The Hawaiian luau at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa is a magical experience that is both authentic and a vacation highlight for the whole family.
The KA WA‘A luau is second-to-none and considered among the best luaus on the island. Located in Kapolei on the Ko Olina coastline of Oahu, Hawaii, the Aulani is a Disney Resort & Spa that opened in 2011. (see video below)
Pursuitist found Disney’s Aulani Resort’s luau to be authentic, professionally choreographed and an excellent example of a traditional Hawaiian feast. The entertainment is run by a local family-owned company and features hula dancers who perform a variety of traditional dances, while a brother and sister team serve as the narrators who share the fascinating story of the origins of Hawaii, beginning with the period when voyagers from Tahiti arrived by canoe to settle in Hawaii.
The storytellers spoke of farming and fishing practices, the plantation days and how family traditions are celebrated to the present day. We heard tales of Oahu and the resort’s surrounding ‘Ewa plains, as well as the legends of the demigod Maui. All of this was beautifully re-enacted by a large group of both male and female dancers who wore festive costume including traditional grass skirts.
Upon arrival, guests are presented with a beaded necklace and a fruit punch (rum punch for adults) before entering an expansive grassy lawn on the grounds of the hotel where the luau and dinner take place. During a cocktail hour, which commences at 5pm, there are a variety of traditional Hawaiian activities for children and adults alike from which to choose, ranging from lei-making to taro pounding. Other activities include artists who draw temporary tattoos on guests and instruction on how to hula-dance.
Guests are then seated at assigned tables. A sumptuous meal is served buffet-style and features the traditional dishes typically served at a Hawaiian feast. The meal was delicious and consisted of fresh salads, locally-sourced vegetables and fruits, local seafood including a salmon and tomato salad, poke, braised imu-style pork, and a Hawaiian-style roasted pig. There were other favorites including teriyaki chicken and a carving station with prime rib. For children, there are chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, pasta and fresh fruit. Desserts included guava cakes, macadamia nut brownies, a haupia-coconut and banana bread puddings, fresh pineapple and berries.
The entertainers were professional, and the hula dancing, singing and live music was excellent. The show was very engaging with the audience mesmerized by the performance. Fire dancing, which is crowd favorite (though not actually an authentic Hawaiian tradition) is weaved into the performance with the story of how native Tahitians traveled to Hawaii. Portions of the performance were held in the seating area, so everyone had the opportunity to see the performers up close.
The luau is attended by approximately 400 guests, and is not so large compared to others offered around the island. It was very well-organized and there are no lines to wait in for the buffet or the open bar.
While Mickey Mouse did make an appearance—clad in a Hawaiian shirt— enthralling the young members of the audience, the luau did feel very authentic and exceeded all expectations.
Disney’s Aulani Resort’s luau is offered three days a week and is excessively popular so it is important to book tickets in advance. Guests from other properties can attend, including those who stay at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina next door.
KA WA‘A luau is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (subject to change, based on season). General admission is $119 for adults and $79 for children ages 3 to 9. Children under 3 are free. VIP seating costs $159 for grown-ups and $109 for kids and includes cocktails for adults. The VIP tables are closer to the stage—and well worth the extra cost. For reservations, call (808) 674-6320.