cubbies they reportedly made and are these available or usually full? Honestly, our family just needs a decent place for towels and minimal belongings. One chair is good for the 5 of us. When that becomes difficult, frustration sets in.
     
  • quandrea

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 24, 2010
    Wow, OP, makes me glad we can stay at WDW and enjoy a much less stressful, peaceful, relaxing vacation with lots less $$$'s. Doesn't sound like Aulani is all it's cut out to be in comparison!! Not to mention the long flight to/from would just do me in.
    Agreed. This sound like a nightmare. My husband would hate all that and the trip would be spoiled. You’ve convinced me to never go to Aulani. I don’t want to have a strategy on an island holiday.
     

    wilbret

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 1, 2018
    Agreed. This sound like a nightmare. My husband would hate all that and the trip would be spoiled. You’ve convinced me to never go to Aulani. I don’t want to have a strategy on an island holiday.
    It’s hardly a nightmare. Aulani is amazing. There are always chairs available, the preferred ones just go first. And frankly, most people are up early due to time change, so getting out early isn’t really that big of a deal.
     

    gatechfan99

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2013
    It’s hardly a nightmare. Aulani is amazing. There are always chairs available, the preferred ones just go first. And frankly, most people are up early due to time change, so getting out early isn’t really that big of a deal.
    I agree as well. Like I said, mid-week it was no problem at all. We were usually up by 5 or so every morning because of the time change and ready to get started. If the worst thing you have to do on the vacation is be down there by 7 AM and watch the Pacific ocean while eating or reading from the pool chair to reserve a couple, that's a good problem to have. But that's only on the worst days anyway.
     

    linco711

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 17, 2004
    Not happy to hear about crazy crowds..and hate the sounds of the chair situation. I’ve been to Hawaii several times but never to Aulani. The best part of a Hawaii vacation is relaxing...planning on Aulani this October and concerned about the crowds. Especially since some of the pools will be closed for refurbishment. Fewer pools mean more people crowding into areas that are open.
     

    wilbret

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 1, 2018
    Not happy to hear about crazy crowds..and hate the sounds of the chair situation. I’ve been to Hawaii several times but never to Aulani. The best part of a Hawaii vacation is relaxing...planning on Aulani this October and concerned about the crowds. Especially since some of the pools will be closed for refurbishment. Fewer pools mean more people crowding into areas that are open.
    I don't think you've read all the posts. It's no more crowded than any resort with as many rooms. There are plenty of chairs, the prime ones go first. That's the "Chair situation." You'll be able to find a chair, you just can't expect to show up at 9am and find a front row/umbrella seat in a popular spot.

    The resort is spread out enough that it never feels crowded. I've felt more crowded at WDW resort pools. The lazy river is extremely long, 2 slides, 3 pools, 3 hot tubs, splash zone, kids play area, snorkeling, multiple nooks and places away from pools, the beach, etc, provide plenty of places for people to spread out. Add to that excursions, sitting in restaurants, etc, and it's really not a problem.

    If you are on "the disboards," you will like Aulani. We went without kids, for the sole purpose of relaxing. That's what we accomplished. We grabbed chairs that were available, on a couple days we went down early to get the chairs we wanted. I'm a morning person anyway, and even moreso with a 6 hour time shift.

    Another thing to add, this place isn't cheap. A good portion of the people are DVC members, and everyone is there because they want to be, not because they got a great deal. People were happy, polite, respectful, friendly...the works. It's an experience vs. a place to stay.
     

    linco711

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 17, 2004
    I can confirm the chair situation May 11-19 was the same as the original poster. There were people staking out claim to front row chairs before 7am.
    Umbrella and front row chairs were definitely gone by 8am. Chairs in the full sun were generally available, as well as chairs that don't fully recline.

    We didn't worry about it too much, but 2 days we did make a point to get there early to get the chairs we wanted. We also moved to better chairs when some early-birds left.

    Towel line was never really a big deal for us, but I did notice a couple inconsistencies. They were pretty strict about us both being there to hand out wristbands, but I witnessed them handing out multiple wristbands to some guests. Not sure why. The DVC towel line wasn't very exclusive, in that pretty much any time I dropped by, there were non-DVC people getting towels. No big deal, but it happened.

    ProTip: (Don't tell anyone) Get some towels late in the day and bring them down the next day with you.
    Great tip👍
     

    tankin

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    @linco711 We're DVC members and Aulani is our home resort. In the past two years, we've done both WDW and Aulani in the week between Christmas and New Years... I'd say Stormalong Bay was crazier than Aulani. We've never had an issue finding at least one chair to put our stuff on.
     

    pixiedustedme

    Planning is half the fun
    Joined
    Mar 4, 2019
    I'm gathering from this thread that spring break, Christmas vacation and weekends are bad times to go to Aulani if you want it to be relaxing.

    So how is Thanksgiving week? Just as bad? How is the first week of June? We can only travel during school vacations, but would like to stay at Aulani some time without it being the way the OP and some others have described.
     
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    tankin

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    @pixiedustedme We've only traveled the week between xmas and New Years (same issue with school). My opinion is that Aulani's pools have never been worse than a WDW pool during the summer (much less spring break or Christmas). We've never had an issue finding at least one chair for our stuff (and no we're not going down at midnight) and the only time we've hit crowds on all of Oahu is when we get down toward Waikiki (Pearl Harbor was busy too but that was partially due to a Presidential visit the day before that closed the park).

    We continue to go to Aulani at Christmas but I've done my one, and only, trip to WDW during that time frame...
     

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