Have you ever wondered why the Orange Bird is such a popular character at Walt Disney World Resort? He’s just as popular as Epcot’s Figment character among Disney fans, but the character is nowhere to be found when it comes to attractions, movies, or TV series. Regardless, the bird is certainly an icon at the Orlando area Disney Parks. Just who is this mystery citrus-based bird? It turns out the bird has a rich history with both Disney and the state of Florida!
The Orange Bird is a character created by the Walt Disney Company for the Florida Citrus Commission. The mascot was used to promote the citrus industry and Disney’s new theme park in the early 1970s. Knowing the character’s origin and purpose will help Disney fans understand how the character grew to be an icon.
The Origin of Orange Bird
Let’s retrace the history of the Orange Bird. The character was created in 1970 as a mascot for the Florida Citrus Commission. Back then, the Florida Citrus Commission sponsored the Tiki Room attraction at Magic Kingdom. For those who are curious to know more details, the story begins with the bird migrating south to relocate to the sunshine state. He’s discovered by a vacationing family who adopts him. The story was expanded upon with an original song written by the Sherman Brothers:
”With his beautiful orange feathers
And beautiful leafy wings
He’s a fluffy little puffy sight to see
He can turn your frown around
When you see him looking down
The little Orange Bird up in the Sunshine Tree”
Accompanied by singer Anita Bryant, the bird and singer duo appeared in ads for Florida oranges. Anita Bryant narrated a record album telling the character’s story and how he saved the lives of a vacationing family. The Anita Bryant ad campaign ran until the late 1970s. After that, the Orange Bird only featured in solo ad campaigns. The tropical bird also appeared in a few educational shorts in the 1980s, such as The Orange Bird and the Nutrition Bandwagon. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The Disney company ended its business relationship with the Florida Citrus Commission in 1987, which led to the Orange Bird being forgotten.
Long, lost Disney Parks character
Here’s another surprising piece of information… Disney guests were once able to meet the Orange Bird character at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom! The character once met guests in Adventureland until his removal in 1987. We certainly wish we could have met him in person!
Merchandise and Food
Of course, we still find many references to Orange Bird today given the character’s pop culture status. From plush toys and Funko Pop figures, to supper cups and apparel, the citrus bird is seen in a wide range of merchandise! There’s also been several citrus-based treats made available at Disney Parks over the years to celebrate the character.
It’s certainly unique to be both a Disney character and a commercial mascot. We hope you enjoy learning more about this iconic Disney Parks character!