Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Baby Moon - Aulani Review

After two years of seeing the TV commercials and following their social media pages, I finally had a 'yolo' moment and booked Aulani last September.  The surrogacy process is beyond stressful, and I just decided it was the right time.  I needed to get away!  I booked the night before Alysha was scheduled to have her first ultrasound to see the heartbeat.  She had bleeding the day before which we thought could be a miscarriage.  So I was either booking a Baby Moon, or a big family trip to get our minds off the process.  Oh so thankfully, we saw a heartbeat the next day!

Fast forward to the end of January! After a long travel day, our shuttle was finally approaching the resort.  I got the biggest butterflies when I spotted it.  I think I screamed a little on our full shuttle.  Our driver brought us to the curb and I hopped out with Evelina and told Rex I would meet him inside while he got the bags! It's such an unreal feeling walking in.  I just couldn't believe we were there!  The architecture is just stunning, and if you know Disney, they do no wrong.  Every detail is perfect.  Evelina and I were greeted with leis and a special necklace they give their little guests!  We got set up in our room and headed down.  Most every night, they have an activity at the resort, and our first night's activity was Cinderella under the stars.  They set up an inflatable screen and show classic Disney films.  It was so dreamy sitting under a palm tree watching one of my favorite movies, especially since I just left 20 degree temperatures! 

Here are some highlights and tips if you are planning an Aulani vacation:

Tip 1: Pay attention to the Daily 'Iwa.  The 'iwa is a daily newsletter with a list of highlights and events.  It tells you which events are included with your stay, and which events are involve a premium fee.  The 'iwa is printed the night before at the resort, and also available online a week ahead.  If you plan on leaving the resort for excursions or to visit Oahu landmarks, make sure you use the 'iwa online so you don't miss a fun event at the resort.  

Tip 2: Line up early for the Starlit Hui.  The Starlit Hui is their biggest show, think of it as a Disneyfied Luau.  We were told by a Cast Member that the line grows quite long the night of the show, and suggested we line up 45-60 minutes beforehand to get a good space on the lawn.  We got in line right about 45 minutes before they let people on the grass, and there were already about 7 parties in front of us.  But what's Disney without a 45 minute line for something, right?

Tip 3: Sign up early for Aunty's Beach House:  Aunty's Beach House is amazing.  It's Aulani's Kids Club, where you can drop your kids off for activities, or just open play.  We signed her up online, as well as filled out the paperwork required to leave your child (emergency contact, food allergies, etc). Most activities are complimentary, and Evelina had a blast.  She made 'space goo' with Stitch, as well as just enjoyed open play.  We visited during the slow season, so we didn't have any problems dropping off for open play, but they do fill up during peak season.  The cast members there are SO nice and welcoming, Evelina had absolutely no hesitation leaving us.  And my favorite part - they require every child to wash his or hands before the play!  This immunocompromised mama appreciated that!

Tip 4:  Decide if you want to cook meals or not.  We opted for a standard suite with no kitchen, but in retrospect I wish I would have paid the extra money for a much bigger room with a kitchen.  I had the mindset that I would not want to cook on vacation, and that I would want to eat out.  Well, as it turns out, my only critique of Aulani are the small suites and the food.  Our room was wall to wall with beds, and we only had a small fridge and microwave.  The restaurants need more options on the menu, so they get old quickly! Not to mention $50-60 to feed three people, three times a day, adds up!  

Tip 5: Use your PhotoPass, and use it often!  The PhotoPass works the same as it does at the Disney parks, but if you haven't used one, a photographer issues you a pass with a barcode, and each time you are photographed, the barcode is scanned.  From there, create a Disney account and enter your barcode to view your images.  You can buy images individually, but the best option is $99 for all images on your trip, so make sure you use them often to get your $$$ worth!  And here's another tip - take a picture of the barcode just in case you ever lose your pass, you can still type that code online.  

Tip 6: Do not pack beach toys or life jackets!  The resort offers these items free to check out for guests!  Save the luggage space! 

Tip 7:  Plan a day or two off the resort.  The resort is huge and full of events, but Oahu has so much to see. Plus you will want a break from the resort. You can rent a basic car from the resort for roughly $70, but if you want to park overnight it's an additional $30+, so keep that in mind. We took a day trip to the north shore. I'll share these details in a follow up post!

Tip 8: Follow the path out the front of the resort to the 'secret beach' called Paradise Cove. Exit the resort through the main entrance and walk down to the street, then make a left.  Walk about a half mile until you see a parking lot on your left.  Facing the parking lot from the sidewalk, the back right corner has the path to the beach.  This is the place to experience more natural landscape, but mostly see seals and sea turtles!  The beach is known for their turtles, but unfortunately Rex and Lina missed them.  They did see a giant seal, and he even had a a body guard!  I missed this part of the trip, as I had to leave the vacation a couple days early :( The thick air and vog were giving me troubles.  


Tip 9: Do the character breakfast! All-you-can-eat buffet, character meet and greet, and 'the' Aunty teaches children traditional Hawaiian dance. This is the only place (at least in our week) where you could actually meet Mickey. And bring your autograph book. 

Tip 10: Walk to the shops across the resort. They have a few restaurants, including a BYOB pizza restaurant, as well as a market and ABC store!

Tip 11: Stay five or six nights. We booked seven nights, and it just felt about one day too long for my daughter.

But seriously, make it happenIt's amazing.  How could Hawaii + Disney not be the best?!  My daughter thinks she's going back for her fifth birthday.  Maybe your eighth birthday, Lina!


1 comment:

  1. We had a lot of last minute decorations to add, and the staff was eager and willing to help. The food at venues in Chicago was amazing. They have extremely unique and tasty food. Also this place has great views and beautiful big rooms.