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Summer and Vacation Season are
in full swing and another edition of the INTERCOT Insider is landing
in your mailbox. As temperatures rise, so does all the Disney fun
one can find. In this edition we look at a Disney oasis further
west than Disneyland, check out the latest ways to save some cool
cash, get some summer Disney World news hot off the presses, and
check out Disney park calendars through the end of the year. Hang
on to them hats and glasses, cause this here's the most informative
ride on the internet!
with Magical Journeys Travel
-- Late Summer
Save up to 30% on Rooms at Select
Disney Resort Hotels for stays most nights Aug. 15 - Sept. 28, 2013.
5% off - All-Star Movies, Animal Kingdom Lodge (Savannah view and
Club Level), Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, Bay Lake Tower,
Contemporary (theme park view & Club Level), Port Orleans-French
Quarter. 15% off - Art of Animation (family suites). 20% off –
All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Contemporary (standard rooms),
Grand Floridian, Pop Century, Polynesian. 25% off - Caribbean Beach,
Coronado Springs, Port Orleans-Riverside. 30% off – Animal Kingdom
Lodge (standard rooms) Beach Club, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Inn,
BoardWalk Villas, Old Key West, Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Saratoga
Springs, Wilderness Lodge, Yacht Club.
& Discussion Here
Magical Journeys Today!
-- Free Disney
Dining Returns --
Disney has released a Free Dining
offer for guests arriving September 2-25, 2013. Minimum 2-Day Magic
Your Way ticket required. Minimum 3-night length of stay. Offer must
be booked by July 31, 2013.
Details & Discussion Here
Magical Journeys Today!
Explore with faline>>
In February, 2013 we were able to spend a few
night at Aulani in Hawaii.
Getting There: If you’re going to go, you’re going to need to fly. Depending on
how far you need to travel, the cost can be considerable. We flew from the east
coast so the cost of flights and airline fees was a significant part of the cost
of the trip. Before landing in Hawaii, each party entering the state will be
required to complete a questionnaire asking if they are bringing any plants or
animals into the state which will need to be declared and possibly forfeited or
placed into quarantine.
Packing: Before I left on this trip, I spoke with someone who stated that I
should have no travel packing as all I would need would be shorts, tees and
bathing suits. Not at all true. From past experience, I know that evenings in
Hawaii can be downright chilly especially with the trade winds blowing. In
addition to the typical summertime clothing, we also packed (and definitely
used) jeans, sweatshirts and light jackets.
Rain is also a possibility so come prepared for that. We got a couple of showers
on one of the days we were on Oahu but nothing major.
Getting Around: Unless you plan on spending all of your time at the resort, you
will likely need a rental car. Aulani is located on a section of Oahu which is
in the area of a number of residential communities. We landed right around rush
hour on a Friday evening. The drive from the airport to the resort was tedious
and included the typical stop and go (and sometimes sudden stops) which are
typical of rush hour commutes. On Monday morning, we also left the resort for a
planned excursion and once again met up with the early morning rush hour headed
towards Honolulu. For this reason, Aulani is not the most convenient of
locations for island explorations. Keep morning and afternoon rush hours in mind
when planning your island excursions!
The Resort: Aulani is beautiful!! We were impressed with the overall appearance
of the resort and even liked our studio room better than one we had stayed in at
Bay Lake Tower. The buildings and common spaces are beautiful. The lobby is
located on the third floor of the building (on the beach side but at drive-up
level on the street side). Restaurants and lounges are located downstairs from
this location. The gift shop is surprisingly small and has a limited (in my
opinion) amount of merchandise for sale. The resort is quite compact and does
not have the size and space available at one of the Disney parks. The main pool
area is more like a miniature water park. There is the pool area; several pool
sized hot tubs (including one we found on our last evening there); a large
toddler play and splash area; the lazy river; and, of course, the beach. The
pool areas also have a water slide and a tube slide. Another large water tank
contains a variety of colorful reef fish. For an extra cost (length of stay
passes are available), folks can snorkel through this tank. For the non-swimmers
in your group, there is an underwater viewing area which you can enjoy while
still staying dry. Unless you are a vacation club member, there is a cost for
parking. The garage is a multi-level structure adjacent to the building. There
was construction going on in a few areas during our stay but this detracted only
slightly from our enjoyment of the resort. During our stay, the guest-use BBQ
grills were not available and Menehune Bridge was not open.
Accommodations: We were booked into what is described as a Deluxe Ocean View
Studio and were located on the 9th floor. Directly below us, was the pool area.
Because each of the rooms is angled, the view of the ocean feels more direct
than describing it as looking to the left. To the right, we can see the building
that houses the lobby and beyond that, a breathtaking view of the mountains.
Upon entering the room, there is a closet to the right with the mini kitchen
just beyond that. The bathroom is to the left. There is a separate area for the
toilet. The tub has both a hand-held shower head and a rain shower. Having a
second sink would make this area perfect. The living space is a good size. In
addition to the bed, we have a couch, table, two chairs and a small, but nice
lanai. We never had any noise from outside the building or from the interior
Dining: There are a number of dining options available. Costs are on the pricey
side but not outrageous for Hawaii and/or Disney. Off the Hook is an outdoor
lounge which also serves appetizers in the evenings as well as burgers and some
other things around lunchtime. You can also imbibe in your favorite alcoholic
beverage here. On our arrival evening, we dined here and had the pork riblets as
suggested by our server. This was an excellent choice and filling enough that I
did not finish all of mine. The Olelo Room serves as a spot to have a
continental breakfast in the morning. Later in the day, the space is used as a
lounge. We had an excellent egg croissant sandwich here. Ama Ama is the upscale
dining spot. We had dinner here one evening. Since we were celebrating a
birthday, we were shown to a lovely table for two or at least it would have been
a lovely table except that (1) It currently overlooks a construction pit filled
with all sorts of construction vehicles and equipment and (2) In daylight hours,
the table would have a lovely view of the ocean. After dark, it’s hard to
discern the ocean is there. Despite two mix-ups with a drink order, our server
was very attentive and the food was very good. I had the sustainable fish of the
day which is a type of fish I had never heard of before and can’t currently
recall but it was very good. Gene had a steak which was cooked perfectly for him
and quite good. At the end of the meal, a small dessert was delivered to Gene in
honor of his birthday. Makahiki is a buffet restaurant which gives you the
option of dining a la carte or partaking of the buffet. We elected the buffet
even though I am not a huge fan of buffet type dining but one go through the
line filled me up. I didn’t even partake of the desserts. Once again, a treat
was presented to Gene in honor of his birthday. We returned to Makahiki for the
character dining breakfast – Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration. We are first
directed to a line where we have our picture taken with the Big Cheese himself.
After our picture with Mickey, we are brought to a table inside. Still a buffet.
I get some bacon, ham with pineapples, breakfast potatoes and have an omelet
made. It’s good but on the smallish side – enough for me but probably not for a
heartier appetite. During breakfast, we are visited by Minnie and Goofy. “Aunty”
sings a song; admonishes Goofy for bringing only one fish for breakfast for
which he feels terrible but is then told it’s the thought that counts. Children
are gathered for a parade through the restaurant and are provided with fish hand
puppets to use during the parade.
When you do want to have a cocktail such as a pina colada, keep in mind that
Hawaii law prevents one person from going to the lounge and picking up drinks
for two or more folks. The bartender needs to see each individual who will be
consuming the drinks being ordered. A better option is to wait for the servers
who wander around the pool area to take your order and deliver them to you. Each
evening, Hawaiian singers are on hand in the lounges to entertain you. We were
also able to enjoy the music from our lanai.
Beach and Pools: The beach is in a cove which is shared with another resort. It
also appears that there is church or chapel right next door. We saw a couple of
weddings taking place. The cove’s water is pretty placid though we found it a
bit chilly. Although, we tried snorkeling here, we really didn’t see anything –
perhaps we didn’t go out deep enough but, as a timid swimmer, I’m not really up
to that. While the beach is open to all, the lounges on the beach belong to
Disney and you need to be a guest at Aulani to use them.
The maximum depth of the water in the main pool is 4 feet. As a short person and
timid swimmer, I thought I would like this. However, I surprisingly found myself
wishing there were deeper portions to the pool. In addition to the zero entry
areas, we also noted that the pool and the hot tubs have chair lifts available
in order to lower a person with disabilities into the water. One thing a bit odd
is that the surface areas around the pool are quite slippery when you walk on
them with wet feet.
To use the pool, hot tubs, and lounge chairs, you need to visit the towel
distribution area, show your room key, and obtain a wrist band. We saw a number
of people who seemed to be collecting them, having as many as 5 or 6 bands on a
There is a double hot tub with the upper one emptying into the lower one. Both
face the ocean and are of an infinity type. Each is large enough to be a small
swimming pool. One thing we noted was that a number of folks seemed to be
allowing their children to freely roam the grounds and pools. While the pool and
lazy river have life guards – practically an overabundance of them, the hot tubs
do not have guards and can be quite a hazard. We witnessed one child climb over
the end of the upper hot tub and drop into the lower one. We did not know this
child was going to do this until it happened. When we observed a second child
getting ready to do the same, my husband spoke with her and she did not take the
plunge. This could be a very dangerous maneuver as the tile is very slippery and
could have resulted in a very serious injury. Another hot tub is across the
other side of the pool. On our last evening, we found yet another hot tub tucked
in around the corner from the main pool and on the same level as the main pool.
The lazy river is fun. Grab a tube (readily available) and enter the water. The
current carries you along. There are some spots which spew out intermittent
spurts of water at various points. There are also a couple of very refreshing
waterfalls! There are both double and single tubes available.
Rainbow Reef is the spot that allows you to snorkel with fish. We did not do
this. Towards the end of our time there, we spoke with someone who had never
snorkeled before, did it at Rainbow Reef and enjoyed it tremendously. She wished
she had tried it earlier in her trip and said she would have bought a length of
stay pass had she gone earlier.
Walkers/Runners: While the area that is really part of Aulani is quite small,
there is a boardwalk that extends at least ½ mile in one direction – past
several other coves and a number of other properties. It’s a pleasant walk (and
also a nice spot for joggers) and affords ocean views all along. When walking
back, we saw a mongoose run across the walkway (the first of two seen while at
Activities: There are a number of activities throughout the resort. We did not
partake in most of them. There is a daily planner that outlines what is being
offered each day. Some activities cost extra and reservations are suggested to
be sure you’re able to take part in those things that you want to be sure to do.
While we approached the story teller at the fire pit one evening, we got there
just as he was finishing so did not get to hear a story.
There were regular afternoon activities at the pool which usually included
appearances by characters.
We did book a Cabana for one day which actually worked out perfectly as I
happened to pick Super Bowl Sunday (broadcast at 1:30 p.m. in Hawaii) as our
cabana day. There are six cabanas altogether. The cabana with the best ocean
views is Cabana number 1. Two of them are very close to the toddlers’ pool area.
The other four are grouped closer to the main pool area. We were in Cabana
number 3. Six towels were rolled up and ready for our use when we arrived.
Inside the cabana, we had a loveseat, two adjustable chairs, a table and a
cabinet housing a refrigerator and a drawer safe. The refrigerator contained a ½
dozen small bottles of water. There is also a radio and a flat screen tv. Out
front of the cabana are two chaise lounges and another small table. We were told
we were welcome to rearrange the furniture any way we liked and could close up
any (or all) of the four sides of the cabana as suited us. Around 11 very nice
fruit platter (included in the price) was delivered. A server came by regularly
and took our drink and food orders (not included in the price) and brought back
whatever we ordered. Later in the afternoon, a dessert platter containing small
pineapple upside down cakes, chocolate cakes and some sort of mousse-y thing was
delivered (also included in the price).
The resort puts out a daily listing of activities for that day called “the daily
‘IWA”. As an example, on Saturday, February 2nd our issue noted that we could
sign up for a Catamaran Experience slated to take place a couple of days later.
It also listed times and places for Meet and Greets with Chip ‘N Dale, Mickey
Mouse, and Minnie Mouse. Live music was featured in the evening at The Olelo
Room and Off the Hook. A sampling of other activities for the day included: Wet
and Wild Workout; Mo’Olelo Fire Pit Storytelling; Toddler Time Splash and Play;
View Fish Feeding; The Nature and Wildlife of Aulani; Teen Lei Making; and Keiki
Movie Night. Clearly, there is something for everyone in the family!
Beyond Aulani: If you don’t have a car or don’t want to use your car, you can
schedule off-site adventures through Adventures by Disney Excursions. These can
be booked at the Holoholo Desk Tours and Travels desk – near to the main lobby
and open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
You can also choose to explore on your own. Our only off-site excursion during
this trip was a visit to Pearl Harbor. We bought a combination visit allowing us
to visit the Arizona Memorial (A must-do in my opinion) and the USS Missouri,
moored on nearby Ford Island. This is easily a two-day adventure if you also
want to explore the USS Bowfin (submarine) and the Aviation Museum (on Ford
Island) as well as the museum, grounds, and gift shops. Over time, we have done
all of these. A shuttle is not needed to tour the USS Bowfin. Shuttle service is
provided to Ford Island with two stops there, the first at the USS Missouri
followed by a stop at the Aviation Museum before returning to the site of the
Arizona and USS Bowfin.
You can find many other things to do on Oahu including Sea Life Park - in style,
it’s very similar to Sea World though quite a bit smaller; a visit to Waikiki
Beach; a drive along the North Shore where winter waves entice professional
surfers; Diamond Head; Iolani Palace; the Polynesian Cultural Center; the
Honolulu Zoo; the Waikiki Aquarium; a number of museums; plenty of beaches and
nature trails to explore; and luaus to attend.
<< INTERCOT News Reel>>
--Main Street Bakery Reopens
On June 18th, the Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom Park reopened. On the menu
for the first time at Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll now find Starbucks drinks
and food along with delicious Disney house-made treats including Disney cookies,
brownies, cupcakes and more. The revamped Main Street Bakery is designed to fit
with the current theme of Main Street, U.S.A. and won’t be the only Walt Disney
World Resort location to serve Starbucks. As previously announced, other
locations are coming to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal
--Ticket Price Increase Takes Effect--
Beginning June 2nd, Walt Disney World will increase the base price of a one-day,
one-park ticket to $95, up from $89. The same ticket for a child 3-9 climbs $5,
to $89. Multi-day ticket packages also increase though a lesser amount. Park
Hopper add-on options increased to $59, up from $57. Water Park Fun & More
add-ons are also now $59 per pass. In addition, many of the park's other tickets
have received a rise in cost, including Annual Passes.
--"Sounds Like Summer” Concert Series Returns--
The good ole days return to Epcot as select summer nights heat up for this
special concert series. . Classic hits performed by some of the world’s greatest
tribute bands will rock during Sounds Like Summer concert series. The
performances take place at the American Gardens Theater in World Showcase.
Concerts, which are included in regular Epcot admission, are nightly at 5:30,
6:45 and 8:00 p.m. through July 27, 2013.
--Late Summer Refurbishments--
Several popular attractions have been announced to close for refurbishments
after the 2013 Peak Summer period. The Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is
scheduled to be closed for refurbishment from August 1 through August 21, 2013.
The Liberty Square Riverboat is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment for
refurbishment from August 5 through August 9, 2013. The Jungle Cruise is
scheduled to be closed for refurbishment from August 19 through September 30,
2013. Space Mountain is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment September 3-5,
10-12, and 23-26, 2013. Muppet*Vision 3D is scheduled to be closed for
refurbishment from August 6 through September 2, 2013. Spaceship Earth is
scheduled to be closed for refurbishment August 18 through August 25, 2013.
-- Fall/Winter 2013 --
Extra Magic Hours, Operating, and Event
schedules have been released through December 2013. For guests visiting during
this time, you will want to visit the Park Hours and Events pages to aid in
planning your trip. Remember, all times and schedules are subject to change, so
check back often.
Hours Schedule and Info
Parades, & Event Schedules
-- 2013 Holiday Party Tickets
On Sale --
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween
Party" and "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" dates have been
released. These are hard ticket events. Guests must purchase
separate admission to attend. Walt Disney World limits the number of
tickets sold in order to keep the crowds down and many dates sell
out in advance. Purchase tickets by calling (407) W-DISNEY. Tickets
on sale now.
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, and 29
October 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, and 22
December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 20
This edition is about out of sizzle. We hope
it's opened your eyes to Disney's Aulani resort, filled you in on Summer
happenings at Walt Disney World, or helped you plan your trip for later this
year. We'll be back in a few weeks with more great tips, news and deals. See
ya real soon!
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