Our Aulani Trip Report - Feb. 2nd to Feb. 10th

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by trs518, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. trs518

    trs518 Mouseketeer

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    Because of a couple recent trips reports and see how we recently got back, I thought I would do a short trip report. This won't be very detailed, but feel free to ask questions.

    It was myself, my wife, and my son (12) that traveled. Overall we really enjoyed our stay. We interacted with many cast members every day and I can honestly say that they were all great. Even away from Aulani, everyone was very warm and kind. There were several times I said that if the flights weren't so expensive I could see us always using our DVC points there.

    Trip Organization
    We used Google's My Maps function to pin specific points of interest; food and activities. This made finding places when out and about very easy, as you can see these specific pinned points within Google Maps.

    Flight and Car
    We flew on Delta, having a non-stop flight on the way there and back from our local airport. On the plane we were in coach, where we each had a seat back TV and were served two meals and snacks on each flight. There meals were nothing special, but it was better than nothing. The TV had a large number of movies and TV shows to watch, many of them were recently in the theaters.

    We rented our car through Alamo via Delta, which was the cheapest price for us. It was a nothing special Chevy Trax small SUV that somehow fit in the standard car class. It barely fit our two suitcases in the back and the touch screen radio was annoying. Other than that, it was perfectly fine.

    Our Room
    Our room was 679, which is a Island Garden studio. We did have a slight ocean view and could hear the luau at night, sometimes in the room. Thankfully the luau was over by 8:30pm. We were right above the tree tops, so I would assume that anything lower wouldn't have an ocean view.

    Weather
    The first two days we were there, a front was over the entire island chain. The sky was very cloudy and it would randomly rain. At times it would down pour. This made planning things hard, but we were able to make do. The rest of the time, it was sunny and around 80. Some days there was a breeze and other days there wasn't.

    Eats

    In no particular order, here are the places that we ate:

    Ulu Cafe: We ate here a bunch, as we were typically at Aulani at lunch time. Overall the food was ok. The Kailua pork flatbread was good. The grab and go salads were ok, but expensive even by Disney's standards. One night we ordered a whole pizza and it was the typical mass produced pizza. We had a couple desserts from there, butter mochi and liliikoi cheesecake, and they were done well. We never ordered the hot sandwiches, but they did look good. The grab and go sandwiches looked sad.

    Mama's Snack Shop: Surpisingly we liked this place, as the only thing it really does is mass produced fried foods. A couple times my son ordered the fish sandwich and he said it was very good. My wife enjoyed the chicken tenders. The coconut shrimp looked good, but we never ordered it as my wife is allergic to coconut and I'm allergic to shellfish.

    Off the Hook: The burgers were very good and we loved the Umami sauce that comes with them. The salad that I had was very underwhelming, marginally better than the grab and go ones at Ulu cafe.

    Koa Pancake House: Typically we ate breakfast in our room, but the first morning we ate here before getting groceries at Target. The food was great, in large portions, and definitely cheaper then anything at Disney. This is a locals place to eat and was busy the entire time we were there. On the wall they had several "Best of" awards.

    ABC Store: The day that we arrived, we grabbed dinner from here. What we had was very good and at a decent price. Would definitely eat there again.

    Leonards Bakery: Love the place. If were driving by the wagon at the Outlet mall we always stop and get some. Overall I think the three of us ate over 3 dozen Malasadas. We did stop at the actual bakery twice. Parking is limited and there isn't much to see. The bonus is that they have other bakery items and do have special filled Malasadas. My power rankings of flavors... 1) Original 2) February special flavor Strawberry. 3) Cinnamon 4) Haupia. We haven't tried doubash yet, as we love the original flavor.

    Assagio's: We ate at the one in Kapolei. It was very good standard fare Italian. We would definitely go again.

    Teddy's Bigger Burgers: A burger chain along the lines of Smashburger and Five Guys. Everything that we had was good. If everyone is in the mood for burgers again, I wouldn't hesitate to go there again.

    Waialua Bakery (accepts cash only): This is a sandwich shop on the North Shore. The sandwiches here were great, as the bread was freshly made and the fillings were quality ingredients. The shake and smoothie that we had were nothing special and would be skipped next time. Overall we would definitely go back again.

    Activites
    Pool Time: Every day we spent some amount of time at the pool. We never had a problem finding chairs, although some days we had to look harder then others.

    Aunty's Beach House: On the weekends they have tween (10-12 years old) activities at night. My son wanted to do the activity on Saturday night. We didn't have a problem getting him in. He said that activity was fun, but there weren't a lot of kids. He never asked to go back, so I don't know how busy it was during the day.

    SUP in the Lagoon: One day we did SUP in the lagoon, shortly before lunch. We had to wait about 30 minutes before a board was available. It was fun to paddle around the lagoon. The water was clear and there was some fish that we could see. I could see where some people would want more of an adventure and for some people this would be more than enough.

    Rainbow Reef: My son and I did this one day. We really enjoyed it. The water wasn't to cold, so we were able to snorkel for an extended period of time. I would highly recommend doing it when they feed this fish, as this concentrates all the fish into one area.

    Turtles: When on the North Shore we did go to Laniakea Beach. There was one turtle sleeping on the shore with three volunteers around it, talking to people and ensuring that they kept their distances. It was very enjoyable. Twice we went to Paradise Cove Beach. Each time there was a turtle swimming and being harassed by a tourist. It was very disappointing and heartbreaking to see.

    Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu: We spent some time in downtown Honolulu and at Waikiki. Even though it wasn't really not our thing, I would recommend everyone do it at least once. We're fans of Hawaii 5-0, so we stopped at a couple places that have been featured on the show. We also walked around Waikiki beach for awhile. If you go, I would highly recommend googling for free parking spots. We did find a couple, so that made parking a breeze.

    Dole Plantation: Let's face it, it's a tourist trap. We stop every time we're on the island to get a dole whip and to walk through the shop. We did the train once and thought it boring and not worth the money.

    Surfing: Due to going in February, there were plenty of crazy waves in places. We were able to simply sit and watch the surfers on Waikiki, Laniakea Beach, and some random beach past Aulani on the leeward side. It was really fun and one of the highlights of our trip. If do you go past Aulani, you'll see the non-tourist side of Hawaii, both the good and the bad.

    Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout: If you're heading to the Windward side or are looking for something to do before flying out, this stop is completely worth it. The views are phenominal and it's very easy to get to. Parking is limited, so you may need to get creative.

    Aloha Stadium Swap Meet: Totally worth it, if you're looking for cheap souvenirs. My son and I stopped at one of the booths and bought 7 t-shirts for $20. My wife bought a couple fake flowers to put in her hair.
     
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  2. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Thanks for the review! You mentioned flying Delta, but I didn't see where you were coming from. How long was that flight for you?
     
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  4. trs518

    trs518 Mouseketeer

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    We flew from Minneapolis. The flight there was 8 hours and 50 minutes and the flight back was 7 hours and 40 minutes.
     
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  5. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Thanks for the review. I cut and pasted some of your food recommedations into my tour plan for July.

    Couple of questions for you:

    We are doing a split stay in July. 4 nights at Hote Halekulani in Waiikki which looks like an amazing sanctuary away from the insanity of the city and 5 nights in Aulani.

    My husband LOVES Hawaii 5-0 can you share the list of sites you saw or where you got the list from? I can only find the one hotel..Ilica or something like that...We will NOT have a car during our Waikikki stay but will during Aulani.

    Do you think 5 days is enough to enjoy Aulani? We are NOT beach sit and relax people which is why I have a heavy itinerary planned in Waikikki of activities.....I am only allowing 2 resort Aulani FULL days...Is this a mistake?

    What do you wish you would have done different, if anything, on this trip? Thanks! Melissa
     
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  6. trs518

    trs518 Mouseketeer

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    Here are the Hawaii 5-0 places that we found.

    1. KING KAMEHAMEHA STATUE at the Aliiolani Hale (417 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813). In the show this is the building that houses the 5-0 team. In actuality it's the Hawaii Supreme Court building.
    2. Kahanamoku Beach at the west end of Waikiki or Magic Island. I've heard that either one of these locations is supposedly where they park the shrimp truck.
    3. Tropics Bar and Grill at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815). This is the bar where they shoot all the night scenes that usually wrap up the end of the episode.
    4. Public Art "Duke Kahanamoku (Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815) This statue is scene in many of the episodes.

    Edited to Add: The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a small section of unofficial Hawaii 5-0 merchandise in one of their stores on the ground floor.

    As per how many days to stay at Aulani, that's a tough one to answer. It can really vary by family. I believe that Aulani's onsite activities really cater towards families with young kids. I can see that families with no kids, tween, or teen will get bored quickly if they only stayed at Aulani. The SUP and snorkeling onsite are fun, but are really geared towards beginners at those activities. For those types of families, they can still enjoy Aulani, but would spend more time elsewhere.

    One thing that we didn't do, is Pearl Harbor, as we had done that on a previous trip. I would highly recommend going, even if you don't want to go out to the Arizona. If I remember correctly, the rest of the museum is free and you can simply walk in without a ticket.

    The one thing that is on my list that we haven't done, is to do a dolphin/whale tour. My wife gets sea sick easily, so we've always skipped it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  7. trs518

    trs518 Mouseketeer

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    I should also add that one night we ordered delivery from Pizza Corner. I wouldn't recommend the place again. We got a pizza, some pasta, and garlic knots. The pizza was about the same quality as the one that we got from Ulu Cafe and slightly more expensive. It may have been a little larger. The pasta and garlic knots were uninspired.
     
  8. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Good to know. We've had pizza from there in the past and were planning on doing it again next trip. Sorry to hear that it doesn't seem to be as good as it was.
     
  9. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Thank you for the fantastic detailed reply! I appreciate the Hawaii 5 0 info. Thanks for reassuring me about Aluani. I was torn between just staying THERE the whole time as Aulani price is a bargain compared to Halekaulani but I just felt that wasn't the right thing for my family to stay in Aulani the whole time..glad I listened to my gut! Yes Pearl Harbor on our must do list!
     
  10. trs518

    trs518 Mouseketeer

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    Dang it...I knew I was forgetting another restaurant. We also ate at Just Tacos across the street from Aulani. It serves standard Mexican food. My family had three different things and all thought they tasted pretty good. Not a must visit, but definitely an option if people want Mexican food.
     
  11. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    Not the OP, but we did 6 days at Aulani after Waikiki and had about 2.5 resort days - and we ARE beach sit & relax people. I think your plan is good. With 2 full days, you can enjoy the pools and the amenities of the resort. I'd also recommend the spa - we did this on one of our resort days and it took up most of the morning. One of the nicest spas I've ever been to, and the pricing surprisingly was on par with other high end spas so not super overpriced.
     
  12. bobbiwoz

    bobbiwoz I'm happy to dance with you!

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    I cut and pasted the food reviews too! Passed them along to everyone joining us in September.
     
  13. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Thx I was planning a spa morning! What treatment did u do? We were also planning on a cabana rental since it will be July. Pricey but wondering your thoughts?
     
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  14. adamak

    adamak DIS Veteran

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    I have stayed in Halekulani. It's a beautiful resort and service is top notch. However, I found that the pool is too small and blend. There is no direct beach area right outside the resort (not a big deal to walk a block). And don't think it's good if you have kids. I actually prefer to stay at the Sheraton club floor as you get the amazing lounge on top of building.

    That said, we always go back to Halekulani for the sunset show. The Mai Tai is awesome and the songs / dance is really nice.
     
  15. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    We did the couples massage and it was great. I imagine any of the massage treatments are wonderful. We got there about an hour early to enjoy the hydrotherapy gardens and felt that was a good amount of time, but you're free to use them as long as you want before or after your treatment. We also showered in the locker rooms after our treatment and the bath products they provide are awesome. They smell amazing!

    We didn't do a cabana rental since it was just the two of us. IMO, its a good option if you are there during a busy time and want a guaranteed spot without the morning hassle. Just be mindful of cabana locations - there are a few in the adult pool area which you wouldn't be able to book with someone under 18. The other ones can book up fast, so definitely book early. Other options are the executive lanai and upper/lower verandas - depending on how many people you have, these could be cheaper options. The executive lanai has a great view of the ocean and is a short walk to the pool, but the entrance is on a main path from the beach so its somewhat high traffic even though its a private area. The upper/lower verandas also have a view of the ocean but are mostly shaded and secluded at the far end of the resort on the other side of Ama Ama. Not a far walk to the pool or beach, but its off the beaten path and we didn't really care for the location.
     
  16. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    Thanks we are double booked at outrigger beach and Halekulani . We have dd19 with us and won’t be using pool at all. Outrigger beach seems better but not sure if resort is too much like a carnival cruise. Ever stay there? Thx!!
     
  17. adamak

    adamak DIS Veteran

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    Does Delta give you free headset for the movies? Or do you have to buy them?
     
  18. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

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    thanks nkerneia for a great detailed response. I actually did book the cabana the day they were released for my timeframe and did not do the adult pool b/c view I heard was not the best. Thanks for reconfirming that. I get massages A LOT due to a muscular issue I have so I was thinking of something different on the spa day simply b/c I don't want to compare experiences and be disappointed. I was thinking of one of those herbal wraps? Ever hear anything about it? Seems like most do facials or massages.....
     
  19. trs518

    trs518 Mouseketeer

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    They did hand out free headsets, to those that needed them. They were standard, cheap earbuds.
     

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