Mahalo from Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa
My family recently took a trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa-Aulani and WOW! What a trip! The resort is located about 30-40 minutes west of Honolulu in the Ko Olina area. Aulani was built with the focus of creating attention to details authentic to the Hawaiian culture and aloha spirit of Hawaii. Enter the resort, the doors feature pressed glass with the texture of woven lauhala and glass cabinets filled with Hawaiian artifacts. Disney imagineers love storytelling and what a way to showcase Hawaiian culture!
I did the online check in prior to arrival (your travel agent can do this for you) because it sure saves time waiting to check in at the front desk. We appreciated being warmly greeted with lei’s and citrus ice water after a long day of flying. Keys were waiting for us and BOOM on our way up to our room!
Auntie's Beach House
The front desk constantly has lines regardless of the time of day. I would strongly encourage you to preregister the kids/teens prior to arrival at Aunties Beach house. This will save you time in line. Another fact of Aunties Beach house-some activities you must sign up in advance. Be prepared to go early to get on the list because they fill up quickly. EARLY means 7:00am. An example of their activities is the Fish with Friends. My daughter, Hakyma, loved it!! They got to learn all about marine wildlife at Disney’s own Rainbow Reef. (private snorkeling lagoon, additional fee) They were shown how to make fish food and then went to Rainbow Reef and fed it to the fish! A very cool experience! Additional cost of 69.00 but it also includes lunch-4 hours. Some activities need a sign up and others have no fees.
ALL activities for families and kids/teens are in the Daily Iwa. (Newsletter) Pick up a new one for the next day after 6:00pm. A magic band is issued for each child/teen. 13.99 credit if you return it undamaged at the end of your stay or keep it as a souvenir. Magic band have a GPS in it and scanned each time at check in. Password is required each time you pick up a the child. Secure check in/check out process. A family photo is also snapped at the initial application as well. Magic bands only work at Aulani and not any usable again at the theme parks. (Disney World & Disney Land) Ages 3-12 years old. Play dress up, interactive game tables, magical portals, enchanted fireplaces, Hawaiian arts and crafts, and much more. Opio Teens program is for ages 13-17 years old. It has scheduled activities and areas to hang out with others their ages. The Painted Sky Teen Spa is the only teen spa in Hawaii. Amazing!
Waikolohe Valley- Glide along the lazy river, two different slides, Waikoloa pool of 8,200 square ft. of fun! Wailana pool is a relaxing adults only retreat. Newest area Ka Maka Grotto/Keiki Cove features an infinity family style pool and kids splash zone for the young ones. Every morning a new colored band is issued and must be worn. I noticed Disney Vacation Club members get issued wristbands with a different design. Disney Vacation Club sign ups/booths in various locations but never pushy about the product. You can learn about it also on the T.V. if its peaks your interest. Borrow out movies/games/video games, books, etc from the Pau Hana Room. This room also duels as an area for structured family activities such as ukulele lessons, lei making, etc. Menehune Adventure Trail was a highlight - An interactive scavenger hunt for all ages including adults! Solve riddles, search for hidden statues, and discover surprises left by the legendary Menehune, the island’s mischievous, magical “little people” known to craft wondrous feats of construction overnight including the Menehune Bridge. The more you look, the more you see! Also if you look closer you’ll see hidden faces/animals in the beautiful caverns and fantastic formations of the lava rock which make up the Waikolohe Valley.
Quick service dining: Off the Hook, Lava Shack, Wailana Pool Bar, Mama’s Snack Stop, Little ‘Opihi’s, Ulu Café. Dining-Makahiki and Ama Ama.
Off the Hook has delicious flatbread breakfast pizza and honestly not too impressed with the food overall. We tried Ama Ama dining and it was expensive and not that great except for the desserts. We often went off property down the road and across the street in the Ko Olina area. There is also a nice boardwalk along the waterfront area where there are more properties and restaurant options. Paradise Cove is also very close if you want a luau experience. Resort refillable mug just like at the Disney resorts! Purchase a mug for 18.99 plus tax and use it through out your stay. Everyone was lugging them around.
I went on a scheduled site inspection of the property. 351 hotel rooms (including 16 suites) and 481 Disney Villas. We had a deluxe studio which had a queen size bed and queen sleeper sofa. Queen sleeper sofa was actually quite comfortable!! Wet bar, microwave, refrigerator, and private balcony. Other view options include poolside garden view, island garden view, and standard view. Standard hotel rooms come with 2 queen beds and same view options. I was amazed and how soundproofed the balcony/patio door. Reason being told its hurricane proof!! Good note to know. Walls too…….cannot hear the next door neighbor and least we couldn’t in our area and enjoyed the privacy.
One, Two and Three bedroom Villas are perfect for 5 guests, 9 guests, or 12 guests. They include a separate living room area, full kitchen with range, microwave, dishwasher, full size refrigerator. They also have either 1 full bathroom with whirlpool tub and walk in shower or 2 or 3 full bathrooms in the larger villas. ALL extremely nice and spacious and well kept up!!
Laniwai, A Disney Spa has 15 treatment rooms and is open daily 8am to 8pm. With 18,000 square ft, they have an outdoor hydrotherapy garden, full service salon, steam room, dry cedar sauna, lounge area, and 24/7 fitness center. (Couples and family treatment rooms available.) Two gift shops were on site to load up on “DISNEY” everything. Disney photo pass is also located at one of shops for 99.00-cd disk with pictures. Example-kids activities, Disney character meet and greets, and all the family activities. Similar to the Memory maker.
Meet the Characters
Disney character meet and greets happen every afternoon. There is also a character breakfast each morning at Makahiki. (breakfast buffet) They also walk around the property and stop for photo ops such as Aunties Beach House Kids Club during scheduled activities and family group activities.
Excursions are available through the Holoholo Desk Tours and Travels. You can also pre book prior to arrival. We booked the Pearl Harbor tour in advance prior to arrival because of it’s popularity. (fee) Access to the USS Arizona Memorial is by U.S. Navy boat, for which a numbered ticket, obtained and valid for a designated departure time, is required. The memorial is visited by more than one million people annually. Because of the large numbers of visitors and the limited number of boat departures, the 4,500 tickets available each day are often fully allocated by mid-morning. Before boarding the boat for the short trip to the Memorial, a 23 minute documentary film depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor is presented. Touring of the Memorial is self-guided. A one hour audio tour of the Memorial and Center exhibits is available for rent at the Visitor Center. On the Center’s grounds along the shoreline are more exhibits and “Remembrance Circle”. Nearby is the USS Bowfin, A World War II Diesel submarine, which may be toured with separate paid admission. The battleship USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum may also be visited, but requires a bus ride to Ford Island.
Other excursions offered through Disney’s Aulani included Waimea Valley Adventure, Catamaran Experience, Kualoa Ranch Experience, and Manoa Valley Rainforest Hike. We booked, on site, the Manoa Valley Rainforest Hike - a 4 hour tour run by a Disney guide and a local guide from the island. (fee) VERY good and highly recommend it if you love nature and learning about Hawaii, specifically the island of Oahu and its neighboring islands. The guides provided mud boots for hiking (optional) , water, and snacks. We went hiking into the dense bamboo rainforest to 200 foot rain fed waterfall.
We got the opportunity to have a car for a day to tour around the island. (included in our package) I have always told clients staying on Waikiki Beach that a car is not needed because of the local bus and trolley service. (AND parking fees are expensive.) If you plan on staying longer than a couple of days then definitely would recommend that you rent a car for a day or even a few days to get out and around the island. Beware - traffic is atrocious but once you get through it and out on the North Shore its worth the time and freedom. We enjoyed it so much with stops for snorkeling, shopping, and checking out the surfing capitol of the world, Haleiwa.
Alamo has a location right at Disney’s Aulani-must book ahead of time. (sell out) Very slick and so convenient and bringing it back after hours just pull up to valet and they take care of dropping off the car. You do have the option of public transportation. (The Bus has a stop just off the property) Please note, however……it takes minimum of hour and half/two hours to get to Waikiki Beach because of all the stops enroute. It’s by far the cheapest ($2.75 each way per person) but time consuming. We opted for the Halihali shopping shuttle you can book through the tour and travel desk. It’s not a cheap option but, unless you have a car, it's definitely quicker, convenient, and comfortable. Another reason to have a car, more food options off property. The Disney Aulani shuttle picks up three daily at Aulani and has convenient drop offs at the Premium Outlets, Ala Moana Shopping Center, and DFS. (morning pick up’s) First return is in the evening beginning at 7:00pm. Worked out fine for us because we wanted a whole day at Waikiki.
It truly was a magical trip! I learned so much about how to get the most out of your Disney Aulani stay. Please contact me today for help with your next vacation!
ALOHA & MAHOLO
- Kimmie Von Bargen
Bursch Travel Alexandria
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