Polynesian Cultural Center - A Cautionary Note

redc

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 26, 2007
We visited Aulani last week for seven nights. The resort is gorgeous, the food is wonderful (and expensive), the pool and beach were top notch. We rented a car from Alamo which is in the Aulani building and ventured out several times to explore Oahu, the North Shore, the southeast coast and sadly spent close to an entire day at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
We continually read that the PCC is a must do. Well let me tell you the other side of the story...
I can't believe we wasted a day in HAWAII on this boring tourist trap, run by the Mormon church.
Upsells at every turn for photos and food. You're "guides" who you learn are Brigham Young University students, lead you around like cattle to various Polynesian "islands" where you find more native BYU students putting on "shows" purporting to display native culture. Some of the shows were chanting and dancing, others were tacky stand-up routines, they were all embarrassing characatures of "native life."
There was a special canoe show where nothing happens. The luau was boring at best. No hula dancers or fire twirlers. No lively music. Just monotonous arm-waving mormon students. The food was buffet style like you would find at a VFW catering hall.
The drinks were syrupy sweet ice tea or lemonade. We bought a $10 pineapple drink before we realized that it was a just a slushy with no alcohol.
The whole ordeal comprises nearly 8 hours door-to-door.
When you read the reviews about this place, look very closely at the bad ones. They talk the truth. Although many reviews say that PCC is a "must do" or "can't miss" when visiting Oahu.
In reality it is very much the opposite.
Do your research, thoroughly.
 

newdeal

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 12, 2009
we found it to be a very long drive, a very expensive entry fee, and we didn't think it was that great either. Also we didn't realize that you kind of have to do it in order because otherwise if you do it randomly then nothing is going on where you are because the activities all happen at certain times which means you need to plan to tour around based on the time that things are happening which I didn't like at all
 


kyton

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
It’s pretty common known that it is a Mormon run facility and therefore it is dry - in fact the whole suburb it is located in is dry.

Tourist luaus as a whole are pretty ordinary - apparently if you can find a Kama'aina (again most are run by churches, schools or sporting groups) luau it is going to be a more authentic experience.
 
  • nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    Sorry you wasted your time there. Many people here like the informational aspect but if you are looking to be entertained, its not a good stop IMO. I knew before our trip that it was dry and run by Mormons so we opted not to visit. I always try to caution people here inquiring about the luau that alcohol is not served, which detracts from the value if you drink. Several other luaus include open bar in the price.
     

    jodybird511

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 31, 2014
    Thanks for posting. We've avoided this place for some of the reasons you've described, but I've always kind of wondered if we were missing out, as I often see folks on here posting about it being a must-do. Glad I hadn't miscalculated.
     

    Asnell

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 30, 2013
    My opinion of the place is quite different. We've always enjoyed it, particularly when our kids were young. There's lots of interactivity and education. Yes, you do have to plan your timing slightly if you want to see all the demonstrations -- planning is something I'd think people who are used to going to Disney would be used to.

    The luau that happens during dinner is very low-key and laid back so if you want to see fire dancing, you have to also attend the later evening's show (not luau). (Fire dancing is not authentically Hawaiian, btw, so some luaus don't include it.) I always enjoyed the food and thought it comparable to food at any luau (with the exception of the Old Lahina Luau and Feast at Lele on Maui, which are exceptionally good).

    I'm saddened to hear that some people find the lack of alcohol a deterrent or something that would ruin their experience. (I'm not Mormon and I drink sometimes.) But if a person won't enjoy their vacation, or a single day or evening event on their vacation, without a drink ... then maybe that person has a relationship with drinking that should be more closely considered.
     
    Last edited:
  • jbehr12

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 18, 2018
    My opinion of the place is quite different. We've always enjoyed it, particularly when our kids were young. There's lots of interactivity and education. Yes, you do have to plan your timing slightly if you want to see all the demonstrations -- planning is something I'd think people who are used to going to Disney would be used to.

    The luau that happens during dinner is very low-key and laid back so if you want to see fire dancing, you have to also attend the later evening's show (not luau). (Fire dancing is not authentically Hawaiian, btw, so some luaus don't include it.) I always enjoyed the food and thought it comparable to food at any luau (with the exception of the Old Lahina Luau and Feast at Lele on Maui, which are exceptionally good).

    I'm saddened to hear that some people find the lack of alcohol a deterrent or something that would ruin their experience. (I'm not Mormon and I drink sometimes.) But if a person won't enjoy their vacation, or a single day or evening event on their vacation, without a drink ... then maybe that person has a relationship with drinking that should be more closely considered.
    Hefty accusation in that last paragraph there. I’m nowhere near dependent on alcohol but if I’m going on vacation? You best expect to see me with a drink in my hand at every turn, and I don’t think that’s very unreasonable.
     

    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    We really enjoyed the PCC when we went. We had tickets to the evening show with the fire dancing and dinner buffet in the evening and spent some time walking around before. The students seemed genuinely interested in sharing some of their traditions with us. Since it is student run, I would imagine that experiences could vary from year to year depending on who is working at the center.
     

    Lilsia

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2018
    Hefty accusation in that last paragraph there. I’m nowhere near dependent on alcohol but if I’m going on vacation? You best expect to see me with a drink in my hand at every turn, and I don’t think that’s very unreasonable.
    And I took it more to mean that a $10 drink usually has alcohol at that price. I would not shell out that much money for a slushy. I did a lot of research before going on our first trip and watched You Tube videos of the place and read reviews. We also decided to skip it. We instead hired a local guide to take us around the island. It was just my 16 yo daughter and me and we had a great time with the guide and saw many areas that most tourists don't know or go to. The Island is just amazingly beautiful and you can have a great trip without spending a day at the PCC, IMO.
     
  • montreid

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 24, 2013
    To each their own. PCC doesn't hide that it's a Mormon Church sponsored and that it's a dry campus. Disney hides this more than PCC IMHO.

    The evening show is excellent and on par with many Disney evening productions imho...at least the last time we were there. The demonstrations were quite on par from with the representative islands from which these students actually are part of that come from for their studies sponsored by the Mormon Church.

    For those that actually plan to go, take a little time to talk with the students. They offer quite a lot more than just the presentation and each have a pretty good story that is a heck more authentic than your typical Disney fare.
     

    Daisy7425

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 20, 2018
    We also thought it was terrible and a waste of our time. It was our only regret in our whole week there. Kids, 9 and 6, were not impressed either.
     

    GoingSince1990

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 31, 2018
    Historical revisionism is another concerning issue that crops up repeatedly on the Yelp reviews, for example:

    No culture or history to learn here. You'll learn one or two words from different Polynesian countries, and hear some half-baked standup comedy routines from the shows. The entertainment tries to be more funny then educational.

    The content of exhibits are filled with historical revisionism. Illegal annexation of Hawaii not even mentioned at all throughout the center, or the brutal colonization the Polynesians endured. There was a few times during the exhibit where they inadvertently state European colonization was a good thing.

    This place is a form of neocolonism. They'll harp on how this center helps Polynesians with college tuition as part of a work study. However, the center edits the Polynesian culture as a commodity for easy consumption. I'm pretty confident the Mormon Church is making profits for their own self interest, and the education assistance for the Polynesians is just a byproduct. I don't have an issue with Mormons. I have issues with any organization selling other people's culture with heavy editing for profit.
     

    Heather07438

    WDW Apprentice
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2015
    Sorry, I try to be opened minded about choice of spirituality but Mormon and Scientologist religions, just can't. I'd go out of my way to avoid them while in Hawaii. I'd sooner let one of them grab me off the street in NYC for a free personality test. I know there's a difference between the 2 groups but the recipe and collateral damage is close enough. I prefer to support neither.
     

    AZMermaid

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    We had a fabulous time, kids were 7 and 8. We did the super ambassador tour with the private guide, pricey but worth it. We were front and center for everything with no wait, canoe parade, luau, HA show and each “land’s” show. We got to be in the procession for New Zealand‘s show. We played the games and such just our family of 4 a d the guide. We got to try out the new farm tour and saw the farm (I think this was just luck). We knew it was run by the Church but other than being mentioned in passing on the farm tour, it was not at all in our face. We weren’t asked for any additional money ever. My kids made Maui Hook necklaces, got leaf wreaths, 2-3 leis, waters etc all for free. We only paid for a snack. I’m not discounting your experience, just offering ours to anyone debating going here.
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    I'm saddened to hear that some people find the lack of alcohol a deterrent or something that would ruin their experience. (I'm not Mormon and I drink sometimes.) But if a person won't enjoy their vacation, or a single day or evening event on their vacation, without a drink ... then maybe that person has a relationship with drinking that should be more closely considered.
    This is one of the most asinine things I've read on these boards. Aside from the fact that many responsible adults like to enjoy a drink or two during a dinner show while on their Hawaiian vacation, the argument can also be made that open bar is included in the price for several other luaus across Hawaii. The PCC luau is competitively price but does not include alcohol, so some of the value is lost there alone.
     

    Great3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2015
    While I enjoy PCC, I can see why others dislike it. Different strokes for different people. You posted your opinions and others will post theirs. And it's good to have all the posting so it help others decide if it's worth going for them. For me, I say it's worth it, I enjoy it. I like it so much, that I visited every year, for the last 5 years. That's just my opinion.

    Great3
     

    Connect

    Disney News and Updates





    SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DAILY EMAIL
    Subscribe and never miss out on Disney News, Deals and Updates.






    Top