TRIP REPORT: Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa (Part 6 – Quick Service Dining)
So far on my trip reports of the Aulani, Disney’s resort on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, we got a look at the available activities, did someshopping, learned about resort lore, and took a general survey of the grounds. I don’t know about you but all this exploring is making me hungry! I think it’s a good time to talk about Aulani’s quick service dining options. Pull up a chair and bring your appetite, because here we go!
Ulu Cafe is the largest and most versatile of the quick service options at the resort. This is most likely the location that you will visit the most during your stay.
Refillable mugs are available for purchase here. They come in two designs, a colorful one featuring Mickey and the gang and another more understated one with Hawaiian icons throughout. Unlike the refillable mugs at Walt Disney World, these don’t have an RFID chip embedded in them to unlock the beverage station. Instead, it works on the honor system. I saw this abused over and over while I was staying there. People would fill Tervis tumblers, 7-Eleven mugs and the like with no repercussions. Don’t be that person, guys. If you are going to make use of this service, buy the refillable mug or a one-time cup at the register. It isn’t that hard.
The beverage station for Ulu Cafe is located on the outside. It makes it much easier to refill your mug if you are coming directly from the pool and are soaking wet and really want a drink. Not shown is the fresh brewed ice tea and piping hot Kona coffee. These drinks are also options for those who use a refillable mug.
Ulu Cafe also sells refillable popcorn buckets. Buy the bucket and get refills at a substantial discount (I believe it was $1.50, but I am not certain.) Plus, the bucket doubles as a sand toy, which is why it has those grooves at the bottom. It makes a great sand castle!
What would a Disney resort be without Mickey-shaped food? I highly recommend the Chocolate Chip Blondie, found in Ulu Cafe’s pastry section. They were moist, slightly chewy, and had a great flavor.
If you are looking for a more local island-style offering, the Mickey-shaped musubi is the way to go. For those who don’t know, musubi is a traditional Hawaiian snack traditionally composed of grilled Spam over a mound of steamed white rice which is then wrapped with nori (seaweed). It can be served warm or or cold. The Mickey-shaped musubi’s Spam had a bit of teriyaki sauce between it and the rice and was served warm. I really liked this snack. These goodies can be found in the pastry section of Ulu Cafe during lunch time. They run out pretty quickly so be on the look-out for them!
Another great Hawaiian food (and one that we ate nearly every morning) are malasadas, of Portuguese origin. The Aulani version are balls of fried dough that are dipped in sugar. They had several newer flavors available when we went, like coffee sugar, cinnamon sugar, and cocoa, but we mostly stuck with the plain white sugar ones that we had enjoyed on previous trips.
During lunch time, Ulu Cage offers a rotation of sandwich specials along with their standard menu. Above is what they were serving on our last afternoon there!
And yes, Ulu Cafe has Dole Whip. You read that right: Dole Whip! If you can’t make it out to the Dole Plantation (or Disneyland), this is the next best thing.
Wailana Pool Bar
The Wailana Pool Bar is located in the adult’s only pool area of the resort.
The location serves the poolside menu, but rather than dining at a lounge chair, you have the option of sitting at a table, the bar, or even taking your order to-go. My party sampled a side of macaroni and cheese, as well as an order of their all-beef hot dog with a side of fries. In my opinion, the macaroni and cheese was much better than the variety available at the Parks. It was al dente and cheesy, but not swimming in sauce. The hot dog was huge! My friend, despite her best efforts, could not finish it.
No pool bar would be complete without drinks. The drinks pictured are actually non-alcoholic (fret not, there are plenty of alcoholic ones available, too). Pictured left to right are the Liliko’i Splash and the Passion Colada. The Liliko’i Splash was mine. It was a refreshingly fizzy mix of sweet and (slightly) sour.
During the morning hours, the Wailana Pool Bar offers coffee and other eye-openers.
Off the Hook
Off the Hook is the family-friendly equivalent to the Wailana Pool Bar. They share the same menu, but it is located in an area that is open to those under 18 years old. There is more seating available here than at the Wailana Pool Bar, so if it seems a little crowded over on that end and you are hoping to order from the poolside menu, it may be worth trying your luck at Off the Hook.
Mama’s Snack Stop
Not feeling the poolside menu? No problem! Mama’s Snack Stop is another option. It is also found in the pool area.
Mama’s Snack Stop didn’t seem to be open for very many hours during our stay. If you are going to order from this location, I would suggest the coconut-breaded shrimp. The one thing that got to me was the Frozen items and imagery shoehorned onto the menu. Really? Why not Moana or Lilo and Stitch? Does everything have to be about Frozen?
Papalūa Shave Ice
Adjacent to Mama’s Snack Stop is Papalūa Shave Ice, where the cast members serve up that Hawaiian classic treat, shave ice. The queue has two stations, one to order and one for pickup. The menu offers options like adding sweetened condensed milk or ice cream to your shave ice order.
Did you see that “add Mickey Ears” option for your shave ice order? Well, here is what it looks like in practice. In case you were wondering, my order was flavored with mango, guava and liliko’i (passion fruit) syrups. It was very refreshing.
I neglected to dine at Little ‘Opihi’s Beachside Kiosk during my trip. Found along the beach path, this stand offers Chinese chicken salad, summer rolls, sliced tropical fruit, and other lighter fare.
This completes the coverage of the Aulani’s quick service dining options. But that still leaves table service and buffet dining. More on that in the next post. If you enjoyed this trip report, please take a look at Part 1, Part 2,Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. See you next time!
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