Aulani and the “Disney Presence”

Written by Werner Weiss. Posted in Disney History, Features, Werner Weiss

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Published on June 13, 2014 at 3:36 am with 6 Comments

Aloha! Yesterland once again visits the 50th state in a article that’s not about something that’s gone. What does it mean to have a “Disney presence,” and does Aulani have it?

 

Read the full YESTERLAND article HERE: Aulani and the “Disney Presence”

 
When you are done reading, please leave your comments below.

About Werner Weiss

Werner is the curator of Yesterland.com, the ultimate collection of Disney theme park past attractions. You'll find his handiwork featured here every Friday.

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6 Comments

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  1. Thanks for the tour of the Aulani. I was very interested in staying there, but when I found out that “budget” packages start at $400 a night it was clear that I will never be staying there.

    It seems like Disney has decided that middle class people are no longer their main market, which is sad, but obviously not where the money is. I wonder what Uncle Walt would make of the Aulani?

  2. In Jun 2013 we stayed at the Ko Olina Beach Villa Resort that is in the next lagoon over from Aulani.
    In 2008 before Aulani was built we stayed at the JW Marriott Ihilani that now shares the Aulani Lagoon.
    In 2013 driving into Ko Olina you see the MASSIVE Aulani resort. One day after spending time in “our” lagoon I walked over with my son to the Aulani side. It had changed drastically since the time we were there in 2008. As we got closer to the lagoon the NOISE that came from the Aulani side was, I felt extreme. Certainly everyone was having fun but we remember the calm relaxed stay we had at the JW. We felt really bad for the patrons of the JW who now have to endure the influx of people and noise. Ko Olina had been known for the quiet calm relaxed attitude that was in high contrast to Waikiki. Now it seems that Waikiki has come to Ko Olina. We were glad that we did not stay again at the JW and we know to never book again there. On another afternoon my family (husband and 2 children) walked over to the Aulani and because they were fixing a gate on the beachside we were able to walk up from the beach that is normally secured with key card access. The pool area was crammed with families and again the noise and constant flow of people was not what we would as a family ever have gone to Hawaii for. We meandered around and felt like we had gotten lost and feared no way out. The hotels were huge and really towered over us; they were massive. We stopped to have a Shave Ice and just watched people much the way one does in the Parks. We could not help but think of our own vacation where we ventured beyond the lagoons and into the local life of Oahu. We felt like most people probably did not venture off the grounds of Aulani, certainly there is no need to as it has everything from entertainment and food and some “local” flair. We just thought how sad if this is what peoples experience was in coming to Hawaii with its rich history and culture to have it reduced to a Theme Park experience. That evening we decided to head back to the Aulani from the hotel side entrance to maybe score some Disney swag. We do love Disney after all. The store inside was okay, not much good merch so we passed on buying anything. We then wandered down a corridor inside the hotel and it gave us the CREEPS. I remember saying this corridor reminds me of The Shining. The hotel was just a big maze and just like feeling like earlier we were lost outside we thought we were never going to escape the hotel. We finally found a door that poured us out to the pool area and we made our way down to the beachside where we happily escaped back to the quiet of the Beach Villa lagoon. As much as we love Disneyland and our annual trips we would NEVER book the Aulani. We always found the Disney commercials for the Aulani to be disingenuous – the lagoon has way many more people on it at any given time and the pool and deck is crowded all the time. In the commercials they seem to showcase the relaxation that Hawaii is there to provide, yet the reality is anything but.

  3. Have to greatly disagree with this assessment above. We own at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club and previously were stationed on Oahu for 3 years, so we are very familiar with the area. It is a FAR cry from becoming Waikiki. And I think to actually appreciate what Aulani offers you have to actually stay there. On our last trip, we decided to add couple of nights at Aulani just to check it out. Can not tell you how difference our impressions were from the previous post. First, it is the most respectful of Hawaiian culture of ANY of the resorts we have enjoyed on the islands, and we have stayed at many. But the Disney flair is still there, in just the right amount, but you have to be a guest to really see it and enjoy it–Auntie’s House for the kids, the luau, Rainbow Reef and the Menehune trail as several examples. The service is unmatched–the kids still talk about the lei welcome we received when checking in. As for the crowds, we didn’t feel overcrowd ourselves, but that is the beauty of Ko Olina–too many people on your lagoon, just walk 5 mins over the the next lagoon and have it practically to yourselves–either way, definitely much less than any other resort on Oahu save maybe Turtle Bay.
    The one critique I will concede is cost; you are definitely paying an up charge for Aulani both in food and lodging, but my recommended way around is not reserve directly but rent DVC points, and it become a more reasonable proposition.

  4. Aulani is absolutely amazing and I think one of the best things Disney has ever done, but man do you pay for it. I couln’t afford to stay there for more than 2nts, so I ended up doing 4nts in Waikiki and 2nts at Aulani. It is definitely the nicest and most luxurious hotel room I’ve ever seen at a Disney Resort. The grounds are spectacular and worth walking through even if you aren’t staying there (but you’ll pay $35 for parking!). The hotel clearly was very thoughtfully and respectfully designed to be authentically Hawaiian. It is big, but there is no mistaking that you are in Hawaii when you are there. I love the artwork thoughtout the hotel. The lazy river is great, and I really like Rainbow Reef — Disney’s private snorkling lagoon. I didn’t do any of the activities since I only had one full day there, but even still it was a lot of fun to just enjoy the lazy river, pool, hotel grounds, and restaurants. I’m pretty sure I’ll never buy a timeshare, but if I ever did, this is the one I would get.

  5. Disney has quite the tightrope to walk: Too much Mickey for those that want all Hawaiian, or not enough Mickey for those that are looking for another Disney park on Oahu? Given everybody’s interpretation of this mix will vary, I’m impressed with the execution. What’s really interesting is while Disney was busy concentrating on the design, they had originally miscalculated the annual dues and fees for the time share and it was too good of a bargain for us to pass up. Cost a few DVC execs their jobs.

  6. I am glad that Disney is providing the wealthy more choices where they can have an enjoyable vacation.