Tag Archives: #hawaii

10 Amazing Reasons to Go to HawaiiCon

As if I needed another reason to love the Big Island of Hawaii… I just learned about HawaiiCon.  The Big Island is not just full of palm trees, beaches, and resorts.  It is home to Kilauea, one of the longest-erupting volcanoes in the world.  And, it is one of the few places on earth where you can ski and surf in the same day.  The Big Island has numerous cultural festivals – and HawaiiCon is one of them!

HawaiiCon caught this fangirl unprepared.  We found out about it while vacationing on the Big Island, thanks to a featured article in Ke Ola Magazine.  I had packed some Hot Topic tank tops, but not my wardrobe of Her Universe dresses.  Nevertheless, I welcomed the opportunity to see a new con.

Even though I’d been to many conventions including San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, and D23 Expo – I found many reasons to love HawaiiCon.  Here are my Top 10 reasons why you should put HawaiiCon on your calendar next year.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com

1. Opportunity to really get to know celebrity guests

Celebrity guest stars were scheduled at multiple panels and activities over the HawaiiCon weekend.  This allowed a rare opportunity to really get to know them, and interact in a more informal setting.

It was personal ‘story time’ with your favorite celebrities.  This was my first encounter with Temuera Morrison (Chief Tui, Moana / Jango Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  And Paul Blake (Greedo, Star Wars Ep. IV), who answered the question ‘Who Shot First?’  We enjoyed ‘solo’ time with Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  Q&A was amazing during these small panel sessions.

2. Attend uniquely Hawaiian panel sessions

Several sessions stood out as uniquely Hawaiian, offering great opportunities to learn about the local culture.  Navigate like Moana highlighted wayfinding – sailing by the stars like Hōkūleʻa, the voyaging canoe, just did by just navigating 60,000 miles around the world.

Participate in a hula lesson on the beach.  Feel the grass between your toes as you dance to music from Moana.  Gaze past the white-sand beach onto the open ocean, alongside Guest Stars like Gina “GK” Bowes (voice actor and audio book narrator for Disney’s Moana).

Bring your camera to the Night Photography session, and learn to capture your own astonishing Milky Way shots.

3. Attend a Luau with your favorite celebrity guests

As an additional-fee activity, HawaiiCon guests can sit at a table with their favorite celebrity at an exclusive luau.  You choose which celebrity to sit with when you purchase the luau tickets.

The menu included a traditional luau buffet, and entertainment showcasing Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, and Samoan cultures.  One of the highlights was when the luau ‘Maori chief’ made an offering, and New Zealand-native, Temuera Morrison picked up the offering.  That does not happen every day.

The Samoan fire-knife dancer is always a highlight of any luau.

4. Go adventure-seeking with celebrity guests

(These opportunities were separately-ticketed, sold-out events). What other convention allows you to go ziplining with the Guest Stars?  Or snorkeling with them through coral reefs?

Hawaii Island has the best scuba diving in the state, with its Manta night dives ranked Top-10 in the world.  What a unique opportunity to socialize with celebrities while manta night-diving or snorkeling!

5. Intimate setting means short lines

Imagine the luxury: short lines for autographs, photo-ops, panel sessions, registration – everything!  Instead of camping out overnight for a seat, you can sleep comfortably in your hotel room, and simply arrive a few minutes early to your chosen panel.  Here is the 2017 program schedule.

Walking from one panel to another took about two minutes, instead of twenty minutes.  Of course, the venue is much smaller than SDCC.  But smaller has its advantages.  I also enjoyed sampling the many food trucks that provided ‘ono’ (delicious) local bites, with no wait time.

6. You’re supporting a non-profit that promotes science education

HawaiiCon is self-dubbed the “World’s First Sci-fi, Science, and Fantasy Tropical Vacation Convention.”  And it is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that champions science education for the keiki (children) of Hawaii.

So, rest assured, the registration fees go to a worthy cause, bringing up the next generation of fans.  There’s also a ‘Science Track,’ with panels like Maui, Demigod of Science, the ‘Ohana Planetarium Show, and SciFi Weather on Mars.

7. Incredible backdrops for cosplayer photo shoots

Are you a cosplayer in search of unique photo shoot locations?  The Big Island of Hawaii – and Mauna Lani Bay Hotel – feature breathtaking vistas and sunsets to perfectly highlight your cosplay.

Hawaii Island has 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones.  So, if you’re scouting for a specific type of location, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.

HawaiiCon was a unique opportunity to let your inner fan shine.  Here were some of the great cosplays, including some from the cosplay contest.

8. Feel at home with perfect hospitality from the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows is a devoted supporter of Hawaiian culture.  In addition to HawaiiCon, they support activities such as “Twilight,” a free monthly Hawaiian music concert series.

The resort also raises endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles in its saltwater ponds to give them a chance at survival.  When the turtles are old enough, they are released into the ocean at the annual “Turtle Independence Day” celebration every 4th of July.

Mauna Lani Bay welcomes HawaiiCon attendees with special room rates.  Booking early can get you an Oceanview room for $179/night at this four-star resort (regularly $400/night).  Two-star hotels in San Diego can cost much more than that during SDCC!

9. Become part of the Hawaiian ‘ohana’ (family)

This was the most relaxed convention I’ve ever attended.  Hawaiian locals welcome you with aloha.  The ambience is casual.  Flip flops are the dress code for Guest Stars as well as attendees.  Bring your lightsaber for an impromptu lightsaber battle on the lawn.

Slow down, and enjoy the present.  Treat everyone with respect.  What a great way to enjoy the spirit of aloha.

10. Stay and explore the rest of the Big Island

You’re only scratching the surface when you see the northwest (aka: the sunny, dry) side of Big Island.  Don’t forget about Kilauea, the live volcano, on the east side of Hawaii (best viewed by helicopter or hiking/biking onto lava fields to the ocean entry with a guide).

Milky Way and Kilauea caldera: view from the Jaggar Museum

Did you know about the extraordinary stargazing and observatories atop Mauna Kea?  Which is, by the way, the tallest mountain on earth when measured from its base on the ocean floor.  Go horseback riding and experience the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) lifestyle.  Explore black-sand and green-sand beaches, and countless hiking trails with dreamy waterfalls.

Honaunau National Historic Park: Ki’i at Sunset

Take advantage of the breath-taking vistas of this tropical oasis, and mark your calendars for next year: HawaiiCon is September 13-16, 2018 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.  Early registration for a four-day pass is $129, and proceeds benefit the HawaiiCon non-profit organization.

Mahalo (thank you) to HawaiiCon for hosting such a wonderful event!  And May the Force Be with You.

 

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on October 4, 2017.  See more here on my Author Page

 

 

 

Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 1)

 

Moana is the first Polynesian Princess to join the Disney ohana.  Director and Producer team Ron Clements and John Musker (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog) were joined by screenwriter Jared Bush (Zootopia), co-head of Animation Amy Smeed (Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6), and producer Osnat Shurer (Pixar shorts) on the “Moana: Art of Story” panel July 21, 2016 at San Diego Comic-Con.

Moana Panel, San Diego Comic-Con
Moana Panel, San Diego Comic-Con

We were lucky to get a closer glimpse into the next Disney Animated Feature, Moana.

(This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on July 27, 2016 as part of our Comic-Con coverage)

The Story of Moana

“Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why.”

This is a tale of how Polynesians came to navigate across the seas again, and how one person made a difference.

AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Princess Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho) is the 16-year old daughter of Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison, Jango Fett, Star Wars).  She is strong, independent-minded, “spitting vinegar” and a bit of a “Bada$$” as described by our panel.

TEMUERA MORRISON (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “Once Were Warriors,” “Six Days, Seven Nights”) voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI, the gregarious and well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island. NICOLE SCHERZINGER (Grammy®-nominated singer, West End's "Cats") voices Moana’s mother, SINA, who always has her daughter’s back. Playful, sharp and strong-willed, Sina appreciates Moana’s longing to be on the water, but also wants to protect her daughter from the fabled dangers beyond the reef. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TEMUERA MORRISON (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”) voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI.  NICOLE SCHERZINGER (Grammy®-nominated singer, West End’s “Cats”) voices Moana’s mother, SINA.  ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

With generations of sea-faring ancestry, Moana cannot resist the call of the ocean, despite her father’s decree that “no one goes beyond the reef.”

Continue reading Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 1)

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, the ‘City of Refuge’ is a Cultural Gem in Kona

The Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is a wonderful National Park site located just south of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is the last of the remaining Pu’uhonua (Place of Refuge) in the Hawaiian islands. The rest were destroyed in the cultural and religious counter-revolution that occurred after western contact.

Hale at Honaunau - Copy

It is remarkable because this was a safe place where your sins / crimes were forgiven if you could reach this haven. You would have to arrive by water (swimming, or by canoe) since the surrounding land was royal property and trespassing was kapu (forbidden).

Altar at Honaunau
Altar at Honaunau

This site was also remarkable because no human sacrifice ever performed here. It was the retreat of the Hawaiian royalty, whose bones used to be buried on the site.

Ki'i Guardians of Honaunau
Ki’i Guardians of Honaunau

The Ki’i (literally translated as ‘images’ but more commonly referred to as ‘tiki’) are of the Hawaiian god, Lono.  Lono was known as the god of peace, agriculture, music, rain, and fertility.

This National Park hosts a wonderful cultural festival annually the last weekend of June (if you’re in town before the 4th of July, make sure you check it out).

Split Tiki at Honaunau
Split Tiki at Honaunau

Admission is free during the cultural festival. Other times, it is a nominal fee for entry. There is no food at the site, so please eat beforehand or bring your own snacks. No picnics are allowed beyond the visitor center.

Clean restrooms are available at the visitor center.  Cold drinking water is available at the water fountains.

Altar angle Honaunau WM

Make it a point to attend a ranger talk. We have seen ranger Kale Hua give several talks — he is always informative, and shows his love of the park and the land.

Continue reading Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, the ‘City of Refuge’ is a Cultural Gem in Kona

Pictorial Tour of the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

 

Come with us as we share a pictorial tour of the (much coveted) over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows of Disney’s Polynesian resort.

Disney’s Polynesian Hotel has been a premiere property at the Disney World resort since it opened.  Located on the monorail track of the Magic Kingdom, it is a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.

Polynesian Bungalow Outside walkway

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) added Villas and the Bora Bora Bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.

There are twenty Bungalows, built over the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon.  They are accessed by specially-keyed, gated boardwalks on the northeast side of the resort property.

Each bungalow has two bedrooms (but the equivalent DVC points cost is equivalent to a 3-bedroom unit).

Here is a map layout of the Bungalows by room number, and the Polynesian Resort buildings (click to enlarge).

Continue reading Pictorial Tour of the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.  Disney Vacation Club added Villas and the over-the-water bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
We had the chance to stay in a studio villa at the Polynesian in June, and wanted to share our impressions.  There are four Disney Vacation Club (DVC) buildings at the Polynesian: Moorea (waterfront), Pago Pago, the newly-opened Tokelau, and of course, the Bora Bora over-the-water Bungalows.
All the main buildings have only studios (as opposed to other DVC accommodations that have studio, 1-,  2-, and even 3-bedroom configurations).  These were converted over from previous Polynesian hotel rooms.
Polynesian Moorea Building
Polynesian Moorea Building

Continue reading Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Smartphones have made our daily lives immeasurably more convenient.  Using GPS to map a route to the closest Starbucks, using Google to research Risso’s dolphins, uploading your pictures to Instagram – sometimes we may take the ease of obtaining information for granted.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have discussed in a previous blog (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘airplane’ mode while out of the country.

It is therefore very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here is a list of communication apps I have found particularly useful.

Google Apps

1.  Google Translate:  (FREE) Much improved, Google Translate can translate between 90 languages, and read aloud phrases in the chosen language.  In addition, Google Translate now uses your smartphone camera to read written signs, and can instantly translate them on your smartphone screen.

This feature works instantly between English and: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  This app translates 36 total languages when you take a picture of the signs.

I used Google Translate Continue reading 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Five Tips for Healthy Traveling

As we prepare for our travels and family gatherings this holiday season, I wanted to remind you about dangers of the cold and flu season, and equip you with tools to stay healthy.  These tips are useful year-round, and I hope they will help you fully enjoy your travels!

Having weathered my fair share of illnesses while traveling, there are some things you can guard against, and then there are things you cannot predict (such as an emergency appendectomy — the photo above was my view as I was recovering during my travels).  Following these simple tips may reduce illnesses for you or a family member.

 

Healthy Traveler Tip #1:  NEVER touch your face

Cold and flu viruses can infect your body when they come in contact with an entry point.  Your eyes and nose are easy targets for viruses. By NOT touching your face with your hands, you reduce the chance of giving viruses access to your immune system.

If your eyes or nose itch, use a tissue to rub gently.  If necessary, use the back of your hand to rub your face.  It may be slightly cleaner than the fingertips, but may still carry viruses and bacteria.

If you have just washed your hands, touching your face should be safe.  Things brings us to Tip #2…. Continue reading Five Tips for Healthy Traveling