Disney Aulani

If you are a Disney fan and enjoy the characters you will enjoy Aulani. The resort has an excellent rating on TripAdvisor. Check out the reviews to see what others are saying.

According to Hawaii Magazine, “Translated from Hawaiian to English means, “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “the place that speaks with deep messages.””

Aulani is a Disney Vacation Club property, but you do not have to be a member to stay here. Rates for rooms without a membership will cost hundreds of dollars per night. See my discussion about the Disney Vacation Club here. Whether you are using points or paying cash the amount comes down to three things; just as with any other hotel. Room price depends on size, view and time of year. My family is small enough for a studio, but I prefer a one bedroom villa with an island garden or pool view.

Here are some things my family has learned. The biggest piece of advice is to plan your reservations early, such as your character dining. If you want a pool chair or complementary daycare arrive early or miss out. Make sure you get wristbands as a pass for the pool and beach areas. I heard the pool area was under some renovation in the summer of 2019.

You can expect crowds like anything else Disney and Disney prices, but people are willing to pay for the Disney experience.

For transportation my family rents a car at the airport. There is a car rental service at the resort. There is also a shared shuttle service to and from the airport that can be booked. Disney Vacation Club members park for free, and other overnight guests pay $37 daily. Parking options for the day are available, which include complimentary parking. The resort about 28 miles west of Waikiki.

Before you go, if you plan on using the complimentary day care known as Auntie‘s Beach House then preregister online. Make your restaurant reservations, but especially character dining. Check the schedule on when to see other characters outside of meal times. Ama Ama is the premiere restaurant at Aulani with ocean views. Several other dining options exists as well including quick serve and room service.

If you are familiar with resort spas then this will be familiar. Steam room and hot tubs before your massage. I enjoyed the visit here.

The beach is next to a wedding chapel and the lagoon is shared with the Four Seasons Resort. The lagoon is calm water and there are snorkeling and paddle boards for rent.

There is a lazy river and multiple pool areas. There are also two waterslides that are a blast. This is my favorite part about the resort. There is a splash zone and a play area inside the pool area.

There is a scavenger hunt with tablets that cause certain interactions when your are in range, such as a flame shooting out the side of the mountain built in the pool area. You can look for hidden Mickeys, but also look out for menehune.Legendary creatures called menehune (pronounced meh-neh-HOO-neh) weave a charming spell throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Believed to be dwarf-like, the expert masons are said to have conjured enormous rock structures overnight.” These little statues are all over the resort.

The resort does have a luau. The luau is nice and if you want the Disney experience see this one. There are several other options on the island. About a 10 minute walk is the luau at Paradise Cove.

There is also a golf course across the street.

For those that want cheaper options during there stay other restaurants are located across the street. Island Country Markets is a good place across the street as well to get items you forgot and general food items. This is also a much cheaper option to get your adult beverages. Refillable mugs are offered at $18.99.

Relax and enjoy your next family vacation at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

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Disney Vacation for Our Military

Are your military friends familiar with the Armed Forces Resorts? Please spread the word about these exclusive resort hotels available to our military personnel. There are four hotels located in South Korea, Germany, Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and the Shades of Green located on Disney property next to the Disney Magic Kingdom. There are also many lodging opportunities throughout the country on various military installations.

Today lets focus on Shades of Green at Disney World. This hotel, as the other hotels, is operated by MWR or Military, Welfare and Recreation. This program also sells tickets and attractions through the hotel. Plan ahead and tickets can be booked through your local MWR or ITT Office. This varies by location. Here is an example of a price list from the ITT Office from Camp Pendleton in California. There are many options for tickets beyond Disney World. Shades of Green can offer other tickets outside Disney World as well.

The hotel is located on the Walt Disney Resort property and other resorts are located around the hotel. Golfing is also available.

For booking the hotel there are several room options and online booking is available. The rate starts at $119 per night for E1 – E6 with two higher tiers depending on rank that charge more for higher ranks.

Should you compare rates to other hotels? Yes. If your goal is to budget the least amount for lodging then look around even outside resort property. Remember at Shades of Green you are paying to be on the Disney Resort property. You can make it through Disney World without a rental car. There are Disney meal plans you can get, but if you like some store bought food in your room to get cheaper meals you will need to figure that out. You can call the hotel to see what they stock or pack some food.

In addition to several dining options, Shades of Green also has a small Exchange should you forget something or want to look for souvenirs. Remember all of these benefits are tax free.

The hotel does not participate in the Disney Shuttle service to and from the Orlando airport. To find out about transportation to and from the airport and hotel click here. Stroller restrictions for Disney World can be found here. Self-parking is $9 a night and valet is $14 per night. There are two pools, a splash park and a spa. Alamo car rental is on site. Accommodation needs should be cleared with the hotel. Transportation is provided to Disney parks from the hotel.

This is a great hotel for military families. A standard hotel room here feels exactly like that, but remember the big selling point is location. The rooms are fine. This is a great place to spend your time at Disney World.

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Netflix Has Peaked But Amazon Prime Video Has the Full Package

Netflix might have finally peaked. There is no secret that the streaming industry Netflix pioneered is getting more crowded and competitive. Even with traditional competition from Amazon and Hulu, Netflix has performed well, but new competition is on the way. Apple TV will offer a Roku-like service and original programming. One of the most anticipated and content packed streaming services is Disney+. According to CBS News, “The service will cost $6.99 per month, or well below the $13 monthly fee charged by Netflix for its most popular streaming plan.

Disney is a conglomerate and has other ways to make income over Netflix. That is also the reason why Amazon Prime Video will hold its own ground. The video portion is a part of the Amazon Prime brand, so, unlike Netflix, this is much more than a streaming service. Netflix is losing more content that competitors own and will use against them. Between Disney, Comcast and Warner, 20% of Netflix content could be lost as these companies look to build their own streaming services. In addition to Disney+, Warner is preparing HBO Max to enter the video streaming war.

Another problem for Netflix is debt. The service has over $20 billion on the books. According to the LA Times, “The goal, executives say, is to increase the portion of self-produced originals to 50% of its slate in an effort to own more of the shows on its platform.” Right now their original content is only 8%. That means a lot more spending and, quite likely, much more debt.

Netflix loyalist should not panic. Netflix might have peaked, but the company still can compete. The days of dominating the streaming market might be numbered, but bring on the choices and original content from all the platforms. Many people already stream from more than one service and could probably stream from many more before the cost equals the price of a typical cable bill. In the meantime I will keep streaming Netflix and Amazon, while I consider another streaming option to add into the mix.

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Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is a reality acknowledged by many. Many people even acknowledge the causes of the gender pay gap. Some people might believe women are unfairly paid less, while others argue life choices explain the pay gap, but not everyone acknowledges this as a problem. The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment,” according to U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

If this type of discrimination is illegal then pay should be the same, but not so fast. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States.” Perhaps this problem is not entirely legal. Let’s even allow the argument that their are various and legitimate reasons that explain the gap. Then the gap is legal and legitimate, so why worry about it? The reason is about perception. The very notion of a business closing the gender wage gap could increase their talent pool by attracting top performing women. Salesforce spent $6 million to close the gender pay gap. That’s not just courageous, but a smart business decision. Perception is important.

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Libra (Facebook Cryptocurrency) Needs to Succeed

Reinvent money. Transform the global economy. So people everywhere can live better lives,” claims the Libra webpage. Before the name Libra was known, I questioned the legitimacy of Facebook’s cryptocurrency against the dollar. President Trump and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have concerns about the potential global currency. “In addition to worries about privacy, money laundering, and consumer protections, Libra poses serious risks to global financial stability due to the enormity of Facebook’s user base, Powell said,” according to Wired.

President Trump called cryptocurrency not real money with a value based on air. Of course, the United States left the gold standard in 1971. The dollar gets legitimacy from the strength and reputation of the U.S. government. Essentially the dollar is a brand backed by the government. Libra would be a brand backed by Facebook and is supported by other legitimate companies. According to CBS News this includes, “PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and Mastercard.” These are powerful companies that can legitimize Libra as a global currency.

One potential problem for Libra is taxes. If Libra is to be a global currency in multiple jurisdictions of government then Facebook must figure out how to appease government’s demands for taxes. Libra would very unlikely be acceptable as a source for tax evasion. However, if the tax issue could be figured out and new streams of tax revenue could be spawned for the political elites then Libra could make headway.

A big problem for many countries is what this could mean strategically for national currency. This is particularly true for the dollar. According to The Balance referring to the dollar, “As of the third quarter of 2018, it makes up nearly 62 percent of all known central bank foreign exchange reserves. That makes it the de facto global currency, even though it doesn’t hold an official title.” No other currency comes close. Libra cannot disrupt the global brand of the dollar. If this is believed to be the case then Libra can miss one of the most important backers in the United States. However, the United States does not want to leave a void for another major contender, such as China, to fill. The United States has a chance to strategically plan and set up a new global currency under an American run company in Facebook. This could keep the global advantage over currency solidly in favor of the United States as the world enters a new era of banking.

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Happy Amazon Prime Days! (Why Amazon is the Retail Leader)

Amazon has become a retail giant that has become the leader in online retail. They have made fast shipping a practical industry standard and they are pushing to make it faster. They offer just about any type of product a person can think of at affordable prices. Their Prime label has created brand loyalty. They are the one contender who has truly competed with Walmart. Amazon might have their own issues, but they are controlling the market. They are innovating and making decisions while other retailers react to them. Everyone is mimicking Amazon.

Amazon Prime Day is no exception. The summertime Black Friday is setting another industry standard that has the rest of the retail market still marching to the beat of Amazon. The two-day extravaganza of Amazon Prime Days kicks off July 15. Many people will take time during work to checkout the deals, as many of us have done or witnessed. Many competitors, such as Walmart and Target, have followed Amazon in offering amazing deals. There is one thing they cannot compete against, which is that this is very specifically AMAZON Prime Day.

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?Equal Pay?

Imagine two factory workers on the floor working at a set pace and getting the same results. Equal pay might seem fair, but what if one employee worked at the factory for 10 years and the other employee just started.

Imagine two employees that sell cars who work for commission. That defies the idea of equal pay, but incentives salespeople to make more individual sales.

Think of a waiter and a waitress that work for tips. The waitress continually gets higher tips than the waiter, but one day the store manager decides to pool the tips and divide them equally amongst the staff. There is less individual incentive, but everyone can help increase the pool. Perhaps the more talented waitress will leave to be employed elsewhere, but the wait staff that remains might be more inclined to help one another.

Finally, think of a workplace where everyone gets paid the same from the top down or even just for the same position. Would top talent leave to a place where they could standout and achieve higher success?

Should the government tell a private business what to pay employees? Sure there is the minimum wage, but the majority of workers make more money. If an employee agrees to a certain rate with an employer isn’t that fair? I already have one retirement annuity and I would be willing to make a little less then a person I am competing against for a job. I would not expect to be paid equal to a person who has been doing the same job for 10 years, but I would want to be paid fairly.

Fair pay is understandable and even though equal pay is complex there still can be issues. If a certain class of people, such as women, are consistently making less then their counterparts then that might need justification. Even if the reasoning is legal, the publicity would be bad. Price gouging anyone unfairly over pay is wrong.

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