In 2013, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) will celebrate 50 years of perpetuating and preserving the cultures of Polynesia. With six-island villages, representing Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga, as well as exhibits depicting Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Marquesas, the PCC has immersed guests in native cultures over the span of five decades through interaction with islanders, demonstrations and hands-on activities.
The 50th anniversary has PCC embarking on a yearlong celebration of the past as it charts a course into the future. Special pricing and promotions will be unveiled throughout the year and the annual cultural festivals and special events will include added bells and whistles. A week’s worth of special festivities commemorating the milestone are slated for September 1-8, 2013.
In anticipation of the 50th anniversary milestone, current and alumni performers provided a living timeline of the PCC’s colorful history at this year’s Kamehameha Day Parade in Hawaii and Pioneer Days Parade in Utah.
The PCC traces its roots back to the old Laie hukilau that started in 1948 as a way to raise money for the community while educating and entertaining guests. On October 12, 1963 the PCC opened its door and has since grown into the 42-acre attraction loved by kamaaina (locals) and malihini (visitors) that is now recognized as Hawaii’s top paid visitor attraction.
Like the people of Polynesia, PCC is constantly improving. In 2009 they raised the curtain on a $3 million evening show, Ha: Breath of Life, redefining expectations of Hawaii productions by combining authenticity and cultural accuracy with a captivating tale, state-of-the-art performance technology, original melodies, choreography and costumes.
In 2011, Gateway opened its doors. The grandiose restaurant and special events venue boasts a 24,400-square-foot dining hall and two bountiful, buffet-style spreads with the atmosphere fit for alii (royalty). Since opening Gateway has hosted concerts featuring some of the brightest musical talent in Polynesia.
In the coming months, PCC will unveil another one-of-a-kind experience – an interactive theater experience found nowhere else in Hawaii. The PCC’s renovated Hukilau Theater is undergoing a transformation with an exterior that, once complete, will depict a powerful volcano with the structural fortitude to match. The interior of the theater will be completely redone, complete with new digital projectors, interactive special effects and theatrical lighting systems. The makeover also transfers onscreen, as Kamaaina: Child of the Land, a new immersive film takes visitors on a journey unlike anything offered in the state.
“The multi-generational story line springs from a moolelo, a Hawaiian tale of ancestors, the creation of the aina (land) — these islands, and its special meaning in their hearts and identity,” said P. Alfred Grace, the PCC’s Chief Operating Officer and executive producer of the 12-minute film. “It speaks of the importance of looking ‘to the land…with more than your eyes,’ of the earth’s bounty and the ‘source from which we rise,’ and how it shapes the identity of the Hawaiians.”
The Center’s 50th anniversary year will also welcome a redesigned Hawaii village reflective of an ahupuaa – a land division used by ancient Hawaiians, usually extending from the uplands to the sea – that will include new activities, architecture and exhibits. Other improvements underway include the renovation of Hale Aloha, home of the world famous Alii Luau, and a revitalized Samoa village. PCC also has plans to double the size of the current market place. Opening in the Fall of 2013, the expanded market place will accommodate more shops and offer a wider variety goods from throughout Polynesia.
For more information or to make reservations, visit Polynesia.com, or call the PCC ticket office at (800) 367-7060. On Oahu, call 808-293-3333.