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Hawaii's finest luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center
Cultural Center's Alii Luau, which offers visitors and kama'aina alike
the best value and richest experience in all Hawaii, includes:
flower lei greeting
music and entertainment
hosts and hostesses
Alii or royal court
views of the imu ceremony
Hawaiian food, served throughout the evening
Center's "Ambassador of Aloha" emcee
the complete Polynesian Cultural Center experience,
including seven villages, the Rainbows of Paradise canoe
show, PCC's IMAX™ Theater
screenings, and lower-level seating for the spectacular Horizons evening
show. Luau in general, and the PCC's Alii Luau in particular, are
rich in Hawaiian and Polynesian heritage. Indeed, after Hawaii and
aloha, luau may be the best-known Hawaiian word in the world.
for yourself why the Polynesian Cultural Center's Alii Luau has
justifiably inherited the deeper
meanings of Hawaiian hospitality
inherent in this ancient feast, and add this unforgettable experience
to your Hawaiian vacation.
History of the Luau
the world, feasting has been and is a universal form of celebrating
happy and important events. However, the Polynesians, and especially
Hawaiians, have evolved this great pleasure into a truly unique cultural
contact with the western world, Hawaiians called their important
feasts an 'aha 'aina. These feasts marked special occasions — such
as reaching a significant life milestone, the launching of a new
canoe or a great endeavor.
A few survive in modern forms, such as the luau for the one-year-old
baby, a graduation or wedding, that are common among Hawaiian and
may not even realize the practice has ancient origins.
the food and practices observed at an 'aha 'aina were rich with symbolism
and the entire event was designed to
to the way the old Hawaiians braided strands of coconut husk
fiber, or sennit, into thicker 'aha cords and rope. For example,
foods might represent
strength, while the names or attributes of other food items might
relate to virtues or goals the participants hoped to achieve.
about 150 years ago the term luau gradually replaced 'aha 'aina.
Luau, in Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages,
of the taro
leaf, which when young and small is cooked like spinach and
is often mixed with other foods, creating Hawaiian favorites
as luau squid or luau chicken;
but today, luau is the commonly accepted name of a Hawaiian
the abundant food served at the modern Alii Luau represents the
aloha spirit that brings guests and islanders
a memorable setting
the Polynesian Cultural Center. Or as "Cousin" Benny
Kai, the PCC's "Ambassador
of Aloha" says, "Whenever you're at a Hawaiian
luau, you are 'ohana — family."
Customs and Ceremonies
Cultural Center's Alii Luau is an immensely enjoyable experience
that can be broken into several
flower lei greeting
picture taking (not included in the price of the package)
optional pineapple smoothie (not included in the price of the
Hawaiian music, including steel guitar styling.
Polynesian Cultural Center's own Ambassador of Aloha master of
ceremonies explains the cultural significance of the luau and
hosts the program
Cultural Center performers start the program portion of the Ali'i
Luau by singing a pule, or The Queen's Prayer — written
by Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani
Royal Court — consisting of representatives of Hawaii's
ruling alii or chiefs — enter the luau as the emcee explains
their relative ranks and the significance of their traditional
young men uncover the imu or underground oven where a large pig
has been cooking throughout the afternoon. Ancient Polynesians
essentially devised a steam oven, called an imu in Hawaiian:
River rocks are heated over firewood for several hours. When
the rocks are sufficiently hot, any remaining firewood is removed
and crushed banana stumps containing a lot of water are placed
on top of the hot rocks — creating the steam — then
the food is added, and everything is covered to seal in the steam.
Depending on the amount of food, it may take hours for the feast
hosts and hostesses direct each table to one of the six buffet
stations. Eat as much of the luau food as you like. Go back several
times; or as Cousin Benny, the PCC's Ambassador of Aloha says, "Don't
eat until you're full; eat until you're dizzy."
you're eating, the program continues with hula kahiko or hula
performed in the ancient style to the accompaniment of chants,
drums and other percussion instruments; and hula auana, the graceful
modern hula to the sounds of the steel guitar and beautiful Hawaiian
some point in the program, the Ambassador of Aloha usually recognizes
people who are celebrating their birthdays; and he always invites
couples celebrating their wedding or anniversaries to come on
stage and dance to the Hawaiian Wedding Song.
we mention you can go back to the buffet line as often as you
or children, in the audience are invited onstage to join the
familiar strains of Aloha 'Oe, which brings the entertainment
portion of the Alii Luau to a close...but guests are welcome
to sit and relax for another half-hour; and, of course, go back
Cultural Center serves authentic modern Hawaiian food at its Alii
Luau, some based on ancient recipes, including several specialties
offered in sampler sized portions:
the traditional Hawaiian staple. It is a starch dish made by
pounding boiled taro roots and mixing with water until it reaches
a smooth consistency. "Taro is one of the most nutritious
starches on the planet," says Ambassador of Aloha Cousin
Benny. Some Hawaiians eat their poi with salt, some with sugar,
even soy sauce. Some like it thicker or thinner. Others like
it several days old for a little extra tang; and malahini, or
newcomers, might find it more to their liking at first if they
eat it with a bite of the other meat dishes.
those willing to try anything once, we offer poke, or raw fish
marinated in lemon or lime juice with other condiments and a
little coconut cream. Normally
offered in the Hawaiian-style of raw fish with sea salt, seaweed and onions,
we've chosen the more pleasing Tahitan preparation to introduce you to this
island favorite. If you want the more Hawaiian-style version, you'll
need to go a mom-and-pop local store, backyard luau or small Hawaiian restaurant
to get a taste.
|Lomilomi salmon. In Hawaiian, lomilomi means to massage, or in this case
to break the salmon into small pieces, which are then mixed with
tomatoes, onions, and other small condiments, giving it a delicious
tangy taste that goes great with poi.This style of fish preparation
was introduced to Hawaii by early western sailors.
kaula, or a seasoned beef jerky, harks back to the earliest days
of western sailors who brought their salt beef aboard ship in
barrels. In fact, on some of the South Pacific islands, you can
still buy a barrel of salt beef.
favorite Hawaiian dishes served at the Alii Luau include:
pua'a, or roast pork, as its prepared in the Hawaiian imu or
underground steam oven. Kalua pig is usually seasoned with sea
salt and sometimes green
ancient Polynesians brought moa, or chickens, with them from
the South Pacific a thousand years ago, Asian influences have
livened up the taste with teriyaki chicken.
tastes have also contributed another luau favorite: Chicken long
rice. Sometimes called thread or bean noodles, they are boiled
and served hot with
pieces of chicken. Try it over a little white rice.
of tasty, flakey white meat island fish that is deep-fried.*
Dark purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes that have been mixed into a cold salad.
rolls that have a distinctive purple color, derived from the
taro flour used in the recipe. They are baked fresh daily at
the Polynesian Cultural Center.
items on the Alii Luau menu include:
variety of salads: tossed greens with carrots and cherry tomatoes,
spinach salad, sweet potato salad, ambrosia, and cucumber-carrot
salad...with ranch, papaya seed, and thousand island dressings.
fruits: ripe pineapple spears, of course; watermelon (in season)
and other fruits.
(all decaffeinated): Coca-Cola™, Diet Coke™, root
Fruit Punch, Passion-Orange-Guava, Coffee, Herbal Teas.
dessert table offers delightful Hawaiian treats, including:
custard cubes made with rich coconut cream), guava cake,
cake, chocolate macadamia nut cake.
Of course, in true Hawaiian luau fashion, you can go back for more as many
times as you can stagger through the line. Enjoy!
Alii Luau and the Laie Hukilau
Polynesian Cultural Center's Alii Luau can trace its roots back to
the old Laie Hukilau program, which provided the inspiration for
the widely known
a wonderful day for fishing
in the old Hawaiian way,
where the hukilau nets are swishing
down in old Laie Bay.
Oh we're going to a hukilau,
a huki huki huki huki hukilau.
Everybody loves a hukilau,
where the laulau is the kaukau at the big luau.
We throw our nets out into the sea,
and all the ama-ama come a-swimming to me.
Oh we're going to a hukilau,
a huki huki huki,
huki huki hukilau.
understand the Laie Hukilau, it's important to know that missionaries
from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known
as LDS or the
Mormons) purchased a 6,000-acre plantation in Laie, Oahu, in 1865
as a headquarters and gathering place. When LDS leaders dedicated their
temple — the first
one built outside the continental United States — in 1919,
Laie truly became the spiritual center for all the Pacific Islands
the next several decades. Other Polynesians, especially Samoans from
began to migrate to Laie.
chapel accidentally burned down in 1940, but because of restrictions
caused by World War II, they were unable to start rebuilding it
until 1948. The local church members decided
to start a hukilau as a fundraising activity for the new
hukilau is an ancient Hawaiian fishing method in which a large net
in the ocean with lengthy ropes extending to the beach
to each end. Long
leaves, or lau in Hawaiian, which are bound along the length
of the ropes, flutter in the water and help scare the fish into the
pulls (huki in Hawaiian) the ropes, gradually bringing the net
of visitors and island residents attended the first Laie Hukilau, which
was held at Laie Bay's beautiful sandy beach
this day Hukilau
Beach, with its commemorative marker, is one of the finest
and least crowded on Oahu).
The Latter-day Saint Polynesians demonstrated and sold arts
and crafts, invited the visitors to help huki the nets at the appropriate
served a traditional
Hawaiian luau in the canoe house, and afterward entertained
with traditional Hawaiian and Samoan music and dance. That
first Laie Hukilau
was a huge success
and inspired Jack Owens to write The Hukilau Song.
program continued periodically over the next 20-plus years, and also
demonstrated to leaders at the Church and the
that visitors were willing to drive from Waikiki to Laie
to enjoy the warm hospitality of the Laie residents.
the Polynesian Cultural Center first opened its gates on October 12,
1963, more than
30 million visitors have experienced
which continues to be embodied by the Alii Luau. Many
of the old Laie Hukilau performers were among the early PCC workers
Laie residents still put on a hukilau for special events.
over 13,000 BYU-Hawaii students have also helped finance their education
by working at the Polynesian
Polynesian Cultural Center stages the Alii Luau in its Hale Aloha
Theater. The Hale Aloha, which was
in early 2003,
about 700 guests on individual chairs at at tables
for eight. All seats have an excellent view of the entertainment.
Hale Aloha also features a mountain backdrop with the imu pit at
its foot, as well as waterfalls and
foliage murals, a
large stage, and eight buffet serving stations. The "backstage" mountain
includes dressing rooms, offices and practice facilities
for the performers.
the number of tickets sold for the Alii Luau
exceeds the Hale Aloha's capacity, the Cultural Center
a second seating
the similarly spectacular Hale 'Ohana.
This venue has won national awards for its beautiful
landscaping and is
for large group
dinners, weddings and other events. The program and luau menu
in the Hale 'Ohana is identical to those in the Hale Aloha.
Hale Aloha was the home of the Polynesian Cultural Center's first
evening show from opening day — over 40
years ago on October 12, 1963, when
originally seated 600 guests.
1976, the evening show shifted to the 2,800-seat Pacific Theater as
Center evolved into
most popular paid-admission
After that, the Hale Aloha featured other daytime
shows and activities. For many years its stage was covered
with sand, but in the 1980s
the PCC extended
the lagoon into the Hale Aloha, which became the
site for the Center's long-running Pageant of the Long Canoes (which
evolved into Rainbows of Paradise) for a number
Hale 'Ohana was originally the PCC's Market Place, which was moved
behind the IMAX™ Theater in the mid-90s and remodeled into
the original Alii Luau venue.
makes the Alii Luau the best in Hawaii?
First, the Polynesian Cultural Center's Alii Luau
will exceed your expectations of a Hawaiian luau — PLUS,
your package includes admission to the Center's seven
villages, all daytime shows, IMAX™ Theater
screenings, and lower-level seating for the Horizons evening show.
is the Alii Luau superior to other luaus?
Guests can enjoy the Alii Luau in a beautiful
all-weather setting with comfortable seating on
The Alii Luau musicians
entertainment that harkens back to gracious Aloha
State days of ocean cruise liner arrivals and departures
and bygone radio
is the Alii Luau schedule?
The Alii Luau is served Monday-Saturday (closed
Sundays) from 5:00-7:00 p.m. The meal service
the food is served
is time to go to the evening show. The entertainment
also starts about 5:15 and lasts until about
I need reservations?
The Alii Luau is the Polynesian Cultural Center's
most popular dining option. While the Hale
Aloha venue can
700 guests and several hundred more comfortably
fill the Hale 'Ohana, we encourage you to make reservations as far
in advance as possible.
I have to go to the luau?
No. The Polynesian Cultural Center offers several other ticket
packages and dining options.
much does the Alii Luau cost?
The Ali'i Luau package costs $75 per adult
(ages 12-and-up) and $51 per child (ages
in Waikiki are also available.
we purchased the Gateway Buffet package, can we upgrade to the Ali'i
Of course. The Polynesian Cultural Center
Box Office can upgrade your tickets,
if Alii Luau
we have to eat poi?
It's up to you if you want to try it. But remember, you can
eat as much poi as you want at the
Alii Luau. It goes really well with the pipi
kaula (seasoned beef) and lomilomi salmon
(check out the Alii Luau menu).
there a pig ceremony?
Naturally. Polynesian Cultural Center villagers
cook a large pua'a, or pig, every day in
the imu — the traditional
Hawaiian way of cooking. The pig
is uncovered as part of each Alii Luau,
Hawaiian-style kalua pig
pork) is an important part of the
if I don't eat pork?
The teriyaki chicken and deep-fried
white fish entrees are also delicious,
as we say
we sit on the ground and eat with our fingers?
That's the best and most authentic
way to enjoy the Alii Luau!
A limited amount
low tables is
in front of the stage (you might
want to get in line early). Of
and linen service at all the
the musicians play The Hawaiian Wedding Song?
All couples celebrating their
weddings or anniversaries are
to the stage
to dance while
the Polynesian Cultural Center
musicians play The Hawaiian
does "Alii" mean?
Alii, or more correctly ali'i,
means chief or royalty in
is offering a "royal
a feast fit for a king.
we take pictures or videotape
We would be disappointed
if you didn't. Feel free
with our "Ambassador
of Aloha" emcee as well.
can I get additional information on the Alii
Luau and the Polynesian
Please contact your travel
agent; log on to www.polynesia.com;
or call our
Office toll free from
the mainland at 1-800-367-7060.
please visit your local
travel agency representative,
by our Waikiki Ticket
8 a.m. to 11 p.m.) in
the Royal Hawaiian Shopping
Center, or come to the
9:00 a.m., gates open
at 11:00 a.m.)