Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room is a theme park attraction in Disneyland at the Disneyland Resort, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and earlier in Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort. The attraction, which debuted on June 23, 1963 at the Disneyland Resort, is a pseudo-Polynesian musical Audio-Animatronic show based on American tiki culture.

The Floridian version of this attraction was known as Tropical Serenade until 1998, when it was replaced with an upgraded version of the attraction named The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), which featured Aladdin’s Iago and The Lion King’s Zazu. That version was in operation until 2011, when it was destroyed by fire, prompting Disney to reintroduce an altered version of the original Walt Disney attraction to replace it. The Japanese version of this attraction was in operation until 1999, when it was redeveloped into The Enchanted Tiki Room Presents: Get the Fever!, a nightclub-style version of the show, before being redeveloped again as The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai!, a partially Lilo & Stitch-themed version of the attraction.

The attraction debuted on June 23, 1963, and was the first to use WED Enterprises’ unique Audio-Animatronics technology. For the first 12 years, the attraction was sponsored by United Airlines; in 1976, sponsorship was transferred to Hawaii’s Dole Food Company, which remains the sponsor to this day. Dole also offers the distinctive Dole Whip soft-serve frozen treat, which is available in a snack station near the entrance.

The performance was supposed to be a restaurant with Audio-Animatronics birds serenading customers while they dined. The “magic fountain” in the center of the room was initially intended to be a coffee stand (there is still a storage compartment in its base). Because all three are part of the same building, the restaurant would have shared its kitchen with the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland and the Plaza Pavilion restaurant at the corner of Main Street, U.S.A. Because the attraction was owned independently of the rest of the park, a $0.75 admittance fee was imposed. Because computers generate a lot of heat (especially in their early iterations) and play such an important role in the attraction, the Tiki Room was also Disneyland’s first fully air-conditioned building.

It features a Hawaiian-themed musical entertainment “hosted” by four lifelike macaws whose plumage corresponds to the flags of their ostensible places of origin. “José” is red, white, and green, and is spoken by Wally Boag with a Mexican accent. Fulton Burley’s “Michael” is white and green with an Irish brogue. Ernie Newton voices “Pierre,” a blue, white, and red character with a French accent. Thurl Ravenscroft contributed the German accent for “Fritz” in red, black, and white. Controversy over the use of nationalism-associated white rather than gold/yellow has prompted anti-Semitic groups to demand that Fritz’s color be changed, that the character be changed to represent another nation, or that the national-representative theme of flag-based color schemes and stereotyped accents be abandoned entirely.

The primary birds’ hues have altered over time. The four host birds had nearly identical plumage in 1965, with white, green, yellow, and blue. With the exception of the chest plumage, the four macaws and other birds are fully feathered. The chests are made of custom-woven cashmere, which allows the figures to “breathe” in a realistic way. The decision was made entirely by chance; during a planning meeting, Harriet Burns observed Walt Disney wearing a cashmere sweater that moved at the elbows exactly as the engineers had envisioned.

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