History of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room

Walt Disney was looking to innovate at Disneyland during the 1960s. Major developments like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the multiple attractions of the 1964 World's Fair were all in development and many of the technologies that would become commonplace in the Disney Parks in the next few decades.

Welcome to Disney Parks History where we explore the history of various attractions at the Disney Parks. Today we explore the history of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and how it would forever change the Disney Parks. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.

The Enchanted Tiki Room is one of the most historically significant attractions in any Disney Park. It introduced several things to the Disney Parks that are commonplace.

The Tiki Room opened in June 1963 as one of the first expansions of Adventureland. Occupying a small space between Main Street USA, it brought a plaza that bridged the gap between the two lands and brought two restaurants, Jolly Holiday Bakery and Tahitian Terrace to the park along with the new attraction, although we will not be mentioning those two locations as they deserve to be featured in their own articles in the future.

Originally planned as a restaurant, this instead started a new standard for the Disney Parks, an animatronic stage show.

But this was one of several firsts for the Disney Parks from this attraction.

This was the first attraction with its own bathroom, a holdover in the design from when it was going to be a restaurant. This has since been removed relatively recently to add a wheelchair ramp into the attraction.

Also, this was the first attraction with air-conditioning, as it was necessary to cool the computer systems that ran the attraction.

Finally and most importantly, this was the first attraction ever built with audio-animatronics.

This attraction took most of its inspiration from 1960s tiki culture which had grown in popularity in the wake of American soldiers returning home from Hawaii and other regions around the pacific. It featured four host birds from four different distinct regions. Jose is meant to be a Mexican bird, Michael is meant to be Irish, Pierre French, and Fritz German.

The show itself featured a mixture of original music like the title song, Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing, and preexisting music both from and inspired by Pacific island culture.

To this day the Disneyland version remains almost identical to the original show on opening day, but birds in the attraction have changed colors over the years and Barker Bird animatronic that once performed outside the attraction has gone missing. There have also been a few minor changes to the actual show to shorten it, but nothing too major.

This attraction would open along with Walt Disney World in 1971, with a new character appearing in the accompanying Sunshine Plaza, the Orange Bird (although this character deserves its own article). It would open as Tropical Seranade but the show would in practice be identical with the Disneyland original.

The only major difference would be in the preshow. Unlike the Disneyland version which is a collection of tiki gods, it would feature two birds performing a vaudeville like show.

1975 would bring a few changes to the attraction, bringing the Dole sponsorship and the origin of the Dole Whip in the Disney Parks and its permanent connection with the Enchanted Tiki Room.

This attraction also opened along with Tokyo Disneyland as a copy of the Magic Kingdom version of the attraction.

In the 1990s Disney began to play with the show to update it for modern audiences in two of its locations.

First, the Magic Kingdom version would close first to be replaced by the Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management this show basically saw Iago and Zazu make fun of the original show using a collection of rewritten Disney and pop songs.

A year later Tokyo would also reinvent its Tiki Room into a version called “Get the Fever” that was also significant for including the first female host in the history of the attraction.

This version would later be replaced in 2008 with a Stitch themed retheme of the attraction that still operates today. It is also significant for not including the attractions classic theme song.

As for the Under New Management version of the show, though unpopular almost as soon as it opened, it would continue to operate until 2011 at the Magic Kingdom.

In 2011 a fire hit the attraction, destroying the Iago animatronic, preventing it from reopening.

This event led the show to be reverted to a shortened version of the original show, as many of the elements necessary for it were still present in the attraction.

The Enchanted Tiki Room remains a great Walt Era attraction, with tributes in numerous nighttime spectaculars. And despite rumors to the contrary, Disney has confirmed it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It may have a new version, but this is nothing new for this attraction. It has changed many times over the years, but the original version has proven its staying power more than any retheme.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the rest of this series here. What is your favorite version of the Enchanted Tiki Room? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. Also, what attraction should we feature next? Let us know in the comments below!