People paddling at Polynesian Cultural Center // © 2011 Polynesian Cultural Center
Polynesian Cultural Center
When it comes to Hawaii attractions, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is already in a class by itself.
As the top paid attraction on Oahu, it has entertained more than 34 million visitors since it was founded in 1963, but that doesn’t mean it’s resting on its laurels.
Instead, the north shore landmark is embarking on a five-year $38 million plan to enhance its activities, shows, restaurants, retail operations and business-to-business booking system.
The first phase of PCC’s upgrades — its new Go Native activities — has already been introduced into daily operations. Currently, four of the eight new activities are available to guests, including cooking demonstrations, umu (Samoan above-ground oven) making, Hawaiian quilt making and coconut tree climbing.
More Go Native activities are scheduled to be released this year, including a Te Here celebration, beginning in July, providing the opportunity for guests to experience the ancient and exotic Tahitian wedding ceremony and outrigger canoe paddling, where guests ride in a new 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. Rounding out the activities are Pareu (sarong) dying and spear throwing, where guests try their hand at spearing a coconut set on top of a six-foot pole.
Rediscovering The Marquesas
After nearly a year’s worth of renovations, the PCC’s Marquesas exhibit reopened in June. The 5,000-square-foot exhibit features representations of the rich culture and green landscapes of the French Polynesian island nation.
Located in a secluded corner of PCC and accessible via canoe or walkways, the Marquesas village has received improvements that include renovated, authentic Polynesian structures and waterfalls, lush vegetation and a walkway to a private lookout. The exhibit will also be available for private events with advance booking.
New Business-to-Business Booking System
Currently in final testing, PCC’s new booking system is scheduled to go live this summer. Part of TicketSage, which emphasizes travel agency integration, the new system will make it easier for agents to book reservations while adding overall efficiency.
The business-to-business 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 operators and travel agencies, increasing reservation accuracy and improving working relationships with partner agencies.
Renovation of Restaurant Facilities
Currently closed for a major makeover, the Gateway and Ambassador buffets will reopen later in summer 2011 with greatly expanded capacity. The estimated combined size of the buffets will be 24,400 square feet.
Each buffet will be stocked with authentic food from PCC’s six island villages and throughout the Pacific, served with Polynesian hospitality.
Hawaiian Journey in the Hukilau Theater
By spring 2012, renovations will focus on the Hukilau Theater.
Along with the redesign of the theater’s exterior, the interior will also be redone, complete with new digital projectors.
A new 4D experience will be unveiled to take visitors on what PCC calls a “Hawaiian journey unlike anything currently offered in the Hawaiian Islands.”
Bustling Market Place
Also in the planning is a major extension of PCC’s Polynesian Market Place, expected to be ready by summer 2012.
Accommodating more shops, the new marketplace will allow PCC to offer a wider variety of goods from throughout Polynesia, including a ukulele factory, Polynesian handicrafts, fresh island fruits and vegetables and other Polynesian cuisine. Admission to the market place will be free to the public.