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Aulani get mixed reviews in opening weeks

Aulani, Disney’s first hotel not located near one of its theme parks, is getting mixed reviews in the first few weeks of operations. Some of this is no doubt related to the usual issues that have to be worked out at any new large resort, but any bad news is not good after under-priced DVC sales forced the ouster of three executives at the Walt Disney Company.

…there have been some early grumblings and glitches at Aulani, from inconsistent service and steep food prices ($43 per person for a dinner buffet) to murky, algae-filled water in the resort’s hands-on stingray pool (which costs $50 per session for adults, $45 for kids).

“The attention to detail is amazing, but they need more food options. And I would have expected more adult-only areas and programming,” says Kari Valley, a Seattle-based travel agent.

Situated off the beaten path on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, one of the chief complaints is that the journey to and from the resort is less than magical. A taxi ride to the resort is $75 or so and if you decide to rent a car parking is $35 a day. Then there is the resorts inflated prices, even for Hawaii. With all that, you’d expect the hotel to be full of Disney Magic, but Disney deliberately downplayed some of the trademark Disney charm to up-play the Hawaiian culture. This makes for an interesting clash of expectations.

Except for the location, which has its benefits too, all these items can be mediated or eliminated. I’m reading plenty of visitors who really enjoyed their stay at the resort, and did not let the other issues impact their fun. If you’ve been, I’d love to get your side of the story.

The big press event / grand opening is still a few days away. I expect we’ll learn a lot more about the resort then. In the meantime, here’s a video that highlights the various elements that focus on water based fun for guests:

Btw, it’s my understanding that DVC sales are still on hold.

(Via USA Today)