When will she adjust to Hawaiian time?? Aulani with a toddler Oct 2017


Jul 23, 2012
Hello! :) Welcome to my first trip report. After reading and loving countless trip reports, I wanted to contribute my little bit to the community. (Also, selfishly, I want to use this to make a photobook down the line.:rolleyes:) I haven't read many trip reports with toddlers in Aulani aside from @Dugette and @AZMermaid 's so hopefully this will help someone out there!

Here is our little family (plus Mickey). My husband and I are both architects, living in Seattle with our DD, who is a few months shy of 2 years during this trip. DH and I went to Aulani once a couple years ago, when I was still pregnant. That was our first trip to Oahu and we spent most of our time touring the island and very little time at the resort. :drive: This trip was very different! We rarely left the resort and barely used the rental car at all.

Our itinerary:
We flew on United with a layover in San Francisco and stayed in Waikiki for two nights. Then we moved to Aulani for three nights before flying home on a red-eye flight.
We got a rental car through Costco. It was a full-size SUV, which was needed with all the baby gear we had! We stayed at Hyatt Place in Waikiki, which was chosen mostly based on affordability (cheap-ish) and location (close to Waikiki beach and the main drag). We rented DVC points for our stay at Aulani. I had a rough draft of things I wanted to do each day, which were mostly dining reservations. But we tried to be flexible so we could accommodate nap times and anything else. :duck:

Overall, it was a great trip with an abundance of joy and happy family time. But it wasn't all roses. We had a tough time with DD's sleep schedule and some unexpected difficulties. Stay tuned to hear more!

Coming up: Travel day to Hawaii! Did I make a mistake by not booking a nonstop flight?



Jul 23, 2012
We weren't really planning on going to Hawaii this year, but around March I saw there were good deals for flights to Honolulu through United. The only drawback was that it would require a brief layover in San Francisco. I thought it was worth it since tickets were about $150 cheaper per person than what we paid two years ago and DD is still young enough to qualify as a lap infant. As the flight drew nearer, I was kicking myself for not booking a nonstop flight since the hassle of moving our carry-on luggage and gate-checking the stroller didn't seem worth it now. In addition, we had a long flight in April with United and were definitely not impressed with the company in general. So that was my mindset leading into our travel day.

Timing-wise, our flights were pretty good. We didn't leave until 1:45p, so no need to wake up super early and we could even do some packing in the morning. My mom came over early to watch DD as DH and I did final packing and organizing. DH and I had been sick earlier in the week and were both recovering. I still felt a bit rough and was able to lie down for a while before we left. We left the house at 10:40a, dropped my mom off and picked up my dad, who would drive our car back home and dogsit for us while we were gone. We live about 45 minutes from the airport and have to travel through downtown Seattle, but thankfully there was no traffic in the middle of the day. We were driving during DD's nap time, so I was hopeful she would sleep, but no such luck. She fell asleep just as we pulled up to the curb to unload and woke up when my dad moved her to the stroller.

Dad took a picture of us at the airport:
(I didn't notice my hair was messed up until just now and I don't remember fixing it, so it was probably like that all day. Thanks for the heads up, DH!)

Check-in went smoothly. We checked a car seat and one big luggage, which was exactly 50lbs. (Side note: We got a travel luggage scale about 10 years ago and it has been a lifesaver.) We had two rolling carry-ons and the stroller with us. There was a long line at security, but we were early so no big deal. A few minutes after joining the line, a TSA agent unhooked the ropes and sent us all to another security checkpoint, promising that it would be faster for everyone. Cue the stampede as everyone speed-walked to the next security checkpoint. It felt like everyone was cutting us off since we had a stroller, so I wasn't particularly careful about not nudging their luggage afterwards. At the new security checkpoint, it didn't feel much shorter/faster, so it was probably a wash for us.
There was a security dog that stiffed everyone in line so we didn't have to remove our shoes, so that was nice.

Security went smoothly, with a slight delay as they checked the baby contraband (milk and water). After security we looked at the food options and decided on pizza. We got a margherita pizza and one chicken pesto. Enjoyed by all. It was hard to find a table in the sitting area and had to stake out a family that was leaving. They had a car seat dolly that seemed pretty useful.
Made our way to the gate and had some time before boarding began. DD never saw moving walkways before and loved it. She wanted to go on them over and over, which was fine except when she caused a traffic jam for other travellers. DH and I took turns bringing her on the moving walkways. As boarding time drew nearer, we each visited the restroom and DD got a fresh diaper. We boarded early and were actually the first people on the plane.

It was a full flight, but just a couple hours. I did get a little nervous when DD went through all the toys I brought to entertain her in the first 30 minutes, though. When we landed in San Francisco, we had 30 minutes before boarding began for our next flight. So when we got the stroller, I asked DH if he would be okay carrying it in it's bag instead of taking the time to get it out of the bag and set up and then reversing the process at the next gate. I don't know if this was a good decision in the end because we arrived at the next gate sweaty and tired (DH from carrying the stroller and rolling the carry-ons, and me from carrying a squirmy toddler). They were already boarding, so we got in line. No time to change DD's diaper or to buy dinner.

This flight was also full and five hours long. To make matters worse, DD was getting fussy since she was tired and hungry. I looked at the food options, and they had a special pretzel dog for October that looked good. When they came around with the food, we asked for the pretzel dog and they were out. The only things they had were a cheeseburger and a small deep dish pizza. Sigh. So we got one of each. Neither were good, but at least we weren't hungry. We also had some snacks from home that we ate.

In the meanwhile, DD was getting tired of her toys so I brought out the big guns. The iPad. The night before, I downloaded a handful of toddler apps and some videos on Amazon Prime and Netflix. DD really liked the Sago Mini Monsters app, which was simple and relatively easy for an almost-two-year-old to understand. She usually doesn't even SEE an iPad aside from FaceTiming relatives, so it kept her happy for a while. Unfortunately, it wasn't long enough. As the flight progressed, she got more tired and more antsy. I put on Secret Life of Pets for her to watch and tried to keep her from kicking the seat in front of us. We probably watched it 2 or 3 times. We were pretty desperate for her to sleep toward the end, especially since she didn't have a nap earlier. But she stayed awake all the way until we landed at 7p Hawaiian time (10p at home, and waaaay past her bedtime).

DH and I were happy the flight was over, and happy to be in Hawaii! The air was warm, but not uncomfortable as we walked through the open-air terminal. As we were waiting for our luggage, DD finally fell asleep.
She stayed asleep as we brought her on the rental car shuttle and went through the rental paperwork. She slept as we selected a car, a process that involved DH looking at all the available SUVs and checking their trunk space as it started to drizzle. She even slept through a mythic stroller-to-car-seat transfer that DH performed as I held my breath.

I looked up the directions to the hotel on the phone and we were on our way! DH informed me of his 'cloud hands' technique that allowed him to transfer our sleeping toddler as we drove. His cloud hands performed their magic a second time when we arrived at the hotel and he moved her back to the stroller. Checking in was fast and easy. The girl on the late-night desk was very nice. There was a strange encounter with a family that didn't speak English very well. They wanted to know about the hotel pool, which was under construction at the time. The hotel had a partnership with another hotel down the street and we could use that one. I thought it was odd because the whole family was ready to swim, complete with float toys, so late at night. At least, it felt late to me. It was probably 9p so probably not that strange.

We were really hungry at this time, and DH spotted a Domino's attached to the lobby so after he helped bring the luggage upstairs, he went down to get us more pizza. (Three meals of pizza this day!) I started unpacking while waiting for the crib to be delivered. Adam returned with pizza, chicken wings and a liter of Diet Coke shortly before we got the crib.

Alas, the cloud hands did not work a third time and DD woke up screaming as we dressed her in pajamas and put her in the crib. She calmed down after a few minutes and we all went to sleep soon after.

Coming next: Will she adjust to the new time zone? (No, she will not.) What will we do to cope?


Jul 23, 2012
This day began when DD woke up at 4:30a. (It was 7:30a at home, so I guess we couldn't blame her.) I let her make unhappy noises for a while and finally dragged myself out of bed. One of the first things I did when my brain turned on was buy a Sago Mini value pack from the app store. Ten games for $20, which was money well spent since it worked so well for deterring toddler (and husband) tantrums. With her sitting happily with the iPad as DH snoozed, I slowly got ready for the day. This included slathering myself in sunscreen even though it was still dark outside. I eventually got both of us dressed and ready for the day. We went down for the hotel's free breakfast. DH slept on.

The breakfast was next to the lobby and it was already pretty crowded when we arrived shortly after they opened at 6:30a. They had fruit, pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage. I made up a plate for DD and found a table. I left her there and quickly went back for a plate for myself. This was kind of stressful since I was constantly glancing up to make sure she was okay.


After breakfast we went back to the room and picked up the stroller. We went down the main street along Waikiki beach, Kalakaua Ave, which we would become very familiar with over the course of the day.

The walk was very pleasant, but the lack of sleep really caught up with me and I could barely keep my eyes open. We made a brief stop in an ABC Store to pick up a quart of whole milk and brought it back to the room around 8a. DH got up and he took DD out again so I could get some rest.

I woke up around 9a and went downstairs to find DH and DD. I met up with them just as they were coming back from their walk. DD was sporting two new kukui nut bracelets around her ankles. DH bought them for her at an ABC Store, and it sounded like they retraced the same path we took earlier. We all went in for (second) breakfast. No tables were available this time and we had to sit in the lobby sitting area which was still very comfortable. Since DH was with us, I had time to toast an English muffin. DD loved the butter, first licking it off a pancake and then mainlining it straight from the container. We had to keep going back to the buffet to pick up more.


DH had originally planned to go diving this morning, but had to cancel since he was still recovering from his cold. My plan was to take DD to the Waikiki Aquarium while he was diving, but now we could all go together. It was a nice 10 minute walk from the hotel. We took our time, looking at the tropical trees and watching the birds. It was a warm day but the sidewalk was shaded so it was really nice. We passed a big area that was set up for a beach volleyball tournament and ended up seeing at least one team of volleyball players check in/out at the hotel. The hotel was very busy, but the only time it affected us were the occasional long waits for an elevator.

The aquarium was pretty small. The admission was $12 per adult and DD was free since she was under 3. They took our picture and a magic shot when we first entered. Most of the aquarium was inside and they had wall tanks arranged around a series of alcoves. It was small, but the exhibits were nice, especially the live coral. We also saw a few nautilus, which DH said was pretty rare. We made our way from alcove to alcove slowly, reading the signs and pointing out all the fish to DD. DH carried her in the beginning since she could see the fish better higher while I was on stroller duty.


Later, we let her walk around and she loved the freedom. She went from exhibit to exhibit very happily, making random exclamations over the fish.


At the outdoor exhibits, we got to touch an urchin and hermit crab. There was a monk seal exhibit, but it was a bit sad since the pool was drained. The volunteer there explained that since they get the water from the ocean, they had to drain it that day because there was a tanker in the ocean and the water was too polluted with diesel fuel. The seal inside was just lying on the pool bottom napping. At one point, he moved closer to the window and looked more lively. We tried to point it out to DD, but she was too busy following a pigeon to care.

We made our way back to the exit. DD played briefly with the penny-pressing machine. We noted that pressed pennies are the same price as when we were little. We also browsed the gift shop. I saw the same Water Wow pad that I brought on the plane the day before was double the price I paid at home. We also saw the pictures they took of us when we entered but didn't purchase them. The magic shot was of dolphins jumping over us.

The walk back was just as nice as it was earlier, except we were very thirsty! After this walk, we were careful to bring water with us each time we went out. At least we filled DD's sippy cup with water, so she was hydrated. We saw a green parrot flying among the trees. As we got closer to the hotel, we noticed it was more crowded and the street was closed. We smelled something yummy and followed our noses into a cookie shop. I picked a snickerdoodle cookie and DH got white chocolate macadamia nut. While there, we asked about the people outside and the woman said it was for the pride parade. The parade was supposed to start at 11. I looked at my watch and it was already 11:45.

We returned to the hotel and everyone went down for a nap. I slept for 30 minutes then got up to eat my cookie, check email and write trip notes.

Next: The happiest walk in Waikiki
  • disgeek009

    Jul 23, 2012
    When DD woke up, we got ready to go out again. DH saved part of his cookie for DD (which made me feel guilty since I ate my entire cookie myself) and we gave it to her now. She finished it and asked for more, so we thought it would be a good time for a snack. I read a lot of trip reports when I was planning this trip, and @chunkymonkey mentioned Island Vintage Shave Ice, which looked delicious. So that was our next destination.

    We strapped DD into her stroller and headed out. Unfortunately, we completely missed the pride parade. The street was open to traffic again and there was no evidence of the parade at all. That's the price we paid for an afternoon nap today.

    I used my phone to navigate us to the shave ice stand and when our blue dot got closer, I told to DH to keep an eye out and look for a sign. We were at the Royal Hawaiian Center, which is a big open-air mall. We both looked and looked, but our dot got farther away so we had to find a directory. The directory was no help because it just said that Island Vintage Shave Ice was at B1-kiosk but didn't show where. We saw a food court upstairs so went up the escalator with the stroller, which delighted DD. Once there, we saw a flat screen ad for the stand that said it was downstairs next to the Royal Grove. So we went back down with the stroller. DD was very happy with the fun rides, we were getting frustrated. We went back to the directory to find the Royal Grove. We walked around and around until DH finally saw it. It was a small stand next to the street.


    DH got Super Island (acai, strawberry, organic frozen yogurt, free blueberry, mochi, snow cap) and I got Pink Island (strawberry, lychee mint, organic soft ice cream, fresh strawberry, lychee, mochi, lychee popping boba, snow cap).


    We enjoyed the treat, so at least the long search was worthwhile. DD loved the popping boba and took a lot of them from my plate. We got her a little cup and filled it with ice and ice cream, but she was mostly interested in our plates. As we ate, I noticed that most people were sharing one plate between two adults, while we each had our own and only sharing with a tiny toddler.

    At one point, DD dripped ice cream on herself. DH tried to clean her up, and in the process, his plate tipped and spilled pink shave ice all over his shorts. I tried to convince him to just buy a new pair, but he wanted to walk back to the hotel to change. The only problem with this plan was DD didn't want to get back in her stroller. Instead, she spied the escalators next to us and wanted to go for another ride. So I took her up and down, DH took her up and down and we managed to get her away from them by letting her walk on her own.

    Thus began the Happiest Walk in Waikiki. DD's whole being was full of joy. She grinned and waved at everyone, her arms swinging in a little radius around her body as she trotted along. She was still wearing the kukui nut bracelets around her ankles and people passing by smiled at her. She even charmed an elderly man who was trying to hand out flyers for island tours by actually accepting a flyer. She stopped and marveled at shop windows, designs in the sidewalk and especially pigeons. It was very slow going and I tried to keep her from cutting off other pedestrians as she followed whatever caught her attention. Sometimes I would get her back on track by telling her to catch daddy. One woman overheard this and challenged her to a race. After a while DH put her on his shoulders and she was very happy there too.


    After DH changed into shorts, we still had some time before our dinner reservation at 4:45p. So we decided to go out and do some shopping and just walk around some more. Our first stop was the Waikiki Christmas Store, which had really cute pineapple ornaments, but we didn't buy anything in the end. It was pretty nerve wracking to be in an ornament shop with a toddler, even when she was holding my hand and not touching anything. Next we saw Lawson Station, and DH wanted to stock up on water. DD and I waited outside since it was hard to navigate with a stroller in there. At one point, I looked over and saw DH holding several jugs of water and I had to remind him that we were going to Target the next day. I also noticed that they sell Dole whip here.


    Next we went to the Honolulu Cookie Company where I bought some small boxes of cookies as gifts and one large box for us. As I was making selections, DH and DD were trying all the samples. Each time I looked over, DD had more and more crumbs on her little cheeks. It was a popular store and full of tourists. When I got to the counter to pay, I chatted a bit with the shop girl and she gave us extra cookies to thank us for waiting.

    We did some more window shopping and finally decided to find the restaurant and see if they could seat us early. I used the phone to navigate us again, but didn't see a sign. Then we looked down a corridor and saw a huge neon sign for Duke's Waikiki. (Why didn't Island Vintage Shave Ice have a sign like this??)


    We were about 10 minutes early, and they couldn't seat us early. The girl at the podium said the first dinner seating was at 4:45p, so that's the earliest we could get in. We amused ourselves in the little shopping area here. There was music, and DD got to dance a little. We also saw a man carving wood.

    We were seated on the patio overlooking the beach seating and a stage with a live band. They played ska covers, which DD enjoyed. Adorably, she would pump her arms and 'dance' throughout dinner. The sun was setting and light was shining in DD's eyes, so we dug out her sunglasses.


    DH got a Diet Coke and I ordered a non-alcoholic drink, the Volcano. It was much too sweet and I didn't finish it. As we were looking at the menu, I was surprised to see that Duke's was actually a chain and we've eaten at one of the California locations.

    We had coconut shrimp as an appetizer, yummy! For main courses, DH got ribs and I got kabobs. Everything was delicious and I worked hard to finish it. When the waiter came to ask about dessert I wanted to skip it but DH reasoned that we were on vacation so we got the hula pie to share. The hula pie was actually the whole reason I made this reservation so I suppose it was good we got it. Even though we were already stuffed, we managed to finish most of the pie.


    It was perfect timing because we finished dinner the same time as the band finished their show. We went back to the hotel with DD walking and being carried, the stroller a mere prop. We walked under a huge banyan tree we passed several times earlier and I guess all the birds came home for the evening. The sound of birds was deafening!


    DD enjoyed some dancing back at the hotel as we organized everything. We gave DD a bath and put her to bed. Then took showers and went to bed early too. I discovered that I forgot to pack the charger for my Apple watch, which was really annoying because we passed the Apple Store no less than six times today!

    Up next: Moving to Aulani!


    Jul 23, 2012
    DD woke up at 5:10a today. DH was grouchy about it even after I pointed out that he went to bed at 8. So we repeated the routine from yesterday. I slowly got DD and me ready and we went down for breakfast at 6:30. Today there were waffles and bacon instead of pancakes and sausages, but everything else was the same. They really did a good job with the breakfast here, even though it was always busy. Everything was stocked and clean. Today we couldn't get a table and ended up sitting at the business center.

    The lobby was especially busy today since a large group was checking in or out. They had luggage lined up and roped together. We went back to the room at 7:30a and DH said he slept enough and took DD out for a walk so I could rest. I met them downstairs for second breakfast around 8:30a. DD was wearing two more kukui nut bracelets, thanks to DH. It was still busy and we ended up sitting in the business center again.

    After breakfast, we went back to the room to pack. It was pretty easy since we were just going to another hotel and had plenty of room in the SUV. We expanded all our luggage and threw things in. We each have a set of ecubes, so it was pretty easy. We hung out in the room for a while to finish some soda and juice we got on the first night from Dominos. I reviewed our plans for the day and discovered that the Hawaiian Chip Co was closed on Sundays. I was really disappointed and had very little hope we would be able to visit after we got to Aulani. I spent some time on the balcony with DD. We were only on the third floor so were relatively close to the busy street below. She enjoyed waving at all the people walking by and pointing at the birds.


    I forgot to mention that we booked a standard city view room, but were upgraded to a specialty city view room at check in. I asked what the difference was, and apparently specialty is just bigger. I didn't remember to take photos until we were packing to check out, so here they are with unmade beds and all. We placed the crib between the wall and the second queen bed, which we didn't really use except as a changing area for DD.

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    Eventually we were ready to head out. Check out was quick and easy and we saw many volleyball players in the lobby. You can see how many suitcases are in the lobby for guests that were checking in or out. They were all chained together, so I assume the hotel's luggage storage room was overwhelmed.

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    As we got into the car, I didn't have a clear idea of where we should go next. My original plan of going to the Hawaiian Chip Co had to be abandoned, so now I considered the other things on my list. We could go to Ala Moana Mall to have lunch at the Japanese Village Walk or visit the Stadium Swap Meet. I was also hopeful DD would be able to nap in the car. When we saw how sleepy and mellow she was, we decided to head toward the swap meet. It was farther away and would let DD sleep more. And maybe DH's 'cloud hands' would be able to perform the transfer to the stroller without waking her.

    As we were driving, I mentioned that it looked like we were on the same road as Leonard's Bakery. Before I could even open a map to verify, we looked up and it was in front of us! So we made the quick decision to stop for masaladas. DH pulled into the tiny parking lot and I hopped out. There was a line out the door, but I was quickly inside. I texted DH with my plan to buy a dozen filled puffs; three each of custard and chocolate and two of all the other flavors, which included coconut, macadamia, and blueberry, the flavor of the month. I also got one original and one cinnamon puff and an insulated bag. I was worried about DD's jug of milk that we just pulled from the fridge and wouldn't stay cold for long. It was very hot that day, in the high 80s.


    I had immediate buyer's remorse as I waited for them to come out. A dozen was way too many. I texted DH, and he wasn't concerned. We ended up throwing a few away when we left. Ah well. When I returned to the car, DD was sound asleep. Alone with the big box of goodies, DH and I decided they had to be eaten right away, even though we just had breakfast. He had chocolate and I ate blueberry, which was actually my favorite flavor. Then we shared the plain puff.

    Stuffed and a little bit sticky, we went to the swap meet. DH huffed when he saw we had to pay to get in, but then found that it was only $2 ($1 per person over 11). We parked in the shade and carefully arranged the stroller in a reclined position. DH unbuckled DD and she woke up instantly. She was still groggy so he buckled her into the stroller and pulled down the sunshade. We started walking through the stalls and I saw DD's little legs moving. DH told me DD was sleeping (facetiously, as it turned out). I peeked under the sunshade and saw DD struggling to sit up, but the straps were holding her in reclined position. We sat her up and she was happy to look around.

    We were all in a good mood and ready to buy things! We saw more kukui nut bracelets and DH wanted to buy another set for DD. I thought we could find some gifts for friends. DH said we should look around some more and buy it on the way back so we kept walking.

    We tried a sample of a flat sandwich with tomato and cheese and gave some to DD. She ate it slowly, but asked for more. So we were on the lookout for another sandwich stall. It felt like the stalls were repeating, each selling the same things. But of course, once we wanted to find a specific item, it was impossible to find. Eventually we found another sandwich stall and bought one for DD. I got thirsty and got a coconut. I tried to share it with DD and spilled it on her. So then we tried to put it into her sippy cup and spilled even more. We also got a box of guava, but didn't like it. It wasn't sweet and the seeds made it hard to eat.

    We kept walking and walking through the endless stalls. The sun was really strong and basically cooked our happy, spendthrift mood away. We were getting worn down. I checked on DD and she was all sweaty in the stroller. Since it didn't seem like we would see anything new and some stalls were already packing up, we turned around and retraced our steps.

    We came across a fruit stall and wanted to try the dragon fruit. We asked the stall operator about the difference between the pink and the white dragon fruit. She told us the pink was sweeter. So we picked a box of pink dragon fruit and she wanted $8 for it. After just paying $5 for a box of guava, we thought this was a bit much, so we asked if she could do better. No she could not. So we left it, knowing we'd find another stall in a few yards. At the next fruit stall, we asked about the difference between the white and pink dragon fruit again and the woman there said the white was sweeter. So we picked a box that had a mix and got it for $5 (no haggling necessary). It was delicious. Even DD loved it and asked for more and more. We couldn't detect a difference between the white and pink, though.

    Eventually we made it back to the first stalls we passed by the car. I stopped at a huge T-shirt stall. They had a rack of onesies that were 4 for $20 so I got two for DD and two as gifts. DH took DD to a jewelry stall and bought her yet another pair of kukui nut bracelets. She now had six! She rattled with every step.

    Back at the car, we decided to go straight to Aulani. Originally we were going to stop at Costco and Target on the way, but with it being so hot, it seemed nicer to go to the resort first and run errands later. So we were on our way!

    Up next: Aulani! Where unrealistic expectations cause some drama...


    Jul 23, 2012
    At long last, we were at Aulani! We pulled up to the porte cochere and hopped out. It's kind of a flurry of activity when you arrive. The valet explained that we could check in and they would hold our car for us so we could park it later. He asked if we were DVC owners and DH (who has very little interest in vacation planning and did NOT listen when I told him the benefits of renting DVC points) answered that we were not. Luckily, I overheard and said we were renting points. So we got to use self-parking for free. Porters came to help us unload the car. One of them, when he saw the box from Leonard's Bakery, said that this box was for them, right? I told him he was welcome to help himself.

    I went to the check-in stand and got a very unexpected welcome. The girl there was hurriedly collecting leis and paperwork. She looked up and stared right through me. She brushed past and and rushed to the car that had pulled up behind us. A second girl went through the same routine and also ignored me. She went to stand slightly behind the first girl, I suppose to wait for another car to arrive? Confused, I watched them and wondered what I should do. Eventually the second girl turned and asked if I needed something. I told her we were checking in and she was very friendly after that.

    DD and I each got an orchid lei (I was a bit disappointed since I thought kids got a menehune necklace, but I guess that’s discontinued now?). DH got a kukui nut necklace, which got turned over to DD. The check-in girl showed us a map and pointed out the towel pick-up points. It was a bit awkward since there isn't really a counter where she could lay things out so she asked us to follow her into the lobby and she used a stand there. I wanted to ask about late checkout on our last day, but she said we would have to go to the front desk for that. She walked us to the front desk and left. I wasn't terribly impressed with our welcome.

    DH also said that the valet drove away with our car so we would have to ask for it later. And I expected that we would have to dispute a valet parking charge when we checked out. It never came up in the end so I guess that when they say they will hold the car for you while you check in, they actually move it to a holding lot?

    Looking at the long line at the front desk, I told DH we should just go to the room first and I could come back later. In spite of the uneven welcome, we were very excited to be there. There were so many things I wanted to do! We made our way through the lobby, taking time to point things out to DD and letting her wave at everything. When we got to our room on the 12th floor, the porter was waiting outside our room. Oops! We thought it would take longer for them to bring our stuff.

    We booked a Studio with an Island Gardens View. It was on the 12th floor and we liked going out on the balcony occasionally. I thought we would sit out there when DD was napping, but it didn't really work out that way since we were either napping too or I was afraid to move and wake her up. Being on the high floor was quiet, though. We put the pack and play in the corner behind the table and next to the door to the balcony.


    There was a flurry of unpacking. When we finished, DH declared he had a plan. Unaccustomed to him making vacation plans for us, I listened with interest. My heart sank when I realized he was joking. He said we should all take a nap and then we could go to Costco. I knew DD would not nap again today after her brief nap in the car, and I thought DH knew it too, but maybe he was just hopeful? To compound this folly, he also said that DD could sleep in bed with us, something she has never done nor expressed interest in.

    Predictably, she crawled all over us, whining and making unhappy noises. No one rested at all. DH got up and said that his plan was a failure. I thought this was obvious when he made it and it was only a joke plan anyway. So I was very surprised when he was genuinely mad! He accused DD of ruining the vacation and said he was ready to go home right now. I got irritated at his dramatics and felt he only had himself to blame with his ridiculous plan. So I took DD to run errands.

    We mostly wanted to go to Costco for chocolates to bring home, so I figured we could get everything we needed at Target right now and go to Costco on our way to the airport. I made a mental list of what we needed: water, diaper cream, pineapple, watch charger, and maybe we'd check out the beach toys. Getting the car from valet and navigating to Target was easy. We browsed slowly, taking our time at the dollar area and looking at the souvenirs. DD liked a Moana-ish doll, but not enough to buy it, imo. Target-branded water was a bargain: 24 bottles for $3.50. I found the watch charger and reconsidered buying it when I saw that it was $33! Considering how cheap it is to get a generic phone cable, I was bit shocked. I did some quick Googling and saw that the same charger is $29 at the Apple Store. So I decided that it wasn't worth it. (But it was super annoying to not have a watch at Aulani. Between dining reservations, nap time and character meets, I felt like I needed to know the time constantly. And I had to dig out my phone or ask DH each time.) We strolled by the beach toys and I picked up a pack for $5. DD was very pleased.

    Returning to the resort, I tried to use self-parking. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get the machine to accept my card. I tried over and over, flipping it over, around. Finally, I gave up and had to back up (forcing the car behind me to back up too) and went to the valet. I explained what happened, and he told me to just go back to the parking garage and push the button to get a ticket and then take it to the front desk.

    After finally parking the car, I left the water in the car and brought everything else in with me. On the way back to the room, I stopped at the front desk and got new key cards. I also asked about late checkout and she extended our checkout time from 11 to 1. She said that if we wanted to stay later (5p, I think?), they would charge a percentage of the rack rate of the room. I can't remember the exact total, but it was something like $75/hr! I made a mental note to put DD down for an early nap on our checkout day.

    Back at the room, DH was sleeping so DD and I changed into swimsuits and headed to the pools. We got to the keiki pool a little before 5 and DD was afraid of the sprayers. A few minutes later, they turned off for the day and DD loved the glorified puddle. She grabbed our newly purchased toys and ran to play. Sitting on a lounge chair in the almost empty area, there was the sound of running water and Hawaiian music. It was so relaxing and I really felt like I was on vacation.


    We also took a dip in the infinity pool to watch the sunset and went to the hot tub to warm up. The area around the hot tub was a bit slimy, and I detected a slight fishy smell so we didn't stay long. Since I didn't receive any texts from DH, I assumed he was still sleeping so DD and I went to Ulu Cafe for dinner.

    We got shrimp tacos, a bag of pretzel chips and a shortbread pineapple cookie to share. DD selected a pear and insisted we get that too. (It was $3. I ate most of it.) DD was only interested in the pretzel chips and barely ate any of the tacos. We didn't even get to the cookie, which ended up coming home with us.


    The room was empty when we got back. I closed the curtains and turned on all the lights. Except the Mickey lamp on the table. I looked and looked but it did not have a switch. I finally figured out that it was unplugged and controlled by a wall switch. When I turned it on, it also turned on a fan because the curtains began to billow. DD and I watched as they billowed more violently. I was getting alarmed when DH appeared! He had been on the balcony the whole time.

    We gave DD a bath and she went to sleep. We brought our travel noise machine which seemed be broken. It would work for 30 minutes and then turn off, even when the timer mode was not activated. Since we were afraid to make noise or even turn on a light we went to sleep soon after.

    Next: DD meets Mickey for the first time!


    Jul 23, 2012
    DD woke up at 6:30 today! Hurrah! She's finally adjusting to Hawaiian time! Hugs and kisses all around. We had a small breakfast of masaladas, guava and random snacks. DD and I got ready first and I took her down to Aunty's Beach House. DH would meet us a Makahiki for breakfast at 9. At the beach house, there was a long line of parents waiting to register their kids. We just wanted to see the open house. I asked a CM and she directed me to wait at the side door (close to Ama Ama).

    We waited for 10 long minutes. It was a very humid day. Just standing outside made me feel sticky, even though it was overcast and not too hot. DD peered through the window and asked to go inside, but was too little to understand that it wasn't open. I tried to distract her by taking a little walk around the corner and looking at the barbecue area and watching some birds.


    When we got in, DD went straight to the coloring tables. She scribbled on a couple sheets but quickly lost interest. We tried a game on the table monitor that was like I Spy where you collect items and put them in your boat, but DD didn't understand and kept restarting the game. We headed outside. It was still so humid and a little windy, but DD was too busy playing to notice. She loved the balls and little slide.


    I overheard that there would be a dance party later so we headed in for that. DD usually loves music and dancing, but maybe the she felt uncomfortable in the new space because she stuck to me the whole time and didn't even pump her arms. There was a photographer that got a few pictures of us, but they did not get added to our Photopass even though we picked them out and specifically asked for them to be added later. I also heard a rumor that there might be characters at the dance party, but we didn't see any.

    Toward the end, I got a text from DH that he was in line for Mickey at the restaurant. So we headed out to meet him. As I carried DD, she muttered a vague 'yay' and pumped her arms, so I think she enjoyed the dance party after all.

    When we found DH, he was indeed in line for Mickey. But when I asked him if he checked in for our reservation, he was confused and said he just came down and got in line. So I went back to the podium and checked in. They gave me a card with our name on it, that we were supposed to give to the photographer. Thanks to DH, we barely had any wait until it was our turn.
    This was DD's first character meeting. And I wasn't sure she even knew who Mickey Mouse was, since she doesn't watch tv and we don't have any Mickey toys. So I was pretty sure she would be afraid of him and it would just be a quick picture before we went to breakfast.

    Well, she surprised us all. When DH set her down, she ran to Mickey Mouse. He let her bop his nose and she gingerly gave it a pinch. It was magical. Any lingering resentment I had from yesterday just melted away. Mickey gave DD a hug and we took some pictures. We were all glowing as we walked away. I also realized I would have to call the character hotline and we'd have more character meets in our future.


    There was a bit of a wait until we were seated. DH held DD and showed her Pluto inside the restaurant and she wanted to watch Mickey some more. She pointed at her nose as she watched Mickey. I read the plaques inside the little seating nook which were about the meaning of Makahiki.

    We were seated on the patio, which was really nice. I felt it was quieter outside. There was a little parade as we sat down, so DH took DD to participate. She got a cucumber to shake. I got some food for DD. Pluto came to visit. She waved at him, but got afraid when he approached, refusing to even give him a high five. Pluto held out his paw and blew kisses as she stared suspiciously. But at least she gave him a nice wave when he left.

    We all enjoyed the food. It was a nice mix of classic breakfast food and Hawaiian food. They even had dragon fruit. Minnie came to visit next. DD was so excited she didn't stop eating her sausage through the whole meeting.


    I picked up a little bucket of blueberries with a banana 'dolphin.' DD grabbed the dolphin and ate the goldfish cracker from its mouth. There was another parade where the kids all held fish. DH carried DD for this too. Then they had a little activity where the kids got to clap coconut shells. DH held DD for this too. I was really glad he wasn't shy about participating because I don't think DD could have joined otherwise. I don't think she really understood what was going on, but she likes to watch videos of it now that we're home.

    We stayed long enough to get another visit from Pluto, but DD was still afraid of him.


    DH took DD to walk around as we waited for the check and met a CM feeding the koi. She said we could help feed the fish too. So I took DD while DH took care of the check and packed up our things. The CM asked if we had any seafood allergies and gave DD a handful of pellets to throw in the pond. DD didn't want to throw them and held onto one for a long time. We chatted a bit with the CM and she told us sometimes kids eat the pellets, which is why she asked if we had a seafood allergy. Finally DD dropped her last pellet by accident.


    It was just in time, since it started to drizzle. We returned to the room for nap time.

    Next: More characters!


    Jul 23, 2012
    DD's nap lasted two hours, which is very unusual for her. She usually naps 1-1.5 hours. Today was a great day for sleeping! I napped a little too, and then made trip notes and read. I was lying on the sofa and was afraid to make any noise so I laid frozen. DH slept the whole time.

    We opened the curtains and DH exclaimed that it was so dark outside! It was pouring rain. All ideas of going to the beach or pool were out. After the (mostly) successful character meetings in the morning, I decided to call the character hotline. There were a couple meetings, but were scheduled for the Hawalei Lawn, which obviously was drenched. We went down to ask if they moved inside. On the way to the elevator, we saw the pools were mostly empty, but there were a few hardy folks in the lazy river.


    We asked about the characters, and a CM was very helpful (I think he was actually a rep for DVC) directed us downstairs to the lobby of Makahiki to see Minnie and outside in a covered area by Luana Lounge to see Daisy. We saw the huge line for Minnie and went to find Daisy first. There were only a couple people there, so we saw her right away. DD was interested but afraid so it was a quick meet.


    We looked at the line for Minnie again, which was still really long. We peeked into the nook where she was meeting and saw that it was empty.

    I wanted to do the menehune trail, so we went upstairs to ask where to pick up a tablet. Along the way, we got distracted by the gift shop. DD made a beeline for a rack of toys that spin around and light up. She really liked them and I considered getting one for her, but saw that several of them were already broken. I don't think they're very durable. Instead, I picked up a Minnie doll in a Hawaiian dress and found the sale rack. I got a sticker activity board, a tsum tsum, and a luggage tag. DH was debating getting a mug, but couldn't find the perfect one and didn't get anything. In the end, I put the Minnie doll back and got a keychain instead. We took the keychain part off when we got home, and DD keeps it in her crib.


    We asked about getting a tablet for the menehune trail, and were told it was in the Pau Hana room. So we headed back downstairs. There was a ukulele lesson going on as we checked out the tablet. Only the interior game was available since it was still raining. On the way back to the lobby, we saw Goofy in a mummy costume. So we stopped for a quick picture. DD was scared, and I couldn't really blame her since he's so tall.

    We went to the lobby to start the menehune trail. Our first stop was the lamp with a gecko. I don't want to spoil what the effect was, but will just say that DD liked it so much that she kept saying "gecko, gecko" through our next two stops in the game. (The menehune that gave out nuts and the gift shop.) So finally we staked out the gecko lamp until someone else activated it and I caught it on video. DD still likes to watch it now that we're home.

    When we got to the stop at the room in the lobby with a tv, two boys were chasing each other and roughly shoved us out of the way. Their father was yelling on his phone and did not mind them at all. They also fought over the stools in front of the tv. We were the only people there, but it was so loud and chaotic. It was a relief when they left.

    There was a box with surfboard sides and peepholes. DH and I crawled around and looked through all of them. Then we returned to the menehune trail and watched the painting come to life. I really enjoyed the whole game. Everything was so well done and creative, it really did feel magical. We went back to the Pau Hana room to return the tablet and stayed to do some coloring.


    After a while, we decided to go to Ulu Cafe to get a snack. It was still pouring rain, so we stopped to pick up towels first and then made the dash to the cafe.
    We got a pina colada parfait, and DD promptly claimed the granola. DH also got a Dole Whip.


    We picked up fresh towels for the walk back to our room. DD enjoyed a vigorous drying from DH.


    We changed clothes and hung around the room for a while. We debated driving to our dinner reservation, but finally decided to just walk. The rain was just a light drizzle at this point.


    So we put DD in the stroller and headed to Monkeypod Kitchen. A few other people were also walking that direction. DH stopped and plucked plumeria blossoms for us. We were seated on the upper floor. From @Dugette trip report, I knew DD could get a free bowl of pasta. It came out promptly and she loved it.


    We also got pumpkin ravioli, chicken wings, and a margherita pizza. Since we were there during happy hour, it was all half price. The waiter came to check if we wanted anything else before happy hour ended, and we made the snap decision to get another pizza. The pizza of the day was a BLT pizza, so we got that. As we waited for it to come out, we actually got really full and kind of regretted the second pizza. But we somehow managed to finish it anyway.

    And if that wasn't enough, DH wanted to visit the ice cream shop for dessert. It was actually good timing because it was raining really hard again. So we took our time in the ice cream shop, which thankfully wasn't very busy. By the time DH and DD finished the ice cream (macadamia flavor), we could walk back without getting drenched.

    We gave DD a bath and put her to bed. DH and I took showers and followed soon after. We were all in bed by 8:50p.

    Next update: Beach time, finally!
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    Jul 23, 2012
    The 6:30 wake up time yesterday turned out to be a fluke because DD was awake at 5:30 again today. I got us dressed and went out for a walk. We stopped by the front desk to get a Daily Iwa. I also asked for a box of kleenex. Our lingering colds went through the box in the room quickly. The CM at the front desk said she couldn't give me a box, but could have one sent to our room. She also said that it would cost us a room servicing fee, but then 'generously' waived it. It was an inexplicably tense and contentious conversation. In any case, I didn't want to have the tissues sent up now because we were going for a walk and DH was still sleeping. I just hoped that when we called down later, it would be a nicer CM that wouldn't try to charge us for kleenex.

    I had DD in the stroller so we walked along the path by the beach. We turned to the right toward the Four Seasons, but were cut off pretty quickly with a rope across the path and a sign that said it was for Four Seasons guests only. So we had to turn around. We walked for a while.


    A lot of people were out getting exercise. DD wanted to get out of the stroller after a while, which basically meant we stopped moving. She wanted to look and point at everything from the sandy beach to leaves on the path.


    I was thisclose to telling her to pick up a feather when I realized that it was slowly moving toward us. It was actually a flat, black slug. Ew!

    I eventually persuaded DD back into the stroller by promising her we could go to the beach. So I wrangled the stroller partway onto the sand and took off our shoes. DD had been to the beach before as a nine-month-old baby and refused to touch the sand. She would curl up her toes and retract her feet each time we tried to set her down. So I was curious how a year had changed things. Not a lot, as it turns out. DD stood frozen on the sand, making nervous sounds. She curled up her toes and tried to minimize contact.


    After giggling at her and taking some photos, we returned to rinse off our feet. I decided we should get a towel and dry off before returning to the room. It was still early, so we sat around waiting for the towel stand to open. As we waited, more and more people showed up and I realized we should be standing in line. A nice woman from Ohio let us stand with her and we chatted a bit. Her children were grown, but I mentioned that the time change was really brutal with a toddler. A man in line made eye contact and nodded empathetically. When the towel stand opened, I appreciated another DVC perk. There were two windows open, and one of them was just for DVC members. Hurrah! We got towels and wristbands and headed back to the room.

    DH was up when we returned and he said he could take DD for a walk if I wanted to rest. But I wasn't really that tired and we had a dining reservation at Ama Ama anyway. We changed into swimsuits so we'd be ready for the pool or beach after breakfast. Thank goodness it was a nice sunny day, with no hint of yesterday's rain.

    We were a bit early for breakfast, but there were plenty of open tables and we were seated promptly. We ordered a basket of pastries and a breakfast for DD. I got a breakfast sandwich and DH got loco moco. We all enjoyed breakfast. I noted the pastries were the same that were at the buffet yesterday.

    We had a nice view of the beach from our table, but there was a lot of scaffolding and a large stage set up. We asked the server about it, and he said that Oracle was having a big event next week. They rented most of Aulani, the Four Seasons and the resort next door!


    After breakfast, DH went back to the room for a while and I took DD to the keiki splash area. It was a little windy and the fountains were working now. DD got splashed in the face and cried. DH came back and said he got a box of tissues from a housekeeper he saw in the hall and it was handed over with no quibbling. He also passed the menehune bridge and wanted to take DD to play there. I was skeptical and told him she wouldn't like it, so I said I would wait for them here. I relaxed and maybe dozed a bit.

    When they returned, I was surprised to learn that DD liked it! I shouldn't have underestimated DH's ability to make anything fun. So we packed up all our toys and towels and moved to the menehune bridge. Lounge chairs were harder to come by over there, but we found one.

    From reading other trip reports, I was aware of a rule that adults can't go on the play structure. DH, who doesn't read trip reports, took DD up and I followed cautiously. When we were up there, parents were everywhere! So maybe they changed the rule? In any case, DD liked it, even with the water splashing all around. It was a bit cold with the wind, though, so we waded around at ground level after making a circuit of the play structure.


    DD found a leaf floating around and we played with that for at least 20 minutes. She would hand it to DH, who would put it in the water and make waves to push it away. Then she would fetch it and repeat. Who needs pool toys when there's a leaf around?

    After a while, DD was getting tired so we headed back to the room for a snack and nap. We wrapped DD in towels and set her on the lounge chair as we toweled off. She was kind of spacing out and slo-o-o-wly tipped sideways. DH and I both jumped to catch her and she giggled. That's when we realized she was just joking. She thought this was a terrific joke and tried it again later, almost genuinely falling off the chair. Toddlers!


    We had the pineapple I purchased a couple days ago, but needed a knife. DH went down to the front desk to ask for a knife and break a 20 for tips. He also got an extra trash bag. The knife was delivered to our room. We ate some pineapple and masaladas. DH hung our clothes to dry on the balcony. Then we all settled down for nap time.

    Next: Another attempt at the beach
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    Jul 23, 2012
    DD napped for about an hour and woke up grouchy. She wanted to go out immediately. We got her to calm down after a while and we all changed into swimsuits and headed to the beach. We saw Donald Duck along the way!
    We also stopped for a picture with Stitch.
    We realized we forgot the GoPro, but didn't want to go back to the room. So we don't have many pictures at the beach. We all went into the water and played around for a while. DH made up a kicking game where one of us would swim away and DD would try to pinch our feet. What a workout! We also saw a small fish next to us, probably hiding from predators. DH cupped his hand under the fish and was able to lift it up for DD to see. She was creeped out and tried to wave it away. The small fish ventured a bit farther away and we saw a bigger fish dart by to eat him! It happened so fast we didn't get to see the big fish, but we estimated it was about the size of our hand. Not to worry, the little fish was unharmed and the last time we saw him, he was heading to shallower water by the beach.

    We got out, and DH took DD to play in the sand. His fun-ability worked again, and she ended up loving the beach. I checked on them a couple times and they were both enjoying it. DH half burried DD's legs in the sand and created sculptures around her. She was raking and moving sand around with her own toddler logic.
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    After lounging for a while and pondering if we should order food, I joined them. DD sent me to get water over and over. One time, I turned around and saw she followed me to the water. She had fun letting the waves wash over her feet until she lost her footing.

    We wanted to take a spin around the lazy river so we went back to the pools. DH took the beach toys back to the room as DD and I played in the zero-entry pool. We didn't see any leaves around, but DD found a tiny piece of wood so we played with that. DH came back with the GoPro. It was getting late and I was eager to go to the lazy river. DH was surprised to learn that we were flying home tomorrow.

    On the way to get a tube, we asked about closing time at Mama's Snack Shop. They closed at 5p, so it would be too early for us to get dinner there. We figured we would find something later.

    We got a double tube so DH and I could each sit and DD could sit on us. It worked out well. DD sat on me first as DH guided the tube around. Then we switched for a second lap.
    We were cold on the second time around so we got out. We got towels and asked about pool service, which also closed at 5p and we just missed it. But there was poolside dining at Off the Hook so we decided to go there.

    We went back to the room to shower and change. DD fell off the bed at one point and cried. As we were in the elevator, DH noticed she had a scrape on her forehead.

    At the pool bar, we ordered nachos as a starter. It came out in bamboo steamers and had disposable containers of sour cream, cheese, and salsa. Not terribly impressed. DH ordered a hamburger and I got tacos. I don't have any notes on the food, so I think it was okay.
    For dessert, we ordered a mochi cake. We waited and waited, it took forever to come out. DH played peekaboo with DD as we waited.
    The server noticed and said she would check on it. When she came back, we wanted to tell her to cancel the order, but she said it was on the way. We usually start DD's bedtime routine at 7, and we were hoping to get some packing done tonight. But the dessert didn't even come out until 7. It was actually really yummy and nicely presented. It looked like a dessert that was ready to be served at Ama Ama next door.
    In spite of the late hour, DD was very good and especially adorable on the way back to the room. She wanted us to chase her.

    Back at the room, we did some mad packing and rushed through the bedtime routine for DD. Along the way, I found that my earlier trip notes did not sync, but I found a new note from DD.
    Next: Our last day
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    Jul 23, 2012
    I wish I could say we woke up at 5:30 and went for a walk like usual. It was hard to get up so early, but it was our routine at this point and we were kind of counting on it (explained below). But today, what actually happened is DD woke up screaming at 1:30. It took a while to even get her to calm down, and when she did, nothing would make her go back to bed. I gave her a deluxe reading of The Goodnight Train. We let her watch Life of Pets again. We let her play with the iPad in bed with us. Every attempt to get her to lie down triggered a crying jag. Finally, DH took her for a walk at 3:40 so I could rest, with the plan that we'd switch in a couple hours. He strapped her in the stroller and she started crying when she realized I wasn't going too. I tried to sleep, but the adrenaline and stress kept me up until DH returned at 4:17. DD was asleep in her stroller. We drifted off, praying she'd sleep until 6. Around 5 I heard her cry and shift around in the stroller. The crying escalated when she found she couldn't turn over. I got her out and transferred her to the crib. I sat in the chair next to her and slumped over the table. She screamed and cried for five minutes, then was asleep 10 minutes later. I waited a few more minutes to be safe and crept back to bed, hoping she would sleep until 6:30.

    The horrible night must have tired her out because she woke up at 8:30! This was a blessing since we all really needed the rest, but also complicated our plans for the last day. We had to check out by 1, so we originally wanted to have her nap early around 11. With her typical 5:30 wake-up, this should be no problem. But there was no hope of getting her to nap so early today. We could be dealing with a no-nap day.

    DH told me a bit about their walk last night. They made it all the way to the gatehouse before they turned around. He said the sidewalk was full of cockroaches and there was even a millipede! He had to constantly watch where he was stepping. It was kind of ironic because he said it was a really nice sidewalk and was well lit, but the cockroaches and millipede turned it into nightmare fuel. DD was also crying for most of the time until she fell asleep, exhausted.

    We packed and arranged our things for the day. We had to prepare at least three outfits after checkout: pool and beach time, clothes for the final few hours in Hawaii, and then warm clothes for the flight home. DH originally planned to change into his flying clothes as soon as we left the resort, but thankfully listened to reason (me) and set aside shorts and sandals too.

    Around 10 I took DD down to the gift shop so we could get some photos added to our photopass. (This ended up being a wasted trip since they never showed up in the end.) There was a bit of a wait so DD played with the spinning toys she liked so much.

    We got towels and wristbands and found DH. We decided to go to the beach first. DD wasn't interested in going in the water so we took out the beach toys and DH played with her in the sand. I laid down on a lounger and dozed a bit. I checked on them a few times. Looking at the water, we saw a school of little fish in the waves. The water was so clear we could see them being swept up with the wave and next to our feet in the shallow water. Maybe our friend from yesterday was in there.

    The water bottle DH bought at Lawsons so long ago came in handy when DD got thirsty. We didn't have her sippy cup with us but the water bottle had a nozzle that was just as good.

    After a while, we went to rinse off and get something to eat. We got a hot dog and chicken tenders at Mama's Snack Shop. It came with french fries and apple slices. We managed to get DD to eat a little bit of apple, I think mostly because the apple slices are shaped like french fries. They gave us a cup for soda, which I gave to DH since I prefer water. When he went to fill up the cup, he talked with a CM who told him the week we were at Aulani, the resort was only at 60% capacity. The week before was 90% and really crazy.
    This made sense because we never really had a problem finding a lounge chair. And even though we made dining reservations, the restaurants didn't seem to be full. The pools weren't too crowded and even waits to see characters were very reasonable. Good timing! If only there was a way to guarantee the same low capacity the next time we visit.

    After much deliberation, I got some shave ice. I selected lychee, guava and watermelon, but couldn't tell much difference. They were all pink, too, so it was extra hard to distinguish. In any case, we all enjoyed it.
    We returned to the room to finish packing. We packed a bag with things we would need at the resort, and DH brought everything else to the car. It was good that we went to the beach already, since we could pack the sand toys away. DD played with the iPad while I laid down. When DH returned, we went down to check out.

    There was no line at the front desk, but the CM checking us out seemed to be in a hurry to get rid of us. She talked really fast and rushed through the whole process. She wrapped up with a brusque, "thanks for stopping by." When we didn't immediately leave, she asked if we needed anything else. Yes, we wanted cards for Luana Lounge. She shoved a few at us. "Here. Okay?" I asked if there was a place where DD could take an afternoon nap. She dismissively said there were couches in the lobby. DH and I exchanged a look as we walked away.
    One advantage of being checked out, it was nice to have everything packed and not having to worry about it. We checked the luggage with our end-of-Hawaii clothes and went out to the balcony. There was a fantastic lounge bed. Walking to it, DD tripped and scraped her head again. Poor baby was getting a lot of head bumps! We tried to get DD to take a nap without much conviction. Of course it was unsuccessful. It didn't seem to be a problem since DD was still energetic and not crabby. We headed to the pools.
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    Next: Our last afternoon in Aulani


    Jul 23, 2012
    We decided to do the lazy river again. On the way there, we saw Donald out meeting guests. We got in line briefly and a pod suddenly fell right next to us. Safety hazard!
    DH talked the CM who said that they were about to go in, but would all be back out at 2. It was 1:30 so we felt there was enough time to cruise through the lazy river once. We didn't get a tube and just swam/walked for most of it. DD kept saying "quack, quack" the whole time to let us know she really just wanted to see Donald.

    We got in line again. Mickey, Minnie and Pluto came out, which was fine with us. We met a couple from SoCal and they told us Moana was meeting after this. At our turn, DD went up to Mickey right away. And she kissed Minnie on the nose. But she was still afraid of Pluto.
    We went to find Moana next. On the way there, we saw Goofy and Stitch on the bridge. They were getting ready to pour water on people in the lazy river below. We stayed to watch the antics.
    At Moana's line, we ran into our new line friends again. DH took DD to get a preview of Moana, and she didn't seem to care. I'm not surprised, considering DD hasn't seen Moana at all yet. We decided to go get something to eat instead.

    We went to Ulu Cafe. There was a giant puddle in the seating area. It looked like one of the soda machines was flooded. We didn't have much choice on where to sit, though, so we took a table in the flooded area.

    We got a chocolate mousse, a brownie and ordered Kahlua pork flatbread. We waited and waited for the flatbread to come out. We decided to eat the brownie and mousse first. DH went to check on the flatbread and they said they forgot about the order and started it. We waited some more. In the meanwhile, a technician came to fix the drink machine and it was draining again. A CM squeegied the water toward a drain.
    DD was getting tired of just sitting around and I couldn't blame her. I took her to walk around a bit and showed her the little turtles that are part of the menehune trail. We watched people snorkeling in the reef. Then we went back to check on the flatbread. DH was still waiting. Finally we gave up and DH went in to cancel the flatbread and get a refund. He said there was no apology.

    Luckily we found a food pouch in our beach bag, so we gave that to DD instead. The whole thing was super annoying from having to sit in a big puddle to waiting for flatbread that wasn’t being prepared to waiting even longer and none of the cms being very concerned at all. And to top it off, we wasted precious time on our last day.

    Back at the pool we only had time to do one more thing. I think it came down to menehune bridge or the lazy river again. I discussed it with DH and we both wanted to do the lazy river. We went around twice, and got some photopass pictures taken.
    We squeezed in a few minutes on the menehune bridge after all but then it was time to go. As we walked back to the tower, we saw Mickey come out in his swim outfit. He surprised a couple that were looking at the directory. He was gone by the time we got there but the couple was still glowing and it made us happy too. We got our luggage from bag check and went to the Luana Lounge. As we were inserting the key card, Chip and Dale surprised us! DD stared wide eyed as they waved and gave high fives.

    We had the lounge to ourselves. We opened the luggage in the corner and got everything organized.
    DH and I took turns scoping out the shower and locker rooms. DH took a shower first and then I took DD to the shower. I got her cleaned off then handed her off to DH in the lounge. He had set up a little changing area on a counter and had all her lotions and clothes ready to go.
    When I got out of the shower, it was much more crowded and I had to dodge people as I changed and dried my hair. Back in the lounge, we met a nice family from Vancouver.

    We brought all our stuff to the car and spent a while arranging our luggage again so we could be sure all the stuff we didn’t need went into the checked luggage. DH took care of this as I dealt with our extra water. We ended up leaving a few on a trash can in the parking garage.

    DD fell asleep on the way to Costco so DH just dropped me off and he went to get gas. I got a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts for gifts and a bag of chocolate and toffee covered macadamia nuts for us.
    Then I got a couple hot dogs and a chicken bake. As I left the counter, I was balancing everything and the box of chocolates and the food just flew off and fell of the floor. It was very dramatic and embarrassing. I even heard gasps from the people in line. Thankfully the woman at the counter saw and immediately got more for me. A nice man also helped me pick up the food. I was in an embarrassed haze apologizing and thanking everyone. With the second round of food carefully crammed into a cup and in my bag, I went out to meet DH. We ate the hot dogs and opened the chocolate and toffee macadamia nuts and had a few for dessert. The chicken bake was saved for the flight.

    It was an easy drive to Alamo. DD woke up when we moved her to the stroller and was in a good mood. We still had several bottles of water and we asked the attendant at Alamo if they could use it. She smiled and told us to leave it in the car and they'll take care of it. We took the shuttle to the airport, which was driven by a very cheerful man.

    Check-in was easy. Right after, I made a comment that I didn't want to go through security with flip flops. We looked up and saw a sign for the restrooms. So we took out the clothes we set aside and changed there. I gave DD a fresh diaper at the same time. DH told me it was a good idea to have separate clothes for Hawaii and the flight. He said that with all the luggage rearranging we did, he would've been sweating each time.

    Security was quick, even though we had to sort through all our bags because they wanted us to take out all food, not just liquids. Everyone at TSA seemed very cheerful. And one man made sure DD got a TSA badge sticker, which was really cute. Now she's an official keiki officer.
    We were a bit early, and I was still wishing we had another day in Aulani so I made the comment to DH that we could’ve gone around the lazy river at least two more times. But DH was more realistic and said he was glad to be early since we both hate being rushed at the airport.
    We wandered through the gift shop and sampled their cookies. We also borrowed scissors from the shopkeeper to cut our wristbands. Our time as faux DVC owners came to an end.

    We sat at Burger King to give DD a chance to eat dinner. I don’t think I got anything since I was still full from the hot dog at Costco.
    Then we made our way to the gate. The gate was very crowded so getting onto the plane was a bit stressful. We boarded early and DD played with the iPad as everyone else boarded. She got a bit of the wiggles at takeoff and wanted to pull the life jacket from under the seat. But by the time we were cruising she was asleep. Luckily for me, she fell asleep with her torso on DH and just her legs on me.
    As soon as I realized we should keep movements to a minimum, I wanted to shift around. It was hard to find a good resting place for our arms since we couldn’t put the arm rest down with DD across us. I think DH alternated between putting his arm on the chair in front of him or holding his opposite shoulder. I dozed on and off. DD tried to roll over a few times and cried when she couldn’t but never fully woke up. We were a little uncomfortable but it really was the best case scenario for an overnight flight with a toddler on our laps.

    DD woke up right before we landed in San Francisco. She was in a good mood. We had about 40 minutes before our next flight began boarding. So we didn’t even unfold the stroller and DH carried it and managed the rolling carryons while I managed DD. She was excited to go on the moving walkways but just wanted to stand still which caused a traffic jam behind us and we really didn’t have much time either. So I had to carry her against her protests.

    We decided we had enough time to make a pit stop at the restrooms and I was very annoyed to find that the family restroom did not have a changing table. The closest thing they had was a little fold down bench about a foot off the ground. So I had to kneel on the ground and balance DD’s torso on the bench as I changed her diaper.

    We got to the gate and boarded shortly after. DD played with the iPad for a little bit and fell asleep right after takeoff. We all slept for the short flight home.
    DD woke up when we deplaned but was asleep again by the time we got to the baggage claim.
    My dad met us at the curb and DD woke up when we transferred her to the car seat. (Cloud hands fail) it was Friday morning and we had a long drive home through rush hour traffic.

    At home my mom greeted us with a big pot of soup on the stove. My parents watched DD as we unpacked and even took her to their house so we could nap. DH and I both slept for 3 hours and when my parents brought DD back in the afternoon, they told us she slept for 3 hours as well.

    So that was the end of our vacation! Coming back to reality was made a bit easier by the beautiful fall weather we had all weekend. And my ambitions to plan our next Disney trip for early 2018, which is coming up in just a week!

    Up next: Final thoughts


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 31, 2003
    I love that you have been honest with your thoughts and experiences and have not sugar coated anything. This is the reality of travelling with a toddler-back when my kids were little we travelled quite a bit with them and although it was sometimes tough, I have never regretted the memories or how it developed them into fantastic travellers now.


    Jul 23, 2012
    I love that you have been honest with your thoughts and experiences and have not sugar coated anything. This is the reality of travelling with a toddler-back when my kids were little we travelled quite a bit with them and although it was sometimes tough, I have never regretted the memories or how it developed them into fantastic travellers now.
    Thanks for the comment! (first one!) LOL, I hope I don't sound too negative in this trip report. We really had a very good time, especially at the beach and the character meets were fantastic. And if I hadn't taken so many notes during the trip, I would've forgotten the little annoying things that I somehow felt was important to document here. (Maybe that's an argument that I shouldn't write trip reports?) Looking back now, my general impression of the trip was that it was fun and delicious, with one horrible night where DD wouldn't sleep.


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 31, 2003
    I have really enjoyed reading it and your daughter is just so sweet!

    I dont think you are negative, just realistic. I can remember one time my son had just turned one and my daughter was three. We were in Hawaii for Christmas and the first morning he woke up at 2:00am Hawaii time because that was his schedule back home! It was a hard couple of first days but still fun.


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 31, 2003
    Also, you should post a link over on the Aulani board, I know there are lots of people there who would love to read this report and dont realize that people post them here too.


    Jul 23, 2012
    I have really enjoyed reading it and your daughter is just so sweet!

    I dont think you are negative, just realistic. I can remember one time my son had just turned one and my daughter was three. We were in Hawaii for Christmas and the first morning he woke up at 2:00am Hawaii time because that was his schedule back home! It was a hard couple of first days but still fun.
    Yikes, that's brutal! I think we're lucky here on the West coast, since it's just a three hour difference. But we've also taken international trips where the time difference was so great that we had to keep her from sleeping during the day in addition to all the nighttime sleep struggles, so I can relate.

    Also, you should post a link over on the Aulani board, I know there are lots of people there who would love to read this report and dont realize that people post them here too.
    Good tip, will do!


    Jul 23, 2012
    That really doesn't sound very welcoming! Did you do the check in on line before hand? I wonder if that's the way to go or if it's better to do it on side. We're also renting points.

    Also, you mentioned you got the Photopass CD, were the photo's from the breakfast included (or could they be added) or did you have to buy the 35 dollar package for that?
    I didn't check in online, and forgot that it was even an option until you mentioned it! This was our second time staying at Aulani and check-in the first time was really smooth and not awkward at all. I think we just got a couple of not-very-friendly CMs this trip so it's possible that it's just a fluke. (Although, I have to say I was not impressed with any of the CMs at the front desk)

    The breakfast photos were not part of the Photopass CD and we didn't buy it. I just asked them to take pictures with my phone when we met Mickey. Also, if you think you might want the restaurant photos, you have to buy it while you're still at Aulani. They won't be available to view online or to purchase after you leave.

    I hope you have a good trip! It's so much fun there. When do you go?


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