by Jennifer B.
AllEars® Guest Blogger
Day Four - Saturday
The Plan: Beach Day
We slept in this morning, and then just got straight into our swimsuits and cover-ups and headed down to breakfast.
We went to the front desk afterwards so that I could see Arynn again since she was working that morning. We chatted with her for a few minutes and then went out to the snorkel lagoon. We got our snorkel gear and got into the freezing cold water. It was a pretty large lagoon with a lifeguard in the water and another one on the side. The cast member there told us about not stopping in the middle and that we could stay as long as we wanted. It was very similar to the shark reef at Typhoon Lagoon.
We all went into the water and swam around. There were so many fish and they were so beautiful! The fish weren't afraid of us at all and swam very close, but not close enough that you would be nervous to have them there. There was also a menehune in the water.
After a few minutes Ellen and Beth got out, and Angela and I stayed in. After we had our fill we went down to the beach and they let us take the snorkel equipment with us.
We tried to find some fish in the ocean, and while we did see one or two, it wasn't as clear as the lagoon was. And of course the amount of fish that was there was much better in the Disney lagoon. So we decided we were done with snorkeling in the ocean. Ellen decided to get a paddle board then, and we all took turns on it after signing the waiver. It was such hard work! I couldn't even balance enough to stand, so I just paddled on my knees. It definitely gave me a whole new respect for surfers and what strength and balance it takes to do that.
We left the beach area and went back into the lazy river. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool just relaxing and we also ordered lunch from the servers.
Again, the service was incredibly slow, but the food was delicious. The pool meals are dubbed complete meals, so we got a burger with avocado on it, taro chips, potato salad, and chocolate cake. We also ordered Passion Coladas which were non-alcoholic drinks. Everything was delicious.
Every now and then the characters would come out, and Goofy even got into the pool water (just his feet) with the kids. The kids were having a blast with the cast members and the characters. At 3 p.m. that day, they were offering lei-making in Community Hall. That was so much fun! They had out bowls of different colored orchids and they gave us large needles and string, and we just made it however we wanted. They also had bowls of different beads so that we could make bracelets. I ended up making two, one for each of my daughters.
We took the leis back up to our room, and then went back out to the pool and hot tubs. We did some recordings on the camera about how much fun we had and what we enjoyed most. Then again it was more time on the lazy river. I think we could have spent the entire vacation on those innertubes and been very content!
We wanted to get a few more things from the Island Store at the shopping center, so we walked back. Each time we went to the Island Store, we combined all of our receipts to get it to equal $100. If you did, you got a free gift. So from this trip, Beth, Angela, and I were all able to get a Hawaii reusable grocery bag. On the way back to the room, I stopped by the gift shop to look at their pin book. I had brought a few with me from home to trade, so I was able to get four new ones that I liked out of their book.
We went back up to the room to shower and change and then we went to dinner at 'Ama 'Ama. We had our original server from the first dinner there, Johnston. He was wonderful again, and offered us purse hangers for our purses. I think this is a wonderful idea for restaurants to carry these!
For dinner, we got the tomato salad again to share and then Beth and Ellen split a shrimp appetizer. For our entrees, I ordered the goat cheese ravioli, Ellen and Angela got the filet of beef, and Beth got a lobster tail.
The food was great, and then we went to the gift shop one last time to get the souvenirs we had been eyeing all weekend. I ended up getting Duffy bears for each of my daughters, and an Aulani frame and some pins. We went back up to the room to start the dreaded task of unpacking.
We were all up late that night packing and talking. It was hard to believe that the trip was almost over!
Day Five - Sunday
The Plan: Swap Meet, Waikiki Beach, and Fly Home
We woke up early because we wanted to get in some more beach and pool time before we had to check out at 11 a.m. After breakfast we went to the Menehune Bridge in the pool area so that I could take some pictures of it. You are supposed to be less than 48 inches to be there. There was a small water slide, and bridges, and waters cannons. It was definitely a child's dream! I saw adults on it without kids on more than one occasion, so I am sure that it is fun for people of all ages.
Angela and I snorkeled some more, then Angela went down to the beach. I wanted to get in the ocean once last time since I am in a land-locked state. Angela stayed on the shore and made dribble castles in the sand.
We only stayed for about 20 minutes and then went back to the lazy river. We did a few laps, and then the girls left and I did one last lap by myself. I went back up to the room and showered then got the rest of the packing done. Beth, Ellen, and I ran down to the lounge they have for guests who have a late flight home.
Since checkout is at 11 a.m. you can store your bags with bell services, and then they have a lounge that you can use all day if needed. They have lockers, showers, computers, TVs, and couches. So you could spend the whole rest of your day at the beach or the pool and still be able to shower and freshen up before the red eye flight home. They even have the fast spinning dryer for your bathing suit so that you don't have to take a wet suit home with you.
We did a last sweep of the room and then called the valet to pull the car around. We stopped by the concierge desk to see what they recommended for lunch that was near the airport. She mentioned pizza, and we all thought that sounded good since we hadn't had any since we'd gotten there. We went out to the front drive and the valets loaded our bags in the trunk and then wished us safe travels home.
We drove to Big Kahuna's Pizza, which was a tiny hole in the wall restaurant. The place was tiny, but it smelled so good! We all ordered individual pizzas and since it was our first visit there, the woman working there gave us a complimentary order of their garlic cheese bread balls. All of the food was so delicious! And the price was between $6 - $8 per individual pizza. I got a veggie pizza, Angela got cheese, Ellen got BBQ chicken, and Beth got a BLT pizza. Beth and I ended up trading one slice each so that we could try out each other's.
After lunch, we drove Angela and Beth to the airport for their flights. Ellen and I were on the same flight that night, but it didn't leave until 9:44 p.m. We said our goodbyes, and then Ellen and I went to a Swap Meet that they have on the weekends at the Aloha Stadium. It was a dollar to get in, and then we parked on the backside of one of the tents.
All I can say is, WOW! We wished we would have known about this place sooner. Ellen and I joked that next time we are getting off the plane and going straight there. It was the perfect place to buy souvenirs. I ended up buying two Hawaiian shirts for my husband, two dresses for my daughters, two dresses for me, and one for my sister. I really wish we would have known about this sooner because we spent twice the amount on dresses earlier in the week at the Island store, and we could have gotten them here for half the price. Oh well, lesson learned.
We stopped to get some cold drinks and then left since the meet shut down at 2 p.m. We didn't really have a plan, so we decided to go to Waikiki Beach and go exploring. We couldn't really find a good place there, so we parked at the Army Museum and then walked around Luxury Row. It had stores like Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc.
After a couple hours of exploring we stopped at a few more shops to get drinks and I bought a couple more trinkets for my daughters. We knew we wanted Bubba Gump's for dinner, so we drove toward the mall where the restaurant was located. Once we got into the mall, we saw that there was a Longs Drugstore there, so we went in to buy some Locals flip flops. Ellen picked up a pair for herself, and I bought a couple pairs for my sister and niece. We stopped by a DVC booth and I took Ellen's picture with it, and then went to the Disney Store.
This Disney Store was definitely the plainest one we had ever seen. It didn't have any decor on the walls, so it almost seemed as if it was a temporary setup. Ellen and I both bought reusable grocery bags that had the characters on them and it said Hawaii, then I got some Princess Jasmine pajamas for my daughter, and a Minnie Mouse Hawaiian shirt.
We went upstairs to Bubba Gump's, where Ellen ran into a friend of hers at the restaurant, and then we left for the airport. We stopped to fill up the tank and even though we had used less than half a tank, it was over $40 to fill it up! I think we paid $3.99 a gallon. We dropped the car off at Alamo and then took the shuttle to the airport.
Once we got to the airport, we had to send our bags that were getting checked through an x-ray scanner. I think they were checking for illegal produce. After we got the bags back we got in a very long line to check in for the flight. I had forgotten to print my boarding pass, so I decided to try out the phone document check-in. It was very easy, I just handed over my phone and it was scanned over a barcode reader. It was a pretty far walk to our gate, but we were outside, so the breeze was nice.
It was a full flight, so Ellen and I didn't even try to see if we could change seats to sit together. We landed at LAX the next morning at 6:45 a.m. My next flight left an hour earlier than Ellen's did, so we said our goodbyes and I got on my plane.
I must have been tired because I remember watching the very beginning of the safety video and the next thing I knew I woke up and we were already in the air. After an uneventful flight, we landed about 20 minutes early.
All in all, this was an amazing trip! Disney has absolutely outdone themselves with the Aulani resort. I can't wait to start planning my next trip there with my family. I think the kids' club looked like a lot of fun, and had a lot of great activities. The decor was beautiful and the service was outstanding in terms of friendliness. My only complaint would be the length of time the food establishments took, but hopefully that was all because it was new and they were just trying to see what systems worked best.
We also would have liked to have seen a few more items in the gift shop. They didn't have a scrapbook there, and there was only one Aulani frame for sale, and it would only hold a vertical picture. Most people take horizontal pictures, so it would have been nice to have more options there.
In terms of the cast members, we did not encounter anyone that wasn't exceptional. Everyone was friendly, accommodating, and if they didn't know the answer to a question, they went and found out. I would say the same for the local population. We seriously did not meet anyone that wasn't extremely friendly. What a refreshing place to visit!
We loved that all the restaurants and the lobby were open air seating or outdoors. It was so pleasant to eat and feel the breeze and hear the ocean around you.
The pool area was amazing! I have never been on a vacation before where I have wanted to stay by the pool all day. I could have done that all day and been happy as a clam. There was so much to do; I could have easily made an entire vacation there without ever leaving the resort.
A word of warning though, the ground at the pool is HOT! We would practically run to get into the water because our feet couldn't take the heat. On the plus side, they did spray the stairs with misters on the way up to the water slides, so those were nice to walk on. The pool area also only played maybe four songs, so we would hear them over and over. You'd think they would play more music.
The hotel offered a daily schedule that would show all the activities for each hour. That was very nice to have so you could see what was going on.
I did not see any face characters there, only Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Stitch, and Chip and Dale. I had heard that Lilo will not be there at all because she is not the typical Hawaiian girl that Disney wants to portray at the resort. I can understand that, but I think it's a shame, because I think it would be great to see her there with Stitch.
Four nights was definitely not enough. I would say a minimum of six would be a good amount. Again, all I can say is how much we loved the resort. It was so much fun and relaxing! I look forward to being able to take my daughters there and letting them experience the culture and friendliness of Hawaii!
The previous post in this blog was A Sneak Preview of Aulani, Part 2.
The next post in this blog is BOOK REVIEW: Disney Food Blog Mini-Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks.