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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)

13 thoughts on “Aulani get mixed reviews in opening weeks”

  1. I have read several times that this is the first DVC not near a theme park…. this is not true. DVC has a successful time share on Hilton Head Island, far away from WDW. Looks like Aulani needs to take a couple of pages from the playbook of what is done at HHI and also at Vero.

  2. I am wondering if any of these people complaining have stayed at resorts on Waikiki? The JW Marriott(beside Aulani) evening buffet is 49.99. And to me you need a car when you are in Hawaii, easier to explore the island!

  3. The stingray pool has a little algae but that information is incorrect. We are cleaning, scrubbing and vacuuming the pool on a daily basis. Sometimes, when we scrub, it causes the water to be murky, which is needed for it to be vacuumed. I’m out there every day and that information is exaggerated. People shouldn’t make a general statement because they saw it one time. It’s a natural, salt water enclosure, not fake. There will be algae!

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  9. We were walking the beach and thought we would go in to see what the hotel offered for shopping and restaurants. It looks beautiful but will never know since we were told we couldn’t enter by the guard/staff along the beach entry.
    Closed door policy toward ahana and kamam’aina.

    1. FYI you can walk right in through the front of the resort. Free Valet parking with a validation of $35 or more.

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