I just got back from being at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii. The resort is on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. We had gone once before back in December of 2017 and it is truly an amazing resort. Disney Aulani in 2021 is still a great place to travel with your family. I had a lot of you ask about what the current restrictions are like for covid traveling to Hawaii and at Disney Aulani Resort and thought I would share.
First I thought I would start with the big question, going to Hawaii with the restrictions. My biggest advice is make sure you follow the directions! Hawaii has a website that you have to register on with all your info BEFORE you go.
You HAVE to have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of your departure. This also must be the departure of your final leg of your trip, meaning, if you are connecting at a different airport the 72 hours is from your final flight to get to Hawaii, not your first flight. This can be tricky, because some testing locations can’t get you the results that quickly and it can’t be the rapid results test. It has to be a PCR type test. It also has to be from a state-approved testing provider. We flew over on Hawaiian Airlines and they offer covid testing close to the airports they fly out of and guarantee the results before your departure. The cost was $90 per person, not covered by insurance. Make sure to look at the website and pick a testing location based on that info.
Before you go you need to create a Safe Travels account with the state of Hawaii. You can find that link here. When filling out your information you will need all your personal info as well as your arrival and departure flight details and your hotel information and reservation number.
Once you get your negative covid test results you will need to log into your Safe Travels Hawaii account and upload that document. Once it is verified you will get a QR code. This QR code is very important. For families, each adult will have a separate QR code and your kids will be registered under one of the adults and be part of that adults QR code.
To be safe I printed and brought along copies of our flight info, hotel info, rental car info, negative covid test results, and our QR codes just in case.
Hawaiian Airlines gave an option for us to have all our documents verified before we boarded our plane and got a wristband to fast track the process at the AirPort. TIP: they don’t have enough time before boarding to check everyone’s documents, so get in line at the very beginning if this is offered, otherwise they will run out of time and you will have to wait in the line at the airport. I would say they only had time to verify about 1/3rd of our plane.
That verified QR code is super important to show every step of the way so make sure you keep your phone charged and bring an external battery pack just in case. They want to see the QR code with the green verified link on the website that you will have to pill up on your phone at all the locations. To rent a car I had to pull up my verified QR code and also to get into the resort I had to show them again before we were allowed in. They are super strict, so make sure you are prepared with all your details.
I will add that my husband and I are both fully vaccinated and brought our vaccination cards with us as well, but never needed them for any reason. On the Safe Hawaii questionnaire they ask if you have had a flu vaccine, but not a covid vaccine, which I thought was odd, but 🤷🏻♀️.
Once you verify all your info and check in to hotel you will notice certain signage and restrictions that I think most of us are use to by now. First off, wearing a mask, duh. Masks need to be worn in all areas unless sitting and actively eating and/or drinking. The other exception is swimming.
No, you do not have to wear a mask while swimming or walking to and from different pool, hot tubs, beach or slides. If you go up to get more towels from the booth or get your pool wrist band you will need to mask up though. They ask that any time you are in contact with a cast member that you put on your mask. I was enjoying my vacation on a chaise lounge reading and drinking a Lava Flow by the pool though and had mine off, which is totally fine.
The other covid difference, which most of us also know by now, is not to crowd the elevators. There is signage that asks for no more than 4 people in an elevator unless you are all from the same party. There was a couple times when we had to wait for an elevator because of this, but it wasn’t very often.
If you have been to Aulani before there are also some differences you will notice. The biggest one being Aunty’s Beach House, the kids club, is currently closed. We loved this perk of Aulani when we went previously because the kids were super excited to go play and do the activities at the kids club certain times of the day and it gave the adults this time to enjoy quiet time without the kids.
One of the other things we greatly missed is that Ama Ama, the higher-end restaurant, is closed. It never reopened and it isn’t know if or when it will reopen. The space is currently being used for the “Make Your Own Ears” craft area. One of the biggest things about Aulani is that there were only 2 sit down restaurants and now there is really only one with Ama Ama not open.
Makahiki is the other sit down restaurant at Aulani. I use to be where the character buffet breakfast was, but because of covid there is no buffet and there are no characters. We ate dinner there and it is a 3 course menu where you pick your starter, your entree and your dessert from several options. The food was delicious. We were all actually pleasantly surprised.
If you have been before you will remember the “pool party”, which was a fun activity at the pool area with games for the kids and characters, that is no longer happening. They do have character meeting options at another location, at set times of the day where the characters are on a stage and you can stand below, say hi, and take a picture.
Those are the biggest changes at the resort.
Busting myths: No, you don’t need a pool or waterslide reservation time. The lazy river tubes are still first come first served and there is a cast member on hand spraying them down before they switch users (in theory).
Boogie boards, snorkels and paddle board rentals at the beach are still happening. So is snorkeling at Rainbow Reef.
We booked dinner reservations weeks in advance and we are glad we did. Other than on property restaurants some of our other favorite’s that are walking distance are Roy’s at Ko’Olina Golf Club and Mina’s Fish House next-door at the Four Seasons Resort. We LOVED Monkeypod, across the street from Aulani, last time we were there. This time, I am sad to say, it wasn’t as good and they also don’t take reservations. I’m hoping this is because they had been closed for a while and still working things out. For breakfast there is Eggs ‘n Things across the street, which is super yummy (POG Mimosa anyone?).
Know before you go, at every sit down restaurant they take some info from you, primarily name and phone number, for contact tracing purposes.
If you don’t have sit down reservations there are other casual food options around Aulani Resort and surrounding properties. Don’t worry, the shaved ice stand is still open!
All in all we had an amazing time at Aulani! We didn’t mind the restrictions and were so happy to be back.
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