on August 24, 2012
Our second daytrip for the week was the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) and what an enjoyable experience it was! The PCC is outdoor island village recreations in which you learn about 6 Polynesian cultures through demonstrations and interaction. The concept kind of reminds me of Disney’s Epcot World Showcase theme park except there are no thrill rides at the PCC. Furthermore, the PCC offers Polynesian-themed dinners and an amazing arena show with hi-tech effects and talented performers. A visit to the PCC is an all-day affair. You can piecemeal your visit by purchasing a ticket for, say, just the village experience or just the dinner or just the show. However, to get the most out of your day, I recommend purchasing a package that includes a guide and all three experiences. Although the PCC is not a luau, I found its package prices to be on par with a luau evening at establishments throughout Oahu. The difference is that the PCC includes the village life daytime experience in addition to a dinner and evening show. Furthermore, if you book online at least 10 days in advance, you will get a 10% discount.From our resort, it was an hour drive through the scenic North Shore region of Oahu to get to the PCC. We arrived shortly after its noon opening. Our guide for our Ambassador Package was Haley from New Zealand. Like 70-80% of the employees of the PCC, she is a student at Brigham Young University (BYU) located next door. In return for working at the PCC, students are housed and educated by the university at no charge. Many of the students are actually from the islands represented at the PCC.The island village life portion of our day began with a canoe ride that gave us a glimpse of the villages. The cultures represented at the PCC are Samoa, Aotearoa (known today as New Zealand), Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Tonga.At the conclusion of the canoe ride, Haley led us to the various Polynesian villages where we watched demonstrations, participated in games/contests, learned a traditional skill, or listened to a cultural lesson. Some of my more memorable experiences were the spear throwing contest in Tonga, trying to keep a straight face as our guide pronounced some of the Tongan words that sounded like the f-word in English, rooting for my brother-in-law as he rubbed sticks together in the fire-starting contest in Samoa, and learning all the ancient rules in Fiji that could get you executed if you violated them.I had the most fun in Aotearoa where we spent the most time probably because Haley is from there. We participated in an ancient warrior greeting ritual in which a man holding a spear pranced toward us and dropped something for our appointed king to pick up and show our peaceful intentions. We watched a song and dance presentation. We learned to swing poi balls which ancient warriors used to strengthen their wrists. We learned stick games (tititorea) used to improve hand-eye coordination.In between the village visits, we were given time to visit various snack shops located throughout the premises. We watched the 2:30 canoe pageant in which the various nations float down the channel in colorful costumes demonstrating their native songs and dances. The island village life exhibits close at 5 PM. Before Haley led us to dinner, she quizzed us to see if we remembered the greetings in the languages of the nations we visited that day. We were successful in recalling the greetings as a group - yeah! Haley said goodbye to each of us with a big hug.At the time of booking the Ambassador Package, we could choose one of two buffet dinner options: Ali'i Luau Dining or Prime Dining. We chose the Prime Dining option because it had more food choices than the luau. The Prime Dining contained foods from the different cultures represented at the PCC in addition to mainland food such as prime rib, chicken cordon bleu, and crab legs. I really enjoyed trying some of the more exotic island dishes such as the purple taro rolls and pollock in coconut milk.After dinner, we still had time to kill before the 7:45 show; therefore, we took the free bus tour of the BYU campus and the small town of Laie. The tour is first-come-first-serve so get there early. We saw the Laie Hawaii Temple. It's a beautiful building from the outside but we were not allowed inside because we are not Mormon. Instead, we were given 25 minutes to walk around in the visitor center. We were shown a film on how the Mormons settled in Laie, established the university, and created the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1963. The final experience of our day at the PCC was the evening show called "Ha: Breath of Life" (trailer on YouTube). It was a fabulous presentation with plenty of drumming, singing, effects, and colorful costumes. The show culminated with spectacular fire dancers and ended around 9:30 PM. We made it back to our resort by 11 PM. What an incredible day we had at the PCC.
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