Meet me in the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room for a history tour of the lovable and fun Enchanted Tiki Room that debuted in Disneyland in 1963 and in Walt Disney World in 1971. Guests often enjoy this attraction for a few reasons, mainly the Dole Whips, am I right?! Originally sponsored by United Airlines, the attraction was then taken over by Dole in 1976.
The story behind the Tiki room is simple, Walt Disney had created the idea based on a mechanical bird in a cage that he purchased at a shop in New Orleans. The idea of the Tiki Room then leads to the most talked-about Audio-Animatronics that have made their way to several rides throughout the Disney parks today.
Walt Disney had created the original idea to be a dinner show as a Chinese Restaurant with a fortune-telling figure in the lobby, a joke-telling dragon, and performing animals. Fun fact, the Magic Fountain in the middle of the room was supposed to be a coffee bar! However, it was decided while creating the dinner show it would feature too much technology to be a dinner show and was quickly turned into a Disneyland attraction.
While Imagineers were creating the attraction under Walt’s supervision, Walt mentioned he wanted the birds featured throughout the attraction to look realistic. While creating the birds, Imagineer Harriet Burns used real feathers! Fun fact, there are over 200 birds represented throughout the attraction in Disneyland and 120 of them sing. That’s a lot of feathers!
Speaking of birds, those who have been to the Enchanted Tiki Room should recall the female Cockatoos featured in the attraction. The Cockatoos sing “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing” which was patterned after the French Folies Bergere, a 1932 composition by Robert Hargreaves, Stanley J. Damerell, and Tolchard Evans.
Of course, the fan favorites of the Tiki Room are the Macaw emcees featured in the attraction. Walt Disney turned to some of his favorite actors to supply the voices for these magnificent birds. Let’s introduce the Macaws! Jose is voiced by Wally Boag, star of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue. Michael, the Irish Macaw is voiced by Fulton Burley, Boag’s co-star at the Golden Horseshoe. Fritz is voiced by Veteran voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft, who provided voices for such Disney films and Attractions as One Hundred and One Dalmatians, it’s a small world, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Lastly, Pierre is voiced by Ernie Newton, the singing suit of armor at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Fun fact! The creation of these birds would not have been possible if it weren’t for the Sherman Brother’s famous Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room theme song they created.
Also featured in the attraction are the singing Tiki statues created by legendary Imagineer Marc Davis, one of Walt’s Nine Old Men. In fact, he designed the singing Tiki statues, a number of the birds, and the Attraction’s singing flowers. The Tiki figures in the attraction sing a song known variously as the Hawaiian War Chant or Kaua i ka Huahua’i. The song, composed in 1860 by Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku II, was translated to “We Two in the Spray.” In 1929, composer Johnny Noble borrowed the tune and titled it Hawaiian War Chant. American lyricist Ralph Freed wrote the English lyrics in 1936 and, three years later, Tommy Dorsey’s big band turned the song into a hit. Fun Fact: Despite the English title, the song’s original lyrics describe a romantic encounter and have nothing to do with battle.
In 1997, Walt Disney World’s version of the Enchanted Tiki Room, originally called Tropical Serenade, was closed for renovations, reopening a year later under the name The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management). After the refurbishment, the new show opened under new management which included Aladdin’s Iago and The Lion King’s Zazu as the Enchanted Tiki Room’s new owners, hence the addition to the name. A malevolent Goddess named Uh-Oa also joined the cast and Don Rickles and Phil Hartman provided the voices of the pre-show entertainment in the Attraction’s queue area.
In 2011, the Walt Disney version was changed again after a fire broke out at the attraction causing another refurbishment to occur, which resulted in the attraction re-opening as a version of the original attraction mirroring the attraction in Disneyland, which also meant the name would change back to the original version of Enchanted Tiki Room.
Grab a Dole Whip before enjoying the famous Tiki room show located in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
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