No one is more touristy than I am - decked out in a Hawaiian floral shirt, lei’d, fruity drink in hand, trying unsuccessfully to squat sit on my cushion at a traditional low table at the Old Lahaina Luau & Feast in Lahaina Maui. If I topple over backwards, Weeble-style in lotus position, my dignity would still be intact because happiness is feasting beachside, near sunset surrounded by happy tourists and the wafting aroma of roast pig - and poi..
The minute you arrive, you are treated with hospitality - the attendants, clothed in traditional floral wraps(?), efficiently direct where you can park, where to stand in line and where to pick up your tickets. You are then organized in clusters based on seating arrangements, and then expertly guided through different entrances leading to your tables. As you enter, Greeters offer you a choice of drink and immediately hand that drink to you, all while explaining where you can get more (at their open bar,) and always with smiling faces. What could have been very chaotic - because there were hundreds of us - is amazingly deftly handled. If only Six Flags were as efficient.
During feast preparation, you are free to roam and participate in different Oceanside activity, from photo-ops to dance demonstrations to peruse local art stands. Each activity, is directed (I would later find out) by either participants of the show or wait staff. In fact, I notice the guy handling the rock toss game (kind of like a giant ground shuffleboard) was one of the guys directing traffic earlier! I watch as he jokes with the crowd egging them to participate and as I walked up to play, I say, “it must be fun to do this every day.” When he hands me the game rock, I notice that for a split microsecond, he breaks character and his facial expression says, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” But he’s quick to recover - he returns to character and smiles and says he loves it. Even a job in paradise is sometimes still work.
The biggest pre-meal ceremony is the unearthing of the roast pig. If you go to their website you’ll see pictures. Under charcoal and sand, two bare-chested guys unearth a giant banana leaf swaddled pig and several giant pork roasts. They’re hilarious as they banter with the tourists; their funny remarks only hint of sarcasm and resentment for us tourist types who’ve shelled out over a hundred bucks each to watch this show.
The sound of the dinner bell announces everyone to return to their seats. We are escorted a table at a time to the dinner buffet. I don’t think the pulled pork is the same pig that was unearthed a few minutes earlier. There wasn't enough time to prepare and separate the meat this fast. I’m guessing the pig unearthed today is the one they’ll use on the menu tomorrow. The pulled pork is good, but cold. The menu on the buffet is extensive – leaf wrapped pork, beef tenderloin steak, and pineapple marinated chicken – all delicious. I try poi for the first time since it was introduced to me on that special episode of The Brady Bunch Goes to Hawaii. It does not taste the way I expect.
The show is fantastic. The history of the islands interpreted through dance. There are several costume changes and the dancers were beautiful but there seems to be a lack of pyrotechnics. I was hoping for more fire twirling.
Overall – a fun and wonderful night. If I were to do this again, I would choose tables and chairs. Though traditional squat down tables bring me closer to the action on stage, the rigor in my knees takes several minutes to return to an upright position.
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