Wantilian Luau

If you didn't know any better, one would think that there are more Hawaiian luaus in Orlando than in Honolulu itself. That's because the Wantilan Luau at the Royal Pacific Resort isn't the only exotic dining experience in town. Over in Disney, the Polynesian Luau at Disney's Polynesian Resort has been entertaining guests for decades while Sea World also got into the act with its own nightly showcase a few years back.

None of the luaus are cheap. The Wantilan Luau will run you $49 for adults and $23 for kids. It's held every Saturday night at the Royal Pacific Resort. During the peak summer season, a second weekly show is added on Friday nights.

No, you certainly don't need to be a guest at the resort to enjoy the Pacific feast and lively show -- though you can check for discounted online rates here. The hotel is a short 5-10 minute walk from Islands of Adventure (or you can take the complimentary boat that leaves in front of the Citywalk pier) so you can, quite feasibly, have a great day at Universal Orlando and then cap the night off with the luau.

Wantilan? It is Hawaiian for "gathering place" and in the freshly constructed $600,000 pavilion you will certainly feel welcomed. It is covered, so the show goes on - rain or moonshine. Speaking of which, drinks are included. For adults it's all the beer, mai-tais, wine and nonalcoholic beverages that you can drink. Kids can keep going on the sodas until it's time to cart them away!

The dinner spread is much tastier than Disney's Polynesian spread. We're talking suckling pig with pineapple puree, ribs glazed with a sweet guava barbecue sauce, roasted wahoo for the seafood lovers out there and lomi lomi chicken. You have plenty of tropical fruits and sides as well. There is a children's buffet with all of the usual suspects -- chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, pizza - and, yes, adults can dig in there as well.

And the show? Thought you'd never ask. Folkloric narratives will get to the heart of the dances and performances that you are about to see. You will know the difference between the lively Tahitian hula and the more sultry Hawaiian hula by the end of the night. Like Disney, the Samoan fire dance will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Like Disney, exotic hula dancers will seek out volunteers between mouthfuls of food to take part in the show and learn to dance the hula.

So, yes, it's pricey dinner theater but it's a high-end meal with top-shelf entertainment and an open bar. In short, between Aloha and Aloha you're likely to be smitten.

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By booking your stay at one of the three onsite resorts you will not only be staying a short walk or complimentary boat ride from the park -- you will also receive the Universal Express benefit to avoid long lines and get on your favorite rides like this one quickly.

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