Jan 13, 2016

Hawaii December 2015: Our First Full Day:Characters Dining & Getting Settled

If the girls weren't already excited about Aunty's Beach House just from what they could see getting set-up upon our arrival at Aulani, they definitely were after our visit during the morning open house hours on our first full day in Hawaii. 

During this time, we got to walk around the facilities and see the outdoor play area. The girls weren't the happiest when we said it was time to go to breakfast - until I told them they would be returning soon after for their Aloha Party with Aunty. 

Breakfast didn't disappoint. I had scheduled the family for the Character Dining Breakfast Buffet to kick-start our vacation. Before we were even seated we got to meet Donald Duck and take pictures with him. We could only get Sydney to take the picture with Cameron holding her and my dad unfortunately missed out as he had run back to the room to grab something. We had been told it would be a few minutes for us to be seated - which was true, they just failed to mention pictures were immediate. 

The breakfast buffet was fantastic! The lady manning the omelet station truly knew what she was doing. My omelet was absolutely delicious. They also had a bagels and lox station with all the fixings. We also discovered Sydney is a big fan of Lox. The buffet also included plenty of fresh fruit and a diverse selection of foods to choose from. 

Goofy and Stitch were the characters making the rounds at the tables. And Aunty herself came for a visit, leading kids in conga lines and handing out shakers for sing-alongs. Vicki had picked up Autograph books for the girls in the gift shop and this helped Sydney get more comfortable with the larger-than-life Goofy. Sydney was so excited to see and meet him that she forgot her fears for a moment. That wasn't the case when Stitch came by though. I was at the buffet getting more Lox for Sydney so I missed that encounter, but Cameron reported that she ran and hid, again. Sydney kept saying Stitch was scary and mean. We finally figured out why after watching Lilo & Stitch 2 with the girls - he does get scary and mean. And the girls had seen the movie a couple of times before we left for vacation. 

No fear of Goofy here!
The only thing I had wished is that there had been more characters involved with the breakfast for the kids to meet. Actually, I had just wished there was more variety of characters to meet throughout our time at the resort in general. Almost every breakfast we walked by, I noticed Donald was in charge of pictures and usually it was Goofy and Stitch going around to the tables. And throughout the day the only characters you could meet & greet with were Mickey, Minnie, Chip & Dale, Goofy, Donald and Stitch. 

Sydney kept asking to meet Pluto. I kept telling her that Mickey must have left him at home. And London had wanted to meet Daisy. But now that they like these meet & greets more, and gathering signatures, we'll make sure to make time for them on our next Disneyland vacation. 

We had scheduled a late breakfast, more like brunch, so afterward, the girls headed over to Aunty's Beach House early for their Aloha party. During the party they either made or were given mini leis - basically a lei big enough to wear on your wrist. They also made charcoal drawings on brown paper. During pick-up I found them out playing on the play structures in the backyard of Aunty's, having a ton of fun. They almost weren't ready to go except for the swimming incentive I offered them. 

While the girls were there, my dad and I headed out on a grocery shopping adventure. We had a free car rental and used it to our benefit. We hit up Walmart and Costco to get all our essentials food- & beverage-wise. And a little bit more. Since we had a full kitchen, we decided we would get breakfast and lunch makings for the week and the makings for a few dinners too. We actually ended up eating out only a few more times because of this shopping trip and we were able to avoid the high cost of cocktails the rest of the trip when we weren't dining out as well. 

Our moms went shopping across the street and walking while my dad and I were gone. And Cameron did a little shopping at the Aulani gift store. He picked up some special ornaments for the girls as well as a family ornament for our tree. Cameron and I have been buying a Christmas tree ornament on every vacation we go on together, ever since our very first trip together to Disneyland in 2005 (es, we're very much a Disney-fan Family). It's a little tradition of ours and makes it fun decorating the tree as we reminisce about the trips, and now, telling the girls all the stories about each ornament.

While my dad and I were away, Cameron also sought out the concierge to check about the best Luau to attend and scheduled that for the family. 

We ended the day figuring out how to gain access to the pools and spas (a special, color coded bracelet was required, via checking in at a check-in station. This ensures only guests are using the facilities), renting life vests for the girls (complimentary, again available at the check-in stations) and seeing what the pools had to offer. 

Sydney LOVED the lazy river. I think she went around 3 times with who ever would take her. She also discovered the splash zone and little water slide in it. By the end of the week she was sliding down it backwards.

Both girls loved the life vests and the freedom it afforded them to swim around without having to cling to us or the wall. In some ways I feel the life vests gave both of them more confidence in swimming overall. We'll see just how well during swim lessons this next summer. 

Cameron and I also invested in the $20 refillable mugs. Aulani has fill stations throughout the resort with soda fountains for water, soda, lemonade and tea. These mugs and fill stations came in handy as we used the soda as our mixers for my Malibu Rum and Cameron's whiskey while hanging out by the pools and ocean. 

Best investment on this trip and a nice souvenir at the end of it. 

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