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Old 11-16-2012, 11:32 AM   #1
Sarangel
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Thankful for Aulani - Oahu or Bust Nov 24-Dec 1 2012

I'm so EXCITED!! We booked as last minute trip at then end of October because of a killer airfare from San Jose to Oahu ($300 RT), and there was availability at Aulani for the 8 days in an Oceanview Studio. Since it's only the 3 of us: Me, DH, and DD(9), it's perfect!

Since I didn't know anything about Aulani before now (except that it existed) I went directly into trip planning overdrive. I discovered that:

* Aulani is about 1/2 an hour away from Honolulu (unless traffic sux, which it purports to do during rush hour)
* that there's a Costco about 5 miles away (key, since we're travelling on a pretty tight budget)
* that DVC members get parking and laundry for free (also critical - Parking is otherwise $35/day and being able to do laundry - just ask at the front desk for tokens - even though we're in a studio without a washer/dryer saves us having to check bags)
* the Starlight Hui and Family Movie night are must see for us (and, again, free... Are you sensing a theme here?)
* the Menehune Adventure game looks like a great way to kill an afternoon (unless I miss my guess, it looks like an adptation of the Kim Possilbe game that they had at Epcot)
* the pool looks and feels like a water park
* there will be construction going on while we're there (and that others have received point credits for that fact, but nobody's said anything to us about such a credit)
* the snorkling off the beach at Aulani is *meh* so we'll probably be happier going elsewhere for our fish fix.
* that Auntie's House looks a lot like the Kids Club on the Cruise Line, something DD's ecstatic about
* that there's a room (bar?) full of Hawaiian words and their translations (something DD & I will spend some time on since she's on independent study for the week)
* that there are craft lessons, hula lessons, and storytelling about native Hawaiians
* Length of Stay resort mugs are $18.99 (I'm assuming not including tax) each, which works out to be $2.71/day. Not too bad for hot drinks, soda, and ??


*Whew*

That's like a weeks worth of stuff to do without ever leaving the resort.

Is there anything I've missed about Aulani itself that I'll could need to know?

We've decided to eat as much as possible in the room, and will be packing in food - bagels, poptarts, fruit, cereal for breakfasts... bread, PB & J, lunchmeats etc for lunches and pasta sauce, calzones, and mac & cheese for dinners. Any suggestions for easy (studio possible) meals?

More updates as we go through this week

Sara
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:53 PM   #2
okiedokieartichoke
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If you are into fitness there is a fabulous complimentary fitness center! There are also some fitness classes offered that are complimentary as well, check the Daily Iwa (newsletter) to see whats available and when. The fitness instructors are AWESOME! they do workouts out on the beach, in the sand and in the water.

Also down at the beach there are paddle board and kayak rentals . $15 for a single kayak, $20 for a double kayak, $30 for a paddleboard, all hourly. It's a great experience.
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:29 PM   #3
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OOOOOoooo - Grills! How exciting - that means we can cook even without a kitchen.
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:54 PM   #4
lablady
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So exciting! I love last minute trips.......all the fun without so much waiting!

Maybe we'll see you there! My daughters and I will get there on the 26th and leave on Dec 3rd. We're super excited to see and FEEL the sunshine, since we're coming from Alaska. We lucked out with a great fare at $400....I'd love a $300 fare. We're staying in the hotel section and got a good deal of buy 3 nights get two free because of the construction, which really sounds like it'll be no big deal at this point.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:39 PM   #5
Sarangel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lablady
So exciting! I love last minute trips.......all the fun without so much waiting!

Maybe we'll see you there! My daughters and I will get there on the 26th and leave on Dec 3rd. We're super excited to see and FEEL the sunshine, since we're coming from Alaska. We lucked out with a great fare at $400....I'd love a $300 fare. We're staying in the hotel section and got a good deal of buy 3 nights get two free because of the construction, which really sounds like it'll be no big deal at this point.
You must be thrilled to be heading to the sun

If I may ask, how old are your daughters? My girl loves making friends
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:29 PM   #6
lablady
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarangel View Post
You must be thrilled to be heading to the sun

If I may ask, how old are your daughters? My girl loves making friends
My girls are 18 and 10! Maybe we'll have to meet up at some point and see if they hit it off!
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:11 PM   #7
Sarangel
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OK. After I researched Aulani to death, I started in on Oahu.

1. DH is a vet (ex-military, not animal doctor), so the USS Arizona, Mighty Mo and Bowfin are no brainers. And he was Air Force, so the museum of Flight is also on the list. Not sure if we should do all of this in one day, or break it up into two days.

2. Since DD is doing independent study for the week, we decided to splurge and go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. This should kill another day.

3. Money is an issue for this trip, so I researched two major possibilities - the Go Oahu Card (both the all you can eat version and the a la carte version) and the Hawaii Entertainment Book. After careful consideration, we chose the deals in the Entertainment Book. There are a number of twofer admissions, which easily offset the $35 price tag - nearly everything on the list above! The Go Oahu card (all you can eat version) would have cost us $160/ea and limited us to three days from first use. The Go Oahu card (a la carte) only saved 23%, even though it would have let us have more flexibility. The Entertainment Book will save us approximately 35% even with the admission for our DD.

Next up: no cost options for day trips
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:44 PM   #8
DMarq
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarangel View Post
I'm so EXCITED!! We booked as last minute trip at then end of October because of a killer airfare from San Jose to Oahu ($300 RT), and there was availability at Aulani for the 8 days in an Oceanview Studio. Since it's only the 3 of us: Me, DH, and DD(9), it's perfect!

Since I didn't know anything about Aulani before now (except that it existed) I went directly into trip planning overdrive. I discovered that:

* Aulani is about 1/2 an hour away from Honolulu (unless traffic sux, which it purports to do during rush hour)
* that there's a Costco about 5 miles away (key, since we're travelling on a pretty tight budget)
* that DVC members get parking and laundry for free (also critical - Parking is otherwise $35/day and being able to do laundry - just ask at the front desk for tokens - even though we're in a studio without a washer/dryer saves us having to check bags)
* the Starlight Hui and Family Movie night are must see for us (and, again, free... Are you sensing a theme here?)
* the Menehune Adventure game looks like a great way to kill an afternoon (unless I miss my guess, it looks like an adptation of the Kim Possilbe game that they had at Epcot)
* the pool looks and feels like a water park
* there will be construction going on while we're there (and that others have received point credits for that fact, but nobody's said anything to us about such a credit)
* the snorkling off the beach at Aulani is *meh* so we'll probably be happier going elsewhere for our fish fix.
* that Auntie's House looks a lot like the Kids Club on the Cruise Line, something DD's ecstatic about
* that there's a room (bar?) full of Hawaiian words and their translations (something DD & I will spend some time on since she's on independent study for the week)
* that there are craft lessons, hula lessons, and storytelling about native Hawaiians
* Length of Stay resort mugs are $18.99 (I'm assuming not including tax) each, which works out to be $2.71/day. Not too bad for hot drinks, soda, and ??


*Whew*

That's like a weeks worth of stuff to do without ever leaving the resort.

Is there anything I've missed about Aulani itself that I'll could need to know?

We've decided to eat as much as possible in the room, and will be packing in food - bagels, poptarts, fruit, cereal for breakfasts... bread, PB & J, lunchmeats etc for lunches and pasta sauce, calzones, and mac & cheese for dinners. Any suggestions for easy (studio possible) meals?

More updates as we go through this week

Sara
That sounds just awesome, Sara!!! An awesome Hawaiian Christmas you will have! If you're in a studio - it's a small refrigerator... so if you plan on getting milk - you might have trouble putting the gallon into the ref (if you buy at Costco). Nonetheless, you will likely find a way :-).

The newest Foodland grocery just opened up in Kapolei about 3+ weeks ago... same general area where the Costco is. Do you like musubi? Some people like it - some don't. We happen to love Spam Musubi :-). For $1.99 it's a great picnic - beach - in room - take along, easy to pack kinda food. They have Hotdog musubis, spam musubi, even katsu mousse. Foodland will have it towards their deli area (or close to the checkout area sometimes. I do think the Musubi's at 7-11 (yes, the gas station convenience stores around the island) have THE BEST Musubi stash though. So, if you happen to be near one - it is so worth the trip. They also have a good selection of Sushi Rolls at 7-11 (yummy spicy ahi). Again $2-$4 bucks a pop fills you up, and you'll be surprised how good they make it. There is a also a new Walmart (7 months old) in Kapolei - almost 2 min away from Costco. You might find some good deals there too. Plus, I think it is by far - the prettiest Walmart!

It sounds like you will be getting a rental car -- from the HNL Airport, plan about 30-45 min to get to Ko'Olina (where Aulani is). Cars go 55mph normally on the H1 freeway - so don't get caught speeding... just chill on the drive - open your windows and enjoy the island air! You're probably on that morning flight from the bay area which gets you into HNL at around lunch time... we always take that one home from SFO/SJ/OAK - so that we go straight to lunch from the airport before going to Aulani. Hopefully, you can make it out of the resort to explore the island too - lots of things to see! They're probably setting up for Hawaiian Santa soon. Its when Santa arrives on a surf board - instead of his sleigh :-). And of course, Santa is bare feet while in the islands! You'll see him in town when they light it all up for christmas time viewing. Practice doing the shaka sign with your hand now... don't clench your fingers too tight -- keep it loose...

You like to snorkel? Right in Aulani is the only contained reef in the island (Rainbow Reef)! Great viewing and pictures -- it's about $18/day (you get a discount if you're DVC). We really enjoyed it -- you can spend all day there - or go back anytime during the day. Don't miss feeding time (usually twice a day) - I like the 1:30 schedule since it is nice and warm by then. Check the daily Iwa (ee-va) just in case they change schedules. You'll see a lot of Hawaiian words with the letter "W" in it --> if the W is in-between 2 vowels, then you pronounce it as a "v". Like Hawaii... is Havai-i... Ewa (is Eh-va)... Iwa (is Ee-va).

With all this cold and wet weather coming into the bay area - I'm sure you're already dreaming of Tank Top, shorts & slippers weather! *sigh* I wish I were home this holiday season... but I've already been there twice this year - so I'm waiting on the next $300 RT airline tickets again on Hawaiian Air! Let me know if you need help with any other planning while out there. I love sharing my island home away from home :-)

Aloha!!!
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:10 AM   #9
DMarq
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Sorry - Hawaiian Santa arrives by Canoe ... not surf board. hahaha! oops!
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:10 PM   #10
KristiP
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We are going to be there around the same time!!!

We are going around the same time you are we are leaving Thanksgiving day and we are staying until the 28th. We have a 12 year old son and a 10 year little girl. Maybe we will see you around the resort. I hope you have a blast. We can't wait
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:27 PM   #11
Sarangel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KristiP
We are going around the same time you are we are leaving Thanksgiving day and we are staying until the 28th. We have a 12 year old son and a 10 year little girl. Maybe we will see you around the resort. I hope you have a blast. We can't wait
Woo Hoo! Sounds like there will be 3 DIS Families there in that time period. We should try to meet up at least once while we're all there
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:52 PM   #12
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Just Let me Know

We have some plans we are going to Pearl Harbor, Hiking, surf lessons ect. But we will be at the resort some to so message me while we are all there. If you see people walking around in Arkansas shirts thats us. My inlaws are going to. So you might see a group of six people in Arkansas shirts
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:49 PM   #13
LisaT91403
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We just got back a week ago, and I'm having withdrawals! You will have a blast. A couple of budget-friendly ideas:

- The shave ice at the resort is actually reasonably priced. It was $3.75, and really big...you could share. I think the frozen yogurt was about twice as expensive, so keep that in mind.

- An even better deal than the shave ice was the free Otter Pops they gave out in the afternoon. You just have to be on the pool deck at the right time :-)

- You mentioned Costco. They still have their great hot dog deal, just like on the mainland.

- Sand toys and Boogie Boards are free of charge at the beach. There's also a platform out in the water that your daughter might have fun jumping off of.

- As I'm sure you know, Aunty's House is also at no charge. But keep in mind that you need to make reservations if there are specific activities that your daughter wants to participate in. For example, if you see Space Goo with Stitch on the Daily Iwa, you need to call and reserve a spot for your daughter.

- If you decide to order food when you are out at the pool, you might consider something from the children's menu. The adults in our group all found the kids' meals to be big enough to satisfy us, and I think they were around $6.95.

- If you get a refillable mug, there are a few stations where you can refill. But we also found that most of the CM's at the bar near the pool would also refill for us.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things. Have fun!
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:32 PM   #14
Sarangel
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So, now we move into the space Hawaii's all about.

BEACHES!

Since DH & I are avid snorklers (and divers, but can't afford dive prices for this trip ) for us it's all about how many fish we can scare... On my list are:
  • Hanauma Bay - Very Famous, protected Reef (closed Tuesdays). Marine preserve, with a $1/day parking fee + $5/per person fee to enter. Worth it to educate DD on the ecosystem, since there's a required educational film to see before entering the water.

    Kuilma Cove - Sheltered North Shore snorkling. "one of the best places for beginer snorkeling in the islands" Do this before or after Hanuma Bay?

    Kahe Point Beach Park - High fish population, just north of Ko Olina Resort area, Nicknamed "electric beach"... DO NOT snorkle/swim in front of the electric plant water outflows. More intermediate/advanced beach. Do this without DD?

    Kaena Point State Park - more isolated than most beaches. Can be rough if the seas are running high.

    Sharks Cove - One of the 12 best shore dives in the world - but the waters can be rough in the winter... Again, without DD?

We almost certainly won't do all of these, but it's nice to have the choices.

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Old 11-20-2012, 09:37 AM   #15
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Now for the fun part - Packing

Somehow packing all our junk into the suitcases makes the trip seem real. We laid out the bags and stuff we've already put aside for the trip: Swimsuits, rashguards, shorts, (and for DH) Hawaiian Shirts - he has a collection of them, many of which I've made for him, I'll post pictures as we go.

We're packing pretty light, since we know we can do laundry at the resort for free. But since we're taking our fins and snorkle gear, we will check one bag (which will also have things like food that we're bringing with us, a kitchen knife, laundry soap, etc). That also leave us extra room for bringing Christmas gifts back.

I'm planning on spending part of Wednesday next week at the Aloha Bowl, looking for treasures, vintage hawaiian shirts for my step-father, and anything else that seems appropriate for the family.

3 more days to go
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