This is super long, so please bear with me! It's all in the details, right?! I hope this helps you decide if you'll take the plunge and visit Aulani for the Character Breakfast...
We recently took our four-year-old daughter to the Character Breakfast at the Makahiki restaurant in the new Disney Aulani Resort in Ko'Olina. The prices, while high, seemed somewhat reasonable for a resort buffet, $32/adult, $18/child, and Baby Bear was free. Sister Bear was so excited for months waiting for Mickey to "move in" to his new "house" that we booked for their very first public Character Breakfast.
We were able to make reservations easily online. I accidentally made our reservations for 3, only to realize I should have counted our infant as well (to make 4). I had an easy time calling a mainland number to make the adjustment.
We have a unique situation, because Sister Bear has multiple food allergies. I certainly didn't want to pay $18 for a meal she couldn't eat. Upon making my reservations online I was able to specify the allergies. In my phone call to the mainland, the friendly operator gave me the direct number for the resort and suggested I call to be sure they’d offer something she could eat. I called the afternoon before and was met with a friendly local voice. She too, assured me they'd offer something my daughter could safely enjoy.
Finally, the big morning came. We used valet (free with a receipt showing a $35 purchase), and walked in to enjoy the wonderful Hawaiian breeze through their gorgeous open-air architecture. After taking some breath-taking photos of the resort grounds from the large balcony, we took the short walk downstairs, and arrived at the Makahiki.
Dressed in matching Alohawear, the staff (aka cast members) was extremely friendly and accommodating. My husband was able to walk around the grounds with my daughter while we waited for our table (we were early). Reservations are only recommended, so you may still be able to get a table should you decide to just stop by, and there were plenty of open tables when we first arrived around 7:00am. By 9am, though, space became more limited.
When they called our name, we were escorted outside where we took a few pictures with Mickey. He was amazing with sometimes-shy Sister Bear, and playful with our infant. He played peek-a-boo with Baby Bear, making both girls giggle. Sister Bear got to hug him and kiss his nose, too.
The pictures they took were mediocre and priced about the same as any other tourist attraction on Oahu. As we ate our breakfast, a cast member approached us with photos already printed and offered us a package of 4 photos for $35. They also had a Photopass card they gave us, but this seemed more for people staying at the resort to collect all their photos from their stay.
The food was no better than any other resort breakfast. I wouldn’t choose to go to breakfast here just to go to breakfast without any characters. The scrambled eggs were a little soggy, the bacon varied in crispness, and the selection was slim. However, they offered a yummy eggs Benedict made with poi English muffins and Portuguese sausage for a local touch. They also had adorable Mickey-mouse shaped waffles at the keiki bar. They also offered an a’la carte menu.
I was surprised to find they offered soy milk and rice milk in addition to regular cow’s milk. Awesome! The chef came out and spoke with us about Sister Bear’s allergies, which was a nice personal touch. They are careful with their food prep and serving so that despite her milk, egg, and peanut allergies, she was able to eat the bacon, fresh fruits and oatmeal. She was one happy girl. (And mom was relieved!)
As we ate, Minnie Mouse and Goofy went table-to-table taking photos, playing with children, and signing autographs. They knew just what to do when children seemed frightened or overwhelmed, such as holding out their ear for the child to touch instead, and giving each keiki time to adjust to their presence. Their costumes were perfect (it IS Disney!), not too large or small, and adorably dressed in surfer clothes.
It’s hard for me to say what I liked best, the Disney characters or the “Aunty”. In the time we were there, they went through their routine twice. The characters circled around to each table, and two women, each PERFECT for the part, played “Aunty” (one in the first routine, and another in the second). These women sang beautifully, had wisdom in their voice, and an energy that made you feel as though they were talking story with you alone. They had the kids up marching around the restaurant, “swimming” with stuffed fish, playing with coconut shells, and spinning napkins in the air. It was fascinating to watch even the adults get excited and want to join in on the fun. The Aunties kept it Hawaiian, singing traditional songs with an upbeat tempo. They were amazing.
Overall, Disney was very accommodating with our special needs, served up an amazing interactive show, with great characters and average resort fair. They offered mediocre photos, but the memories created in the moment are what really matter. For us, our $100 breakfast was worth it. Our allergic child got food she could eat while singing and dancing with her favorite characters. We won’t be making that kind of budget-busting trip again anytime soon, though. Unless, of course, princesses are involved...