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Reviewed January 17, 2012

Took our two daughters to Aulani for a little stay-cation. They are huge Disney fans and wanted to go badly. We've been to several Disney resorts in the past and always had great experiences there. The place is beautiful and there are tons of great activities for families. We received a warm welcome and was impressed with the entrance to the resort. We had a so-so meal at the Makahiki Buffet and really enjoyed watching a movie under the stars at night. Disney even handed out mats to sit on (a really nice touch). The character breakfast in the morning was better and the kids loved seeing the characters. But a disturbing thing happened our second day. My 7 year old daughter was going down one of the tube watersides and got stuck on the slide. Disney has sensors in place that tell the life guards when they can send down another rider. Either they didn't follow protocol (they say they did) or the sensors were broken ... but a few minutes later my daughter and a 300 lb man were tumbling down the slide together. They slammed into the water. I went in to get her. We made it to the side of the pool where she was throwing up water and hysterical. Her hands and legs were skinned up, but after checking her out, she was fine. It took several minutes for a lifeguard to actually walk over and ask if she was OK. They got a supervisor and he came and just said he didn't understand how that happened but he would check with the life guard on duty at the top and would get back to me. I didn't hear back while, in the meantime they kept running the slide with lots of kids on it. I finally went to the manager several hours later to get an explanation, and the manager said they'd check into it. Finally I got a call from the supervisor who told me the life guard followed protocol and that they were having issues with the sensors and it was malfunctioning. However, they kept running the slides without any warnings. The supervisor said a manager would call us later to see what Disney could do to make a our stay better and offered us a free shaved ice. Meanwhile my daughter was traumatized and just kept saying she wanted to go home. After staying several hours trying to convince her to go back in, we packed up and left. I never got the call from the manager and the only thing my two daughters really can talk about is the dangerous slide. I've got to say I was shocked at the lack of safety/communication/concern that Disney showed. She could've been seriously injured and was seriously traumatized. We won't be going back. On other notes, the food wasn't great and very overpriced.

Date of stay: January 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
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54  Thank fordcjmt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 15, 2012

We had a one night stay at the Disney resort, because the President was using our resort we had been staying in all week was holding a conference there. The friendliness and help in getting service was awesome. Great people work there! The food was very good, not great. The characters breakfast is a great way to get your Disney experience in. One thing we completely disliked is that all the chairs in the middle of the resort face this fake mountain that has water slides in it. Just passed that is an awesome ocean view that none of the chairs face and the ones that do are on the beach with no service from the resort. that made this a little more disney than I would have liked. Hawaii is beautiful without making something fake to entertain.

Room tip: lots of kids!
Date of stay: November 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank mrcanfield3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 12, 2012

From the time we stepped out of our car at reception 'til the very sad moment we when we left, we loved Aulani. The buildings are so grand and of course, Disney thought of everything. We were there just prior to Christmas and everything was decked out. It wasn't overly "Disney" with the exception of a few characters in the pool area. We found all the staff to be very helpful and friendly. We are DVC members, so had a 2 bedroom villa. We were two families of four and were very comfortable in the spacious and very well-stocked unit. Costco and Safeway were a quick 5-10 mins away and we were able to get everything we needed there for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, beverages, etc. We ate most of our evening meals out but not at Aulani as we had read unimpressive reviews. Likely should have given them a try to form our own impression, but enjoyed two different restaurants at the neighbouring JW Marriott (Azul - Italian and the informal poolside restaurant Naupaka Terrace) and also the Marriott Beach Club's Chuck's Restaurant. All three were excellent. The beach at Aulani is outstanding although chairs can be difficult to obtain mid-day unless you are not shy to go around to unused chairs and see if any belongings were left on them. The beach staff were really good at making sure people didn't abuse using chairs. If chairs were not occupied or had personal items on them, they were quickly moved for other hotel guests to use. Some people thought they could disappear for hours and just leave their resort towel to reserve...no way. The beach was really clean, and not packed at all which was really pleasant. Our kids rented paddle boards one afternoon and loved it. We were with older teens, so they didn't partake in the sting ray area, etc. The slides and lazy river were great fun though. The infinity hot tub was a favorite toward the end of the day for our kids, but too busy for the adults' liking. There were other quieter hot tubs tucked here and there which were nice touches on Disney's part. We checked the spa out, but found it kind of pricey and didn't want to be inside anyhow because the weather was fantastic and we preferred to be out on the beach or by the pool. Both of our families rented cars at the airport and parking at Aulani was free for DVC members which was really nice as I've heard the fees can be steep. Reviewers must remember though that this is a 5 star hotel and parking at any 5 star hotel, in such a desirable location, can be expensive, so I don't think that it is fair to criticize Aulani for expensive parking as some have.

We took day trips to Honolulu's Waikiki Beach for the surf and Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. Both were great fun. It was quite rough the day we hit the bay for snorkeling, so things were churned up a bit and we were limited on where we could safely go. The drive takes about 40 mins from Aulani but is in a gorgeous location. Well worth the trip. Surfing on Waikiki Beach was great! Kids loved it. The adults sat under rented umbrellas (the sun was hot) while the four teens surfed for about an hour. Make a deal with the surf companies...there are so many of them and they definitely want your business. After being on the beach, we hit some shops one street in from the beach (great high end shops mixed with middle of the road shops) and then went to eat at PF Chang's. Pearl Harbour is not to be missed and a trip to Oahu would be incomplete without visiting it. Try to get there early too! Lots of see there and it takes quite a while to see even one small portion. We only managed to see the Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri and we were there for about 4 hours. We'll go back next time we're in Oahu to see the other sites there.

Our vacation flew by and we were all sad to leave. We're already planning our return to Aulani as I write this! We have traveled all over world with our teenagers and this was one of their favorite places ever!

Date of stay: December 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
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19  Thank karenagnew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 12, 2012

The hotel is lovely, with clean and comfortable rooms and amazing, stunning public areas, and a beautiful beach. The greeting process was great, though one of our party's online check-in didn't work so we had to wait around for that to get processed onsite. The pool (particularly the slides!) were fantastic. Unfortunately the food at the Disney restaurants wasn't quite as good--'Ama ama was very pleasant, if not remarkable, for dinner and breakfast, and service was attentive but slow. It is a beautiful place to have breakfast! Went to the Makahiki buffet for breakfast where the food was good but flies at the buffet were a turnoff. Off the Hook has some standard fare but also some weird combinations that don't necessarily work. Nice dining options outside the hotel appeared to be limited to a couple other hotels; Roy's in Kapolei was closed when we were there due to a kitchen fire and didn't know when they'd reopen. Note that the hotel is fairly removed (especially if you consider the common gridlock traffic on the highway) from Honolulu, which can be good and bad, depending on what you want to do on the island. The Ohana massage at Laniwai is a great way to include kids in relaxation--we had a great time with that. Unfortunately, outside of the front staff, the Disney spirit was somewhat lacking--maybe just overworked because we were there before Christmas, or laid-back island culture, but we often stay at Disney properties near parks at the same time and experience a different (more positive and enthusiastic) atmosphere.

Date of stay: December 2011
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
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7  Thank allergymom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 12, 2012

I recently stayed at the Disney Aulani resorty over New Years Eve. The resort still has that new resort smell. Your greeted to a wonder lie for men and women. You get that Disney spirit. The resort offers many amenties for adults and children. I traveled with a group of adults for 7 days. We used the lazy river and pool a lot. The ocean front its not an ocean. It is a lagoon. This is part of the bigger Ko Olina resort hotels. You are next to the Marriot which looks dated. The lagoon has hardly any waves and breakers when they are big. The beach was clean and your card key is needed to access the Disney property but no one really uses that. Everyone leaves the gate open.

The resturants are expensive. I repeat, nothing is cheap at this resort. Take my advice and rent a car, explor the island. You will find food at a fraction of the price. Ama Ama, the one on the beach is not amazing. Prepare to take a second mortgage on your home. A shrimp appatizer was $40. 3 pieces i got. NJ has better quality shrimp. My friend ordered duck for $75 and it was not filling at all.

There is no luau, or hula lessons like you would imagine. There is a schedule for everyone but its not at convenient times and is often very crowded, especially with kids.

I did not use the spa but it looked nice.

Room tip: An ocean view is not what you think. Its a view of the ocean. Still a great room. You can not see the sun rise if you face the pool. Sunsets can be seen on the beach unless you get an OCEAN FRONT
Date of stay: January 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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4  Thank rescue2823
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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