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The Enchanted Tiki Room - A look back

With the official reopening of the Tiki Room, I thought I'd use this opportunity to give you a history of this groundbreaking attraction. In many ways, "The Enchanted Tiki Room" opened the door to other Disney classics like "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "Carousel of Progress," and "Pirates of the Caribbean" as the Imagineers were able to use what they had learned with the Tiki birds to build on their success.

Long before Disneyland opened, Walt dreamed of animating figures using cables and cams. He even went so far as to contact a patent attorney in 1949 and proposed dimensional animation. The idea would unite three-dimensional figures that could move to synchronized audio tracks. But his idea was far ahead of its time and was limited by the technology of the day. When Disneyland opened in 1955, the park featured crude versions of AudioAnimatronics (AA) figures. These figures had limited movements and were unreliable. This is best illustrated by the simplistic animals seen on the Jungle Cruise.


Disneyland's Jungle Cruise


The exploration of space brought a number of technological advancements to the world in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The Imagineers were able to capitalize on these inventions and apply them to their crude figures. With the use of rudimentary computers and new hydraulic and pneumatic hardware, their animals began to move less like robots and more like the real thing.

The first attempt by Disney to create a lifelike AA human was undertaken by Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers. Walt wanted to have them create a likeness of Confucius who could interact with guests dining in a Chinese restaurant to be located on Main Street. The pair succeeded to a point, but ultimately, limitations in technology would stymie the project. The required electronics would fill a room and Confucius was extremely fragile. He was continually ripping his rubber face.

Walt next directed his team to create a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. Since 1956, a spur off of Main Street to be called Liberty Square had been under development. Walt felt that an AA figure could tell the story of freedom better than the static display currently under consideration. Soon after, Walt hired Buddy Ebsen to dance in front of a large grid and filmed the hoofer's movements. Walt himself directed the sequence. This footage was then studied and measurements were taken. With this information, the Imagineers built a 1/8 scale model of Ebsen which perfectly reproduced his dance routine. Walt even had a miniature stage built to showcase his new figure.


Mechanical Man


While on vacation in New Orleans (or Europe, depending on which version of the story you hear), Walt found and purchased a mechanical bird that could sing while moving its beak, head, and wings. He thought to himself, if toymakers can do this well, my Imagineers can do better. He took the bird home and gave it to his team so they could dissect it and discover what made it tick.

Walt put his Lincoln idea on hold and concentrated all of his efforts on this new project. In the months that followed, his Imagineers built life-sized cockatoos, toucans, macaws, and other tropical birds. Walt wanted to resurrect the Chinese restaurant idea, but instead of Confucius entertaining guests, birds would take center stage. Walt also reasoned that guests would be more accepting of the limitations of AA mechanics when applied to non-human figures.

The restaurant, to be called "The Tiki Hut," was to be located in Adventureland and would have a Polynesian theme. The eatery would share the kitchen used by the Plaza Pavilion and the Tahitian Terrace. A press release issued by the company read, "Walt Disney is creating a restaurant. And just as his full-length animated films, True-Life Adventures, and Disneyland pioneered in their fields, Walt's creation may alter the course of many full-course meals." However, as the idea for a restaurant progressed and logistics considered, it was realized that the average meal would take between 45-60 minutes. This would greatly limit how many guests could see this new marvel. Add this to space limitations in Adventureland, and the restaurant idea was eventually abandoned in favor of a 17 minute show only. "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" opened on June 23, 1963. The show contained 225 AA performers directed by a fourteen-channel magnetic tape feeding 100 speakers and controlling 438 separate actions.


Tiki Room Poster

Walt Inside the Tiki Room


Although difficult to conceive today, in 1963, the public could not begin to fathom what the "Enchanted Tiki Room" was all about. Cast members would try to explain that there were singing birds and flowers inside the building, but guests just didn't "get it" and would bypass this attraction for other adventures. Even the Disneyland TV show failed to convey the magic awaiting guests inside this unassuming structure. A solution was needed to promote the show appropriately.

Enter Barker Bird. Situated on a perch above the Enchanted Tiki Room turnstiles, a new AA bird was added to the show. From high above, Barker Bird (a copy of Jose who performs in the show) would call to the guests below and extoll the virtues of the performance inside. The solution worked. For the first time, guests could experience a sophisticated AudioAnimatronics figure and were intrigued enough to venture inside to see the entire show.


Barker Bird


However, there was a drawback to Barker Bird. He became an attraction in his own right. The entrance into Adventureland was very narrow in the early years. So many people would stop to listen to Barker Bird that the walkway became impassable. Eventually, after the show became well established, Barker Bird was retired.

Once guests were persuaded to see the show, they were blown away by it. Remember, this was 1963 and nothing like this had ever been seen before.

The adventure began with guests entering a dimly lit, quiet room. Once everyone was seated, a host or hostess used a cane to wake up Jose. The show was carefully orchestrated to "build" upon itself. First the four hosts spoke to the audience. Then a background chorus of birds chimed in and an elaborate bird-mobile descended from the ceiling. After we thought we'd seen "everything," the various tropical flowers scattered around the room came to life and serenaded us. And finally, the Tiki gods began to recite Polynesian chants. In the end, so much celebration was taking place that the gods were awakened and angered. Guests left the "Enchanted Tiki Room" awe-struck. They couldn't believe what they had just seen.

When the "Enchanted Tiki Room" first opened, it was not owned by the Walt Disney Company (then Walt Disney Productions), but rather by Walt's private company, WED Enterprises. Because of this, guests were required to purchase a separate ticket for the staggering amount of 75Β’ if they wanted to see the show.


Tiki Room Ticket


Since the show was 17 minutes in length, it was realized that some sort of diversion would be required to keep guest entertained while waiting for the next presentation to begin. To accomplish this, a number of Polynesian gods were situated around the perimeter of the holding area. Shortly before entering the building, each god spoke to the audience and provided a brief explanation as to his or her importance and function. Note, these were not AA figures. Their lips did not move or their eyes open. Some figures rocked back and forth and others dropped flowers from their branches, but there was nothing sophisticated about these Tiki gods.


Disneyland Preshow Tiki Gods

Disneyland Preshow Tiki Gods


In the 1960's, United Airlines was the premier carrier of passengers to and from the Hawaiian Islands. They were the perfect company to sponsor the "Enchanted Tiki Room" and held that honor for twelve years. In 1976, the Dole Food Company replaced United Airlines and continues sponsorship to this day.

While there may be 225 AA figures, the show revolves around four wise-cracking macaws, Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz. It's interesting to note, in the early years, their feather's colors represented their nationalities. Jose (voiced by Wally Boag) was covered in red, white, and green feathers, the colors on the Mexican flag. Michael (voiced by Fulton Burley) donned green and white feathers to represent his Irish background. Pierre (voiced by Ernie Newton) sported blue, white, and red for his French nationality. And Fritz (voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft) was covered in red, white, and gold feathers for his German heritage.

The Sherman Brothers wrote "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room." Robert Hargreaves, Stanley J. Damerell and Tolchard Evans wrote "Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing." For you true lovers of Disney trivia, a version of "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" can be heard in the Pizzafari Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

In late 2004, the "Enchanted Tiki Room" closed for an extensive refurbishment. The exterior of the building was in sad shape and inside, the bird's feathers were routinely falling from their bodies and you could hear their hydraulics sputtering as they sang. Disneyland's 50th birthday was rapidly approaching and this attraction needed some serious attention if it was to be presentable for the park's big celebration. When the show reopened seven months later, it had been restored to its former glory. The score had been digitally remastered and a new sound system had been installed. In addition, many of the birds and flowers had been replaced with state-of-the-art AA figures. The show's length was also shortened somewhat. This will be noticeable to anyone who bought the LP in the early years or has found a full-length version of the show on the internet. But to the vast majority of visitors, the deletions are inconspicuous.

Since the "Enchanted Tiki Room" had been so successful at Disneyland, it was a given that it would be an opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. In 1967, Walt Disney Productions entered into an agreement with the Florida Citrus Growers to sponsor this attraction for a cost of $3 million.

When the Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, a copy of Disneyland's "Enchanted Tiki Room" was on hand to greet guests. Renamed "Tropical Serenade," this attraction was an immediate success and required an "D" coupon to enter. Guests familiar with the Disneyland version would notice that the Magic Kingdom's theater was considerably larger.


Tropical Serenade Poster


Although the main presentation was the same, the waiting area and preshow was all new at the Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland, guests waited on a large lanai and wandered about until the show began. At which time, they all converged into a single door with occasional pushing and shoving. Wanting to better control people at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers created three, terraced lines where guests could wait in a more orderly fashion. While waiting to enter the theater, guests faced a shrine and waterfall that eventually parted to reveal two AA birds perched atop a Tiki god.


Preshow Tiki God Shrine


Other changes could be seen in the building's exterior. At Disneyland, the "Enchanted Tiki Room" had been squeezed into a tight space and could easily be missed as you walked by. But at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers gave the "Tropical Serenade" a place of prominence with a large pagoda that could be seen throughout much of Adventureland.


Tropical Serenade Pagoda


In 1970, WED Enterprises created the Orange Bird character to serve as the sponsor's (Florida Citrus Growers) mascot at the park and in other promotional advertisements. The Orange Bird could often be seen at the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland greeting guests and posing for pictures. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song about our feathered friend and Anita Bryant recorded it.


Orange Bird

Orange Bird


Florida Citrus Growers ended their sponsorship in 1986 and the Orange Bird slipped into Disney history. However, this character had a resurgence at Tokyo Disneyland in 2004 to coincide with Japan's annual Orange Day celebration held on April 14th. Back in the States, new Orange Bird merchandise can be found today in Magic Kingdom shops in honor of Walt Disney World's upcoming 40th anniversary.

As the years marched on, guests became bored with the slow-moving "Tropical Serenade." Having become accustomed to more thrilling fare like Splash and Space Mountains, it was a common occurrence to see guests walk out in the middle of the show. Something needed to be done.

"Tropical Serenade" closed on September 1, 1997 for an extensive rehab. When it reopened in April 1998, a new show awaited guests, "The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management." The show still starred Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz, but two new additions were added to the festivities, Iago from "Aladdin" and Zazu from "The Lion King." In this version of the show, Iago and Zazu are the new owners of the Tiki Room and want to make some changes to the act. They even poked fun at the previous, slow moving show. A new preshow also featured moving AA figures, William and Morris, who set up the storyline before guests ventured inside.


Zazu and Iago

William and Morris


Unfortunately, "Under New Management" never lived up to Disney's expectations. Iago may have worked well as a villain in "Aladdin," but as the host of a fun-loving show, he was obnoxious. After the initial surge of first time visitors saw the new show, crowds quickly dissipated.

In 2011, "Under New Management" was 13 years old. It was time for a change. Then in January of this year, a small fire broke out in the attic of the attraction. The sprinkler system was activated and guests were evacuated. No one was hurt and the blaze was quickly brought under control by the Reedy Creek Fire Department. However, the Iago AudioAnimatronics figure was badly damaged by the fire and other portions of the attraction sustained water damage. This fire and ensuing damage gave Disney the impetus it needed to retire this unpopular show. But what to replace it with?

The Imagineers didn't have to look too far for a new idea - or should I say, an old idea. At Disneyland, the "Enchanted Tiki Room" had experienced increased attendance after it was upgraded for the park's 50th anniversary. Why not do the same thing for the Magic Kingdom's upcoming 40th anniversary and bring back the original. The Magic Kingdom's new show is called "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" (the original name at Disneyland). Due to the ever shrinking attention span of the public, the new show is 11 minutes in length rather than the original 17. In this revised production, the slow moving Offenbach musical number was cut. This alone removed two and a half minutes from the show. In addition, the column of water rising up to meet the Bird-Mobile was eliminated and superfluous dialogue was removed.

The Enchanted Tiki Room is also a staple at Tokyo Disneyland. The original show (presented mostly in Japanese) ran from opening day (April 15, 1983) to 1999 when it became "The Enchanted Tiki Room: "Get the Fever!" This second version of the show featured a zany Las Vegas-style nightclub review as it might be staged in the middle of the jungle. Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz were replace by lounge hosts, Danno, Scats, Buddy, and Lava (the first female host bird). The show was presented in a combination of English and Japanese. I saw "Get the Fever!" in 2000 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember thinking to myself, "Why did the Imagineers choose to put "Under New Management" into the Magic Kingdom when they already had such a good show they could have used."


Enchanted Tiki Room:


"Get the Fever!" closed in January 2008 and was replaced by "The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai!" which opened on July 25th, 2008. To see my review of this show, click here.


Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai!


The "Enchanted Tiki Room" is not nearly as exciting as many other Disney attractions, but it is a classic and it's historic. Its AA figures were the beginning of so many other wonderful attractions to follow. It's a charming show that Walt personally supervised its creation. Only the most jaded guest would not be captivated by its simple humor, wonderful melodies, and fantastic characters.



The previous post in this blog was Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room.

The next post in this blog is Meet-&-Greet with Jack and Lisa.

Comments (33)

Jack this is another example why you are one of the best Disney World historian's out there. You always give us great facts and information on the history of Walt Disney World. And I thank you for that.

Tim:

Great entry. I'll see the new show in a couple weeks :)

I think I must be the only person who really liked the Under New Management show. I grew up with Aladdin and Lion King so the characters were very familiar. On top of that it provided a story with a plot to what otherwise is always described as just some singing birds. While I understand the nostalgia value of the old show, I never experienced the original so to me New Management is the nostalgic version. Also the AA required to do birds well is so common now that the technology alone isn't exciting as it was when Walt was still alive. It feels a lot like Adventures Through Inner Space - a lot of environment and not much in the way of characters. Which is fine, but not as good as a show with well developed environments and characters.

Kait:

Once again you show us all there is to know about the Tiki Room and more! The first blog on the "Official" Disney Blog today is about Tiki Room...they don't tell us nearly as much!

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2011/08/dog-days-not-in-the-tiki-room-every-bird-has-its-say/

Thanks Jack!!


Kait

Jim :

I love to see new things at Disney and sometimes the best new thing is the old thing that was replaced. It is not only nostalgic but it is going to be an entirely new experience for my children who never seen the original. I am glad they brought back an updated improved version of the original show. Now if we could just get the original Imagination pavillion show back.

Kait:

I agree with Jim--the original Journey into Imagination was so much better than the one they currently have...I also miss Kitchen Kabaret lol

Josh:

hey jack
always love learning about the history of the attractions and the original tiki room is one of my favorites to learn about. i am so glad that they have brought it back. can't wait to see it next time i visit. can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Mary Beth & David:

We loved your blog. Very interesting. We have never seen the old show and can't wait to see the new/old one.

We will be their in 63 days but who is counting.

Your video on the Contemporary Resort was wonderful and the fire works and mono rail parts pulled on our heart strings even more. Needless to say we can't wait for our trip.

Thank you again Jack for a great job!

cathy mullen:

Hi JaCK,
Another A+ blog. Thank you for a very
interesting historical information.

I'll tell my son to check this out when he takes his family next month. My four year old granddaughter will love the singing!

Wendy Crober:

Hi Jack,

I'm so glad you're back. I'm echoing everyone else - we love the history lessons!

I have never seen the original show so it will be nice to see it in February.

thanks,
Wendy

Wendy Calcaterra:

We were very excited to see the new Tiki Room show, and were happily surprised to find it up and running on August 14th. I think we a in a minority here, but we did not enjoy it. I appreciate the nod to the original show, and the idea of a retro-feel, but when you know what kind of magic Disney is capable of producing, it was actually disappointing to see so much of that magic left out of this show. I think it would have been nice to hear some of the original music set to new animatronics. We've always made it a point to visit this attraction in the past, but probably will not go back as the kids did not find it at all engaging.

Leigh Saleh:

It is very sad for me to say, but I have never seen either show. :-( I know now that after reading your blog that on the very next visit it will be the FIRST thing we will do in Magic Kingdom.

I love your post! Have you ever thought about writing a Triva/Info Disney book? I know we have several really good ones out there, but I think yours would be just as awesome!

Later, and have a Magical Day!

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! Thanks so much for the history on this wonderful and classic attraction. I was soooo bummed when I had learned about the fire. I'm glad to see it has been restored and look forward to seeing it again!

Patti:

Jack,Your Blogs are always a pleasure to read. You have long been my go to Disney guide, as I find that your reviews so often agree with my own opinions. Thank you for all the great parade seats, restaurant reservations, and touring tips in general. Now I am looking for your recommendation on another Disney related item. I so enjoyed reading about the history of the Enchanted Tiki Room, could you recommend a good book of Magic Kingdom history? With Mouse Ears On,Patti

Jack's Answer:

A good book to read about the history of Walt Disney World is titled, "Realityland - True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World" by David Koenig. It times the book can be a bit negative, but overall it presents a good timeline of the property.

Gena Yates:

Very interesting blog for me because I LOVE the Tiki Room. I have been going to Disney World since I was a small child in the 70's. As a small child I loved the Tiki Room and would sing the song for days. When "Under New Management" came out I LOVED it also, and,I wish they would have refurbished this attraction and left it with Lago and Zazu. You see, children love to see characters from movies they love....I have 2 boys who liked visiting Zazu and Lago. I would think the good people of DW would put Zazu and Lago somewhere in Animal Kingdom, maybe use them somewhere like "Barker Bird" was used. I may be one of the few, but, I will miss "Under new Management." Thank You for the Blog

julie:

Great to have you back Jack. Looking forward to seeing this as we have only seen the under new management version. Coming through next month so maybe we will see you around

Sarah:

Thank you for the wonderful article Jack. It was such an interesting read, moreso than some versions of the attraction. But I am looking forward to seeing it in it's original state!

Greg Highfill:

Hi Jack,

I'm so looking forward to seeing the "new" old show. Since I, like you grew up with Disneyland, I've always referred to the Florida attraction as "The Tiki Room," and never "The Tropical Serenade."

I love the original show, and I wanted to be there on Monday, but wouldn't you know, I've picked up a cold, so it will have to wait. My father also wants to come along, so there's a wheelchair to be pushed.

Back in the early 90s, the son my best friend Tom, came to Florida for the summer. Of course we took him to Magic Kingdom, and we saw the original show. They both hated it. I was so confused. I tried to impose on them, what a technological breakthrough it was in 1963, and how people hadn't seen anything like it before. They just weren't impressed. To them, the whole "Disney experience" was far too new, and they were too spoiled by newer Disney thrills and technology. All of this made me rather sad, and sad for them.

I always thought the "Under New Management" show was "okay" but I really missed the original show. When I learned that the replacement would be more like the original show I got very excited. Perhaps I'll be on the mend by next week, and I'll take dad over to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

Greg

Liz:

Hello Jack -- Perfect timing! My son and I will be at Disney World next week and I was wondering if this would be open. I never saw the original so it should be fun.

Add my voice to the chorus that is happy to have you back!

Dan Diehm:

Spell check time again! (I hope you don't think I'm being petty - I enjoy your blogs immensely).

"While on vacation in New Orleans (or Europe, depending on which version of the story you here)," .... I think you meant "hear" not "here".

Keep up the great work!

Your friend,

Dan

Dan Diehm:

"The Sherman Brothers wrote β€œThe Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” and β€œLet's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing.”

Are you sure about the Sherman Brothers writing the second song? I thought I read it was a well known song from the 30's or 40's.

Jack's Answer:

Thanks for catching my error. I rechecked my facts and found that Robert Hargreaves, Stanley J. Damerell and Tolchard Evans wrote β€œLet's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing.”

Dan Diehm:

I'm glad to help. :)

I have almost no memories of "Tropical Serenade" which I saw in 1972 or 1973 (when I was around 9 or 10 years old).

Then, in 2008, my fiance and I saw "Under New Management" and HATED it!

When we went to Disneyland for our first time in 2009 we decided to check out "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" and fell in love with it. Then kindler, gentler, non-condescending show, the Tiki gods in the garden, and the Dole Whip in the waiting area were HUGE improvements over DisneyWorld. And the singalong! Everyone in the audience was swinging, swaying, and whistling and smiling. What a magical first experience.

We saw it again in 2010 at Disneyland (3 times!) and loved every minute. Then, later in 2010, we saw "Under New Management" again (this time with my sister, niece and nephew) and HATED it again! We actually apologized to the kids and told them we were sorry they couldn't see the "real" Tiki Room.

I'm so glad the sarcastic, cynical, and mean spirited show is gone and has been replaced with a version more close to the original.

But you still can't beat Disneyland's version!

Matthew:

As I recall, the original show had a portion that was scary, loud, or both. Does the new show still feature the "scary" portion from the old show?

Jack's Answer:

The end of show does climax with the gods being angered, lights dimming out, and thunder clapping. However, I don't really think this would scare anyone other than a VERY young child.

Heather:

thanks Jack for a great insight! I just missed you! We went on tuesday (back in va now) and I HAD to see the Enchanted Tiki Room! We always passed this attraction before but I wanted to see the "original version".. My 12 year old son loved my mother loved it and I loved it! I was nice to get out of the Florida heat!

Tim:

Thank you for this great review of this attraction. I will enjoy it even more when I visit close to the 40th anniversary in September. Thanks again!

Michelle B.:

Nice blog Jack! Count me among those who have missed your insighfulness. I enjoyed the old show (love is too strong a word), disliked immensely "under new management", and was happy to see the traditional show back until I read your blog. Now I'm wondering why they didn't go with "Get the Fever" if they were looking for a rehab idea...

elle:

Thank you for a truly respectful and insightful Disney blog!
I will never forget my first trip to the Magic Kingdom. Having always been awe inspired by Walt Disney as a child, experiencing his imagination and creativity in person do I dare say was like being at one with the genius himself. Walt Disney's desire to transport you to exciting places in such an artful, and almost spiritual way -Capturing the pure essence of the subject so to speak, and portraying it in the form of one of these amazing attractions, is truly remarkable. I was heartbroken when the original show was changed - it no longer had that special Walt Disney charm or intent, but a rather negative and almost commercial feel. Perhaps, to satisfy those who want recognition of a character they have seen in a film -Disney co. will make a movie about an enchanted tiki room like they did with Pirates and haunted mansion. I myself love and appreciate it for what it is. And again, I thank you for the thoughtful history you have provided here. Hopefully the more shallow minded out there will read your blog and will have the gift of feeling inspired, and seeing through Walt's eyes.....

Hermes Chiong:

Jack,
Great blog as always!
Thanks for writing about the historic importance of The Enchanted Tiki Room. I hope new genererations learn to appreciate it and understand how groundbraking it was in 1963.

Thanks,

Hermes

Historian:

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland and its reproduction at WDW and Tokyo is of enormous cultural importance, and the controversy over Under New Management is of great significance in a broader cultural and national context. The original Tiki Room was two things, and these two things were the center point of everything great that Walt Disney ever did: it was (1) enormously creative and innovative, and it was (2) uncompromisingly sincere.

These two things were, additionally, hallmarks of mid-20th-century America (Walt Disney was, if anything, always in tune with the times). The Tiki Room was the creation of a world that was, in fact, quite creative/innovative and also uncompromisingly sincere. The original version of the show is a testament to that and is worth preserving and appreciating because of it. The Under New Management show was also of its time: the aggressive, cynical world that would come in the last decades of the century and that has continued and intensified in the first decades of this century. It is unsurprising (though genuinely sad) that a person young enough not to have ever experienced that earlier world might respond more positively to the Under New Management version than to the original. Take a look some time: humor now is almost universally mean-spirited, sarcastic, and aggressive. If that's all you've ever known, then you're going to respond accordingly.

And so, the return of the earlier version at WDW says something enormously positive. Granted, it is no longer particularly innovative, but that has been more than adequately replaced by its historical significance. Most importantly, the original show remains sincere.

There may be other reasons for hope as well.

I had an interesting experience recently. I showed the film "Pollyanna" (1963, same general vintage as the original Tiki Room) to several very intelligent and somewhat well-educated twentyish-year-old friends (part of a Fourth of July celebration), not knowing how they might respond. Their fear was that they would find it smarmy and syrupy. My fear was that they would find it dull and that its sincerity would repel them. We were all pleasantly surprised. They didn't find it dull, and they were surprised how very NOT syrupy or smarmy it actually is. They absolutely loved its sincerity. Pollyanna's unceasing stand against the cynicism and negativity of her town struck a nerve with them, as did the fact that she stood up to corruption, to the monopoly of power held by one rich woman and to her manipulation of the local church so that it would serve her ends. These themes were very familiar to them--this is the corrupt world they live in, after all--but they were surprised by Pollyanna herself, whose honest stance on behalf of the good made her something of a minor hero to them. They were genuinely surprised to see how anti-establishment the film is. Though they had seen early Disney animation, they had never seen an early Disney live-action film, and they had never seen a film with the qualities of this one. It was utterly refreshing and restorative to them; it made them feel good and it gave them hope. It introduced them to something that is almost completely lacking in the world they know: sincerity.

If your children don't respond positively to the new show, I would suggest beginning a process of education. My Pollyanna experience gives me hope that the innovation and sincerity of that earlier period might at least make a stand against the depressing cynicism of today. I would even venture to guess that an entire generation is hungering for it. Welcome back original Tiki Room. We need you more than you can know.

A. D. Johnson:

Jack, I never realized just how sophisticated was the original Tiki Room show - you mentioned a 14-channel magnetic tape to control it, plus 100 speakers, and 438 separate actions. That was quite a technological achievement at the time.

By any chance do you have any similar stats on how the modern show works? That would be a great comparison. (I'm betting there is no magnetic tape involved!)

A.D. Johnson
-Littleton, CO

Jack's Ansewr:

Magnetic tape. What’s that? Actually, I’m old enough to have owned a reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Unfortunately, I did not see any official statistics for the updated attraction.

Amber:

I'm so excited! Now only if they'd bring back Alien Encounter....

Lilu:

Aww. I'm sad to see the chatter and the fountain part go. I always liked the little birds' chatter and the fountain was pretty and a neat bit of work.

Still, I'm glad to see Iago and Zazu go. Hopefully forever. I think Iago being the one to catch on fire was a hint, Disney. *crosses arms*

Rick Turton:

Both my brother and I visited the Tiki Room in Disneyland Anahiem in about the early 70's. I know we were kids and we knew the difference between real and mechanical birds. We swear there were a few times we visited the room and there was a portion of the show that used real birds. These birds flew! I can't find mention of this anywhere on the Internet. What is your comment on this?

Kyle:

I wonder if the 'Gods' were angry at the original show being botched by the new one so they all agreed it was time to end it for good?

I mean isn't it strange how only the Iago attraction got the worst of the damage?

I mean isn't it strange how only the Iago attraction got the worst of the damage?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 15, 2011 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room.

The next post in this blog is Meet-&-Greet with Jack and Lisa.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.