Visiting Disney’s Aulani Resort – 91

We’re back to Hawaii today! Ryan and Elizabeth just spent a week visiting Disney’s Aulani Resort, and he has lots to share with you about their trip.

Visiting Disney’s Aulani Resort

  • Trip details
  • How much solo time did you have?
  • Traveling to Oahu
  • Applying for exemption from quarantine
  • Overview of Aulani, Ko’olina, and favorite things at resort?
  • How do Hawaii and resort “feel” now with covid guidelines?
  • Day trips and other things in Oahu?
  • Travel and vacation planning tips for Hawaii?

Question: What do you dream of doing while visiting Disney’s Aulani resort?

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Ryan and Shayne are both Travel Advisers with Creating Magic Vacations, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Feel free to reach out to us for a free quote and to start making magical memories.

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Episode 91 Transcripts

(Transcripts are completed by AI and won’t be completely accurate.)

Shayne: Aloha and welcome to All Things Travel. We’re back to Hawaii today, Ryan and Elizabeth just spent a week at Disney’s Aulani resort, and he has lots to share with you about their trip. You’re listening to All Things Travel episode 91, original air date, January 12th, 2022.   

Ryan: well. Aloha Shayne, my wife and I just returned from my favorite place in the world.

Shayne: Aloha back. I trust you how to find trip. 

Ryan: It was a really nice trip. It was different, because we went for her work and I’ll talk about that in a little bit, but you know how much I love Aulani you know, how much I love visiting O’ahu. And I’m excited to talk about it today. And I do want to remind folks that. Way way back, episode three, we do an of Aulani I’m at Disney resort and spa.

And then in episode 31, we do a tour of visiting O’ahu. So if you’re interested in kind of extending today’s discussion, go back and check out those episodes.

Shayne: Our downloads on Hawaii episodes.

seem to do really well. So we will try to keep loading them up. 

Ryan: All right. Sounds great. Well, before we get into the Aloha spirit, Shayne I want to know where in the world is. All things travel. 

Shayne: Whitesburg, Kentucky. 

Ryan: All right. Welcome Kentucky.

Shayne: Yeah, this looks like a great place. A lot of places along a winding river through the town. And one of those places looks like the summit city, Maine, which has a really cool balcony and a place to enjoy some beverages right there on main street. And. 

Ryan: I like it. Yeah. Well, great. Welcome, Kentucky. Reach out to Shayne and I either through email or on the Facebook group, I would love to connect with you because I’ve got a little thank you for being featured on the.

So at the end of our discussion of Aulani today, Shayne, there is a promotion that’s going Aulani for early 2022 trips into the spring. So I want to make sure to highlight that,

Shayne: Ah, so we act pretty quickly. We can take advantage of that,

Ryan: oh right.

Shayne: Well, I am anxious to hear about all the fun you had on this trip to Aulani Ryan. So give us a quick rundown of the details of your trip. 

Ryan: Sure. So we went it was a Saturday through Saturday. And we went for one of my wife’s medical conferences. So during a portion of the day, she would be at the conference or she would be virtually, watching the sights and the presentations. And then we would spend the rest of the time on vacation.

And so. The great way for us to get a couples trip, but also get for her to get some of her continuing medical education. we spent six nights at Alani and then we spent one night before we left at Waikiki. So we spent the last day at Waikiki and that evening, and that night before getting back to the airport and we got to the, we got to whiny late Saturday night, because of the trip that we had.

Shayne: So while 

Ryan: not a nice amount of.

Shayne: So while she was busy working during the day and you were there just kind of loping around how much solo travel time did you have during those days? 

Ryan: I actually didn’t do much. So a tribal, that, that was my time to get my work done too. Especially with the time change, being five hours behind, by the time you get up in Hawaii, you’re already a little behind other folks. So that was kind of my time to catch up. Not all the time, but it was my time to do email, to work with client stuff, but then also do you know, my, my photos, my videos.

You know, stuff like that. And then when she would be done we would take a nice walk along the beach. Colina has a path there that we love to, you can take it from a Lonnie all the way down to the marina. So we would do that and we would start our vacation part of the day, either with a road trip or.

Shayne: Wow, that sounds nice. So tell us a little bit about traveling to 

Ryan: Sure. Sure. So this is our third time there. The other two times we have flown direct and this was our first time traveling with Southwest we love Southwest. We’re a Southwest family. We take advantage of the companion pass whenever we can. And so this was our first time doing that as Southwest has expanded their service into Hawaii.

It was certainly a long trip, but the trip was smooth on the way out. We went from midway to Oakland and then Oakland to Honolulu. And then on the way back, we went Honolulu to Phoenix to midway. Again, the only thing is it’s very, very long. but as far as the flights, it was smooth. do want to talk a little bit about the process right now of traveling to Hawaii, because that is important to know.

You do need to register with Hawaii safe travels and you create an account there and then you create an actual trip. So once you have an account, you can use that for multiple trips, but then you need to create a specific trip. And with. You fill out demographic information and then you can apply for an exemption to Hawaii quarantine rules.

They still technically have a quarantine in place. Hawaii has been very cautious with COVID and their policies, but you can apply for an exemption for a variety of reasons. Two of which are your fully faxed. Or you have a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours of your last flight into Hawaii.

So a couple of days before. You get on, you make your you make your account, you apply for one of those exemptions, if you would like to not quarantine. And then the day before you complete a quick health questionnaire you are given a QR code, so you do either need to be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID test to enter Hawaii and not quarantined.

And then you’re given that QR code and we actually were able to save time because in Oakland, Southwest had a a desk set up where you could actually go through and do all of your screening in Oakland rather than Honolulu. So when we got to Honolulu, we could bypass the screening line and go straight to our rental car.

And then on to Aulani.

Shayne: Nice. At some places or some details on the timing of your trip and with this one. So you only needed the negative test 72 hours before your flight departed. Not 72 hours of arriving in 

Ryan: Correct. And so another thing that people often say is, well, what happens? My flight’s delayed. If your flight is still laid, is based on the time of your original flight. If you get delayed for days, I’m sure that changes the equation, but you know, if you’re, if you’re delayed for five hours or something like that, it’s it, it’s not as, it’s not as difficult as it sounds with laying everything out.

My wife and I are both fully vaccinated, so that was the exemption that we used. Doing a big trip like Hawaii right now where Europe or international. I mean, there’s going to be a process like this. So this is the process of Hawaii is laid out and it ran smooth for us. We had our documents checked in Chicago before we even got on the plane to Oakland.

So they knew that we had the documents going into Oakland in Oakland. We were able to do that check and that made our time in Hawaii that much.

Shayne: It sounds like there’s some technology involved that makes this easier to keep up 

Ryan: Yeah. 

Shayne: to do a little homework and 

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. 

Shayne: So give us an overview of Alani and Galena. 

Ryan: Sure. So Elani is about a half an hour strive from Honolulu airport. That’s where you’re going to be going into Honolulu. And Waikiki is really the hustle and bustle. It’s the capital of Hawaii. Waikiki is obviously a famous beach, high rises. There’s a lot going on there. It really feels like you’re in a city.

That drive to Colina just takes all that stress out of the way. You know, once you get through the city traffic and you make your way to Colina, you feel like you’re in a completely different world. Colina is a resort community that’s built on four man-made coves. It’s a golf community. There’s multiple resorts such as the four seasons, the Marriott Alani.

It’s really, really relaxing. You know, there’s a nice breeze that goes throughout the entire community. So the weather stays constant. I just absolutely love it. I wanna be in and of itself. Is a beautiful, beautiful resort. So there’s everything that you would expect a Disney resort to have.

As far as a fantastic pool complex, have multiple pools. They have an adults, only two story, hot tub. have a reef where you can swim with. They have activities for little kids. They have activities going on throughout the day for people of all ages. They have the best lazy river I’ve ever been on multiple dining places.

It’s just, it’s amazing. And what I love about it most Shane, you are immersed in Hawaiian culture and you are not immersed in Hawaiian culture in a kitchen. Cheeky way. This is not the Polynesian. And I love the Polynesian, but know what I mean? Right? 

Shayne: Yeah. 

Ryan: is Hawaiian storytelling, both literally and figuratively.

This is Hawaiian music playing throughout the resort. This is Hawaiian art is actually commissioned. Alani is one of the largest collections of Hawaiian art around the. And so, you know, there’s just, there’s Hawaiian art everywhere. They have really taken their time to understand not just Hawaii, but where they are in Hawaii.

What does the Leeward side of, of O’ahu mean? 

Shayne: So, 

Ryan: So, 

Shayne: of that adventures by Disney 

Ryan: yes. Yes. 

Shayne: at. 

Ryan: Yes. 

Shayne: So we’re just coming off of our adult things to do at Disney episode last week is, do you feel like Alani is a little too Disney? Or just the right amount of Disney. How did an adult’s week at Aulani compare with adult vacation? The two of you might’ve taken somewhere else. 

Ryan: Sure. And that was a conversation that we had throughout the week. You know, if. Anytime I go someplace. I’m always kind of thinking about not just what my experience is, but how would I talk to clients about this? How would I help them understand if allotting is right for them? And, you know, obviously my wife and I are both Disney fans, but more than that, we are travel fans and.

I think a Lonnie has a lot going for it. What I say is if you’re into Disney, Disney is there. You can have breakfast with the characters you can do meet and greets with marijuana. There is merchandise, you know, Disney Aulani merchandise, all over the place. If you’re not into Disney, Aulani is still a fantastic Hawaiian resort that has everything you would want.

It has a fantastic bar. It has a fantastic immersion in Hawaiian culture. It’s in a beautiful place of the island where you really feel like you are in Hawaii, the four seasons and the Marriott, which are on the up, both sides of Aulani are beautiful resorts. That could be anywhere in the world. Aulani could only be in Hawaii.

Shayne: Gotcha. 

Ryan: Now that being said, Alani is obviously a family oriented resort. So if you are looking for a place without kids, Alani is not it, but is it true Disney? Absolutely not. Is it does, are there Disney things if you’re a Disney fan? Absolutely. All day.

Shayne: Yeah. As much as I love the Disney stories and the characters, what I love more is excellent service 

Ryan: Yeah. 

Shayne: creative 

Ryan: And you will find that in spades.

Shayne: Well, how does the resort and the island in general feel now with COVID guideline? 

Ryan: Sure. Sure. So I talked a little bit about the guidelines to get there. You will have to show your vaccination card or your test. Your negative test results during your trip. So to eat indoors at different tourists places that will be part of the part of vacation right now. So you’re going to say, well, if I had to show.

A negative result within 72 hours. Does that mean I need to take another test? It might be depending on your timing there. So you will be using those documents throughout your stay. So for instance, when we checked into Aillani when we went to inside dining, when we did some of our tourist activities, we did have to show that there are masks.

Required inside. And there are also, some places have decided to require masks outside. The last day we were at alwa Milana shopping center, which is one of the largest outdoor shopping centers in the world. And. So my wife and I were like, well, as long as we’re not in a shop, we don’t need to have masks on.

And we looked around Shane and we were one of the only people not wearing masks, even outside again. Hawaii has been very, very cautious when it comes to COVID. So those are things to consider, are there chances to take your masks off? Absolutely. If you’re around the pool and the beach or sitting down to have dinner, are you expected to wear a mask?

Absolutely not. It depends on your level of comfort when it comes to masks and to vaccination and testing. But I don’t right now see that going anywhere, especially at a place like Hawaii. So you have to balance that with what you want to do for vacation.

Shayne: Consider where you’re going and what the people there like, and it sounds like people. It sounds like Hawaiians are more conscientious and careful about daily procedures for protecting themselves or 

Ryan: Yeah, that being said, everything is. I mean there that I did not see. I, I know when Hawaii first opened up about a year ago, you know, there was concern about what’s going to be open, you know, are there going to be places to eat? Can we shop, can we do our tourist activities? Things like that.

single thing we wanted to do was open and welcoming. There was no issue with that whatsoever.

Shayne: Very cool. All right. Well, speaking of the biggest outdoor shopping complex in the world, are there a few day trips or other things you can do around the resort on Oahu? 

Ryan: absolutely. Absolutely. So we did three day trips during our time there. So what we would do is we would spend a day at the resort then have. Partial of the next day, be a day trip. Then we would spend most of our time at the resort. Then we would do a partial day trip and three really stuck out to me and I’ll kind of work backwards.

Our last day, when we checked out of Alani, we drove into Waikiki and we went to Alma Awana shopping center. Again, we like to do this as this doesn’t necessarily feel very Hawaiian, but there are certainly Hawaiian theme stores and things like that. We just enjoy it to be quite honest. Knowing that we’re going to spend time and our entire next day sitting at the airport or on a plane, we like to get some extra steps in and get moving.

And so it’s a great place to do that. It’s a great place to grab last minute souvenirs, tons of dining options. So we spent the morning doing that, and then we actually went and checked into our hotel and Waikiki went down to the beach. The beach was a two minute walk through the international shopping center, which was amazing.

I’d never been there before. And. You know, checked out Waikiki beach, kind of saw that. Then we went and had an early dinner at a happy hour place at the Outrigger hotel, which Duke’s is there. We went above upstairs to the Tiki lounge, had a wonderful dinner of appetizers and drinks stopped at Leonard’s.

I’ve talked about winners with malware. SATA is stopped at the original one downtown. So that was kind of our Waikiki Honolulu. We also went up to the north shore, which I’ve talked about the north shore on other shows. We did our our surf watching December has some of the strongest waves on the north shore.

So that’s really fun to watch, I guess, quote unquote real deal surfing. And so we spent some time doing that. We went to Giovanni shrimp truck, which, you know, I love we went to Halifa did some shopping and I have to say on other shows, I’ve mentioned Masa motos when it comes to shave ice.

And we’ve always avoided it because there’s always been a long wine. And this time we said, you know what, we’re going to try it. And I got to say, Shayne, the hype was worth it. It’s the best shave ice I’ve 

Shayne: Wow. 

Ryan: So. You got to deal with it. If the long line says something about Giovanni’s something about Masa motos, means that’s where you got to go in the north shore.

So we enjoyed an afternoon doing that. You know, again, that’s not a full day away from Waikiki or away from Aillani, but it’s certainly worth the drive. And then you can pair that with going to YMA valley or, spending some time at the beach. if you want to do that 

Shayne: So does the short line at this popular attraction mean that time of December is a good time to visit 

Ryan: Yeah. And I would say, and I would say too, we tend to go to the north shore on the weekends when we’re there. And this time we went during the week and that made a big difference. 

Shayne: gotcha. 

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And then our third day trip and probably our longest day trip was headed over to the Windward side of the islands.

And we left Aillani after Elizabeth meetings and drove along H three H three is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. How Colina and Alani are on the drier side of the island. So it’s still very beautiful, but it’s browner than. Once you get over to that, the Windward side of the island past Honolulu, the greens just hit you in the face.

You, you know how in, in marijuana, the character that she’s after has kind of lays down and has kind a wash carpet of green around. 

Shayne: Yeah. 

Ryan: about there, that’s what that whole side of the island looks like. It’s, it’s amazing. And you’re driving you’re, you’re elevated up above The the trees.

And so you just see the sprawl of Monkeypod trees and there’s these lush green Hills. And for about a mile, you’re driving through a tunnel under a mountain, and then you come out on the other side and the ocean just hits you in the face. There’s places to stop on that side of the island and take pictures.

Kailua is a really good larger town to stop and have lunch kind of walk around. And then we actually, for the first time went to Kualoa ranch. And that was really, really fun. I’ve talked about cool ranch before on the show, and there’s just lots of tourist activities there. And the one that we chose was the movie sites tour.

So we boarded a bus and we went to a. Several different movie sites where they film TV shows and movies. So lost wifi Jurassic park, skull Kong island was there. And it was really cool. Our tour guide was Ursula was just really knowledgeable about each of the spots you would talk about specific scenes.

She talked about what it was like to watch filming on the ranch. It was really cool.

Shayne: Now was Her name Ursula or was she acting as Ursula from the Little Mermaid?

Ryan: Her name was Ursula, but it would have been rather interesting to have Ursula the little mermaid character as artwork guy. 

Shayne: Well, she’s one of my favorite villains. So when you said Ursula, I thought, oh, cool. Had Ursula, but 

okay. So. 

Ryan: So, so I would definitely recommend, I know that when we go next time with my kids, they want to do the zip lining tour. That’s there, they have ATV tours.

Cool. Or ranch is a working ranch. It’s a working farm. So they have tours space around that. I mean, it’s a really cool, it feels pretty touristy. I’ve got, I’m going to tell you that, but they offer some really unique experiences. That I think are words that for a lot of folks it’s really cool.

Shayne: When you’re at a place like. In a destination like Hawaii. How, what is your strategy for balancing time at the resort? And what is your strategy for balancing time at the resort and those types of day trips? 

Ryan: I think for me, it’s what I talked about with, you know, really being intentional. About resort time. I see so many people I’m on several Facebook groups for Aillani, you know, when people will say, Hey, we’re going to be in Aillani for a week. Here’s our itinerary, here’s the 27 things we want to do while we’re there.

And it’s kind of like, well, you’re missing the point that, you know, the resort is a destination. Colina is a destination. No, I understand. For a lot of people going to Hawaii is a once in a lifetime or only a few times in a lifetime destination. And so they really want to get the most bang for their buck.

But just like we talk about with Disney Shayne slow down, slow down and appreciate where you are. And morning on the beach and afternoon by the pool is time well spent.

Shayne: That is definitely more our style of travel. 

Ryan: Yeah, 

Shayne: like Hawaii would be the last place that you would be trying to get through a long list of 

Ryan: right. 

Shayne: to see And do. 

Ryan: so I think it is really balanced saying, you know, I it’s either you see less or you spend more time there. I mean, it’s really it’s understanding that has to be kind of the strategy of your trip. If you want to see multiple islands, you need to extend your. You know, if you want to really understand and appreciate Hawaii, you’re gonna have to have those down times that, you know, driving along and seeing a place to stop and watch the water for a little bit is part of it.

Shayne: All right. And then in addition to that, what are your travel and vacation planning trips for Hawaii? 

Ryan: Well, the first is have that balance, be very intentional about, we’re going to spend today at the resort or we’re going to spend three quarters of the day at the resort and then go to a loo out in the evening, you know, make sure that you have time to appreciate. Understand what the travel process is like, what I talked about earlier, but also understand the effect of the trip.

I mean, this is essentially like going to Europe from a flight standpoint. I mean, this is, you’re going to have to recover from getting there. Even if you go from California, it’s still a five-hour flight. I mean, it’s not a short flight, so understanding. What the jet lag is going to do, you know, for the first couple of days, you’re going to wake up early and you’re going to want to go to bed early and so understand.

So what I always tell people is don’t plan heavy hitting stuff. Your first couple of days, don’t get too Lonnie and have the luau that night. You know, everybody’s going to be asleep at the table at the luau. So don’t, over-schedule what you want to do.

Rent your car early because rental cars do sell out just like Tom said, two pieces of advice that Tom shared with us on our Hawaii shows that that rang true. Make sure you get that rental car and make reservations for things, reservations were easy to get, but if you didn’t have reservations, it was going to impact, being able to get places, eat places, things like that.

Those are my tips for traveling to Hawaii. Enjoy where you are.

Shayne: And never too early plan in advance. 

Ryan: Absolutely. So Shayne, I want to talk about a promotion that a lot he has going on, right. So 

They have a promotion for off, they’re offering up to 25% off a five-plus night stay the beginning of this year, 2022. So that’s January the middle of April. So you would have to jump on this quickly.

But if you’re looking for a place to get away from that winter chill, and this sounded good to you there is still an option to save some money as far as an Aulani trip.

Shayne: Ryan, and I would love to help you plan an amazing vacation, whether it’s to Hawaii, to Aulani or any other place in the world. We are both travel advisors with Creating Magic Vacations. out to Ryan at: R Y A N at CreatingMagicVacations.com. Or to me S H A Y N E at CreatingMagicVacations.com. And remember it is our job to make you the vacation planning superhero.