LAIE,HI – When the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) embarks on a new course, it sets out to succeed. This is the case as the top paid attraction on Oahu invests $38 million as part of a five-year plan to enhance its activities, shows, restaurants, retail operations and business-to-business booking system.
Founded in 1963, the PCC has entertained more than 34 million visitors, while preserving and portraying the culture, arts and crafts of Polynesia. As a non-profit organization, 100 percent of PCC’s revenue goes to daily operations and financial assistance to nearly 17,000 young students over the last 48 years from more than 70 different countries throughout the Pacific while they attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
When the PCC reinvented and launched its evening show in fall 2009, the result was the highly successful and critically acclaimed, Ha: Breath of Life, the world’s largest Polynesian review. The Haunted Lagoon, entering its fourth season this October, has become Hawaii’s preeminent Halloween experience. Likewise, the World Fireknife Championships, set to hold its 20th anniversary in May 2012, continues to sell out and attract top fireknife talent from around the world.
The first phase of PCC’s latest upgrades and enhancements has already started to be introduced into daily operations. This first phase includes the unveiling of PCC’s new “Go Native!” activities. Currently, four of the eight new activities are available to guests, including cooking demos, umu (Samoan above-ground oven) making, Hawaiian quilt making and coconut tree climbing.
“The additions we have planned at the Polynesian Cultural Center will bring new and exciting elements to the park that will revitalize our guests’ experiences,” said Alfred Grace, PCC chief operating officer. “These investments will allow our guests to gain a deeper understanding of the Polynesian cultures in new and more immersive ways.”
“A great example of this is the umu making activity we introduced as part of our new “Go Native!” activities. Thousands of guests already witness cooking in the traditional Hawaiian imu as part of luau experiences here and elsewhere in Hawaii. Our new Samoan umu activity takes it a step further, not just showing people how some Polynesians cook their traditional foods but allowing them to take part and try it out for themselves.”
Already underway, enhancements to the PCC experience include:
Go Native! Activities
In addition to the already introduced cooking demos, umu making, Hawaiian quilt making and coconut tree climbing, more “Go Native!” activities are scheduled to be released this year:
Te Here celebration, beginning this July, will provide the truly unique opportunity for guests to experience the ancient and exotic Tahitian wedding ceremony while in Hawaii.
Outrigger canoe paddling allows guests to hop onboard a newly built four-person outrigger canoe and paddle their way through PCC’s lagoon. For those with a competitive edge, paddlers will also have the opportunity to race other canoe teams throughout the day.
Pareu (sarong) dying.
Spear throwing, in which guests can try their hand at spearing a coconut set on top of a 6-foot pole.
Rediscover the Marquesas
After nearly a year’s worth of renovations, the PCC’s Marquesas exhibit will reopen in June 2011. Representations of the rich culture and lush green landscapes of the French Polynesian island nation abound in this 5,000 square foot exhibit. Located in a secluded corner of the PCC and accessible via canoe or walkways, the village has received improvements that include fully renovated, authentic Polynesian structures and picturesque waterfalls, lush vegetation and a walkway to a private lookout. The exhibit will also be available for private events with advanced booking.
New Business-to-Business Booking System
Currently in final testing, the system is scheduled to go live in July 2011. Part of the TicketSage system, which has an emphasis on travel agency integration, the new system will make it simpler for agents to book reservations while adding overall efficiency. The B2B system will allow agencies to register online and book their orders directly without having to go through the general call center or a wholesaler. It will make PCC more accessible to U.S. Mainland tour and travel agencies, increasing reservation accuracy and improved working relationship with partner agencies.
Renovation of Restaurant Facilities
Currently closed for an “extreme makeover,” the Gateway and Ambassador buffets will reopen later in summer 2011 with greatly expanded capacity, an estimated combined size of 24,400 square feet. Each will be stocked with authentic food from the PCC’s six island village and throughout the Pacific, served with world famous Polynesian hospitality and the ambiance fit for a chief.
Hawaiian Journey in the Hukilau Theater
By spring 2012, the Hukilau Theater will erupt in a fervor of activity. Along with the redesign of the exterior, the interior will also be redone, complete with new digital projectors. The makeover of this theater will be more then skin deep as an all-new 4D experience will be unveiled to take visitors on a “Hawaiian Journey” unlike anything currently offered in the Hawaiian Islands.
A Bustling Market Place
Also in the planning is a major extension of the Polynesian Market Place by summer 2012. Accommodating more shops, the market place will enable the PCC to offer a wider variety goods from throughout all of Polynesia, including an ukulele factory, Polynesian handicrafts, fresh island fruits and vegetables and other Polynesian cuisine. Admission to the market place will be free to the public.