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Aulani Reviews Coming In

A few more reviews for Disney’s Hawaiian resort are trickling in. Most note how Disney has emphasized telling the story of Hawaii over traditional Disney touches, but I would argue that storytelling is the quintessential Disney touch. So I’m glad to see they chose that direction in Aulani.

Bradi McDonald of the LA Times is currently ensconced in the resort with his family, but he sends this update:

The 21-acre resort, about 30 minutes from Waikiki, is worlds apart in look, feel and spirit from that tourist mecca of high-rise cement monoliths.

We were greeted at our rental car by an Aulani hostess who presented Nancy and Hannah with flower leis and me with a kukui nut one before explaining the symbolic elements of the open-air lobby.

Outside the lobby, a balcony overlooked the lush grounds with the water park-like pool and the Pacific just beyond. Twin towers, laid out in the now familiar Las Vegas three-wing design, flanked either side.

But McDonald’s take on the food situation wasn’t as kind. Apparently the Taco Shop across the street is seeing a lot of new business as guests turn away from the high prices Disney is charging at the resort. reader Retlawfan reported from his days at the resort during its grand opening. Plenty of kinks still need to be worked out of the technical system, and a few Disney customer service lessons still haven’t sunk into the new cast. Retlawfan was also directed to the Taco Shop for some cheaper eats.

Hawaiian travel blogger Jeanne Cooper writes about how the area of Ko Olina has seen a bit of a ‘Disneyfication’ since Aulani was announced and lists some nearby attractions that those staying in the area might want to see.

Finally, look to see Aulani featured as the vacation destination for one of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s deserving families in this upcoming season.

10 thoughts on “Aulani Reviews Coming In”

  1. It’s a shame that there are even kinks to have to work out, you would think they would have it all down. I would imagine that they will eventually figure out the food situation I hope, If enough people leave they will have to do something. This just may be the shortest lived DVC outside of disney I have read some nasty reviews and fear that it will probably be closed within a year if not sooner! I also predict that with the sheer and utter disaster upon opening that they will never try and attempt this again! They must be so embarrassed! But that is typical new disney for you! Who gives a flying monkey if its good or reasonable, how do we make the most money! Sick, twisted, demented and pathetic business model!

    1. Short and sweet…resort is Disney all the way. Nice! However, the food service is all wrong. Two few restaurants, and in each, really off-based and over-priced options…and too few of them. Shocking that Disney would miss such a big mark when they pay such attention to detail through out their properties.

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  4. I don’t think that Aulani will be closed. As long as they can sell enough vacation points, it will pay for itself. My biggest concern is that people buying into Aulani will use their points at WDW much more often than people who own at WDW will use their points at Aulani, thus making DVC reservations at WDW harder to get, and leaving Aulani at less than full capacity. Hopefully Disney did their market research on this and it won’t be the case. The new DVC at the Grand Floridian may mitigate some of these effects. I’m not surprised there are kinks at the grand opening – most of the CMs were not Disney employees before Aulani and thus probably aren’t as well-versed in the Disney way as veteran WDW CMs. As for food prices, I’d suggest renting a 1- or 2-bedroom unit and using the kitchen!

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  6. We stayed there over the Labor Day weekend. I do understand about food prices being high but really it’s similiarly priced to those in the theme parks and other high end resorts. I know at the Hilton on the Big Island I paid $9 for a wrap that wasn’t even tasty. Kris – I’m sorry I don’t what you meant by “sheer and utter disaster” that occured upon opening but when we got there on Saturday (they opened on Monday) everything was GREAT!

    Service was EXCELLENT. I’d say service was something similar to that of the Four Seasons here in Hawaii. I really have no complaints, well except for the TV reception during the UH game but that is something with the cable company that I’m sure is easily fixable. I know the table dining restarant (Makahiki) was completely booked but that is because they are new and for many people who haven’t been to Disneyland this is their first chance to have breakfast with the characters. They did go out of their way to assist us with reservations though… I had reservations for the character breakfast and when my cousins decided to get a room there we tried to add them to our reservation. Well that couldn’t happen since changing from 2 to 7 is a big jump. Instead they let me give my reservation to them and changed it from 2 adults to 2 adults and 3 kids. Then at breakfast my husband and I couldn’t find anything we wanted so we asked the hostess if we could join our cousins table since they were already there. The hostess said it was fine as long as we used their existing seats. I thought that was very nice and of them and practically unheard of in most restaurants.

    Sorry if anybody had bad experiences there but when we were there it was everything I expected from Disney and More… The kids loved Aunty’s Beach House (I would have loved it too but they said I was not young enough to stay there all day). The pools were fun and I like that they give out free life vests for people to use and even allow kids to go down the large slide with vests on if they prefer. Many other hotels I’ve been to here don’t allow life vests or floatations on the slides. The many life guards positioned around the water was a comforting fact as they kept kids from doing sillly things and getting hurt or hurting others.

    I could just go on and on about how great the stay and experience was and I only hope that they keep up this level of service and attention to detail. I look forward to my next vacation there.

  7. Nice place, I thought it was nice, but could have been better, food was awful, prices way to high for what you are getting, Disney over all lately is out of control, service is nothing like it use to be from Disney, they better wise up…..

  8. Terrible experience with the live chat. They were looking into a question I had and then they cut the chat off and ending it with, get this, have a magical day.
    Not like Disney to have this type of customer service but I guess times are changing..

  9. We stayed from Dec 28, 2011 to Jan 01, 2012 at Aulani. Partial Ocean View room, paid $599 plus taxes per night (approx. $650). The breakfast was good one day, and by third day they gave us hot dog in lieu of sausage. The lunches and dinners were over priced and food was not good. So, we went to J W Marriott where the food was not cheaper but the quality and experience was much nicer.
    Disney does not have a proper customer loyalty program. Which means, although we spent a lot of money and many stays at Disney resorts and Vacations, we did not get even a fair treatment from Disney. For instance, we wanted a 30 minute extension for checkout (11:30AM instead of 11:00AM), and we did not get that. Instead, we were interrupted by teh housemaid and other accomplices of hers four times between 8AM and 11AM until we left.
    Please consider other choices before you have to stay at Aulani.

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