The Aulani Starlit Hui: A Family-Friendly Lū‘au

The Starlit Hui at Aulani is an evening show with “lū‘au-style music” and hula, along with storytelling and a guest appearance by the Disney Characters (Goofy, Chip & Dale, Mickey & Minnie and Stitch). The show runs twice per week on the Hālāwai Lawn, off to the side of the resort. 

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When you enter the Hālāwai Lawn, your family will be given a pre-heated straw mat that you put down on the lawn in a grid, set up in front of the stage. Once you have your family mat down, you can then participate in some of the pre-show activities: hula at the front of the stage, or the mats around the outside that include crafts and songs and stories. These are fantastic!

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The show itself is well choreographed, with bright, vibrant costumes and great elements. It is, as with everything else at Aulani, pristine and well thought-out. Having been to another luau at the nearby Paradise Cove, the quality at Aulani was once again apparent. The show isn’t super long, which is great for kids. If you’re looking for a luau experience, and don’t mind missing the food part, this is a great (and free with your stay) option!

How to Make the Most of the Starlit Hui

  1. Send someone to stand in line early. We showed up a half hour early as a family and the wait was not fun, plus there were about 100 people already ahead of us. Have someone secure your spot and join the line right before it opens. 
  2. Use the washroom before you go in, as there aren’t any near the Hālāwai Lawn area. We were directed to use the washrooms at ‘AMA’AMA, which isn’t close once you’re on the Lawn. They funnel people into the Starlit Hui from only one entrance, so other washroom options are not available (big oversight here, I think). 
  3. Place your mat as close to the front as possible, as eventually everyone stands to take photos. Aisle seats would be ideal, if you have kids, so it’s easy for them to get up and participate when requested. 

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The show is great fun! Our only option to see the show was near the start of our stay, and the show was already at the kids’ bedtime, so they (ok, Aiden, who doesn’t nap) were pretty tired and jet lagged. Aiden was practically falling asleep the whole time, or asking to leave, but we made it through the main show and left when the audience was invited to dance at the end. I’m glad we stayed, as the Disney characters only come on near the end!

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The fire was Damien’s favourite part. He’s been pretending many toys are fire torches since we came back from Hawaii.

Since we had such a great time at Disney Aulani, I’ve created a series of reviews of our experience, including some tips on how to make the most of your stay with your family. For the full series of reviews, check here.

Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu – Review

We celebrated Ianiv’s birthday in Hawaii with a trip to the Paradise Cove Luau. Though we knew Aiden would have enjoyed the music of the luau, we chose to have a date night on our own to celebrate Ianiv’s birthday – having two wonderful grandmas with us on the trip made such a thing possible!

There are 5 luau locations in Oahu, from what I can tell, and one was at our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Starlight Luau. Though we could see from our hotel room that this luau was quite spectacular, with 5 fire dancers!, we wanted to get away and see another part of the island for our date night. We decided that a structured day at the Polynesian Cultural Centre was not right for Aiden at this age, so we passed on their luau as well, even though it is rated very highly. We chose the Paradise Cove Luau for what looked to be a good ‘experience’ along with the buffet and show.

Paradise Cove is located as part of the Ko Olina Resort on the leeward coast of Oahu. The area boasts a stunning sunset setting with a wide open space for activities before the luau including lei making, tattoos, canoeing, and games of skill. Periodically they draw your attention to a demonstration, including the Shower of Flowers. We were able to take some great photos throughout the evening, though we also did get sucked into buying a souvenir photo of us as a couple (yet to be scanned).

Before the buffet, the guests are gathered in an amphitheatre to reveal the roast pig and to watch some dancing – additional performances were shown during / after dinner, including a fantastic fire dancer. I did feel disappointed that Aiden was not there for that, although I was glad for the quiet time for the rest of the night!

The dining area itself was probably my biggest disappointment – I found the folding tables, chairs and plastic tablecloths a bit ‘cheap’ looking, though I’m sure it’s the most functional. Depending on your luau package, you either line up for a buffet or are served at your table. The food was ok, though not fantastic. I wasn’t feeling super great for this night, but I did find the buffet a little limited and would have liked to see a couple more dishes to round it out. The Kalua Pig was too salty for me, but I’m not sure if that’s atypical of the dish.

Overall, we enjoyed the experience of the luau, though neither of us were overly impressed by the meal. It did sound like the luau at our hotel had more ‘upscale’ food for the buffet. The location was beautiful and the activities were fun for all ages. We did get rained on a little bit during our meal, which would be a downside to any luau I suppose!

Since the Paradise Cove Luau is not in Waikiki, they offer a complimentary bus service that took us to and from our hotel. The bus driver offered his own form of entertainment for the trip, which was fun.

Have you ever been to a luau? What were your thoughts?