While staying at Disney's Aulani resort we reserved two dining experiences. One was a Hawaiian Disney Character Breakfast at a restaurant called Makahiki, named for the Hawaiian harvest season. Located in the main building right below the main entrance lobby, the restaurant features colorful, culture inspired decor inside, and pretty koi ponds outside. Makahiki is a buffet style restaurant open for breakfast and dinner. We decided to reserve a late morning spot, both to avoid the crowds and to be able to have a big brunch and skip lunch that day.
Upon checking in the host gave our group of four celebration buttons since we were all celebrating anniversaries. Then we were directed to an area just outside for a photo opportunity with the one and only, Mickey Mouse. We must have been towards the tail end of breakfast because there was no line to meet Mickey (dressed in his finest Hawaiian casual). There is a cast member photographer but they will also take pictures with you personal camera. The cast member was very accomodating as we took quite a few pictures with the four of us and of each couple with Mickey. (A cast member later comes to your table during your meal to show you the pictures for sale. Since we weren't interested, we didn't remember how much they were, but it seems they are separate from any Photopass plan.)
After the photos it appears that guests are told to just wait in the seating area near the meet and greet until their table is ready but luckily ours was read immediately. Per our request, we were seated at a table outside on the lanai. It was much quieter outside and the weather was perfect with sunshine and some island breeze and the tables feature umbrellas so the sun isn't beating down on you while you are eating. There is also a plant buffer between the seating area and the walkways near the restaurant so we never felt like the guests walking around the resort were right next to us as they walked by. Our server was super nice and attentive, more so than you would expect for buffet service.
Even though our table was on the outskirts of the restaurant, we still had great character interaction along with a visit by the hostess, Aunty. She spends a portion of time singing songs, playing games, and teaching children various things about the Hawaiian culture. The characters at this particular breakfast were Pluto and Minnie Mouse. Guests only meet Mickey before the meal, he does not wander the restaurant like the other characters. I'm not sure if we just happened to be eating during a quiet time, or we were lingering longer than most, but both characters came to our table twice during our meal. The restaurant was probably about half to two-thirds full during our meal.
All of the food was really good and many dishes had a Hawaiian twist to expected breakfast items. Between the four of us, we tried just about everything. The food was always plentiful, having never had to wait for a refill on anything at the buffet. There was also a good selection of food, including quite a few Asian options that you wouldn't typically see at an American style breakfast buffet. The menu included items such as:
Fruits, yogurt & granola
European style meats and cheese station
Pastries and breads
Oatmeal & Toppings
Various egg dishes
Meats like bacon, sausage and ham
Pancakes, waffles and french toast
Potatoes (tater tots at the kids station!)
Fish such as Mahi Mahi and Salmon
Selection of Asian dishes like miso soup, fried rice and more
Make sure to try the traditional Hawaiian Loco Moco: white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy
You can book dining reservations at Aulani starting at 180 days out. The cost for the breakfast buffet is $39.00 per adult and $20.00 per child 9 and under (plus tax and gratuity). Over the years of traveling to the Disney Parks, we have come to the realization that character dining is expensive because you are paying for the experience. It is a lot to pay for a breakfast meal but we do like to go every once in awhile, especially if at a good restaurant. Also by reserving a brunch time the cost is essentially covering both breakfast and lunch. We decided to book this reservation to do at least a little something Disney-ish while in Hawaii but were pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed it event more than expected. Being able to enjoying a delicious variety of food in the beautiful Hawaiian weather and having great service seemed to be worth the price for us. (Although if we had been inside with singing, kids and crowds we probably would have felt differently!)
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