Aulani – Preview


As you may have read in this week’s AllEars Newsletter, I will be attending the Grand Opening of Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii next week. (Yes, I know, but someone has to do it. 😉 And there have to be a few advantages to living on the left coast!)

I love Hawaii, it’s probably my third-favorite vacation destination (after Yosemite and Disney). It’s so beautiful – the colors of the water and the sky and all of the wonderful tropical flowers and plants are so different from any other place that I’ve visited. Even the air in Hawaii is unique – I think you could plop me down blindfolded in Hawaii and as soon as I was outside I’d know where I was. My dad calls it “soft air”. And I think that’s a good way to describe it – it just caresses your skin in this wonderful way.

Ahem, back to the preview…Disney had made available a fair bit of information on Aulani even before it opened to the first official guests on August 29. Throughout the resort’s construction there have been a lot of posts on Aulani to the Disney Parks Blog, as well as discussion of it in various press events. At the Disneyland press event in June there was an extended presentation on Aulani, which included the impassioned remarks of a very enthusiastic Joe Rohde, creative director of Aulani. This is a man who loves his job.

How can you watch that and NOT be excited about visiting Aulani?

And I am – excited, that is. Some of the things I’m most looking forward to:

Experiencing the restaurants:

At ‘AMA’AMA, “The gourmet chefs use fresh local ingredients and island flavors to create distinctive Hawaiian dishes that juxtapose the traditional with the contemporary.” The restaurant features seasonal ingredients and sustainable seafood.

Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands, features a buffet with “tastes from around the world”. On select mornings guests can dine with their favorite Disney characters at “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki.”

The ‘Olelo Room looks like a lot of fun – apparently all of the staff there speaks Hawaiian, and guests are encouraged to order in Hawaiian. I’m looking forward to learning some Hawaiian beyond “aloha”, “mahalo”, and “wiki-wiki.” 🙂

At One Paddle, Two Paddle, a quick service location offering burgers, wraps, etc., the side dishes are taro chips and carrot-sea asparagus salad. I first tried taro chips when my parents lived in Hawaii for a short time and I loved them – and although I can find them on the mainland they never taste quite as good. I have to admit I have no idea what sea asparagus is, but I want to try it.

And then there’s the Waikolohe Valley, a seven-acre water play area. There’s all kinds of water activities – pools, a variety of water slides, a lazy river, four whirlpool spas, the Menehune Bridge area for younger guests, and the Rainbow Reef snorkeling lagoon.

I also want to experience the Laniwai Spa. Laniwai means “freshwater heaven”. The spa is 18,000 square feet indoors and 5,000 square feet outdoors and offers lots of different spa services. There’s also a fitness center.

And I am really, really looking forward to stepping into that beautiful lobby for the first time – it looks breathtaking, with all of that wonderful wood work and all of the artwork by Hawaiian artists.

In the meantime…Quite a few press releases are coming out now that the grand opening is almost upon us – and we’ll keep posting them to our Disney News Blog over the next few days.

And don’t forget to check out the Sneak Preview of Aulani from AllEars Guest Blogger Jennifer B. – she includes lots of photos, too!

I don’t know how to say “Are we there yet?” in Hawaiian, so I offer this instead: E hele kākou! (Let’s go!)

(If you have questions about Aulani that you’d like me to research while I’m there, please email your questions to: [email protected], and put “Aulani” in the subject line. Finding answers to questions has got to be easier than finding menehune…)

Disclosure: As an invited media guest, AllEars’ travel expenses to the Aulani Grand Opening event were paid by the Disney company.

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Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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