A Look Around Aulani’s Deluxe Studios

Staying at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii has been an absolute dream of mine for years now, and part of me still can’t believe that I’ve actually ticked it off the great Disney bucket list now.

During our stay in paradise, we actually stayed in two different rooms, both of which were Deluxe Studios, which is the second level of room at Aulani after a standard hotel room. There are several options in terms of the view you can have – standard view, garden view, pool view and ocean view – and we spent 6 nights in a standard view and our last night in an ocean view. Put simply, the better the view, the more you pay, whether that’s in cash or DVC points.

Each deluxe studio sleeps up to 4 people, with a regular double bed and a sofa that converts into a double bed, and there’s a large bathroom and a little kitchenette which is equipped with a fridge, microwave, coffee maker and toaster. They also all have a balcony/terrace area with chairs and a little table so you can sit out and enjoy the sunshine.

Of course this is still Disney, so the decor of the rooms perfect, including the amazing Mickey table lamp and hidden Mickey bedspread..

But also just look at the view that we had from our ocean view room on the last night:

Can I go back now please?

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My Favourite Disney Accessories Right Now

I feel like this post is a little moot as I haven’t actually stepped foot in a Disney park this year, nor do I have a park trip planned for this year, but they say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I’ve definitely felt that.

BUT you know me and a lack of a trip doesn’t really stop me from shopping, and as someone who loves to include Disney style in my every day life as well, I’ve been adding to my stash of Disney accessories lately, and there are some particular favourites of mine right now that I thought I would share!

I’m a self-confessed ear addict, but as I already have more pairs than I know what to do with, not to mention the fact that those bad boys really can only been worn in the parks, I’ve had to curb my ear buying this year, and instead I’ve fallen in love with these cute little knotty headbands from Crittear Country. They’re super cute, really comfy and, style dependant, very subtle!

On the topic of hair accessories, I’m also still loving these Mickey ear headbands from Closet Geek which are another current favourite method of keeping my hair under control!

Ok, so I had never really understood the hype about the little plushie passholders that are all the rave in Tokyo Disneyland until I bought my Gelatoni one in Aulani. I swear that thing was surgically attached to my neck the whole time we were on that trip and it was the most useful thing! They’re such an easy way of carrying cards and money, and even my phone (iPhone SE) fit in it, meaning I never really had to carry a bag, and I swear this is a game changer for when I hit the parks again next year!

I’ve always been an Alex and Ani girl, but feel like I can only really wear those in the parks, whereas my Lillian and Co bracelets are the perfect subtle addition to an everyday outfit. All three quotes mean so much to me and I’m so in love with these at the moment!

Another of my most recent purchases was this beret from Just Peachy because it’s DONALD. This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and as soon as it was announced I knew I had to have it. It’s got an embroidered bow at the front, but also a little tail at the back plus a little ribbon and you bet I’m going to be coming up with every excuse to wear this from now on!

What are your favourite Disney accessories?

Why Disneyland Is So Special To Me

On this exact date last year I arrived home from the most amazing trip to Disneyland, and I’m feeling a little bit sad about that. If I could go anywhere right this second it would be there.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I tell people that I’ve visited every Disney park in the world is ‘what’s your favourite?’, and I always decline an answer as its impossible to single out just one park as being better than all the rest, but Disneyland is the park that has a special place in my heart; the sort of place that has me crying when I enter and when I have to leave.

I was fortunate enough as a child to spend a lot of time in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, even making more than one visit some years, right up until I was about 5 or 6 years old, and then the Disney trips stopped. My sister and I were old enough to appreciate what the rest of the world had to offer, and so that’s exactly what my family did, and I wouldn’t change that for a second, but it meant that I actually had very few Disney memories other than what I’d seen in pictures or could vaguely remember.

In 2008, we went to California for the first time, and part of this visit was to go to Disneyland. I was just coming up 14, and I remember both my sister and I being ridiculously excited when my parents told us. This was where my first ‘adult’ Disney memories were made. We went back again in 2010, and again I remember just feeling so excited and happy, and at home when I stepped through those gates. There was magic.

As I’ve grown older, and my love of Disney has quite clearly grown also, I’ve come to realise other reasons why Disneyland is so special to me. This was Walt’s park, although he would say that Disneyland is our land *stifles a sob*, and you can feel that nostalgia through the whole park. He walked down Main Street USA, he stood in front of that beautiful little pink castle, and you just know that this was exactly what he created, his vision.

There’s a different feel to Disneyland than there is to WDW. It feels calmer, more effortless. From the Disneyland park to California Adventure, there’s not a single fault in my eyes, and even though it was 10 years ago now that I saw it all for the first time, I feel like I’m seeing it with fresh eyes every time.

Disneyland, you are perfect.

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Staying Onsite as a Disney Vacation Club Member

After joining Disney Vacation Club back in November, our recent trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii was our first experience of staying in a Disney resort as members, and it would be an understatement to say that I was pretty excited for that.

DVC members get a slightly difference experience when staying on site to other guests, whether that’s in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or Disney’s Vero Beach or Hilton Head Island resorts, and although there can be further variations in this treatment depending on where you are, there are some things that DVC guests do and don’t get.

Welcome Home

You know when you arrive in a Disney park and feel as though you’re finally back where you belong, as you technically own a teeny tiny part of the magic, DVC members are greeted by cast members by a signature ‘welcome home’. This might seem totally insignificant to many, but I think its a really nice way of acknowledging membership without too much fuss.

There are a few different ways that cast members can identify you as a DVC member: in Walt Disney World, when tapping your Magic Band against the scanner, after the initial green light, the scanner will flash with purple, and in Aulani guests are given a special shiny version of the daily pool wristband, and of course your room reservation will also show as DVC to cast members at the front desk.

Mousekeeping

So part of the deal with being a DVC member is that you sorta have to sacrifice some of the perks of staying in a hotel. That means no daily room clean, and in fact in some resorts your rubbish won’t even be collected, and no clean towels until the 4th day of your stay – only recently has this been updated to daily trash and towels in WDW resorts only. Personally, I didn’t really mind this, especially staying in Aulani where we were popping back to the room so often that I doubt there would have been time for anyone to clean it, but also if you’re staying in a 1 bedroom villa or larger, you’ve got a washer and dryer right there in your room if you do want to clean your towels/sheets more often, and even if you’re not, laundry facilities are in every Disney resort.

Oh, and say goodbye to calling mousekeeping for a bunch of extra free tiny Disney toiletries – you can do it, but they now come with a price tag if you request more!

Comforts of home

In any DVC room, whether its a studio or a 3 bedroom grand villa, you’ll have some sort of kitchen facilities. Studios have a sink, fridge, microwave, coffee maker and toaster, along with disposable plates and bowls, cutlery and glasses all as standard, and you also have the opportunity to request additional items such as a blender should you want one. In larger rooms, you’ve got a full kitchen with all of these things, plus fridge-freezer, rice cooker, oven and hob, and all the relevant cooking tools. This means that you can make one quick supermarket trip (or even get groceries delivered to the resort), stock up on as much – or little – food and drinks as you want and know that you can avoid steep park prices by doing a lot of the catering yourself.

Most rooms also come equipped with a DVD or Blu-ray player, and if they don’t you can request one, and you can even borrow films too, although we (and several DVC members I know) actually good our Amazon Fire TV stick which meant we could watch Netflix, Prime Video and everything else – not that on a Disney trip you spend too much time in front of the tv!

Parking

Disney’s decision to start charging resort guests for overnight parking was quite a controversial change, but DVC members are in the clear, not having to pay for parking at resorts or at the parks.

Pool access

Although pool-hopping can be done by most Disney resort guests, there are a few resorts, such as Beach and Yacht Club and Boardwalk, where the pools can only be accessed by guests of that particular resort.. oh and DVC members! We can hang out at any pool on site, unless said pool is already at capacity.

I’m really excited for our first DVC stay in WDW in January, we’ll be staying at the Polynesian, which is also our home resort!

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My Aulani Haul

I swear the only things that I actually unpack when I get back from a Disney trip is the stuff that I bought, and I leave the rest as long as I possibly can before I finally tip it out of my suitcase.

Now I was pretty impressed with Aulani merchandise. I’d read somewhere while I was planning for this trip that about 90% of the merchandise sold there is Aulani exclusive, but I sorta didn’t believe that, thinking that as its still in the USA there would be a lot of the stuff that you see in most of the parks, but I was proven totally wrong. Aside from a tiny handful of products – classic Minnie ears, some keychains and a few kids things – the stores were stocked with totally unique stuff, or if the product itself wasn’t unique, it would have a little variation such as an Aulani print fabric.

Another great thing about Aulani is that quite a high percentage of guests are Japanese, so they’ve tailored their merch to be a little more in keeping with some of the wonderful things you can find in Tokyo Disneyland.

So what did I get?

Well, I couldn’t go all the way to Aulani and not get the spirit jersey to prove it, right? They had two styles of spirit jersey, this one and a green-y patterned design, but I liked the font on this one better and I’ve never suited green anyway!

My smaller purchases were the Aulani ear hat and exclusive tsum tsums, plus this adorable Shellie May pin and the most used buy of my trip, the amazing Gelatoni passholder which stayed firmly round my neck pretty much any time I wasn’t in water.

I also couldn’t resist this beautiful sundress, the fabric is so pretty and even though its got the Aulani logo all over it, the untrained eye would never spot it, or the hidden Mickeys for that matter!

The last purchase of the trip was the Shellie May backpack. I ummed and ahhed over it for the whole trip, and then on our last day I was filled with a serious feeling of merchandise FOMO and had to rearrange my whole suitcase to make it work, but I’m so glad I got it! This also has a unique Aulani fabric for the bow and the lining, and its so soft and I just love it!

One other purchase from my trip, although not from Aulani, was this cute little patch from the Walt Disney Family Museum. They didn’t have that much in the way of museum specific merchandise there, and as I’m not the biggest pin person I was about to leave empty handed until I spotted a couple of patches at the checkout so I treated myself to this one.

Not bad going for a non-Disney park trip, right?

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See ya real soon, Aulani

Well it’s that bittersweet time where I’m sat at an airport gate wishing I wasn’t about to board a plane, but here we are.

This morning we woke up with the sunrise through the balcony doors, went for a walk around the lagoon and then sat out eating pop tarts for breakfast in our dressing gowns for the last time. Once we packed up and dropped our bags at bell services, we headed down to the adult only pool to nab good sun loungers, then went for a loop round the lazy river.

After one circle, we took our tube up the mini volcano in the centre of the resort to try out the slide, which was actually really fun but man did we mess up the landing! We somehow managed to flip ourselves out of the double ring as we hit the water and both ended up with so much chlorine up our noses.. We recovered quickly with another loop round the resort, then got out and grabbed some lunch.

The rest of the afternoon was spent poolside, getting as much vitamin D as we could while it lasted, and then we went to the Luana Lounge, which is an area where guests who have had to check out of their rooms earlier in the day but don’t leave until later can go to shower, change etc, then we just went to sit on the big comfy outdoor armchairs situated on the big balcony overlooking the resort from outside the main reception area until it was time to catch our shuttle to the airport.

Aulani, you have been wonderful. It has been a dream of mine to visit here for so long, and I cannot tell you just how perfect it has been, and how much the photos don’t even do justice to this stunning place. There will be lots more Aulani content to come, but now we head back to San Francisco for a 12 hour layover until we fly home, so stay tuned to see what we get up to!

Ocean View

So there wasn’t a blog post yesterday as Matthew and I were both a little unwell, so all we really did all day was hang out and relax, which was pretty nice because it meant I spent most of the day drawing and designing, it just wasn’t really enough to write about!

This morning, we got up and packed up the room in preparation for changing rooms for our last night. There wasn’t a full week available in the standard view studios when we booked, but there was a night in an ocean view room which we wanted to see anyway so it was sorta win-win!

I left Matthew to finish packing and I headed down to the resort’s Laniwai Spa as I had booked myself a massage as a little treat from me to me. I got to the spa an hour before my time as they have a relaxation garden, which is an area of outdoor hot pools, loungers and other wonderful relaxing things which is only accessible to those having spa treatments, so I got to hang out there before I was called for my massage.

Now I have to admit, this was my first ever massage, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but wow has that set the bar.. I was made to feel so at ease by all of the staff, and the massage itself was incredible.

After I was done, Matthew and I took our bags to bell services to hold until our new room was ready, and we went to Ko Olina to get some pizza for lunch. When we got back, our room was ready so we collected our bags again and went up to the room.

Unfortunately, a lot of the afternoon has been spent dealing with a bit of an issue with our room charges, so that’s made things a little stressful this today and they’re not yet resolved, but hopefully we should get them sorted tomorrow, and we’re still here for most of the day tomorrow so we can fit in the things that we didn’t have time for today.

Our evening was spent enjoying the ocean view room and watching the sun set from the balcony. I don’t think I’m going to be ok leaving this place..