Lights On The Lagoon

With Haunted Lagoon taking a reprieve this year, Christmas Lagoon: The Light Within at Polynesian Cultural Center fills the void in that magical way that lustrous lights and holiday songs can. The initial half-expectation of being surprised by ghoulish creatures slithering up alongside the canoe passed as soon as our group glided under a bridge and into a wonderland of myriad lights in every color climbing up fronds and coconut palms and brightening waterside villages, the reflection shimmering in the lagoon.


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Scenes from Christmas Lagoon. Photos by Nathalie Walker

As the canoe meandered the light-lined waterway, various tableaus unfolded. Three kings belted out magnificent tunes live, and short narrated snippets were told as Mother Mary and Joseph sought an inn for the night, riding on a live horse. Floating a bit farther, villagers were gathering to celebrate the newborn babe, who Mary lifted into the air. Live sheep and a donkey added to the thrill.

Then, the festivities turned contemporary with a view of Christmas around the world. Children danced vibrantly in an African setting, in a Spanish setting and elsewhere. An island family called out Mele Kalikimaka from the bank, to a peal of laughter from the canoe at the interplay between rendition and reality. There was a grand finale with song, dance, snow – and was that the abominable snowman who joined in the merrymaking?

Expect long lines even by the time the rides begin at 6:30 p.m. Nevertheless, the adventure is a unique way to ring in the Christmas season, and it’s certainly one to leave lasting childhood memories.

the TICKET stub

When: Starting 6:30 p.m. through Dec. 23
Where: Polynesian Cultural Center
Cost: $10 general, $8 keiki 5-11, free for kamaaina annual pass holders. Students receive $3 off, and $3 discount coupons are available at 7-Eleven, 76 Gas, Supercuts, L&L BBQ and Domino’s Pizza.
More Info: 293-3333,

A Century Of Hawaii Filmmaking

For film lovers, the attractive Hawaii Movie and Television Book that just came out last month offers plenty of fun. Its glossy pages are loaded with photos and info on more than 100 productions filmed in Hawaii over the past 100 years. From blockbusters (Avatar, The Descendants, Hawaii Five-0, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Jurassic Park), to comedies (50 First Dates, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), flops (Battleship, Off the Map), the controversial (Princess Kaiulani, Hawaii), the obscure (The Tempest), the what-were-they-thinking (Snakes on a Plane) and classics (From Here to Eternity, Blue Hawaii), the book provides an easy layout with overviews and detailed behind-the-scenes tidbits.

This book is part two, so it mostly covers films from ’95 to now, including the moving, newly released Eddie Aikau feature and Godzilla, due out next year with promise of the hulking lizard decimating Waikiki. The first two movies filmed in Hawaii in 1913 were The Shark God and Hawaiian Love, the latter being filmed partially at Kapena Falls, and both involving clich√© exotica themes, but with retribution for the antagonists. One offers himself up to the Shark God and the other falls off a cliff.

Most know that it was 1953’s From Here to Eternity that would forever re-christen Halona Cove, but probably lesser known is that in Hawaii (filmed in ’65, but reproducing 1820), at least one anachronistic moment finds a villager comfortably sitting back reading the Honolulu Advertiser, or that Bette Midler’s motion picture debut was as a seasick extra on the film. Her sequences didn’t make the final cut, but with the money earned she flew to New York and burst into the entertainment spotlight.

Charlize Theron got her start on Mighty Joe Young, filmed in Kaaawa and Kualoa Ranch. In Soul Surfer, Turtle Bay Resort doubled as 2004 tsunami-wrecked Phuket – water buffalos and all – where post-shark attack Bethany Hamilton helped with relief efforts. In total, five chapters document South Seas Cinema, Crime Fighters in Paradise, Made in Paradise, Locations and Development of the Modern Hawaii Film Industry. At this printing, the $25.95 book was on sale for $20 at