LDS-owned complex a popular attraction on Oahu
Fifty years ago yesterday, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) opened on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. This Polynesian-themed attraction is part living museum, part theme park and part outreach by its owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons) that is located on land owned by nearby Brigham Young University–Hawaii. In fact, there is a free shuttle tour of the university and the Laie Hawaii Temple and its associated visitors’ center. The of the LDS Church misses very few opportunities to get their message out.
The enables visitors to get a well-orchestrated glimpse of scattered Polynesian peoples. Simulated villages include Fiji, Hawaii, the Marquesa Islands, New Zealand (Aotearoa), Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. Entertainment includes luaus, music and dance are presented to visitors. It is said to be the only cultural tourist attraction of its kind in the world. The center is a job provider on the opposite side of the island from Honolulu. Seventy percent of the center’s approximately 1,300 employees are BYU-Hawaii students with profits from the commercial venture funding various scholarship programs.
In half a century, the PCC has welcomed more than 37 million guests, some of whom dismiss it as a tourist trap and others who are impressed by the concentration of information on the variations on the theme of Polynesian culture presented there via presentations, exhibits and hands-on activities. Hawaiian Journey, a new film features Hawaii’s captivating scenery on one of the state’s largest movie screens; a canoe pageant performed on the lagoon, a s luau with Hawaiian entertainment and a night show called Ha: Breath of Life.
Shoppers rejoice. The PCC’s five-year, $100 million ifacility and experiential improvement projects are scheduled to conclude in fourth quarter 2014 with the grand opening of the newly expanded Pacific Marketplace, which will double in size to accommodate more shops and offer a wider selection of goods and products from throughout Polynesia. Notably, the marketplace will be positioned closer to Kamehameha Highway and be more readily accessible, as people will be able to shop without having to actually enter the PCC. For more information, call 800-367-7060.