You’re going to paradise! Congratulations! The bad news is you probably have to return home at some point. While you’re vacationing at this incredible location, you want your family to experience all that Oahu has to offer, including the best Hawaiian food, music, folklore, dancing and cultural activities! In that case, a luau is totally in order, but which one and what level of tickets? We have some honest answers to your questions. And some pictures and video as proof!
Which luau should I attend?
I spent hours reading reviews and comparing luaus, specifically KA WA’A (which means “the canoe”) at Aulani and the luau at nearby Paradise Cove. There were very strong opinions on both sides and the reality is likely that both luaus offer amazing food and entertainment and learning opportunities for your family at a comparable price point. However, I could have skipped all the research because our decision came down to some very simple factors. We were staying at Aulani and with four kids, our mantra is – be as close to your bed as possible at 10:00pm. That’s it, folks. The appeal of “leave luau and roll into bed” was strong. Second factor with equally as much weight for this Disney loving family – Mickey and Minnie doing the hula. How could I travel all that way to spend a week at a Disney resort in Hawaii and miss that? I would probably not want to miss that even without my kids! So, bottom line, if you’re staying at Aulani, their luau is awesome and so convenient. If you’re not staying at Aulani but you have a family with young kids and you love Disney, this is the luau for you. You just won’t be able to roll right into bed after.
To VIP or Not?
Aulani is aleady a luxury resort experience. I like to think we’re all “very important people” when parting with that much of the contents of our wallets for a vacation. The question becomes does the added value of the VIP experience match up to the added cost? In our opinion, YES!
5 reasons we opted for (and didn’t regret) the VIP experience:
5 – It’s not THAT much more per person to upgrade. If you consider the staggering ticket price of the luau, you’re looking at a 30% increase for the VIP adult ticket from $139 to $179, and a 20% increase for a youth ticket (ages 3-9) from $89 to $109. The earlier you book your VIP tickets the better because your seats are assigned. Your seats will be better than someone who purchases after you.
4 – You will have an amazing view of the entertainment. The VIP tables are the first row of tables in front of the stage. The main stage is where most of the entertainment will take place and you will appreciate the unobstructed and close-up view of the dancing, singing, drumming, and torch throwing! Being able to appreciate all the details up front helped my kids stay riveted throughout the performances. Additionally, you will be right near the action when the kids are invited to come up and learn the hula with Mickey and Minnie – my favorite part! Our table was not front and center. We had seats at an end table with a great space behind us for the kids to get up and dance throughout the evening. There may have been some flossing. And dabbing.
3 – You get to enter the luau area first! There are a limited number of VIP tickets issued. The VIPs are entitled to enter 15 minutes prior to the gen pop, aka non-VIPs. Who doesn’t want to be first? If you line up early for the VIP entrance, you can be extra first. We arrived 15 minutes prior to the VIP entrance time. You will be escorted for a photo-op, shown to your table and then the fun begins and you will have plenty of time to enjoy it all before the performances start!
2. You have first access to the Hawaiian cultural hands-on activities. These activities are for everyone (VIPs and Gen Pop) but we really enjoyed having no crowds and no lines for these activities getting in slightly before everyone else. There are 5 stations the kids can rotate among: making poi, temporary tattoos, a ukulele lesson, Hawaiian stamp art to create a bookmark and lei-making with real flowers! Our kids had so much fun and while they DO know how to wait in a line for their turn, it was very nice not to. They even returned a few times for more tattoos. It’s time for an intervention about that tattoo enthusiasm. There are also photographers around who will take photos of you – during the activities and posed up by the stage. No lines and low crowds for photos is also a bonus!
1. Your alcoholic beverages are free! Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Your “number 1” is free booze at a Disney luau with your family? Truth be told, the perk of free alcoholic beverages (btw, I AM talking hard liquor and not just beer and wine) is my number 1 because it was the last in the plus column that I could come up with. I actually almost forgot, but it IS an added benefit because you would otherwise be paying and adding to the price of your base ticket anyway! The adult beverages were absolutely delicious. You are handed a splendid True Blue Hawaii cocktail as soon as you walk in. We also tried a couple of rum drinks that looked and tasted like a sunset on the beach in a cup. Delish. They go very well with all the amazing food!
Watch our video for a recap of our fun evening!
Are you convinced yet that the VIP experience at the KA WA’A luau is worth it? You won’t be disappointed! It’s a beautiful, authentic, fun experience for the whole family. You will reap the added benefits of early entry and up close seating, and you’ll quickly forget about your wallet that has shed a few pounds. Feel free to comment with any questions or let us know about your experience! Aloha!