Insight Hawaii Insight Polynesian Cultural Center set for major upgrade By Shane Nelson / June 06, 2011 Share 1 -- Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center has announced plans for a five-year, $38 million enhancement project, which will include upgrades to visitor activities, shows, restaurants, retail operations and its reservation system. “The additions we have planned at the Polynesian Cultural Center will bring new and exciting elements to the park that will revitalize our guests’ experiences,” Alfred Grace, the center’s COO, said in a May 27 statement. “These investments will allow our guests to gain a deeper understanding of the Polynesian cultures in new and more immersive ways.”The first phase of the upgrade is already under way and will ultimately feature a comprehensive collection of eight “Go Native” activities. Four of those experiences are currently available to guests at the center, such as Hawaiian quilt making; coconut tree climbing; making an umu, a Samoan above-ground oven; and several cooking demonstrations. “Thousands of guests already witness cooking in the traditional Hawaiian imu as part of luau experiences here and elsewhere in Hawaii,” Grace said. “Our new Samoan umu activity takes it a step further, not just showing people how some Polynesians cook their traditional foods but allowing them to take part and try it out for themselves.” Four additional “Go Native” activities will be added in coming months: Te Here, an ancient Tahitian wedding ceremony; outrigger canoe paddling and racing through PCC’s lagoon; pareu, or sarong dyeing; and spear throwing. Renovations to the property’s Gateway and Ambassador buffets are scheduled for completion later this summer along with the reopening of the center’s dramatically enhanced Marquesas Exhibition, which should be finished by the end of June. According to center officials, the attraction’s new business-to-business booking system is now in the final testing phase and will be fully implemented this July. “Part of the TicketSage system, which has an emphasis on travel agency integration, the new system will make it simpler for agents to book reservations while adding overall efficiency,” officials said in a statement. “The B2B system will allow agencies to register online and book their orders directly without having to go through the general call center or a wholesaler. It will make PCC more accessible to U.S. mainland tour and travel agencies, increasing reservation accuracy and improved working relationship with partner agencies.”Substantial renovations are also scheduled for the attraction’s Hukilau Theatre, where digital projection units will be added to a complete redesign of the building’s interior in preparation for a “4D Hawaiian Journey” experience. That work, and substantial changes to the center’s Polynesian Market Place concession, is scheduled to begin in spring 2012. A nonprofit organization, the Polynesian Culture Center has welcomed 34 million guests since its opening on the North Shore of Oahu in 1963, while financially supporting 17,000 students from 70 countries attending Brigham Young University-Hawaii. According to PCC officials, 100% of its revenue goes to daily operations and to support education. Visit www.polynesia.com.