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By Princess Diva
|Disney Baby during the dolphin encounter at Sea Life Park|
We loved Aulani so much! There was so much to do at the resort, that in 8 days, we only left twice! The first was for the Pearl Harbor tour, and our second was for the dolphin encounter at Sea Life Park.
This is an excursion available through Aulani, and had we booked through Aulani, we probably wouldn’t have had near the problems that we had (well, maybe, there is no direct transportation from Aulani…only from the Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki).
First, let me explain why we didn’t book this excursion through Aulani…Remember, I said we were bringing Disney Brothers and Disney Baby along? Well the excursion through Aulani says that it is for children 3 years and up. When you check the Sea Life Park website, it says 1 year and up. I called Aulani to explain this, and they wouldn’t budge on the age thing. Bummer, but the kids and I really wanted to do this, so I booked through Sea Life Park instead. I figured we would just find a way to get there. Yep, you heard me right…Miss I plan EVERYTHING months in advance didn’t have a plan on how to get to Sea Life Park! BIG MISTAKE!! The afternoon before our dolphin encounter, my husband headed to the lobby to rent a car from Alamo (which is right on Aulani’s property)…and they were out of cars! They called the resort next door which also had a car rental on premises…Nope, out of cars too! Really?! How can they both be out of cars?! Taxis would be well over $200 we were told because of all of the traffic and traveling to the other side of the island.
I called Sea Life Park hoping to find a sympathetic ear…I didn’t get that either! They didn’t care that we couldn’t get there, it was my problem and there were no refunds!
|Across the street from Sea Life Park|
We went back to the hospitality desk at Aulani hoping someone could magically pull a car out of their hat for us. We sat down about 30 minutes before they were supposed to close for the day. (I didn’t get the cast member’s name that helped us, but she was wonderful…I was a little panicked at the thought of being out all the money for the dolphin encounter). She called every car rental that was remotely close to us. Nobody had a car for the day we needed it. Finally, she talked to Enterprise which was about 15 minutes away from us that had a car available in 2 days if we could reschedule our encounter at Sea Life Park. I was not looking forward to calling them back, but I didn’t have to. While sitting at the hospitality desk (now about 30 minutes after closing) they called Sea Life Park and got our date changed for us and reserved the car! I could have hugged her! Diva Tip: Rent a car before you land! They are few and far between!
Two days later we had our car and were headed to Sea Life Park. I loved getting to see the other side of the island. Aulani is on the west side and it is very dry. The east side is amazing and green everywhere!
|Touching sea stars|
Even after all of our trouble with Sea Life Park, we were excited to get there and get in the water with the dolphins. (Sea Life Park is where the movie 50 First Dates was filmed). I have to be honest, I was expecting a Sea World type of park, and Sea Life Park is not this at all. It is an older park, but there is still plenty to do while you wait for the dolphin encounter. We fed sea turtles, were able to touch sea stars, and watch penguins and sea lions on parade! We caught a few shows, had a snack and met at the building at our reserved time. Diva Tip: Wear your swim suits to the park and bring something dry to change into afterwards. You can rent a locker to keep your things in for about $3.00. Once everyone from our group was present, park workers lead us down to the locker area and to get our life jackets. They have life jackets to fit Disney Baby all the way up to my 6’4” husband. We were met by the photographers (no outside photographs are allowed during the encounters). We all walked down to the pool where the dolphins perform (there were close to 40 of us in our group). We were given instructions by the trainers and we finally got in the water! It was great! We got to hug the dolphins, dance with them, and give them a big kiss. Disney Baby had a great time and wasn’t afraid of the dolphins at all (I was a little bit worried since they were so big once you are up close and personal with them).
|Pool for dolphin shows and dolphin encounters|
The water is cold and deep (you’re on a platform, but don’t have much wiggle room) Even on the platform, the water was up to the middle of Disney brothers’ chests.
I was so sad to have to get out of the water, but it was finally time to go after all of our pictures were taken. We headed back to the lockers for a quick rinse off and change. Pictures usually take about 30 minutes to get ready. We headed back to the gift shop so that we could purchase our pictures and then head back to Aulani.
Over all, it was a great experience. I would have loved to do some of the other types of dolphin encounters, but Disney Baby was too little for those…maybe one day. I wouldn’t call this one a must do like Pearl Harbor, but it is an amazing experience if you can find the time…and a car!