Today was registration pick-up, another reminder we are actually here for a business trip, and not just vacation. D. picked up her packet just after the registration desk opened at 7AM. We then headed out to Ko’Olina and the Aulani, the Disney resort on Oahu. We found the resort easily, and parking can be validated with purchases at the store. Otherwise, it’s a maximum of $37 for the entire day. Waikiki parking is fairly comparable. We wandered the two stores, one more geared toward the kids, the other more for the adults. We then went to explore the grounds and meander the “boardwalk” between the resorts in this part. As we walked outside, we spotted Mickey Mouse posing for photos following the character breakfast.
The main pool area is really geared for younger kids, but the “lazy river” tube ride going all around the pool area looked inviting. Unfortunately, the pool area is for guests of the resort only, and day passes cannot be purchased.
A stroll through the pool area and you are in the lagoon. There are 4 lagoons along this stretch of beach which are open to the public. (All beaches in Hawaii are considered public, and residents/businesses cannot prevent locals from using the beach.) We strolled to the north to the Four Seasons, then further south to the Marriott resorts.
We met up with friends for a quick visit before we had to get ready for tonight’s work event, a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I have to say I have very mixed feelings about tonight’s event. There are almost 2800 employees plus guests here from our company, and about one fourth of us were at dinner tonight. They will be hosting us 2 more times in the coming days. We were split up between different areas for our luau. Our emcee for the evening was horribly prepped beforehand, and he even opened the show by saying it was April 2016. (Our table decided we get to come back in another five months when it’s September in his world!) He ran through his regular “schtick” throughout the evening…asking if anyone was celebrating anything special like a birthday or anniversary. Fifty percent of every table was celebrating a huge accomplishment! He forgot our company name several times, and referred to those 5 or so couples brave enough to stand up when he asked a question then were called up on stage as agents. There may be an agent or two or three here, but we aren’t all agents.
The “hula” show during dinner was below average in my opinion. I’m not an expert, but having just watched one less than a week ago, and having had a few years of hula lessons (way back in the day, yes, but you do retain some knowledge), this felt very made up. I will say we were seated right at the edge of the stage, so we had a very close up view. Perhaps if you were further away from the stage it may have been better? One of the female dancers had a pained smile pasted on her face, like she’d rather have been anywhere else than there. I had to essentially stop watching because I didn’t want my commentary to prevent others from having fun and enjoying it.
Dinner was a buffet. The menu we were provided in our information packets was much longer and more varied than what we were served. The kalua pig was tasty, the shrimp lacked garlic and seasoning, and the fish at our buffet station was overcooked and bland. None of our group went up for seconds, or dessert. I did overhear good comments about the food, so it may have been our buffet station, but I’m not betting on that.
After dinner we met in the theater for the evening’s recognition and keynote address by one of our company executives, followed by the performance of the current show at the Cultural Center, “Ha.” This was more authentic, certainly, than the earlier performance, and included a haka (Samoa), Tahitian dancers, and fire dancers. It is a schmaltzy storyline, but the music, dancing and drumming were good. I did not take any photos during the show as they had signs posted requesting no photos or video during the performance. Not everyone around us saw the sign, apparently. If you are in Hawaii and decide to pay a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, skip the food, skip the shopping, but go for the show.
A long bus ride back to the hotel, then the long line for the elevators, and we are safely back in our room for the night. Tomorrow is our second mandatory event in the mid-afternoon. We have opted to leave the car in the garage and have a lazy day at the hotel or in Waikiki. Tomorrow evening is the Honolulu Hoolaulea, and the street will be closed down. Getting back to Waikiki during the early afternoon today was heavily congested. I canonly imagine what tomorrow will be like.