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

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!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We walked into the main building and made a quick left to check in at Makahiki. From what we could barely see from outside the restaurant, it looked like we were in for a treat.
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After checking in we were escorted right into the line to meet our host, Mickey Mouse!
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We were the first family in line for this wave of reservations so it took no time at all to wind through the very short make shift queue and get some face time with Mickey.

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After hanging out with Mick for a bit, we went back inside the lobby of the restaurant to wait for our table. We sat down for about 5 or 10 minutes before being called into the dining area. As we walked passed the reception area, the restaurant opened up and it was perfectly themed for these types of meals.

Lots of colour, lots of natural light, just a really cool space for a character meal.

The lights caught my eye immediately.
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We were seated somewhere towards the middle of the dining area and were told we’d have plenty of time to grab some food before the first character was to drop by. We set down our stuff and took a look around at the amazing spread of food.

I didn’t hit up the well stocked omelet bar but I was super tempted.
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The assortment of breads was beyond cool! How could I not try the watermelon bread?!
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Ella probably found the coolest item at the buffet. A banana that mimics a dolphin holding a fish in its mouth. Such great touches.
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The entire spread was excellent. We definitely had our fill of all sorts of great breakfast items. I’m always a huge fan of the hot oatmeal at any Disney character buffet but the item that stole the show for me was the red velvet Mickey waffle with coconut syrup. Unbelievably tasty. I may have went back for another sampling.
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Everything was fantastic and while I didn’t want to stop eating, my body was telling me otherwise. I pushed my plates away just as characters started making their way through the room.

The girls, now fired up on sugar cereal, were very excited to meet some of their favourites!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
First off, I can't believe it's been like two weeks since my last post! So sorry for neglecting this for so long. It's been crazy at work and at home the last few weeks and time has slipped away. I will try to make up for it over the next little bit and get back on track.

So...back to it...

With breakfast done the parade of characters started to stop by the table. Like most character meals, the interaction is always terrific. Yes, there are lots of guests that each character has to stop and visit with, but it never felt rushed.

Each character stopped by and was playful and goofy with the kids which made it even more fun. I only have the following pics from my phone but will likely circle back and add more once I finally get around to downloading the photos Kelly took with our camera.

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I am missing a few characters since most of the pictures were taken with our Canon so I'll definitely make sure to do a follow-up photo post to showcase the others that I am missing.

Missing pics aside, as you can see the kids had a blast! It was an ideal way to start our day and the food was top notch as well. By the time all the characters had made their rounds we were definitely ready to get outside and hit up the pools. The slides were calling our names, as was the sunshine. It was nice to be in a temperature controlled setting but we definitely wanted some rays and since the breakfast allowed us to spend a little time inside, the sun was fully over the pools by the time we squared up and made our way back to our seats.

We all made a quick change into our swimsuits and we were ready to roll!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
With breakfast over and now that we were pool ready, we settled into our regular routine, we all took a trip up the stairs to the fly down the slides to kick off our day.

We made sure to hit up both slides and took some time to float around the lazy river and start counting Menehune statues hidden in the surrounding landscape. This started a game of keeping track of the number of little statues we could find throughout the resort. I was surprised just how many of them are around once you really start to take notice of them. Lennon loved pointing out “Menehuies” all over the place.

In truth, we spent plenty of time in the pool and both Kelly and I were happy to leave our phones hidden amongst our stuff and simply enjoy ourselves without taking pictures.

We spent hours in the water and roaming around the grounds, jumping into the different hot tubs or watching the kids rip around in the spray park.

Because we had such a large breakfast, lunch was not a major priority for us but after so much time splashing around we had to replenish a little bit. Thankfully both Ella and I were on the same page!

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I still couldn’t get over how big the dole whips are at the resort. My favourite Disney treat was just that much better!

Lennon ended up getting a vanilla soft serve instead of the dole whip. While I questioned whether she was in fact my child for passing up a dole whip for vanilla ice cream, she seemed to enjoy it so I guess I could let it slide.

Once we were finished up with our snacks, We were about to head over to try something I was most looking forward to, snorkelling in Rainbow Reef!

The idea was all four of us would try this out but not surprisingly Lennon backed out as we made our way over. Kelly was happy to stay out with her so it was just me and Ella ready for this cool adventure.

Thanks to our DVC discount, the price was about $40 for both of us to swim around with hundreds of fish throughout the Reef.

We were provided with our equipment, given a quick lesson on what to do and a few of the house rules before getting ready to dive in. We were pumped. Ok, I was pumped, Ella was a tad terrified!

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Kelly and Lennon stayed up on the observation deck while we wadded out into the water. As it was fresh water it was quite a bit colder than the pools! Ella wasn’t sure what to do exactly, and really neither did I, so I ducked my face in first to give it a try. Ella watched and when I came back up I watched her as she tried to dip her head in a breathe through the snorkel. It took a few tries for her to get comfy with it but once she did it was game on! We started slowly swimming all over the reef looking at scores of fish all over the place.

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I have never experienced snorkelling before and I have to admit this was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in a long time. I realize it must be way different in the open water but even if it were a controlled area, it was really cool! Ella had an absolutely blast. She had no intention of calling it quits and we must have explored almost every inch of that reef. The fish were everywhere you swam and the different types were all so colourful and bright. It was almost hard to adhere to the no touching rule since it felt like the fish were pretty much swimming right with you but we kept our hands to ourselves and enjoyed the time together.

After about an hour and a bit we decided that we’d had enough and it was time to head back to find Kelly and Lennon. We swam back to the deck and returned our equipment. Ella has the biggest smile on her face and wouldn’t stop talking about how great it was! Made for a very worthwhile experience.

As we walked out of the reef we ran into a friend that Ella had yet to meet. Things were all coming up Milhouse for us!

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Moana got to hear all about Ella’s reef experience and how our visit was going to this point. I can’t say enough about the character interaction at Aulani and this was just another great example of it.

As we said goodbye to Moana, we made our way back to our chairs to meet up with Lenny and Kelly. We planned to spent a little more time at the pool before heading back to the room to relax and clean up. We had no plans for dinner at this point so we started looking at restaurants in neighbouring resorts. Seemed like there was a plethora of options and since the wounds of nearly running of of power during our trip to Honolulu were still very fresh and raw for some (Kelly), a walk around the resort areas seemed a much safer bet for dinner on this evening.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
With some quick Googling before we left the pool area to head back upstairs to ready ourselves for a night out, we decided to try a restaurant called Longboards Beach Club at the Marriot Beach Club hotel which is a few lagoon coves away from Aulani. Easily within walking distance and a walk that should be absolutely ideal with the sun shining on the way there and then starting to set on the way back. Kelly was most pleased that we didn't have to drive anywhere and that we should be able to take advantage of the sunset photos that the PhotoPass photogs take each night in the lagoon overlooking the ocean.

We spent a little extra time up in the room getting ready as there was no rush to get where we were headed. It was a very hot day so getting some AC was not such a bad thing at this point. We were all battling some sunburns, some worse than others (again, Kelly) so cooling down with some aloe was a welcome change of pace. Once we were ready to roll, we made our way down towards the beach to walk over to the Marriot.

It was an absolutely gorgeous early evening. Barely a cloud in the sky, very little wind, still scorching...perfect. Before we set off for our walk the girls jumped in the sand since we really haven't done a lot of that to this point on the trip.

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With a few beach snaps in the bank we set off. The views are pretty much indescribable as you made the walk from Aulani towards the Marriot. There was something about the light of the lower sun that made the ocean and surrounding areas look that much better. We were getting hungry and the walk as a decent 15 minutes or so, so we didn't stop for many pictures on the way to Longboards but made up for it on the way back.

The beaches surrounding the lagoons were busy, but not crazy packed. There were plenty of people camped out on the grass areas near the sand having picnics or playing different games. It was a really cool scene.

As I said, the walk was about 15 minutes and we arrived at the Marriot. We decided on Longboards as we read it was directly looking out at the ocean and the menu looked pretty good for both adults and kids.

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We walked up the stairs leading from the beach and into the restaurant area. It was open aired and doubled as a pool area bar/food option for guests of the hotel. It wasn't crazy busy so we were seated quite quickly and we were not disappointed with the unobstructed views of the beach and water.

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Definitely not a fancy restaurant, but one that had plenty of options and the prices were reasonable so it was a win-win. Only "issue" was the sun was beating down on us and there was little shade where we were sitting. Kelly and I were pretty happy with that but the kids were not as thrilled!

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We looked through the menu for a bit and placed our orders. Kelly went with the paniolo kalua pork handwich, I ordered the wagyu burger and the kids both ordered a grilled cheese. I was quick to order a longboard beer and Kelly went with one of the frozen drinks they had on special, I just can't recall what it was called.

As we waited for our food the first round of the NHL playoffs were on the TVs near the bar which seemed to have produced a pretty big crowd of people. Must have been a few fellow Canadians at the resort checking in on how things were going. Didn't take long for our food to arrive and we dug in.

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I have to admit, the burger was excellent. Very juicy and super tasty. Kelly may be the biggest pulled pork fan I know and she was very pleased with her sandwich. Even the kids ate pretty much every bite of their grilled cheese which showed how hungry they must have been. There was no rush for us to finish our meal so we made sure to enjoy the setting while we ate. When we were done and ready to head back towards Aulani, we paid our bill, thanked our server and made our way back to the beach.

At this point, the sun was starting to set very nicely which really made the walk back quite spectacular. Kelly was excited to get back to the Aulani beach area to seek out the PhotoPass pictures. We had plenty of time to get back before those photos wrapped up so we took our time on the walk back, stopping in many different areas to take in the view and snap a few photos of our own.

This is the lagoon area near the Marriot...
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It really doesn't get much better than this. How amazing!

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You'll have to forgive me for the next few posts, they will essentially be photo dumps as we took a number of really great shots of the surrounding beauty that was all around us. This evening is one of the moments I look back on the most from our trip. It was about as perfect as it could get.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Our slow walk back to Aulani continued until we stopped at an alcove not far from the Aulani lagoon. There was a pathway to some rocks on that you could stand on that overlooked the ocean. With the setting sun and the perfect light, we couldn't pass up the chance to venture out on the rocks and enjoy the beauty around us.

Aulani was looking so good!

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But so was the ocean horizon
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Truly a magical place.
 

WildcatDen

Well-Known Member
With some quick Googling before we left the pool area to head back upstairs to ready ourselves for a night out, we decided to try a restaurant called Longboards Beach Club at the Marriot Beach Club hotel which is a few lagoon coves away from Aulani. Easily within walking distance and a walk that should be absolutely ideal with the sun shining on the way there and then starting to set on the way back. Kelly was most pleased that we didn't have to drive anywhere and that we should be able to take advantage of the sunset photos that the PhotoPass photogs take each night in the lagoon overlooking the ocean.

We spent a little extra time up in the room getting ready as there was no rush to get where we were headed. It was a very hot day so getting some AC was not such a bad thing at this point. We were all battling some sunburns, some worse than others (again, Kelly) so cooling down with some aloe was a welcome change of pace. Once we were ready to roll, we made our way down towards the beach to walk over to the Marriot.

It was an absolutely gorgeous early evening. Barely a cloud in the sky, very little wind, still scorching...perfect. Before we set off for our walk the girls jumped in the sand since we really haven't done a lot of that to this point on the trip.

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With a few beach snaps in the bank we set off. The views are pretty much indescribable as you made the walk from Aulani towards the Marriot. There was something about the light of the lower sun that made the ocean and surrounding areas look that much better. We were getting hungry and the walk as a decent 15 minutes or so, so we didn't stop for many pictures on the way to Longboards but made up for it on the way back.

The beaches surrounding the lagoons were busy, but not crazy packed. There were plenty of people camped out on the grass areas near the sand having picnics or playing different games. It was a really cool scene.

As I said, the walk was about 15 minutes and we arrived at the Marriot. We decided on Longboards as we read it was directly looking out at the ocean and the menu looked pretty good for both adults and kids.

View attachment 382414

We walked up the stairs leading from the beach and into the restaurant area. It was open aired and doubled as a pool area bar/food option for guests of the hotel. It wasn't crazy busy so we were seated quite quickly and we were not disappointed with the unobstructed views of the beach and water.

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Definitely not a fancy restaurant, but one that had plenty of options and the prices were reasonable so it was a win-win. Only "issue" was the sun was beating down on us and there was little shade where we were sitting. Kelly and I were pretty happy with that but the kids were not as thrilled!

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We looked through the menu for a bit and placed our orders. Kelly went with the paniolo kalua pork handwich, I ordered the wagyu burger and the kids both ordered a grilled cheese. I was quick to order a longboard beer and Kelly went with one of the frozen drinks they had on special, I just can't recall what it was called.

As we waited for our food the first round of the NHL playoffs were on the TVs near the bar which seemed to have produced a pretty big crowd of people. Must have been a few fellow Canadians at the resort checking in on how things were going. Didn't take long for our food to arrive and we dug in.

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I have to admit, the burger was excellent. Very juicy and super tasty. Kelly may be the biggest pulled pork fan I know and she was very pleased with her sandwich. Even the kids ate pretty much every bite of their grilled cheese which showed how hungry they must have been. There was no rush for us to finish our meal so we made sure to enjoy the setting while we ate. When we were done and ready to head back towards Aulani, we paid our bill, thanked our server and made our way back to the beach.

At this point, the sun was starting to set very nicely which really made the walk back quite spectacular. Kelly was excited to get back to the Aulani beach area to seek out the PhotoPass pictures. We had plenty of time to get back before those photos wrapped up so we took our time on the walk back, stopping in many different areas to take in the view and snap a few photos of our own.

This is the lagoon area near the Marriot...
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It really doesn't get much better than this. How amazing!

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You'll have to forgive me for the next few posts, they will essentially be photo dumps as we took a number of really great shots of the surrounding beauty that was all around us. This evening is one of the moments I look back on the most from our trip. It was about as perfect as it could get.
Great Report. Pictures are fantastic. Looks like Postcard Hawaii weather!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
After getting our oven picture and climbing back up to the grassy area, we set off for the final leg back to Aulani. We could see lots of people on the beach area in line for sunset photos by the PhotoPass photographers.

We were able to get ourselves in line just before they told families that they would be back out taking photos the next night.

We got pretty lucky to sneak in as the sun sets very quickly.

As nice as the ocean views were from the rocks, these professional photos show just how amazing the setting is around the resort.

We started off with some fun family photos...

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Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Then the kids got a few portraits done...
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And finally mom and dads turn...
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And to top it off, a couple pics that Kelly really wanted to capture...
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I thought for sure I was gonna drop her and was laughing the whole time but the photos turned out pretty well!

With our sunset session in the books, it was time to head back up to the resort and enjoy the rest of the evening. Which, of course, meant heading over to the Community Hall to pick up a tablet and continue our Menehune hunt!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Not trip related but for anyone who may have read our last WDW double trip report (link is in my signature if you haven’t or want a refresher!), I talked about the Disney wall that we had been working on in our upstairs hallway.

As I displayed in the last report, the walls are now littered with Disney related photos and signs. We will definitely be adding more the wall that will be Aulani related but here are a couple of new items that Kelly has found over the last few months that have been added to the collection.

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Sounds like she’s on the hunt again later this week as one of the women she has bought signs off of is having a sale on Disney snack related signs. I guess we’ll see if she gets lucky!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Since Kelly mentioned in another this in the @Tuvalu trip report, I thought I'd mention it here too. The girls have been heavily involved in dance over the last several years and recently wrapped up another year. Both Ella and Lennon were in two separate dances classes this year and handled the load pretty well.

Ella danced hip hop and jazz while Lennon participated in jazz and tap. Oddly enough, both of Lennon's dances were set to Disney related music. Her jazz song was Minnie Yoo Hoo and her tap was to Mickey Motion. How serendipitous!

Anyways, the girls recently performed in their year-end recital and Lennon won a scholarship for her work in Jazz! She was super pumped about and it was very well earned!

Here are a few pics from their year-end recital
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krisri18

Well-Known Member
Since Kelly mentioned in another this in the @Tuvalu trip report, I thought I'd mention it here too. The girls have been heavily involved in dance over the last several years and recently wrapped up another year. Both Ella and Lennon were in two separate dances classes this year and handled the load pretty well.

Ella danced hip hop and jazz while Lennon participated in jazz and tap. Oddly enough, both of Lennon's dances were set to Disney related music. Her jazz song was Minnie Yoo Hoo and her tap was to Mickey Motion. How serendipitous!

Anyways, the girls recently performed in their year-end recital and Lennon won a scholarship for her work in Jazz! She was super pumped about and it was very well earned!

Here are a few pics from their year-end recital
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Way to go Lennon!!!
 

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