I'm back from Aulani now - it was great trip, but very busy. Aulani
is really a destination in and of itself, and there are a great
many things to do without ever leaving the resort property. I
wandered around taking photos and trying to experience as much as
I could in the time that I had, but I still didn't have a chance
to do everything!
I thought I'd share my thoughts of some of things that I did
experience, though. These are in no particular order.
(I won't be writing about the Waikolohe Valley pool and water
activities here, because I already covered my activities there in
Menehune Adventure Trail - This is an interactive hunt, and will
seem very familiar to anyone who has done the Kim Possible experience
at Epcot. At the Community Center (Pau Hana) on the bottom floor
of the Ewa Tower, I checked out a cell phone - there was a sign-out
sheet and they took my room key as a "deposit". The cell phone let
me communicate with Aunty, who knows anybody and everybody, and
they all come to her with their problems, many of which seemed to
be in Waikolohe Valley. Since I was in Waikolohe Valley I could
complete some little tasks to help Aunty's friends, sometimes with
a little magic from the menehune.
It took about 40 minutes to finish my six tasks, and then I had the
option to do another round, or return the device back to Pau Hana
and reclaim my room key. The Adventure is available from 10:00-4:00,
so it's during the day. I found the bright sun often made it very
difficult to see the screen and I had to go find some shade when I
was trying to figure out where Aunty wanted me to go. One thing
that was different from Kim Possible - there was no option to trigger
the special effect a second time. I enjoyed it a lot, though -
there's lots of puns and clever dialog that adults will enjoy. I
won't spoil it by giving too much away, but here's one that I really
liked...notice anything unusual about these rocks?
Ahhh...it's the Hawaiian Islands!
Shave Ice - There's a shave ice stand in the pool area. For those
not familiar with shave ice, it's like a snowcone, except the ice
is shaved and so it's much finer crystals - usually more like eating
a snowball. It was $3.75, which is actually a pretty good price!
Lots of different flavors - and most people order 2-3 flavors on
their shave ice. I had a very tropical shave ice, with guava,
mango, and lilikoi (passion fruit).
Oh, and there was a menehune in the shave ice stand! I asked if
he was supervising or if he was to blame whenever there were equipment
problems or room keys that didn't scan. :-)
Starlit Hui - this program is held on select nights each week. There is a "welcome" section, a show, and then a character dance party. As part of the media event they did an abbreviated version of it, and we only saw the show part. But it was really a wonderful show - it featured contemporary and traditional Hawaiian music and dance, flaming torches, and a couple of very talented ukulele players. (I didn't know you could play electric guitar-type surf music on a ukulele!) I really enjoyed the show - it was much better than any luau show I've ever seen.
The Laniwai Spa - this was my indulgence for the trip - though all
in the name of research, of course. :-) The spa is 18,000 square
feet inside and 5,000 square feet outside in the Kula Wai - the
hydrotherapy garden. They encourage guests to come an hour before
their treatments to relax in one of the relaxation rooms or the
Kula Wai (wear your swimsuit, it's coed, plus anyone on the balconies
of the rooms overhead could see in!) The Kula Wai has two heated
aromatherapy pools, a cold water pool, which is right next to the
(heated) whirlpool spa, and a walk-through area with six different
rain showers. There's also a number of nicely padded chaise lounges,
so if you want to lounge around for hours you can do that. I saw
a couple of people who had brought books with them. And there's a
spa menu if you want to order some food. (They have muffins and
whole fresh fruit available at no additional charge.) DVC members
receive a treatment upgrade, so I had the heated stone massage for
the price of the lomilomi massage. It's definitely a premium spa
experience, and you pay a premium for that, though I thought the
prices were similar to those o the Disney Cruise Line. I really
enjoyed my experience, and next time I would plan to spend probably
half a day there, at least.
Rip Swirl Yogurt Bar - Next door to the Laniwai Spa is the Painted
Sky Teen Spa. And it's got a very nice frozen yogurt and toppings
bar. When I first heard about it I was disappointed because I
thought it was for the teens only, but ANYONE can go in there and
buy frozen yogurt - the yogurt bar is just inside the door. (Do
you see the menehune?)
It's pricey -$6.00 for yogurt with up to three toppings. They can
do a single flavor or a swirl combination. I again went for the
tropical flavors - pineapple/plain swirl (they also had chocolate
and strawberry) with pieces of fresh mango, coconut, and chopped
macadamia nuts on top. It was very good.
Hunting Menehune - there are menehune statues and wood carvings
hidden all over the resort. I don't think anyone knows how many
there really are. There's no game associated with finding them as
far as I know. Some are pretty easy to see, and some are very
difficult to see. A lot of them are in the planting areas, and as
the plants grow they will become even harder to see. How many
menehune do you see in this picture?
Bet you missed this one...I did the first few times I looked here!
I'm not sure how many I found - there are some unique onex, but
most of them are one of about 10 different poses. I guess menehune
are mostly active at night, which explains why a lot of them were
And there's at least one in Rainbow Reef!
This was my favorite menehune effect:
Talking Story with Uncle - several times a day Uncle comes to
designated spots, like the firepit or the Pau Hana room, to "talk
story" with guests. He might play his ukulele and sing, or tell a
story, or visit with guests, or all of the above - it's pretty
free-form depending on the audience. At the one I went to I had
Uncle all to myself and he told me about the menehune. It was one
of the most fun and memorable moments of my trip!
There were a lot of things that I didn't get a chance to do, like
visiting the Pau Hana room when they had a local artisan in to teach a
craft or some other Hawaiian activity, snorkel at Rainbow Reef, swim or
paddleboard or snorkel in the lagoon, see the nightly sunset ceremony,
watch a movie under the stars, visit with the Disney characters, etc.
As you can see, there's plenty of things to do at Aulani!
Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars' travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.
The previous post in this blog was Blue Sky Cellar Update - Imagineering Buena Vista Street.
The next post in this blog is DisneyanaMania: Something For Everybody.