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On November 26th, a few minutes before 5pm, we arrived at the check in desk just outside the Ewa tower, near the elevators.  At the end of the walkway leaving the building, we were greeted by cast members who asked for our reservation information.  We handed them the paper with our information and they directed us to a nearby line where there were maybe 5 groups in front of us. 

While waiting in line, a performer came out and greeted guests by blowing a Pū (conch shell) and doing the standard “Aloooooha” call and response thing.  A few minutes later we reached the check-in table where we were asked our names and then escorted over to the photo op where we posed in front of a few hula dancers.  We were then handed a photopass card and escorted to the beverage table.

kawaa luau check in

Those who chose an alcoholic beverage were given a “Ka Wa’a Sunset” and those who opt for the non-alcoholic version were given a blue juice beverage whose name escapes me.  The alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks are served in different sized cups, likely to make sure they don’t get mixed up with each other as some types look similar.  We were then escorted to our table, carrying our drinks, which had lids so we didn’t need to worry about spilling it along the way.  On the table was a kukui nut lei for each of us, an LED candle, and a lauhala box filled with purple orchids and a threaded needle that you could use to make a flower wristlet.  The needle was essentially floral wire, so we didn’t have to worry about our child accidentally sticking herself with it.

We were seated to the left of the stage.  Tables are at least 6 feet apart from each other in all directions and are not shared.  In the preferred section, the tables are specific to the size of your group.  In the general section, the tables mostly seemed to be arranged for groups of four.  Please note, this is no longer accurate as of May, 2022.  Seating is now at long communal tables for both preferred and general bookings.

Going from the back of the lawn up to the stage is a walkway, along which are platforms on which dancers would later perform, so no matter where you sit, you will have a close up view of some of the action.   On the stage are the musicians, they’re in the back behind protective panels.  Most of the activity occurs right in front of them on the stage.   

Almost immediately after being seated, a cast member introduced themselves and asked for our drink orders. I got the Mai Tai while my spouse got the Blue Hawaii. Other possible alcoholic drinks are the Tropical Punch and the Coconut Bay Breeze (not on the menu, our server told us about it).

The server confirmed that there were no allergies at our table and gave a brief run down about what we could expect for the evening. We asked them if there was a chance for our child to get the food that’s served to the adults instead of the kid’s option. The server wasn’t sure so she pulled over a manager. When they arrived, we explained our child preferred the items on the adult menu (she’s raised here, so she’s used to local food) and they replied that all the food is unlimited, so we had the option of either having her get the adult plate or stick with the kid’s plate and eat off of our plates. We opted for her to have the adult plate.

The pre-show got started with an introduction by our host who acted as a guide through the program.  On the Aulani site’s description of the luau, it mentions flower arranging and poi pounding demonstrations. These turned out to be hulas about the topics along with the host giving an explanation tying the respective hulas to the flowers on your table or the poi on you plate. 

The poi-pointing hula was timed to coincide with the serving of the first/salad course which was about 5:45pm, and included a small sample of poi.  We think it was odd that the poi was served as part of the salad course as it’s really a starch and is typically served as an accompaniment to the main course.   

The food was served in a covered lacquered bento box where each food item has its own compartment.  In addition to the poi, our boxes included fruit salad, vegetable salad w/ papaya seed dressing on the side, taro macaroni salad, lomi lomi salmon, and ahi poke.  The flavors of the three salads are all pretty standard.  While the mac salad has taro in it, if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll likely mistake the taro for potato.

While our daughter did get the adult version of the starter course, I guess they decided to play it safe and brought out a side of the kid’s main course of mac and cheese and chicken strips along with it.  She took a bite of each and tells me it was pretty standard, but I noticed she stuck to the adult plate after that.

After the salad course, we were surprised by an oli.  This is Hawaiian chant that is not danced to.  In a luau context, you would expect it to be at the beginning as a welcome/opening, but it seems Aulani chose to use it as a welcome to the main portion of the meal.  The end of the oli was about 6pm and this is when the main course was served.  All the entertainment left the stage at this point and pre-recorded music was played over the sound system while we ate.

Served in another covered bento box, the main course consisted of braised pork imu style, teriyaki chicken, kalbi ribs, fish (likely mahi) in a mac nut sauce, rice, veggies, and Okinawan sweet potato.  Overall, the quality was decent, nothing special, but most people will likely find something they enjoy.

Servers came around periodically to check on us.  We could order more drinks or request more of any food item.  We ended up trying the Tropical Punch and the Coconut Bay Breeze.

Of all the available drinks, the Mai Tai was my favorite, but I enjoyed them all.  It’s a lot easier to like a drink when it’s included rather than feeling ripped off after having spent $15-$20 like you would typically be paying at Aulani for something similar.  There wasn’t a ton of alcohol in these, but under the circumstances it makes sense.

Entertainment resumed around 6:30 and our dessert was served about 6:45pm.  When it was time for dessert, they gave our daughter both the adult and kid desserts, this time though, the adult dessert was ignored in favor of the Moana themed brownie.  This was likely a good call as it was promptly devoured.  The dessert for the adults consisted of a mac nut brownie, haupia, and a guava cake.  I enjoyed the haupia, but thought the other desserts were rather dry and I thought they were mediocre at best.   

The luau came to a close around 8pm, so the rest of the time was filled with the entertainment portion of the luau including Mickey and Minnie coming out on the stage to lead everyone through the “Aulani Hula.”  This was the only character appearance of the night.  For the rest of the evening, dances from various parts of Polynesia were represented and in typical Disney fashion, everything was tied to a story.  While it wasn’t one consistent story throughout, it was a decent telling of various legends of the islands.  

While the price on this was steep, we thought the luau was done well and enjoyable.  

For details on pricing and booking, please go to