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Trip Report Aloha...E Komo Mai to Our Aulani Adventure!

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Hi Everyone!

Based on the feedback we received during our last trip report, which you can read here, we have decided to write a trip report chronicling our first visit to the Aulani resort in Ko 'Olina, Hawaii. Not sure if this is the place for such a report as it's not WDW-based but figured I'd start here and if it's moved, so be it.

We just returned yesterday afternoon after a terrific eight days in paradise. Amazing to think how quickly things came and went, especially considering we made this reservation using our DVC points seven months ago, but the visit will be one we look back on for a long time. We didn't put together a pre-trip report or anything so here is a short preamble before we dive into all the sunny details.

So...for those of you who read our last report, you may recall that our last visit to WDW was not supposed to happen. Instead, we were 48 hours away from traveling to Honolulu for our second visit to the island. We were booked to stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, not Aulani. Less than two days before we were to take off, hurricane Lane hit the Hawaiian islands and our trip was wiped out. Our last minute scrambling allowed us to salvage our vacation and resulted in an unexpected return to the World. That trip was fantastic but we couldn't help feel lousy about missing out on Hawaii.

It was something we looked forward to for months so when we returned from WDW, Kelly and I decided we would try it again, this time focusing on using our DVC points to stay at Aulani. Our plan was to look at an April 2019 visit and as the seven-month window crept closer, we kept a close eye on the availability of a standard view studio. The day finally came that we were able to jump on the DVC site and we were most pleased to snag a studio for a trip from April 6 - 13!

We were pretty jacked up but felt a little guilty revealing to our moms, Ally and Deb, that we were heading back to Hawaii. They were so excited to be going to the islands with us before the hurricane and you could tell they were disappointed not to be included on this trip. Alas, we had a long-awaited beach vacation to look forward to and the added bonus of some Disney magic!

This report might not be as detail-oriented as a typical WDW visit, but we took a lot of pictures and explored the resort as best we could while we were there. Hopefully it gives you a good look into what Aulani has to offer.

Mahalo in advance for reading along. Kelly and I are excited to share our latest trip with you!
 

TheMouseFan

Well-Known Member
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Yay! Can't wait to hear all about it and see all of your pics!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
First off, it’s so great to see so many of you have jumped in already! Thanks very much for following along. I’m looking forward to sharing our trip with you from start to finish. Seems like there is always some crazy bit of drama that accompanies us on every trip we take and this was no exception. I won’t spoil it yet, but consider that a hint for what’s to come.

Ok, let’s get to it with a rundown!

WHAT: Our first visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa!

WHO: Matt (me), Kelly (who may also post from time to time), Ella and Lennon

WHEN: April 6 – 13/14, 2019

WHERE: A deluxe studio with a standard view using our DVC points

With the disappointment of missing out on our 2018 trip (though very thankful not to have been there during the hurricane), we were counting down the days towards our return to Hawaii. I can recall Kelly saying how long it was right around Christmas time. That seemed like just yesterday as the months flew by and we were now just weeks away from the trip.

We had arranged to rent a car through the Turo app and I used this as a chance to test drive an EV as I have definitely made up my mind that my next vehicle is going to be fully electric. Since we didn’t plan on doing a ton of driving around, I found an older model Nissan Leaf for $36/day. The only issue was the range was kinda small. 60 Miles on a full charge. I did research beforehand and ensured that the range would meet our needs. Once we had that confirmed we made the booking and our EV would be waiting for us at the airport when we arrived on the 6th.

I had been packed for a solid month leading up to the trip but had made some last minute purchases and had to update my decisions. Kelly had done no packing, for herself or the girls, until the week before the trip. By the time April 5th hit, we were finally ready to go.

Our flight schedule was a 700am departure to fly to Vancouver where we would connect for a 900 am flight to Honolulu. The itinerary would have us landing in paradise at 120 pm, with plenty of time to find our car, make it to the resort for some pool time before heading to Target to pick up provisions for the week. Perfect plan!

We put the kids to bed nice and early so they could still get a decent sleep before we woke them up at 415 to get ready to go. I had the alarm set for 345 and before we knew it we were up and dashing to get out the door. As Kelly was getting ready, I was loading up the car and getting the girls out of bed. Amazingly we left as scheduled, right at 430. The airport is about 30-40 minutes from our house even with nobody else on the road.

We arrived excited even though we knew we were in for a looonnnggg day of travel. After we checked in and got through security, we found a table at the airport Chili’s to grab a bite to eat before the first plane boarded. So far the girls were in a pretty chipper mood which we were hoping would continue throughout the day.
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After breakfast, we found our gate and sat down for a few minutes before we boarded our first flight. I was seated with Ella and Kelly had Lennon. The spirits were even higher at this point knowing we were actually on our way. Made the short 1 hour 15 minutes flight pass pretty quickly but we knew we still had a beast of a flight waiting for us. That and the US customs process which is always fun!

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Thankfully we had just a long enough layover as the US customs line was packed and there was very little movement. It took close to 40 minutes to make it through the entire process but once we were approved by the customs agent, we knew we were that much closer to Aulani.

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It was a long walk to the next gate but we made with about 20 minutes to spare. Sadly, that 20 minutes stretched closer to 40 as the rest of the flight crew awaited the pilots' arrival. When we finally did show up, the boarding process began and before we knew it, the plane was ready to go!

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Welllllll…not quite. Because of strong winds over the ocean, our flight time was pushed from 6 hours to at least 7 and the pilot informed us that the plane was too heavy so they had to off-load cargo. Of course, everyone panicked thinking they meant luggage but the flight attendants assured us that it was not luggage being off-loaded, more the unnecessary items under the plane. Ok, fair enough, I guess. Our 10-minute delay to unload turned into another hour. Finally, we were wheels up at 1015 instead of 900am.

Everyone was pretty bummed that we were now going to be about two hours behind schedule but it could be worse right? At least we’d have our luggage.

For a seven hour flight, the girls did pretty well. They did nap a little and found other ways to pass the time. I used the flight time to finally watch Bohemian Rhapsody, which I thought was excellent!

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When we finally landed in Honolulu, the local time was 330pm. Not exactly what we were hoping for but at least we had made it safely and judging by the sun shining from outside, we were in for a very warm welcome.

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We deplaned but ended up taking a wrong turn and found ourselves at the wrong baggage claim area. Thankfully we weren’t alone and we ended up walking halfway around the airport with another family of four and a younger couple to our baggage carousel. As we arrived we saw no luggage on the carousel so we figured they had yet to load them on. We were wrong. Turns out the cargo was the luggage and more than half the plane did not have their bags, our three included.

Nobody was very happy about this turn of events, and even more upset that the crew likely knew about it and failed to tell us what to expect. Instead, the poor gate agents had to deal with a large number of unhappy people. To their credit, the agents were fantastic and then we were told the airline would reimburse use up to $100 per bag for incidentals and that the plan was to send the missing luggage with the next departing plane scheduled to land at about 1030 pm. They assured us that our luggage would be delivered as soon as it arrived, but they couldn’t guarantee that everyone’s bags would arrive that evening.

Not the most ideal start to a vacation we were really excited about. Sadly, there was nothing more we could do so our next move was to find the car and make our way to Aulani. We may not have been able to go for a swim when we arrived, but at least we could do a little exploring and grab a bite before having to go on the hunt for provisions to survive the next day or two.

Our Turo host had provided me with directions to get to the car which was super easy to follow and in minutes we were unlocking our EV and loading up our carryon’s to make the 25-minute drive into Ko Olina.

I was happy that the roads were not overly busy and the drive from the airport to the resort was actually pretty straightforward. I was also surprised by how smooth and quiet the car was, even as an older model.

We could see the hotel from the freeway so we knew we were super close. We took the turnoff into Ko Olina and arrived at the welcome gate. Seems like it’s essentially a tourist town with resorts, villas, and condos along with golf courses and some restaurants sprinkled in. Very beautiful looking area and we couldn’t wait to get to Aulani.

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We pulled into the resort laneway and made our way to the entrance to check in and begin our adventure. Yes, it wasn’t the most ideal start, but as soon as we exited the car it seemed like all of our moods changed and we were quickly looking forward to seeing our room and the rest of the resort!
 
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