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Polynesian Cultural Center Celebrates Golden AnniversaryAugust 22, 2012 By: Jena Tesse Fox
Here's a great reason for families to visit Hawaii: The Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu will observe its 50th anniversary throughout 2013 with some new features.
“The Polynesian Cultural Center has been the number-one paid attraction since 1977,” said PCC Chief Operating Officer P. Alfred Grace, a New Zealand Maori who originally joined the Center as a student performer 30 years ago. “However, unlike when we first started, nearly two-thirds of all current visitors to Hawaii are repeat visitors. Many of our guests have previously been here five or six times, and if they’re from the West Coast, they’ve been here an average of 10 times.”
To make sure repeat guests always have something new to see, the PCC has launched some enhancements recently. Among these are renovations to the Gateway Restaurant, cooking demonstrations, coconut tree-climbing and outrigger canoe rentals.
Grace said said the Center will also commemorate its 50th anniversary with two additional major enhancements:
"At the beginning of this year we closed our Hukilau Theater, which opened 22 years ago to showcase large-format films on the Pacific. When it reopens later this year the exterior will have been converted into a 'volcano,' and inside we will use the latest technology to present a uniquely Hawaiian perspective of these islands…The theater is also going to feature a stage for live performances, and we'll have some fun surprises in there as well.
"Our biggest addition in years will launch next fall during our anniversary when we open our entirely new Polynesian Market Place,” Grace continued. The venue near the Pacific Theater will be open to the public and local residents, and tickets will not be needed. The marketplace will have unique island stores, an ukulele factory, a new restaurant and even Tahitian roulottes — island-style snack wagons. “To add to the ambience, we'll also have a stage with live entertainment.”
What’s New, What’s The Same
Among things that have changed over the years, Grace pointed out there are now more Asian students working behind the scenes at the Center, in close cooperation with the evolving objectives of the adjoining Brigham Young University–Hawaii which provides approximately 700 student employees at any given time. “Since we opened, the Center has helped over 20,000 students who in turn have served more than 37 million guests,” he said. “We’ve accommodated this diversity of student employees, helping thousands of them gain their education, but our core experiences remain true to preserving and portraying the arts and crafts of Polynesia. Our guests still meet lots of wonderful young Polynesians at the PCC.”
Grace added there is a travel agent link on the Polynesian Cultural Center’s web page at http://www.polynesia.com; and that the Center offers agents a 35 percent discount when they visit the PCC on personal fam tours.