The way you pay to ride at the Punahou Carnival has changed this year. Here are our 10 tips to help you avoid the crowds and get ahead at this annual family event.
Photo: Punahou School
The Punahou Carnival kicks off this weekend after three weeks of set up and thousands of bottles of mango chutney. The theme for 2017 is Back to the '50s and this year, there is a big change--E.K. Fernandez's Fun Passes.
If you didn't visit the 50th State Fair last summer, you may not be familiar with this card that has replaced ride tickets and game scrip. Here's how it works:
• Buy a Fun Pass for a minimum of $20, or 200 credits. You can do this at kiosks, trailers or smaller automated "units."
• Kiosks will sell cards for any amount over $20 and can give change for cash.
• Trailers will only sell $20 preloaded cards.
• Units will sell $20 Fun Passes or let you reload an existing pass, but will not give change.
• See where each are located on punahou.edu.
• Scan your Fun Pass at rides and games. Riders can share a card by just scanning it for each person. You can check your balance at card readers around the campus.
If you don't use all your credits, you can use the Fun Pass at any other E.K. Fernandez event including the 50th State Fair, Mililani, Waialua, Hawaii Kai or other neighborhood carnivals. Keep in mind, the Fun Pass is only for E.K. Fernandez rides, food and game booths. You will need to buy separate Punahou scrip to buy malassadas, Portuguese Bean Soup or any other treats at the school booths or to play the school's kiddie games for prizes.
If you haven't been to this annual festival recently, or even if you have, you might want to do some research before heading out with the kids. Here are our tips, including some insider information from HONOLULU Magazine editor, and devoted fair-going mom, Robbie Dingeman that we first published in 2014.
Our 10 Tips
1. The best time to hit the kiddie rides and games is after dinner, NOT when the carnival opens. Give your kids a nap and take them after dark when the rides and game booths slow down. Just bring a jacket, it gets cool and, of course, an umbrella. The ride discount time, this year, is Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
2. Plot your path before you go. Punahou Carnival's detailed map shows exactly where you can get your saimin and gyros, where the body painting tent is and, most importantly, exactly which booths and games take the EK Fernandez Fun Pass and which ones require Punahou scrip. Don't forget to check the bathroom locations. Of course, the first battle you'll fight is to find parking. You can find a details on the lots, including the price to park, on punahou.edu, just click on parking information to see the drop down list.
3. Designate a meeting spot in case you get lost. The sound booth announces for lost (and found!) children for free.
4. Don't buy your scrip when you first walk in. The booth near the main gate is usually packed while the booths in the center of the carnival by Dillingham Hall and near the White Elephant tent always have shorter lines.
5. Take a look at the lists. Punahou has two helpful lists online. One has the prices of all food and Punahou-run games, so you can estimate how much scrip you'll need for the evening. The Kiddie Land prize list can help your kids can decide ahead of time if it's really worth playing for hours to win that groovy lava lamp (80 coupons) or if they'll be happy to head home with a few barrels of slime and sticky eyeballs (10 coupons each).
6. Kids melting down and you've still got scrip? Pick up Portuguese bean soup or hulihuli chicken (just the chicken) for dinner that night or the next day.
7. Another use-your-scrip trick? Malassadas cost one scrip each. Split up your family, hand them each three scrip and they can stand in the short line to buy up to three malasadas. That line goes much faster.
8. If you're taking the treats home, ask for your malassadas without the sugar on them. You can reheat them better at home later and roll them in your own sugar for a fresher taste.
9. Head to upper campus for more space. If your kids need to run around and burn off some energy during meal time, get your food and go to quiet spots on the upper campus to eat. You don't have to stay on the midway.
10. Bring a change of clothes. It's not scientific, but long-time goers know the Punahou Carnival weekend usually means rainy weather.
Check out the free entertainment at Dole Hall, home of Hawaiian Plate, where you can enjoy a lineup that includes George Kuo, Aaron Mahi and Keith Cockett, ManoaDNA and Sean Naauao. Find the full schedule here.
The 2017 Punahou Carnival is Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4 from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Find all the details at punahou.edu.