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Reviewed January 4, 2012

My family and I just returned from a week at Aulani. The good - the buildings and grounds are beautiful. The pool area is a lot of fun and there is a wonderful two-level jacuzzi that is great for watching sunsets. The beach in front of the resort is great for little ones - no big waves to worry about. There are beach chairs and you can rent umbrellas and other equipment. For the most part, service at the resort is good. Workers are friendly and put effort in.
The bad - there are just not enough food options for the resort - and it's not fully built! There are two full service restaurants. One is a buffet and another is a high end restaurant with high end prices. They are both difficult to get into - almost impossible if you haven't pre-booked before you arrive. They both work out to be expensive choices for a family of four - fine for the occasional meal but not a great daily option. On top of this - the buffet was really not that good - certainly not worth the price. The other options are 'off the hook' - the casual outdoor lounge, but getting a table was near impossible and it took forever to get service and for the food to arrive. We overheard so many people complaing about this. The Olelo room serves a really basic continental breakfast if you don't want to eat a buffet breakfast but the service at the Olelo room is painfully bad - I waited 15 minutes just to get a cup of coffee and then got attitude from the female employee when I mentioned the wait!
Unfortunately there are not a lot of options around the resort - most people would walk across the street to the half empty strip mall and pick up stuff at the little ABC grocery store.

Disney needs to at least triple the restaurant options and menu offerings if it wants to get people to come back. I can't imagine want it will be like when the whole place is open. I felt like the pool area was pretty maxed out too so I can't imagine what it will be like when the resort is completely finished. I think Disney got greedy and built too many rooms and not enough public space to accomodate everyone. We will definitely not be back.

Room Tip: pool view rooms can feel like a cave. ask for 5th floor - the highest floor offered with a pool view.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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6  Thank paurora
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 4, 2012

Come on, people. Research before you book. For all who are complaining of little to do at this resort, who did not rent a car, who are complaining of the lack of choices in dining and the outrageous cost, it is Hawaii. You go to Hawaii to see Hawaii, not to sit at a hotel all day long and be entertained by cartoon characters. Hawaii is a vacation destination. One of the main sources of income for the state is tourism. Disney built a star rated hotel to capture some of that revenue. If you want to see Disney characters and be entertained, then go to Disney World instead. And for those "older" guests complaining about screaming children--- the name "Disney" should have given you a big clue that this is what you would see and hear. I admit the dining experience leaves much to be desired, but why would you expect to eat all your meals at this resort when you are in Hawaii? Disney dining anywhere is mediocre, at best. The pleasure of being in Hawaii is to experience all that Hawaii has to offer. We have been to Hawaii too many times to even count but each time we visit Oahu, I have to go to the Arizona Memorial. I have to visit the North Shore. I have to visit Waikiki. The scenery of Hawaii is gorgeous. Why would you spend all your time at a resort to see artificial lagoons and fake volcanoes when you can experience the real thing that makes Hawaii the paradise it is? Just driving around, with the top down, is an experience to savor. Ko'Olina is far removed from the bustle of Waikiki. Did you not see this before you traveled? Hawaii traffic is ridiculous. On one visit, we were stuck in traffic that took us 90 minutes to travel 5 miles. Its
Hawaii. That is just how it is. We booked Aulani because it is a new resort, away from Waikiki and we wanted to see how Disney does Hawaii. You need a rental car. But you need a rental car at every resort on every island if you plan to actually visit Hawaii.
The Aulani is a resort, it is not a
destination. Would you go to Italy
if you expected to only visit your hotel? Why bother? It is the same with Aulani. If you go to Hawaii and expect to stay at Aulani
the entire time, don't even bother to go.

  • Stayed: January 2012
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16  Thank Ginmato
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 4, 2012

The anticipation of spending Christmas vacation at a brand new Disney resort...in Hawaii no less...was met with disappointment. Perhaps I was a victim of having just read the Steve Jobs biography and his constant quest for consumer satisfaction.

Let's take general attitude -- overall, mostly business-like - not warm and friendly; smiles seemed to come at a premium.
Let's take organization -- everything required a reservation -- and often, well in advance. We called for breakfast one day - they told us flat out: no reservations, no walk-ins, good-bye! Disney hospitality??
Perhaps this is why the well-stocked and economically-priced market across the street from the hotel was frequently busy for meals.
So let's talk money -- yes, it's Hawaii and you wouldn't expect it to be cheap, and yes, Disney's Aulani IS a resort, but its charges were outlandishly expensive.
For Christmas morning brunch: $254. And, if that wasn't enough, $6 extra(!) for orange juice (we complained about that and management agreed that was probably an oversight and changed their policy). But they did not change it for soft drinks.
And if you wanted a taxi, you also needed a reservation. What?? Have you ever been to a hotel where you needed a reservation for a taxi?
Even worse, the valet never smiles, just puts your request in a box and says "he'll let you know".
Want to rent a car? Better do it about 3-4 days in advance. And think you can do it in one sitting? Nope. You can put your name in on day one but you can't do the paperwork then - you have to come back a SECOND time to do the paperwork and a THIRD time to get the keys. And you can't get the car from the valet one second before a specified witching hour.
This is Disney friendly??
We asked for extended check-out two days prior to departure.
They said they didn't know if they could, check the next day.
We checked the next day. They said check that night.
And then the following morning.
And so it went.
And of course it never transpired.
Disney friendly??

In the hotel store on Saturday, I asked if I could reserve a Sunday morning paper? They said they DID NOT KNOW if they got Sunday papers!! What???
Can you imagine or fathom that answer?

Room Tip: Nice to have at least a partial ocean view
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank chuck a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 3, 2012

The moment you arrive you are greeting by a friendly face and the words" welcome home". It's a beautiful resort with the friendliest staff. The rooms are ur average size hotel room, love the design. The pool and grounds are amazing! Loved the beach, no waves, perfect for kids. Only thing I was a bit turned off by is THE FOOD. Not great and very pricey. I hope this improves. Other then that, we loved it!!!! Kids thought the character dining was awesome and loved swimming with sting rays.

Enjoy and aloha!!!

Room Tip: Next time I will try and get ground floor pool view so we can run out from our room anytime. I will also try and rent one of the timeshares so we can make some meals. Make reservations for dinner in advance!!!
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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5  Thank twoman04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 3, 2012

We had an excellent time at the Aulani, it is beautifully located in quiet Ko Olina. The watersides are terrific and the snorkeling reef allows you to snorkel in an aquarium stocked with the most amazing tropical fish,

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank michele n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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