Our family trip to Oahu happened to fall the week of HJ’s birthday. Obviously, a trip to Hawaii was already pretty special, but I wanted to find something extra exciting for her celebration. Both kids loved meeting characters on our Disney Cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean so I decided to enlist Disney for a little birthday magic!
We had passed Disney’s Aulani resort on a previous trip to Hawaii and I was pretty interested in checking it out! Just not interested enough to pay $500/night when we had free lodging available! The character breakfast seemed like a great way to experience a bit of the resort, meet some characters, and celebrate together.
I made reservations online 3 months in advance which was not necessary, but you definitely want to book in advance. I checked again this morning and had to go out 11 days before I could get a reservation for a party of 6. The online reservation system is super easy and fast, there’s no reason not to use it.
Our reservation was at 9 am and we arrived at the parking garage at 8:30. I remembered to bring my parking ticket (they validate!) but spaced in the elevator and hit the *1 button instead of the lobby level. So instead of going straight to the restaurant through the lobby, we wandered down to the beach and then wove through the resort pool area.
The beach is beautiful and sheltered so the water is great for family swim time. Remember that there are no private beaches in Hawaii, so if you want to check out this beach you can do it even if you aren’t staying at the resort. There are bathrooms available and beachside restaurants.
The resort pool area included several pools, a lazy river, a playground, restaurants, and a fish pond with viewing area. The entire area was decorated with rocks and greenery to complete the tropical theme. Getting from the beach to the lobby is very indirect and the path weaves you all around. It probably took us 10 minutes to make the walk but that included getting distracted by the various decorations.
Once we reached Makahiki’s we waited in a short line to check-in. The woman at the desk gave HJ a birthday pin and handed us a ticket with our name and party size. We were instructed to wait in line for pictures with Mickey and then check back in at the desk. The line for Mickey was about 20 minutes long but there was fruit-infused water and chairs available during our wait.
As I’ve come to expect from Disney, the picture taking experience was great. They had a photographer and another cast member to take pictures with our camera. They allowed us to take a big group photo and one of just the kids and we never felt like we needed to hurry. The line might have gone faster if they rushed through the pictures, but this way the kids really got to enjoy their moment with Mickey. He gave them both hugs when we got to him and high-fives when we left.
After Mickey pictures, we checked back in at the podium and then sat in the waiting area for another 10 minutes. Had we been really hungry when we first checked in, we would have been starving by the time we were seated 30 minutes later. We were fine though and pictures with Mickey was worth the wait.
Once we were seated outside (I definitely recommend sitting outside if you are able. The weather was beautiful and the light was much better for pictures.) the waiter came quickly to take our drink orders and release us to the buffet.
The buffet included made-to-order omelettes and many traditional buffet options. Just about anything you could want was available on the buffet: local Hawaiian Loco Moco, red velvet waffles shaped like Iron Man, biscuits and gravy, Miso soup, doughnuts, cereal, fruit, salad, and more. We each loaded up our plates once and went back for a little something extra.
The food was good and plentiful and the waiter was on hand with an extra spoon as soon as we needed one.
My big concern as soon as we were seated was what happens if the characters come to your table while you’re at the buffet? That’s exactly what happened and Goofy got to our table just as HJ and I were returning. HJ hugged him and posed for a couple pictures but he was gone before K got there. I told the waiter and he happily arranged for Goofy to swing back by with a special hug just for K.
Goofy made his stop before we even started eating and Minnie didn’t make her way over until we had just finished, so most of our breakfast was free for eating and conversation.
Aunty provided the breakfast entertainment moving between the tables singing Hawaiian songs and playing the ukelele. Twice during the breakfast, she invited all the children to parade around the restaurant behind her and one of the characters. When following Goofy all the children held fish puppets and sang about fish. When following Minnie all the children shook maracas as they wove between the tables. There was even a special birthday hula dance held in one corner of the restaurant. HJ was thrilled to show off her dance skills with all the other birthday girls.
Minnie (and all the other characters) made a big show of pointing to HJ’s birthday pin and clapping or otherwise gesturing congratulations. The characters were all great and they moved throughout the restaurant without handlers or photographers. So make sure you have your own camera ready!
Just when we were about to leave the waiter reminded us that he still had to bring HJ’s birthday treat. It was so windy he had a hard time lighting the candle, but HJ loved being sung to and sharing a sweet treat with her brother.
Overall we were really happy with the Aulani Character Breakfast. The service was great and came with the Disney smile we’re so accustomed to, the food was good, we didn’t feel hurried or rushed to give up our table, and the kids were thrilled to see the characters. The singer struck a good balance of entertaining if you listened and pleasant to have in the background if you would rather have a conversation.
Towards the end of breakfast, a cast member was weaving through the restaurant showing diners their Mickey pictures. She didn’t quite make it to us so we were directed to check them out in the gift shop upstairs. We purchased 1 printed photo plus a CD with all the photos for $45. Getting the CD really makes it worthwhile and they got a great shot of HJ hugging Mickey! If they don’t offer you this package, make sure you ask about the “Character Breakfast” packages.
My one complaint, although it wouldn’t stop me from returning or recommending the experience, was that there were only 3 characters. On the Disney cruise, we saw all of the fab 5 at the character breakfast and it would have been nice to see them here as well.
The price was $37/adults and $18 for kids 3-9. K got to eat for free since he’s still 2. They validated parking and the buffet price included juice and coffee, so there were no surprises on our bill.
Have you been to Aulani? If you go make sure you say “Aloha!” to Mickey for us!