Aloha! When I first heard about the Tahitian Terrace Diamond Luau, my immediate reaction was happiness and excitement. However, upon seeing how much it cost for admission ($150 per person!), my heart sank a little. On one hand, I wanted to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime event that brought back childhood memories. My father had a deep affinity for Hawaii and the Pacific Island culture. As such, we went to the original Tahitian Terrace restaurant at Disneyland during the 1980s. At the same time, I wasn’t sure if it was worth high price. In the end, my heart won over my wallet.
This event is part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. It included food inspired by the original Tahitian Terrace restaurant menu, drinks, a Polynesian revue and special merchandise. There were four opportunities to see the show: August 10-11, 5pm and 7:30pm. I went to the 5pm show on August 11th.
At first, there was a bit of confusion on my part. Last year, I went to the Mahaloween event that took place at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. I assumed it would be the same venue. However, they instead created a space in the back corner lawn of the Disneyland Hotel near the Frontier Tower. People did check-in near the Trader Sam’s entrance though.
Check-in for this event went a lot smoother than Mahaloween. I just showed them my ID and they gave me an envelope with vouchers and a special surprise. The “special surprise” was a plastic kukui nut lei (queue the trombone sound – wah, wah, wah). There were four vouchers included: one for self parking validation, one to purchase two additional Diamond Luau Tiki Mugs, and the final two could be exchanged for a select number of adult beverages.
The line getting into the venue was not bad. A little before 5pm, cast members let in guests and were greeted immediately with a tray full of non-alcoholic beverages. There were two choices, one was the original Tahitian Terrace punch and I forgot the second one (I was excited for the punch!). One thing I noticed upon entering was the mixed sizes of tables. Instead of packing everyone together at large rounds, there were more intimate settings for couples and families of four.
Another great thing was the inclusion of two bars and two buffet stations. My assumption is that Disney learned from the crowded Mahaloween experience of having everyone get food and drinks in a single location.
Overall, the area was decorated quite nicely. A notable fact was that they procured many rare props from the Oceanic Arts warehouse. For those of you who know anything about Disneyland history, this company provided a lot of the decor in Adventureland. The stage was setup for the Polynesian revue, which took place around 5:30pm.
After grabbing a seat, I proceeded to use one of my adult beverage coupons. To my delight, they had Hinano beer! While not the greatest beer of all time, it did add ambience to the event as it is a drink from Tahiti. Other choices included many standard domestic beers, as well as Kona Big Wave Golden Ale. Two wines were available as well.
The buffet was opened minutes after arrival and featured “distinctive bites inspired by favorites from the original menu” (per the Disney Parks Blog). This list included Coconut Glazed Shrimp, Meatball with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Polynesian Vegetable Cone, Barbecue Pork Belly Sliders, and, for dessert, Butterscotch Pineapple Coconut cupcakes. I will not go into a details of each dish, but I will say that Disney played a bit fast and loose with the term “inspired by” the original menu. For a comprehensive review of the food, check out my other story here: Tahitian Terrace Diamond Luau Food Review.
About 30-minutes after opening, the Polynesian revue group came on stage. They actually provided two performances with a break in between. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It brought back a lot of fond memories from my younger days. You can check out the video below to see some of the performance.
In between the two performance segments, an Imagineer gave a video presentation about the history of the Tahitian Terrace. It was about 18-minutes long and chockfull of great photos and stories. I did shoot some video of this presentation (be forewarned it’s not the best visual quality). You can see the awesome vintage pics and hear about the evolution of the Tahitian Terrace restaurant.
At the conclusion the stage performances, guests exiting the venue were presented with a gift bag. It contained a Tahitian Terrace poster, a special edition Tahitian Terrace Tiki Mug, and a recipe card for the original Tahitian Terrace punch. We also had the opportunity to purchase two additional mugs using the voucher from earlier. However, the extras were not special edition versions and slated to be publicly released the following day.
Marcus Gonzalez and Scott Tolleson were on hand to sign their works. Marcus designed the Tiki Mug and Scott was the artist responsible for the poster. Both pieces of art were stunning and will be part of my permanent Disney collection.
So, you may ask, was it worth the $150 price of admission? That’s a tough question. My heart says ‘yes!’ but my bank account says ‘no.’ What I loved most were the Polynesian revue, historical presentation, and artwork. The drinks were okay and I’m glad I got to try the original Tahitian Terrace punch. However, the food was a tad disappointing overall and lacked the variety normally associated with a luau. And, let’s be honest folks, this shindig was really a merchandise event in disguise.
Nevertheless, in the end, I’m glad I went to the Tahitian Terrace Diamond Luau. Sometimes in life you cannot put a price on memories. In a sense, this event helped me recall the great memories of my father and his love of Hawaii. Mahalo nui and aloha ‘oe.