An evening of themed entertainment, island style

January 20, 2009, 1:14 AM · LAHAINA, Hawaii - Tuesday Park Visit: My weekly park visits are intended, in part, to provide Theme Park Insider readers who live in the snowy north with a vicarious thrill each week, with photos and accounts of a visit to a sunny theme park in a warmer part of the country.

Well, with a high temperature of 54 degrees (and a low of 30!) expected in Orlando today, I needed a better, warmer place to visit today.

So... welcome to Maui!

Kaanapali Beach

...Where it's sunny, 80 degrees and we're going to experience one of America's oldest forms of themed entertainment - an authentic Hawaiian lu'au.

Last night, Laurie and I drove down from our hotel on Ka'anapali Beach to the Old Lahaina Lu'au, hailed by many critics as the best on the island. For $95.83 per person, the lu'au includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and open bar, plus a musical history of the Hawaiian islands, told through dance. Unlike many of the shows performed at area hotels, the Old Lahaina Lu'au is noted for its more authentic tone, treating hula and other Hawaiian dance not as gimmicks in a variety show, but as an art form, worthy of a dignified performance.

Upon arriving, greeters offer you a lei in welcome...

Lei greeting well as a Mai Tai (or a fruit punch for non-drinkers).

Mai Tai fruit punch

Dinner is served at sundown, but first, the roast pig needs to be unearthed from the "imu" firepit, where it has been cooking all day.

Kalua Pua'a

The Kalua Pua'a pork soon reappears, along with the other Hawaiian goodies I piled on my dinner plate.

Kalua Pua'a

The pork is at the upper right, about 2 o'clock. Following clockwise around the plate, we've got Mahi Mahi, Taro Salad (taro and spinach in coconut sauce), stir fry vegetables, banana bread, octopus "poke" (marinated with Maui onions), ahi tuna "poke", Lomi Lomi Salmon (marinated with onions and tomatoes), a green salad, and at 12 o'clock on the plate, Pulehu Steak (grilled top sirloin). Just below the sirloin is Big Island sweet potatoes. Yep, they're purple, not the orange that mainlanders (okay, most of us) are used to.

Personally, I thought the octopus the best selection on my plate, with the ahi a close second. I guess I like "poke!"

But I liked the show even more. The show traces hula's roots to Tahiti, and its ancient drum dance.


Dancers, chants and music blend with live narration in telling the Hawaiian myth of Pele, the fire goddess.


After the missionaries arrive and hula is banned, the dance returns at the coronation of King David Kalakaua in 1882. Yes, the gentlemen don the grass skirts, too.

Royal Hula

A rousing finale shows hula's modern vitality, as the inspiration for modern competition and celebration.



No fire dances, no silly jokes, no Don Ho impersonators. Just a dedication to a unique theme and a professional cast realizing that creative vision.

Sound like something a dedicated theme park fan could get into, right?

Replies (12)

January 20, 2009 at 4:06 AM · It's 6 AM. I'm sitting in my office in the construction trailer off International Drive -- where I working as a project manager on the expansion of the new Peabody Tower and convention center.

And I have a broad (but certainly envious) grin across my mug.

The last time I was in Hawaii we stayed at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach. Since that visit my personal philosophy has always been "if heaven ain't like Kaanapali I don't wanna go."

Best wishes Mr. Niles. I hope you guys have a fantastic visit in the islands!

January 20, 2009 at 7:10 AM · Looks like an amazing evening Robert. Thanks for sharing. The pictures and descriptions of a much warmer place are nice for us midwestern states buried in snow and ice. :)
January 20, 2009 at 8:43 AM · Thanks for the update from paradise, Robert. I was last there about 13 months ago. I agree with TH Creative - having stayed on Ka'anapali Beach a couple times myself - that's the heaven I want to eventually visit. Out of curiosity - where on Ka'anapali are you staying? Both of our stays have been at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas (week-long stays picked up from owners via the internet at a great price).
January 20, 2009 at 11:12 AM · That first picture Robert posts is (I believe) the Ka'anapali Sheraton Resort. I've been snorkling out around that black volcanic rock that is jutting out into the water.

Very nice!

January 20, 2009 at 11:22 AM · And the point goes to TH! That's the view from our balcony at the Sheraton.
January 20, 2009 at 11:28 AM · Nice Pictures!

I bet its better than the Polynesian Resort! LOL

January 20, 2009 at 3:05 PM · Man, 30 degrees F sounds amazing. It was -22 deg. F a couple of days ago.
January 20, 2009 at 9:36 PM · Thanks
You Lucky B&^%$#...
Have Fun...
January 20, 2009 at 11:46 PM · Robert,

Glad you are enjoying Maui. Have you been to Hana, Maui? It is a breath taking trip that words can not describe.

Don't forget Oahu. You could watch all the ground construction at the new Disney resort in Ko Olina? I live about 15 minites away, if I hit all the traffic lights.

Robert when you go to bed, don't forget that fat blanket. It could get as low as 65 degrees tonight.

January 21, 2009 at 4:29 PM · That road to Hana is fun on the ride out -- where you can visit the beautiful Seven Sacred Pools.

But the ride back on that same road is just a big ol' pain!

January 24, 2009 at 9:21 AM · My wife and I have been to Maui twice and have explored the whole island. We love it. Its the most relaxing place I've ever been. From scuba diving to horseback riding in Haleakala crater, It's natures theme park!
January 24, 2009 at 2:15 PM · I wanted to add one tip for folks staying on Ka'anapali Beach: The ABC Store in Whalers Village. We brought everything we needed for the week in two carry-ons, and bought toothpaste, sunscreen, etc. at the ABC Store (for reasonable prices).

It was cheaper to buy the sunscreen, etc. in Maui than it would have been to pay United's fee for checked bags to bring it with us. (There's also a Safeway and Longs Drugs off Hwy. 30 in Lahaina if you wish to stop on your way to Ka'anapali.) Something to keep in mind.

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