on May 4, 2007
At the Polynesian Cultural Center, our tickets included the Ali’i Luau Dinner and the Horizons Show. One our hotel’s employees, Derek, insisted that this was the best luau on the island. Encouraged by this, we hungrily queued up for dinner.Our hostess greeted us with an orchid lei. I noticed the tiered seating, allowing us to see the stage and barbecue pit for the roast pig. After our hostess seated us, another group of servers asked if we wanted the special beverage served in a pineapple for an additional $10. I thought that since our package cost us $76, we should just stick to the passion fruit orange punch that was provided with our dinner. Shortly, the staff brought out the roast pig from the pit. From our angle, we could not see the ceremony too well but I figured that the real enjoyment would be having a taste of the luau pork. As our hostess excused us table by table to queue up at the buffet line, I saw that the dinner offerings included lomi lomi salmon, teriyaki chicken, baked fish (which sadly, was too dry), ahi poki (rare ahi tuna marinated in a sesame oil, soy sauce and chive marinade), the requisite poi (which I don’t particularly like but our toddler enjoyed) and fresh fruit. I have to admit, the food quality at the Ali’i Luau disappointed me and began to doubt Derek’s judgment. When dessert arrived, I tried the haupia, squares of coconut jello-like confection. If you like coconut, you will love haupia. Small baked goods and pineapple bars rounded off the menu.As I left the luau, I felt dissatisfied. The food was not particularly spectacular and the performers merely sang and performed a few hula dances. Not until we meandered toward the Horizons auditorium did it dawn on me that the experience continued. As we settled in our stadium-like seats, the house lights dimmed and I gazed down at the stage, complete with rockwork and different performing areas around plants, caves and trees. A flourish of colors and lights caught our attention and performers in traditional dress professionally proceeded onstage. I particularly enjoyed the Aotearoan poi ball dance, because I now understood the difficulty in swinging those balls.During the intermission, we realized our daughter had fallen asleep and needed to return to the hotel. Unfortunately, we missed the best part of the show, the fire dance finale. Our friends reported that the second part of the show eclipsed the first, and that the fire dance bored them. They lied to protect our feelings but later we discovered that the finale overwhelmed them and they could not say enough good things about the entire show.My recommendation, in retrospect, is to purchase the Admission and Show package for $55. This will save you the cost of a luau dinner that did not really impress me. But overall, I concluded that Derek truly knew what consists of a worthwhile and memorable experience.
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