Day 5, Part 1: Breakfast at Makahiki + Tour of a Model DVC Room

OK, who wants to see 6.5 bazillion photos of Aulani?

Today was our last full day in Hawaii but only our first day to really explore the resort with absolutely no other obligations, and we spent about 70% of it in the water. (The other 30% was spent eating.) Originally we’d planned to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center, or maybe some of the other sites in Honolulu that we’d missed (like the Alfred Shaheen dress exhibit at the Bishop Museum). But yesterday hadn’t felt like enough time to really take advantage of all Aulani had to offer, so we scrapped those plans and stayed in.

Patrick had pretty well adjusted to the time difference by then, but I was still springing awake before dawn, so today I decided I might as well get to see the sunrise. I thought I’d take the iPad and go read in the chairs near the elevator lobby on the top floor of our tower, overlooking the beach…. until I remembered that, you know, the sun can’t rise and set over the same beach!

So instead, I headed out front to porte cochere to see it rise. No dice—mountains in the way. I needed to get up higher, so I walked over to the valet parking garage, which is on the opposite side of the resort from the self-park and adjacent to that convention center we had such a primo view of from the Ewa tower.

It was 5 minutes before I realized I still wasn’t high enough to see anything cuz of all the pesky trees planted by those $^#%@! humble fishermen who built Ko Olina.

The iPad was telling me that sunrise was imminent, so I booked it back through the lobby to the Waianae tower, thinking I could view the sunrise from the windows in the elevator lobby on the top floor.

Foiled again!


But the dang Ewa Tower was in the way! And since there are no windows overlooking the front of the resort in the upper-floor public spaces, I finally had to accept that, unless you get a high-floor, island-view room in Ewa, Aulani is a sunset-only kind of place. I trudged dejectedly back through the lobby to see if Patrick was awake yet so we could beat the crowds to breakfast at Makahiki Buffet. He wasn’t, but that was soon remedied!

Makahiki is on the ground level by the main entrance to Waikolohe Valley (a.k.a., the pool). They offer a choice of buffet or a la carte dining, with a character breakfast every day except Monday and Thursday during the winter; in the summer, Monday’s the only character-free day.

We took one look at the buffet prices ($32/adult, $18/child) and asked for the a la carte menu.

There is seating indoors and out; apparently the awnings over the patio, which seem like a no-brainer, were only recently installed. It was still shady enough out that we solarphobes decided to sit outside.

If you’re there for the character breakfast, they divert you to the patio of the ‘Olelo Room first to get a picture with Mickey. That leaves just Minnie and Goofy to make the rounds inside the restaurant. (Maybe it was a slow day?)

While Patrick was taking these photos for me, I made the mistake of investigating the buffet. You know how I’m always on about the soggy, cold, overcooked and picked-over food at Disney buffets? This was a whole other ballgame. The minute I spotted a Japanese-style soup and salad station on the breakfast buffet, I was transported back to our Tokyo trip and instantly smitten with Makahiki—dang the financial consequences!

(I’monna do this the lazy way and just post a photo of each station’s label instead of retyping everything…)


OK, admittedly, clammy cold cuts are one of my top Disney buffet complaints, but wait til you see what ELSE they had!

Festival o’ Meat!


Aw, I remember this guy! He was having so much trouble ordering an omelette cuz he only spoke Japanese. I wished mine had been good enough to help him out, but I’m pretty sure he already knew where the bathroom, train station and beer were…

Festival o’ Slurry!



Bread and Bread-Muncher




Makahiki doesn’t have an ocean view, but its patio is awfully pleasant.

“You want an ocean view? Pretend we’re SHARKS!”


When “Auntie” showed up to kick off the character portion of the breakfast, my heart sank a little. But, once again, this was not like your typical Disney buffet. It was all very laid back—not your usual cacophonous character frenzy. This is prolly only because the restaurant was barely 30% full, but I’m going with “the magic of the islands”…

Goofy had so little to do, he decided to go fishing… for SHARKS!

Our table was practically perfect!

The food was good—really fresh, with lots of interesting choices mixed in with traditional favorites.

Now I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but I think this particular Goofy was pretty awesome at getting his picture taken…


“I’m pretty awesome at getting MY picture taken too, ya know!”


“And I am totally not that guy you rescued from the ‘Olelo Room yesterday…. what a maroon!”


“Give it up, Randy. That’s the fourth time you’ve been rescued this week!”


There were these aDORable little girls in kimonos in Auntie’s parade through the restaurant….

Keep an eye on that little one on the far right… she thinks no one’s looking.


“I will TEAR this place APART!!!”


Whoa! Looks like Patrick had a little too much POG juice!


Mmmm…. glass fruit…..


Boy, Patrick sure took a lot of pictures of this restaurant… he must’ve been trying to avoid picking up the check…


The adjacent ‘Olelo Room is the resort’s bar, and I love the sort of neo-tiki theme. You could probably spend an hour in there just looking at everything in the shadow boxes (and pick up a little Hawaiian while you’re at it!)


Oh great… we just dropped 80 bucks on breakfast and NOW they tell us there’s a continental one in here!

Even though Patrick was itching to get in the water, he dutifully accompanied me to the Disney Vacation Club’s model room on the top floor of the Waianae tower so I could have photos for PassPorter’s Disney Vacation Club Guide. This is a one-bedroom unit like the one I was gonna rent to share with Nate & Jensey, till I discovered that it only has one bathroom (unlike the 1-bed, 2-bath units at another new DVC resort, Bay Lake Tower), and the toilet part is separated from the tub part by only a slatted door—yikes! I mean, maybe that’s OK, if you’re all a family, but for two couples traveling together… no thanks…

My absolute favorite thing about the Disney Vacation Club is the tubs with sliding doors so you can see the view from your bubble bath. I got a little misty thinking of what could have been….



….And here’s what you pay the big bucks for!

Grumble…. grumble… cussid sunrise-blocking Ewa Tower… grumble…


Say, that looks like a swell spot to get hitched!


“Whoa, PATRICK! Get off that railing!!!”


On our way out, we remembered to peek in the closet and found… [Psycho music cue] OFF-MODEL MICKEY!!!

“Hey pal! I need this mask to breathe under water… so I can come and GET YOU!!!”


Also, my second-favorite thing about DVC, in-room laundry!


Like what you see? Just step this way to sign your life away to the Disney Vacation Club…

Then it was back through the lobby to go change into our swim… mies? Have I made that a word yet?

Here’s some more of the lobby for you. I think this has to be THE nicest Concierge desk at any Disney hotel.

Creepy menehune-as-Haunted-Mansion-bust…

Ah-ha, it’s the humble fishermen catching the fish with the golden golf club in its mouth that inspired them to build Ko Olina…



Gee, we’re rapidly getting so much farther away from the lobby, I half-expect the next shot to be from space!



This is the self-park. I think we have more shots of it later (cuz we’re just that thorough) but if I forget, the hot tip here is to park on Level 4 so you can walk straight to the lobby without using the elevator—nobody seems to catch on!

The gift shop has a decent amount of surprisingly tasteful merchandise at unsurprisingly steep prices, plus lots of boxed omiyage for the Japanese to take home to friends and family at twice the price of similar items at the convenience store across the street.

Nifty wooden postcards


Jensey and I both thought this coverlet would make a great souvenir if it weren’t $200+. It seems like such an obvious idea to sell fixtures and accessories from the guest rooms, but so few Disney resorts do it.

Patrick eventually ended up choosing this as his souvenir cuz it reminded us of the figures we saw at Tokyo Disney, like the fish-biting Stitch we brought home.

OK, I know I haven’t even gotten to the pool part, but this update is already HUGE, so I’d better break it up…

Up Next: Swimming in Every Body of Water Aulani Has to Offer!

28 Responses
  • Michelle
    March 14, 2016

    I love taking a virtual vacation reading this. Bonus I’m planning a trip to Hawaii to visit family stationed there. I want to treat them as a thanks for hosting me a week. I was thinking either taking them and their young kid out to eat for the Makahiki breakfast and then playing around the hotel a bit, or renting points for one night’s stay (which is 1/3 the cost of rack rate). Given that I have just less than a week I wonder if spending a full day/night at Aulani is worth it when I could spend the time doing other things around the island. Any suggestions?

    • Carrie
      March 14, 2016

      I do think you can cram a LOT into one day at Aulani, especially with that lounge for showering and relaxing after you’ve checked out. If it were me, I’d check in as early as I could and then hit the beach or the pool area all day, then do the one I hadn’t hit on the next day (or go to the spa!). It would take 2 days out of your week, though, so it depends on how much other stuff you were planning to cram into your trip to Hawaii. But we were only there 5 days, I think, and managed to do a resort day and still see a ton of the island.

  • Elizabeth
    June 25, 2013

    All that meat and NO SPAM? (Or does it not count as meat?)

    And I agree with the above commenter…seeing cheese grits on a buffet in Hawaii makes me a proud southerner!

    Finally, they should just embrace the absurdity and have that fruit sign say “Black and Blue Berries.”

    • Carrie
      June 26, 2013

      Yeah, now that you mention it, that is curious… I mean there’s SPAM everywhere else in Hawaii. Maybe Disney thinks it would open them up to too much ridicule…

  • Jeff
    May 20, 2013

    Haha, we call ’em “swimmies” too!

    • Carrie
      May 20, 2013

      YESSSSSSS! At last, my proof that it is definitely a thing!

  • Eileen
    May 14, 2013

    To bad you couldn’t have traded rooms with the Roots. Just wondering if they were there, since there are hardly any photos with them. Bad face day? But you just had your spa the day before! And anyway, you never have a bad face day!!!! You have a beautiful face!

    • Carrie
      May 14, 2013

      LOL – thanks, Moma! We wanted the Roots to be able to have a real vacation and not feel like they had to spend every waking moment with us, so they did their own thing most of the time. However, they do make a cameo later in this day…

  • Claire/Chilly
    May 14, 2013

    That did look like a good breakfast buffet, my problem is i’m never that hungry in the morning, I wish they’d do breakfast buffets till later in the morning. That’s one of the reasons I love Palo Brunch on the cruise ships, good food at a time I can appreciate it!

    • Carrie
      May 14, 2013

      I’m with ya! I think “breakfast all day” has to be one of man’s finest inventions…

  • Michelle
    May 14, 2013

    OMG That creepy menehune scared the bejesus out of me on the evening we arrived…I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who found it creepy!

    • Carrie
      May 14, 2013

      I can just imagine the horror of stumbling through the lobby, jet-lagged and disoriented, and running into that guy in a dark alcove!

  • Eileen
    May 13, 2013

    $200 + for a potholder?!????

    So were you and the Roots going to share that HUGE bed in the one bedroom place? Or was there a pullout bed somewhere? I wouldn’t expect there would be 2 bathrooms in a 1 bedroom place.

    Where did the Roots end up staying? Was their view any better than yours? How long did the Roots stay?

    The buffet had some pretty interesting looking items. Did you have a favorite? Love the picture of goofy Patrick and Goofy. I kept waiting for a picture with you and Goofy…or Mickey…or Minnie… Where were you hiding?

    I liked the glass fruit, but I thought the glass fish were really cool!


    • Carrie
      May 14, 2013

      Oh, yeah—sorry, Moma! That was actually a $200+ bedspread… shoulda explained that. There’s a pull-out couch in the 1-bedroom villas, and Disney likes to pitch those units as sleeping 4 adults. But, again, it only sleeps 4 adults very awkwardly. Instead, the Roots had a studio like ours, which ended up being one floor above us and one door down, so they actually had a decent view. They arrived the day after we did and flew back on the same flight we took to LA (are you compiling a dossier on the Roots’ activities in February 2013?). I think my favorite breakfast item was probably something with starch, bacon and cheese in it. I didn’t run either of the photos with me in them cuz I was having a bad face day.

  • jenn paul
    May 13, 2013

    Oh how I wish I flew, and had lots and lots of money 🙂 Good thing I have you! Honestly though, while your pics are beautiful, and the resort is gorgeous, I have no real want to go there. Maybe I’m weird! The buffet did look nicer than most, thats a plus! So, no character pics of you???

    • Carrie
      May 13, 2013

      Interesting! I have to say, it took Aulani to get me really interested in Hawaii for the first time, but now that I’ve been, I can totally see why everyone loves it so much. As for character pics, I was having a bad hair and face day… 😀

  • Beka
    May 13, 2013

    Forgot to add that the Southerner in me is happy to see cheese grits on the menu, and even happier that y’all got some. YUM.

    • Carrie
      May 13, 2013

      Oh I LOVE cheese grits! The only thing better is cheese grits with bacon! I trust you’ve had the ones they serve at The Wave? My fave WDW breakfast…

      • Beka
        May 13, 2013

        I haven’t! Note to self: eat at The Wave. DH makes some yummy cheese grits. Sometimes he even puts shrimp in them. Bacon would be sublime. Off to the kitchen!

  • Beka
    May 13, 2013

    Mmmm, glass fruit. Tasty… and….painful.

    BTW, the stitch biting fish link didn’t open an image. It’s been moved or blocked.

    • Carrie
      May 13, 2013

      Dang! Thanks for the heads-up—I fixed it!

      • Beka
        May 13, 2013

        OH! I *love* that Stitch! Why can’t I find things like that at WDW? Am I missing them, or do they only exist outside of FL?

        • Carrie
          May 13, 2013

          From what I’ve seen, they only exist in places that cater to the Japanese, like Tokyo Disney and Aulani.

  • Hope
    May 13, 2013

    That buffet looked so yummy and I enjoyed the tour of Aulani. The DVC was nice too, but you’re right about the bathroom door being weird for people that aren’t related.

    I wish they had Minnie’s hawaiian dress for sale. I’d totally get that as a souvenir!

    • Carrie
      May 13, 2013

      There ya go—another merchandising opportunity Disney’s missing!

  • Holly
    May 13, 2013

    I’ve been lurking for awhile, but now that we are exactly 2 weeks away from our Aulani trip, I just had to stop by and say “thank you!” for your updates. Your pics of the Makahiki buffet make me feel much better – I have been reading such bad reviews that I was a little nervous about the character breakfast I booked. Looks like there are lots of interesting options that will make it a little less “Disney buffet”-ish 🙂

    Looking forward to reading your final posts!

    • Carrie
      May 13, 2013

      Welcome out of lurkdom! 😀 That is interesting… I can’t imagine what people wouldn’t like about the buffet, other than its price. Or maybe we got lucky because the resort was half empty and we ate so early in the day…

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