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Our Travels – Aulani: Living Up to the Disney Legacy

Walking along the beach near Aulani.

I’m a firm believer that if you travel to Hawaii & you have a bad time, it’s probably your own fault. In fact, I’ve recently written a blog about how even traveling during COVID can be a fantastic experience if you’re safe & smart about it. Read more about that here: Oahu, Hawaii During COVID. But back to the topic at hand. Just because Hawaii is fantastic by just existing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain experiences that can make an already great location that much better. Aulani – A Disney Resort & Spa is one of those experiences.

Notice I said “experience” and not hotel. We have stayed in several really nice hotels throughout the years, but I wouldn’t say very many, if any at all, gave me an “experience” as part of my stay. It makes a lot of sense though that a resort built by Disney would give you more than just a nice place to sleep. The Walt Disney Company is known world-wide for creating “experiences” for their guests, particularly in their parks & hotels. In fact, the inspiration for Disneyland came because Walt wanted to give families a place where they could enjoy fun experiences together. That philosophy has extended throughout the organization & Aulani is no different. It is meant to be a place where you can gather with your ‘ohana’ & all have a wonderful time. In my opinion, it lives up to all Walt would want it to be. Let’s talk about why.

Aulani’s Story

Most hotels have some sort of “theme” or at least a common design scheme, but Aulani takes it a step further and has their own “story.” If you’re familiar with any of the Disney parks, storytelling is everywhere. You will find stories in every attraction as soon as you enter the queue, all the way until you exit & sometimes beyond. Every restaurant has a story too from the design elements, to what the workers are wearing, and throughout the menu. Sometimes even the bathrooms play along to whatever story is being told in the area! Point being, Disney prides themselves on being master storytellers & they have certainly lived up to that with their design of Aulani.

Aulani was designed by none other than the world-famous Disney Imagineers who worked hand-in-hand with local artisans & cultural experts to celebrate the beauty & history of the island. This is something that I greatly appreciated because for me, one of the best parts of traveling is getting a feel for the local culture. Having been to all four of the major Hawaiian Islands, I can confidently say that Oahu, the island where Aulani is located, is BY FAR the most commercialized of all the islands. If you’re unfamiliar, Oahu is home to the state capitol of Honolulu, the famous Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor. It is the most densely populated island in the Hawaiian chain, and so, I suppose, it would make sense that it’s the most commercialized. Unfortunately, it is for that reason that I believe a lot of what makes the Hawaiian culture & islands so wonderful is lost. In stark contrast to the vast majority of other hotels & resorts on the island, Aulani purposely celebrates the culture of the Hawaiian people. Just in general, it feels much more organic than most resorts. For example, the hotel towers are shaped like canoes, there is contemporary Hawaiian artwork throughout the resort, everything has a Hawaiian name including the pools & restaurants & their unofficial mascot is the Menehune (small, mythological craftspeople said to live in the forest of the Hawaiian Islands). Even their color scheme matches the surrounding landscape of the leeward side of the island. 

Hawaiian Artwork in Aulani’s Lobby

There are also other elements that make it feel like you’re being immersed in the Hawaiian culture. One of my favorites has been storytelling by ‘Uncle’ around the campfire (or pool during COVID season). He tells stories based on local folklore & I feel like through the simple act of listening to a story, I learned so much about ancient Hawaiian culture. We also really enjoyed the Menehune Adventure game. For this, you can check out a tablet from the Community Hall & ‘Aunty’ takes you on an adventure throughout the gardens & pool area of the resort. Not only does the game allow you to do cool things (like send fire out of a volcano or drop a waterfall into one of the pools), it also helps you to get a feel for some of the local culture. Another of my favorites is all of the live music you can find throughout the resort.  The last time we were there, they weren’t doing their luau (which by the way, was awesome the first time we got to go to Aulani), but on the weekend, they had ‘Aunty’ singing Hawaiian songs & someone dancing with her on the lawn while we waited to meet the characters. It’s simple things like that which contribute to the overall celebration of the Hawaiian culture as part of the resort’s story.

Something for Everyone

As with the Disney parks, there is literally something for everyone at Aulani & a lot can be done together as a family. For us, and I imagine most who visit Aulani, the Waikolohe Valley became the center of our visit there.  This is the garden/pool area between the two towers at Aulani. It features a long lazy river (it takes 15 minutes to float around), two water slides (one body, one tube), play area for the kids & splash pad for the littles, two big family pools with three family hot tubs, plus an adult-only pool & two-level infinity hot tub overlooking the ocean (perfect for watching the sunset as you soak). If you’d like to try snorkeling, but are worried about doing it in the ocean, there is also the Rainbow Reef where for a surcharge you can snorkel with the native fish of Hawaii. Additionally, you are only a few steps away from the perfectly golden beach on the lagoon (sand toys & boogie boards are complimentary!).  

Watching the Sunset from the Adult-Only Infinity Hot Tub

When the Imagineers designed the Waikolohe valley, they knew what they are doing.  Everything is spaced out very well so it disburses the crowds. They have also worked hard to provide chairs & shade for everyone either from the trees in the garden or via umbrella. There are also multiple places to get food whether it be shave ice, counter service, or sit-down meals. You could literally spend your entire vacation in the Waikolohe Valley and be just fine. I don’t necessarily recommend that because there is a lot to see on the island, but I would definitely commit at least a few days to staying at the resort & to use the pool area as a place to unwind at the end of the day.

That being said, there are some quirks about this area. It seems like it would go without saying, but only Aulani guests are allowed to use the pools. The beach is technically open to the public (though the chairs & umbrellas are not), so I think some of the beach visitors try to sneak into the pool area. This must be somewhat of a problem because guests are required to get a different colored wristband every day to prove they are a guest of the resort as they use the pools. Some may think that is inconvenient, but we found it to be reassuring that only guests of the resorts are using the accommodations we paid for. They also have a system where if a cast member folds a towel over the headrest of the chair you’ve staked out & put your stuff on, you have one hour to take it down or they will remove your belongings & securely store them where you pick up your wristbands. We just made sure to circle back once an hour to get a drink or a snack and make sure that our towels were not signaling we had been gone. This is their way of making sure everyone has an equal chance at the poolside chairs. We’ve been to Aulani twice now (once before COVID & once during COVID), and we have never had a problem finding a chair or having our stuff moved. Everyone is very courteous & as long as you circle back once an hour, you’re just fine.

One of the Family Pools at Aulani

There are a few other areas at the resort that should also be mentioned.  First, what would a Disney vacation be without the characters?! Usually, you can find them interspersed in the Waikolohe Valley, but with COVID, right now they are meeting on the lawn (where they usually have the luau). We’ve met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Stich, Duffy, Shellie Mae & Moana. It just brings a little bit of extra Disney magic to your trip being able to meet them while you’re there. Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the spa on property as well. When COVID isn’t a thing, they offer a full-service spa with treatments for teens, individuals & couples. There is also the Community Hall where you can pick up the Menehune Adventure game, rent movies & games & make crafts. It’s a place where everyone can come in and enjoy. Additionally, when COVID isn’t a thing, the kids can enjoy activities for their age group at Aunty’s Beach House. The counselors there will keep your kids entertained so you can go to the spa, explore the island, or just take a nap while knowing your kids are safe & entertained. There is so much to do at Aulani! I promise you can find plenty to make you & your family happy while you stay there.

Meeting Donald & Daisy at Aulani

Accommodations

Speaking of staying there, there are a number of different room types available at Aulani to accommodate any family. Aulani is considered a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property. That means the people who have bought into Disney’s timeshare program can stay there using their membership.  However, you DO NOT need to be a DVC member to stay there.  ANYONE can book a room at Aulani & enjoy the resort. Room types range anywhere from a traditional hotel-style standard room with two queen-sized beds, to a three-bedroom villa with full kitchen. We have stayed in both a standard room & a 1-bedroom villa with full kitchen. Both suited our needs just fine for the different trips we took. We did enjoy having a full kitchen with the villa because we could save some money by cooking some of our own meals, but the standard room has a mini-fridge so you can keep some things in there too. Whatever type of room you stay in, they are very nice & I’m sure you will be very comfortable.

Kitchen Ares in the 1-Bedroom Villa

Location on the Island

Aulani is located on western side of Oahu in the Ko Olina development. This is the leeward side of the island, so where it is rains almost every day on the windward side of the island, Aulani has beautiful sun-filled days with very limited rain. It is somewhat out of the way, at least compared to the hustle & bustle of downtown Honolulu & Waikiki Beach.  However, we have never found it to be a problem. In fact, Aulani is just as convenient to get to the East & North sides of the island as Waikiki due to traffic & access to the freeways that take you to those sides. However, if you’d like a comparison, let me share my opinion as we have stayed both in Waikiki & at Aulani.

Waikiki is in the heart of Honolulu & like all major cities, it is very loud & crowded. It is as touristy as it gets in Hawaii, and as previously mentioned, it is very commercialized. The beach itself is typically covered with tourists & honestly, is only one of many beautiful beaches on Oahu. I would by no means call it the best beach on the island, just the most crowded. If you are looking to do some sightseeing outside of Waikiki, due to Honolulu traffic, it really isn’t more convenient than Aulani if you’re visiting anywhere besides Honolulu. If you’re looking at staying at Waikiki because you believe it is more convenient, it truly is only convenient to itself, not the rest of the island. If you like the hustle & bustle of a big city, Waikiki is for you. If you prefer a much calmer & quiet vacation with significantly more amenities, than Aulani would be your best bet. We have stayed at both, and for us, there was no comparison. Our time at Aulani was significantly better than Waikiki.  

Mickey Shave Ice at Aulani

Never a Better Time to Go

The two weeks we’ve spent at Aulani during two different vacations (one pre- & one post-COVID) have convinced us that it is one of the best resorts on the island. It is beautiful, it celebrates Hawaiian culture, it has something to keep everyone entertained & happy, plus there’s an added dose of Disney magic thrown in there as the cherry on top. A stay there is absolutely worth it.

If you need more convincing, Aulani is currently offering 30% off 5-night stays between now & June 10, 2021. You can do it! You can go to Aulani & we would be happy to help you. To request a quote, visit our website:: https://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

Our Travels – Oahu, Hawaii During COVID

Aloha! In our second “Our Travels” installment, we will be discussing what it was like to travel to the island of Oahu in the beautiful state of Hawaii right now. We recognize that COVID has a lot of travelers concerned (rightfully so), but you can still travel safely if you pay attention to local regulations & follow them. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed traveling to Hawaii right now because there simply aren’t the crowds there normally are. But let’s start from the beginning – getting there.

Sunset from the Adult-Only Infinity Hot Tub at Aulani

Before You Arrive

As mentioned, we had a great trip to Oahu last week, but I’d be lying if the preparation to arrive there wasn’t a bit stressful. As with everything COVID-related, the State of Hawaii & their policies are constantly evolving. The requirements changed twice between us booking our trip at the end of October & actually traveling at the beginning on December. As of right now (12/17/20), they are requiring a negative COVID test in-hand upon arrival to Oahu, Maui & Hawaii, which was taken no more than 72-hours before the final leg of your flight. If you do not have that negative test in-hand, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days, no exceptions. If you want to visit Kauai, they are requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine even with a negative test. That being said, things will continue to change, I’m sure.  You can find the most up-to-date information about travel to Hawaii on this website: https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/  

What hasn’t changed, is that every traveler to the islands must create a Safe Travels account on the state’s website. Once you’ve logged in, you can register for your trip, upload your negative test results & complete the mandatory health questionnaire that will be available to you 24-hours in advance of your trip. You will find the Safe Travels website here: https://travel.hawaii.gov/. There is a helpful video imbedded into the homepage with more information.

The trickiest part for us, was getting a Hawaii-approved COVID test within 72-hours of the last leg of our flight into Hawaii. In fact, it was kind of a nightmare because there simply aren’t very many places offering approved tests where we live. I don’t need to rehash it all here, but if you’d like to hear more about that experience, check out our blog, “Handling Stress on Vacation.” I don’t believe our experience is the norm, but if it happens to you too, I’ve got some advice outlined in that blog post. You can find a list of approved Trusted Testing & Travel Partners on this website: https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/.

As you go through this list of Trusted Testing & Travel Partners, pay attention to the timelines each company provides. Our flight left on a Wednesday morning, so 72-hours prior to that would have been Sunday morning. However, not very many places are open for testing on Sunday. That meant that of the few options we had in our area, most wouldn’t have been available to do the test until Monday, which was only 48 hours before we left & they couldn’t guarantee we would get our results in time. You have to pay attention to what you are choosing so you can make sure you will have those test results in hand. It is worth doing your research.

Walking on the beach at Aulani

Arrival to the Islands

As previously mentioned, it was stressful trying to make sure we were prepared to arrive in Oahu. However, everything worked out. We had our negative tests in-hand, we had filled out the health questionnaire & we were ready to go. Once we landed in Oahu, we had to present our documentation. As we exited the plane, I noticed two military personnel monitoring people’s temperatures as we disembarked.  We must have walked under a sensor that was checking our temperatures because they didn’t stop you unless they saw something off. We watched as they stopped a little girl in front of us and double-checked her temperature using a handheld touchless thermometer. I think most people wouldn’t have noticed them at all, but because they stopped the girl in front of me, I paid more attention.  We were then filed into a line to wait our turn to present our documentation.

As mentioned, 24-hours before arrival, you must complete a health questionnaire in your Safe Travels account.  Once you have, they email you a QR code. You will present that QR code to the authorities in the airport.  We uploaded our negative tests as well, but they hadn’t been reviewed yet, so they asked us to produce a physical copy. We did & they approved us & we were on our way in just a few minutes.  Honestly, the process once we got there was pretty quick. Granted, we were some of the first off of the plane, so we didn’t have to wait in any sort of line, but I’m sure they moved through the line quickly as there were several agents waiting to check people’s documentation.

Plumeria blooming at the Punchbowl Cemetary

I will mention, as easy as it was to be cleared since we came prepared, they didn’t have any bathrooms available to you until after you had been approved to enter. We were grateful we didn’t have to wait in line because we had to go! You may have to wait in line though, so I’d recommend going on the plane before you start your final descent into the islands. That way you’re not crossing your legs doing the potty dance while waiting to be cleared.

We were so relieved once we were cleared to enter (& went to the bathroom). Theoretically, once you’ve been cleared at the airport, you should be fine to roam about the island without any restrictions.  This is true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to verify you’ve been approved again.  Specifically, when we picked up our rental car & when we checked into our hotel, we all had to have our Safe Travels account up & show them we had been approved to enter the state.  They are simply wanting to make sure no one slipped through the cracks, which I totally understand.  Just make sure you know your username & password for your account & can sign-in on your mobile device to show your status. Your status will change in your account once the authorities clear you. Those were the only two times we were asked to verify our status. Otherwise, we really were free to roam the island as we pleased.

Beach at Haunama Bay Nature Preserve

Enjoying the Island

I’m a firm believer that if you have a crappy time in Hawaii, it’s your own fault. There is so much to do even with COVID restrictions! We were on the island of Oahu, which is where Honolulu is located.  It’s the most urban of the islands with major attractions like Pearl Harbor & Waikiki Beach available. As of right now, most tourist attractions are open including: Pearl Harbor, Haunama Bay, Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley, all beaches & most hiking trails. The only places we would have liked to go that aren’t open yet are Diamond Head & the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).  However, the PCC is scheduled to open in January.

Hawaii just started welcoming visitors back last month, so they are slowly opening up more & more. Even without some of the major tourist attractions, there is plenty to do on every island, most of which won’t cost you anything. The places we enjoyed on our trip include: relaxing at the resort (we stayed at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa – I HIGHLY recommend it), Haunama Bay, Halona Blow Hole, Waimanalo Beach, Manoa Chocolate Factory (free walk-in tastings!), Maunawili Falls, Kailua Beach, Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts, Aiea Loop Trail, watching big-wave surfing on the North Shore, Kahe Point Beach Park, Pearl Harbor (including tour of the Arizona Memorial), Waikiki, several shave ice establishments & Leonard’s Malasadas (multiple times), etc. Point being, there is SO MUCH to do.

Hiking the Aeia Loop Trail

That being said, are there things you may not be able to do? Yes. The one that was most notable for us, was the number of restaurants that are still closed. Unfortunately, I suspect many of the closed restaurants will never re-open. However, those that are open are offering a variety of safe options including take-out & delivery. Sit-down restaurants are not allowing more than groups of five to sit together, so keep that in mind if you have a group traveling together. We were also asked to fill out our info on a form for contact tracing whenever we chose to sit-down at a restaurant.  Some may be annoyed by that, but I was reassured that they really are doing all they can to make traveling to their state a safe experience.

As with most places across the country, they also require face coverings to be worn in public spaces.  However, you don’t have to wear them in the pool or on the beach. In fact, we found most everyone to be really respectful in keeping their distance in these places so we could all relax without our face coverings while swimming or lying on the beach. Since we’ve been wearing masks for nine months now, it really wasn’t a big deal to continue that habit in public.

USS Arizona Memorial – Pearl Harbor

Conclusion

So, is traveling to Hawaii during COVID worth it? I can say for us, it was a huge, resounding, YES! Is it different than what we have experienced in the past? Yes. Was getting our negative test beforehand a bit of a pain? Yes. Was what I had to go through worth it? YES. Are the islands just as beautiful & wonderful as they have been in the past? Yes! If you are willing to jump through the hoops before arrival, a trip to Hawaii during COVID can be as great as it ever has been. This was our fifth trip to the islands & I can honestly say it was one of the most relaxing & fun.

If you’re interested in booking a trip to Hawaii, we would love to help you! Feel free to request a quote here: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php  Aloha!

Aulani Fall Offer: Save Up to 35%

View of Aulani Across the Lagoon


The longer you stay, the more you save when you take advantage of this special offer—valid for stays most nights November 1 through November 22 and November 28 through December 21, 2020, with check-out on December 22, 2020.

  • Save 35% on select rooms for stays of 5 or more consecutive nights
  • Save 30% on select rooms for stays of 4 consecutive nights
  • Save 25% on select rooms for stays of 3 consecutive nights

Book through December 17, 2020.

No matter how long you stay, you’ll enjoy a magical vacation that includes something for everyone: stunning pools, exhilarating water slides, a relaxing lazy river, an idyllic beach—and so much more!

This offer excludes suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas.

Flexible Cancellation
To provide additional flexibility, you may cancel your Aulani resort reservations up to 24 hours prior to their arrival date for stays through May 20, 2021 without Disney-imposed cancellation fees.

Mickey Shave Ice Poolside at Aulani

Important Details:

  • Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room and the same travel dates. Book from September 25, 2020 through December 17, 2020. Travel must be completed by December 22, 2020.
  • Not valid on suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas, or on previously booked rooms.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Excludes applicable fees and taxes.
  • Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and occupancy restrictions apply per room.
  • Additional charges apply if more than two (2) adults per hotel room; not applicable for Suites or Villas.
  • Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers.
  • Subject to restrictions and change without notice.
  • Select activities require additional fees.
View of one Aulani tower from the lazy river.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is currently closed and will plan to begin a phased reopening on November 1, 2020.

Upon reopening, Aulani Resort rooms, restaurants and other locations may be limited in capacity and subject to restricted availability or closure based on direction from health experts and government officials to promote physical distancing. Furthermore, experiences, services and amenities may be modified, have limited availability or may remain closed. Offerings are not guaranteed. Aulani Resort reserves the right to cancel any reservations or purchases and provide applicable refunds.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Aulani Resort Trip!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Help Us, Help You!

Travel agents are pretty fantastic people (if I do say so myself). If you need a refresher on why, check out our blog about “Why Use a Travel Agent.”  That being said, there is one thing we can’t do: read minds.  I ordered that crystal ball, but it must have gotten lost in the mail.  Consequently, in order to help you plan your dream vacation, we need a little bit of help from you first.

Let me illustrate what I mean. It is not uncommon for us to receive emails like this, “Hey! Me and my family want to take a cruise in October. What can you do for us?” That’s it.  That’s all the information we are given, and although we appreciate that you are thinking of using us, it creates a bit of a problem. Namely, we don’t know your budget, details of your family or expectations. For this specific example, there are literally hundreds of cruise options each month that will completely change depending on your personal circumstances. Consequently, we felt it would be useful to our guests to learn more about what they need to think about in advance of reaching out to your travel agent. Trust me.  It will save both you & us a lot of time.

CREATE A BUDGET

The absolute most important thing you can do as you start thinking about a vacation is to establish a budget.  I remember as a kid, my parents worked really hard, but we didn’t always have a lot of excess money for trips.  So, they would look at their budget and say, “Okay, how far can we get with how much money we have?”  Some of our best trips were the simplest, and our family never went into debt for vacation.  You may have a different philosophy as you plan your budgets, but regardless, it is VERY important that you establish what you are willing & able to spend upfront.

As a travel agent, this helps us because we will only present you with options that fit within your budget. There are fantastic places to stay and things to do at EVERY price point.  Our job is to find what works for you & your family & we are happy to do that.

As you create your budget, we recommend considering at least these five basic categories:

  • Lodging (Telling us what you’re willing to pay nightly helps a lot!)
  • Attraction Tickets
  • Transportation (Airfare, Rental Car, Trains, Taxis/Rideshares, etc.)
  • Food
  • Incidentals/Spending Money

Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to have all the money in the bank when you book your trip. Depending on how far out you are planning, you may have the option to put a deposit down when you book your trip & then the remainder is due a few weeks before you travel.  A lot of families use this option to pay incrementally and/or save up for that final payment while still booking in advance & getting what they want. This may help you spread the financial burden of your trip out over several months, or even a year or more. Regardless, you still need to budget in advance and be prepared for what you can legitimately come up with in the timeframe you have & then share that with your travel agent.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING & WHO IS GOING WITH YOU?

This seems like such a simple thing – but we all know it’s not. Work schedules, health issues, personal budgets, etc. can really make a difference on when you go on vacation & with whom. However, it is in your best interest to try & nail this down as best you can before you request a quote. 

As a travel agent, we want to give you accurate information, but prices vary widely depending on when you go & who you go with.  For example, ticket prices change based on if someone is a child or an adult.  Additionally, a lot of hotels charge extra if there is a third or fourth adult in the room.  Plus, hotels & attraction ticket prices can vary day by day, so even shifting a trip by just a few days can make a difference in the price you pay.  Now to be fair, you may have some flexibility in the dates you’re looking at, and you just want to go when it’s the least expensive. That’s totally fine!  However, if you can narrow it down to a specific few weeks prior to requesting a quote, that would go a long way in helping us get you accurate information.  

IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS & WANTS

We’ve all been there. It’s the age-old question: “Do I need this or do I just want this?” As with most things in life, it is good to identify your needs & wants when you travel & to communicate those to your agent.  For example, perhaps someone in your party uses a wheelchair & NEEDS an accessible hotel room – tell us up front so we can make sure that happens & we are only quoting you rooms that meet your needs.  Or perhaps one of your friends NEEDS to have their own bed, so even though there are only four of you, you need three beds – tell us so we can quote you only for the rooms that meet your needs.  Other needs/wants that you may want to consider may include things like: hotel type, breakfast availability, free parking, distance to attractions, pools, types of views, etc.  Please tell us your expectations up front so we have the chance to meet them.

That being said, we are all familiar with the phrase “Managing expectations.”  That is our job too. As previously mentioned, our mind-reading abilities haven’t come in yet, so if something is important to you, tell us!  We will do our best to find what meets your requirements while still fitting within your budget.  But notice that I previously mentioned that there is a difference between needs & wants.  Please keep in mind that depending on your budget, you may have to determine what is a need verses a want & then be a little flexible in that regard.  For example, an accessible room may be an absolute need, but the only place that has an accessible room doesn’t have the free parking you wanted.  What are you willing to compromise on? Do you have any flexibility in your budget to get what you want? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself in advance & then tell your travel agent up front.  We will do our best to give you everything you need & want, but we also respect your budget enough to recognize sometimes compromises need to be made.  If they are articulated in advance, it makes the process easier for everyone.

USE THE GET A QUOTE FORM

At Woodbrey Family Travel, we have built a “Get a Quote” form that you can access on our website. We highly recommend using this form when making requests. We have designed it so that it asks a lot of the questions we need answered prior to getting you an accurate quote.  Additionally, we’ve left space for you to leave comments & tell us anything extra we need to know, like budgetary constraints or your needs & wants.  We hope you can recognize how thinking about these things in advance & communicating them to your travel agent up front will help everyone involved. We look forward to working with you & appreciate that you would consider how you can help us, help you!

Aulani: Summer and Fall Offer: Save Up to 35% on 5-Night Stays

The longer you stay, the more you save when you take advantage of this special offer—valid for stays most nights August 1 through November 22 and November 28 through December 21, 2020, with check-out on December 22, 2020.

  • Save 35% on select rooms for stays of 5 or more consecutive nights
  • Save 30% on select rooms for stays of 4 consecutive nights
  • Save 25% on select rooms for stays of 3 consecutive nights

Book through October 24, 2020.

No matter how long you stay, you’ll enjoy a magical vacation that includes something for everyone: stunning pools, exhilarating water slides, a relaxing lazy river, an idyllic beach—and so much more!

This offer excludes suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas.

Important Details:

  • Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room and the same travel dates. Book from June 16, 2020 through October 24, 2020. Travel must be completed by December 22, 2020.
  • Not valid on suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas, or on previously booked rooms.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Excludes applicable fees and taxes.
  • Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and occupancy restrictions apply per room.
  • Additional charges apply if more than two (2) adults per hotel room; not applicable for Suites or Villas.
  • Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers.
  • Subject to restrictions and change without notice.
  • Select activities require additional fees.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Aulani Adventure!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Very Merry Unbirthday Giveaway!

madhatterUnbirthday

Today is Cody’s birthday, which means it’s time to celebrate! In honor of his real birthday and your Very Merry Unbirthday, Woodbrey Family travel will be giving away $500 towards a future Disney trip! There will also be two runners-up who will win Disney Gift Packages with Disney merchandise. The celebration ends on February 29, 2016. Click here  to entered to win the giveaway. Gain an extra entry by donating to the Kellsie’s Hope Foundation, click here to donate.

Here is How to Win

To be eligible for the GRAND PRIZE $500 credit towards a future Disney vacation package, please follow these steps:

1. Fill out the entry form
2. Accept Giveaway Terms and Conditions
3. Like the Woodbrey Family Travel Facebook page 
4. Share the Very Merry Unbirthday Facebook post

The grand prize winner will be chosen from participants who have completed all four steps above.

Two additional winners will be chosen for a Disney Gift Packages with Disney merchandise.

Good Luck and thanks for sharing and may you have a Very Merry Unbirthday!

– Cody Woodbrey

Creating Dream Vacations
Cell: 435-757-0838
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Terms and Conditions

Woodbrey Family Travel Giveaway Official Rules: No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win. Some restrictions may apply. The Woodbrey Family Travel: Happy Unbirthday Giveaway (“Contest”) runs from 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) on February 3, 2016 until 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) on February 29, 2016. Contest is sponsored by Woodbrey Family Travel. This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter. You understand that you are providing your information to Woodbrey Family Travel and not to Facebook or Twitter. Eligibility: The Contest must be over eighteen years of age as of the beginning of the Contest. Contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. How to Enter: To enter, you must do the following; 1: Each participant must fill out the entire entry form with his or her information 2: Accept Giveaway Terms and Conditions. 3: Be a fan of Woodbrey Family Travel on Facebook and/or Twitter. 4: Share the Very Merry Ubirthday Facebook post. Participants must enter to win by February 29, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winners will be announced within 48 hours. Prizes: There will be one grand prize winner of a $500 credit to use towards a future Disney Vacation Package. There will be two additional winners of whom will win a Disney Gift Package with Disney merchandise. Attempts made by the same individual to submit multiple entries by using multiple or false contact information, including multiple Facebook or Twitter accounts, may be disqualified. The $500 credit can only be used through bookings with Woodbrey Family Travel. When using the $500 credit for a Disney Theme park package, the winner must include; 2 Day Park hopper tickets, hotel, Disney dining and must be greater than 3 nights. Notification: Winners will be notified through social media or by email. In the event of non-compliance of these Official Rules, or if the prize is unclaimed, the prize will be forfeited and awarded to an alternate winner. By accepting any prize, the winner consents to the use of his or her name, likeness and any other information of any and all advertising/publicity purposes without further consideration, except where prohibited by law, and without any additional compensation. The winner expressly waives the right to review any and all advertising bearing his or her name, photograph, likeness, and titles prior to their use. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND RELEASE. WOODBREY FAMILY TRAVEL ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR TECHNICAL FAILURES OF ANY KIND, OR FOR ENTRIES THAT ARE STOLEN, MISDIRECTED, INCOMPLETE, DELAYED BY COMPUTER TRANSMISSIONS, LOST, LATE, MISDIRECTED, ILLEGIBLE, OR MUTILATED. WOODBREY FAMILY TRAVEL IS ALSO NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INCORRECT OR INACCURATE INFORMATION, WHETHER CAUSED BY WEBSITE USERS OR BY ANY OF THE EQUIPMENT OR PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATED WITH OR UTILIZED IN THE CONTEST OR BY ANY TECHNICAL OR HUMAN ERROR WHICH MAY OCCUR IN THE PROCESSING OF SUBMISSIONS IN THE CONTEST. SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT AT ITS SOLE DISCRETION TO CANCEL, TERMINATE, MODIFY OR SUSPEND THE CONTEST. ANY ATTEMPT BY ANY PERSON TO DELIBERATELY UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAW, AND, SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. SHOULD WOODBREY FAMILY TRAVEL CHOOSE NOT TO ENFORCE ANY TERM OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES, IT SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE A WAIVER OF THAT PROVISION. Governing Law and Disputes: All participants agree to abide by these Official Rules and by the decisions of Woodbrey Family Travel. This Contest is governed by the laws of the state of Utah. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Sponsors reserve the right to terminate or modify the Contest in its sole discretion. Except where prohibited, all participants agree that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the United States District Court for the District of Utah; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Contest, but in no event, attorneys’ fees; and (3) under no circumstances will participants be permitted to obtain awards for, and participant hereby waives all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and accordance with, the laws of the State of Utah without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules, which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of Utah. Miscellaneous. Contest prizes are non-transferrable and prizes may not be substituted for or redeemed for cash. All decisions of Woodbrey Family Travel with respect to the contest are final. At Woodbrey Family Travel’s discretion, it reserves the right to cancel or modify the Contest if fraud or technical problems bring into question the integrity of the Contest.

Cody’s Summer Raffle and Promotions are Here!

Woodbrey Family Travel is excited to announced his Summer Promotion and Raffle!

Each summer, Woodbrey Family Travel has a big incentive for those who book Disney vacations in the month of July and August along with a Big Summer RAFFLE that takes place on his Facebook page. The details on how to enter the raffle and the booking offer are below.

Big Summer Raffle Details

Who doesn’t like to win FREE Disney merchandise just for commenting and sharing Facebook posts?! I know I do and here is your chance to do exactly that. Throughout the month of July until August 9th, share and comment on the new posts that are made. Each time you do so you will get an entry into the raffle to win Disney Merchandise. You could win one or several of the gifts in the above picture. Some posts will be worth double or triple entries so keep an eye out for those ones. If you book a Disney trip before August 9th you will automatically get 5 extra entries. There will be multiple winners!

Booking Incentives Details

When you book ANY Disney vacation package with Woodbrey Family Travel between now and August 9th, you will receive all sorts of extra Disney themed gifts when you book your trip.  Below you will find the extra gifts that are given for each Disney Destination. Make sure to mention this blog or code DisneySummerGift to qualify for the extra gifts… So where will you be vacationing this next year?

Walt Disney World Vacation Package Gifts

Lanyards, Luggage Tags, Trading Pins, Disney Activity Book (Packages with kids)
Disney Autograph Book and Pen or Disney Activity Pack (One Per Child), Disney Key Chains (One Per Adult), Disney Crayons Disney (One Per Child), Toy Story Tsum Tsum
Disney Mini Golf Voucher, Planet Hollywood Souvenir Voucher (One per package)
Planet Hollywood $15 Meal Voucher (One per Package), Walt Disney Travel Savings book – Special offerings and savings at many participating dining and merchandise locations throughout the Downtown Disney shopping area – “Disney Springs.”

Disneyland Vacation Package Gifts

Diamond Anniversary Lanyards, Diamond Anniversary Luggage Tags, Diamond Anniversary Trading Pins, Disney Diamond Anniversary Activity Book (Packages with kids), Disney Diamond Anniversary Pen, Disney Diamond Anniversary Magnet, Toy Story Tsum Tsum, $10 ESPN Game Card, Free 5X7 photopass Photo (Photo can be either an attractions photo or one from the park), Disney Autograph Book and Pen or Disney Activity Pack (One Per Child), Disney Key Chains (One Per Adult)
Disney Crayons Disney (One Per Child), Walt Disney Travel Savings Card – A special card offering savings and values at many participating dining and merchandise locations throughout the Disneyland Resort and Early Entrance into Disneyland as long as you have 3 days or more.

Disney Cruise Line Vacation Package Gifts

$30 Onboard Credit, Disney Lanyards
Disney Trading Pins, Disney Activity Book
(Packages with kids), Disney Autograph Book and Pen or Disney Activity Pack (One Per Child), Disney Key Chains (One Per Adult)
Disney Crayons Disney (One Per Child), Disney Dry Erase Board, Disney Playing Card, Toy Story Tsum Tsum, Disney’s Frozen String Bag and a Disney’s Frozen Kids Purse

 Aulani Vacation Gifts

Disney Lanyards, Disney Trading Pins, Disney Activity Book (Packages with kids), Disney Autograph Book and Pen or Disney Activity Pack (One Per Child), Disney Key Chains (One Per Adult), Disney Crayons Disney (One Per Child), Disney Playing Card, Toy Story Tsum Tsum, Disney’s Frozen String Bag, Disney’s Frozen Kids Purse, Disney Chalk Board and a $30 booking Credit (Must be at least 6 nights)

 Adventures by Disney Vacation Gifts

Disney Lanyards, Disney Trading Pins, Adventures by Disney Luggage Tags, Adventures by Disney laptop bag, Adventures by Disney, Disney Activity Book (Packages with kids), Disney Autograph Book and Pen or Disney Activity Pack (One Per Child), Disney Key Chains (One Per Adult), Disney Crayons Disney (One Per Child), Toy Story Tsum Tsum, Disney’s Frozen String Bag, Disney’s Frozen Kids Purse and a $50 booking credit (Must book at least a 6 night trip)

I hope, as you look to future Disney adventures, that you will think of Woodbrey Family Travel when planning. Remember, at Woodbrey Family Travel, my services are absolutely free. Disney takes care of me with no extra cost to you. I am a current Disney cast member and know Disney travel extremely well and I promise you will have the best possible trip planned when booking with us.

– Cody Woodbrey

Creating Magical Vacations
Cell: 435-757-0838

 

Meeting Disney Characters 101

Meeting Disney Characters 101

There are several ways in which to get the most out of your “meet and greet” with your favorite Disney Characters. As a performer at Walt Disney World, I can tell you that I’ve seen and experienced it all – the good, the bad, and everything in between. I have therefore compiled some tips and information for you in order to help make this experience the best for your family. This blog post is created to help you better your experience and maximize your “meet and greet” time with the characters.

Lesson 1: Be Prepared

There are a couple of things you can do to be prepared before you ever meet the character.
1. Have your autograph books and cameras ready. This will give you more time to play and interact with the characters versus trying to get your book out or camera ready. This also helps the line go quicker.
2. Take off jackets, bags and/or ponchos. Doing this makes for better-looking pictures. Waiting until you get up to the character takes away from your time to interact with them.
3. Put down any food or drinks. The characters will not take pictures with them in the picture.

Lesson 2: The Approach

When you approach the Disney character, don’t shove your book into their hands.
1. They want to say hi first with a hug or a high five. They want to know you are there for more than just a signature.
2. Make sure the character sees you approaching. They don’t have the best eyesight, and at times they don’t even realize there is a young child by their legs.
3. Please do not jump up on them.
4. Be careful when touching their heads – it’s actually preferred that you don’t touch their heads at all.
5. Everyone must be wearing shoes unless they are being held.
6. They cannot hold your baby.
7. Don’t be rough with the characters. They can be hurt!

Lesson 3: Helping Unsure Kids

I’ve seen hundreds of families that wait in long lines to see the characters only to get up to them and find that their child no longer wants to see them or is crying. These tips will help you get those pictures without the big hassle or need for convincing.
1. Let them watch the character interact with the other families and talk to them about all the fun the other families are having.
2. Holding the child or getting down to the child’s level helps the child feel safe and protected.
3. Hold the child’s hand while walking up to the character.
4. Ask someone to take the picture for you so you can stay with your child. I usually ask the family behind me to do it just in case there isn’t someone at the front of the line to do it. Always check the photo before moving on, as not everyone knows how to use a camera correctly.
5. When taking a picture with your child, put them on the outside shoulder away from the character. By doing this you will help keep them from looking at the camera instead of at the character and/or help them stop crying.
6. If the opposite shoulder strategy doesn’t work, take several steps in front of the character, get their attention to look at the camera, and take the picture. This helps because the child is far enough away that they feel a bit safer and you still get a picture with the character.

Lesson 4: Writing Material for Autographs

By having the right kind of writing utensils it will help you get the best signature possible.
1. Even before you hand the character the autograph books, make sure you use the words “Please” and “Thank You”. These words are often forgotten, but greatly appreciated!
1 – 2-inch pens are hard for anyone to write with, and with a paw it is even harder.
2. Light ink pens or coloring utensils make it hard for the characters to see what they are signing. Use dark ink or colors for signing. When the character can see what they are signing you will get a great signature.
3. Larger-than-life pens are also not the easiest to write with for the characters. The thickness of the pen does make it a bit hard to get a good grip for a great signature.
4. Disney characters’ favorite type of writing utensil is a regular-sized SHARPIE. The inks are thick and they are extremely easy to hold.
5. Characters love it when you use different colors – For example: Tigger loves using Orange colors, whereas The Green Army Man loves using Green to write.
6. The characters also love writing with the fun different Disney pens. They love tickling your faces with the ones with the fuzz on the ends or twirling the character on the end of the pen. They especially love pens with themselves on them.
7. 2-inch size papers or loose papers without something hard behind them are hard to sign on. If you are going to have the papers loose, then use a small clip board. Doing this will help you get the best quality of signatures possible.

Lesson 5: What Characters Can Write On

Disney characters love to sign their name on things, but there are a few things they cannot sign.
1. They cannot sign currency, checks, receipts, other important documents, or things with inappropriate materials on them.
2. They can sign shirts, hats, toys, blankets, and things like that
3. They can’t sign anything while it is being worn. You can take the item off only if it doesn’t reveal skin or undergarments.
4. They can sign the cast of a broken arm or leg – this is the only exception to the previous rule. (Signing  casts at the Walt Disney World parks is allowed but NOT at Disneyland parks)

Lesson 6: Creating a Little Bit of Extra Magic

1. The characters love holding, signing, and playing with things that have them on it. Buzz Lightyear loves pretending to fly with his action figure… Or should I say, “Falling with style.”
2. They love giving hugs and high fives
3. Be creative with your pictures. Don’t just stand there; strike a pose! They take thousands of pictures a day with guests posing the same way and they are eager to do something different. Go with the flow – If they want you to pose a certain way, do it. They do some great poses. You can even ask them, “What pose should we make today?” and they will respond with some great ideas. If you have some ideas, they will also join in, as long as it is appropriate.
4. Use more than just your phone camera – you will get better pictures using a real camera.
5. Take a “Selfie” with the characters.
6. Share with the characters why you love them and are there to see them.

Lesson 7: Leaving

When you leave, make sure you thank the Disney characters and the character attendants for letting you come and see them. It’s not easy standing out in the heat all day, but it’s worth it when they feel appreciated and loved. Give last minute high fives and hugs!

If you are planning a trip to one of Disney’s theme parks or a Disney Cruise, please contact me for more information.

– Cody Woodbrey

Specializing in Disney Vacations
Creating Magical Vacations
Cell: 435-757-0838

Welcome to Travel Advice by Cody

Hello!

My name is Cody Woodbrey and I specialize in planning Disney vacations and as someone who has worked years in the parks, I provide the insider’s touch that few travel consultants can offer.

Since my first trip to Disneyland when I was four years old, my passion for this company and what it offers to families has grown exponentially.  I find myself wanting to share that passion, as well as my experience and knowledge with others so they in turn may grow to love what this company has to offer.

When I travel to Disney destinations, I cringe when I see families struggle to enjoy themselves because they are stuck in line, or are just not aware of the amenities and services that Disney provides. As someone who has worked on, and lived near the Walt Disney World property, has experienced Disneyland more times than I can remember, and has cruised multiple times on the Disney Cruise Line, I can help guests and their families plan a vacation that is built around their dreams and is specific to them.  In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

My goal is to provide guests with the most current information, and best advice to make sure they spend their time exactly how they would like to. My services are ABSOULTELY FREE to those who book with me.

This blog is an extension of those services. With advice on all things Disney travel. I am excited to share my love and passion of all things Disney Travel with you.

Your Disney Travel Expert,

Cody

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Welcome!

Welcome to Travel Advice by Cody! The main focus of this blog will be all things Disney Travel.  Tune in next week for the first official post.

Sincerely,

Cody Woodbrey

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