Updated July 31, 2013
When Walt Disney envisioned what would become the Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s unlikely he could have forseen the iconic Disneyland attraction’s indelible impact on pop culture.
On June 23, 1963, the world’s first Audio-Animatronic figures – more than 150 talking and singing birds – greeted guests in Disneyland’s first air-conditioned building. It was a state-of-the-art attraction and one of Walt’s favorites. A fan of Polynesian supper clubs, he originally planned a Tiki restaurant for the site. But the musical show was so impressive, it was feared that diners would never leave.
Now, 50 years later, generations of fans consider the attraction an icon and perhaps the world’s most well-known representation of Tiki culture. Disney pulled out all the stops for the anniversary, hosting special events and releasing a dizzying selection of merchandise.
See the merchandise catalogs:
* Artwork and collectibles | Vinylmation
There was a special anniversary event at the Disneyland Hotel on June 28-29 featuring Disney legends Rolly Crump and Bob Gurr, who worked on the original attraction. It was a grand merchandise gala marking the debut of original artwork, prints, pins, collectibles, and much more (see catalog links above). Guests had first crack at the goodies, plus a chance to meet Disney artists Alex Maher and Mike Sullivan, plus “Disney-inspired” artists Shag (aka Josh Agle), Kevin Kidney, Jody Daily, Doug Horne, Noah, and many more. The Shag cocktail reception, while pricey, was probably a blast.
But that’s not all. On June 21, the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco threw a party hosted by the movers and shakers of the modern Tiki revival. The “Animate Your Night: Enchanted Tiki Oasis Pre-Party” featured a real animatronic bird from the Tiki Room, a Charles Phoenix slide show, live music, DJ Otto Von Stoheim of Tiki Oasis, Dole Whips, and special cocktails from Smuggler’s Cove.
Perhaps the most exclusive event was held on June 14 for Disneyland’s private Club 33 members. Speakers included Disney legends Bob Gurr, Marty Sklar, Maggie Elliott and Richard Sherman, who along with his late brother Robert penned The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room, the infectious theme song. The event culminated with Sherman, 85, performing the song and many others on a grand piano inside the attraction. The MiceChat.com forum features a trip report with photos and video.
Of more interest to those of us who couldn’t make it out to the events in California is the plethora of new merchandise. Several of my favorite artists, Disney or otherwise, are closely associated with the Enchanted Tiki Room and came up with some great new collectibles for the 50th anniversary. Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily have six new items and all were still available as of Friday, July 5, when I placed my order. I also picked up one of many Shag items available. Call guest services at (877) 560-6477 to check on availability of all the items in the catalogs.
The collectibles have also been released in limited quantities in Disneyland and Disney World, but they probably won’t last long, so be sure to keep an eye out if you’re going to be in the parks this summer. At Disneyland, there’s an entire exhibit at the Disney Gallery on Main Street U.S.A. “Tiki Tiki Tiki Realms: Celebrating 50 Years of Enchantment” includes a wealth of art and artifacts from the archives plus a large assortment of commemorative merchandise. According to TouringPlans.com, most of the merchandise available is “open edition,” meaning its not extremely limited but “Disney does not typically re-stock these kind of collectors items regularly.”
The prolific Shag created a wide range of items – from pins, postcards and coasters to a handbag and stylish aloha shirt. His original painting of the outside of the Tiki Room, Tropical Hideaway (see image above), is priced at a cool $18,000, But you can also pick up a more reasonably priced print. He did another acrylic-on-panel painting of the interior (The Birds Sing) plus separate acrylic-on-paper paintings of each of the seven talking Tikis in the courtyard. In addition to the original artwork, there are limited-edition matted serigraphs of each.
Among my favorite items from Kevin and Jody are the Tangaroa-Ru and Pele mugs (see image above), and the Rongo Bowl. Also included in the Tiki Room merchandise release is Kevin and Jody’s Polynesian Village Luau Party Bowl, created in tribute to Walt Disney World’s iconic resort hotel. I believe they had designed it for the Magic Kingdom 40th anniversary in 2011, but it was never released until now. The artists recommend you “fill it up with macadamia nuts, Dole Whip, Mai Tais, or whatever you like.” We certainly will.
July 25 update: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando was reportedly closing on July 31 for refurbishment, but last week it was removed from the schedule, according to several online reports. It’s not yet clear if the refurbishment has been canceled or delayed. The attraction was closed for more than six months in 2011 when a fire damaged the much-maligned “Under New Management” version. It returned in its classic form similar to Disneyland, albeit with a shorter show. It will be interesting to see if there’s another refresh in the works.
Disney Parks Blog anniversary posts
* The Disney Gallery Presents Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Realms – Celebrating 50 Years of Enchantment
* ‘Tiki-rific’ time at 50th anniversary event
* Imagineer Rolly Crump looks back on Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
* Meet the Tiki Gods outside Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
* Celebrate Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room with Disney Parks Blog wallpaper
More 50th anniversary coverage
* Enchanted Tiki Room 50th anniversary exhibit debuts at Disneyland
* Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room turns 50 (photos)
* Kevin Kidney’s radio interview
* 50 years of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (photos)
* The Walk Disney Family Museum: The Quintessential Classics
* Tales of the Enchanted Tiki Room
* 10 things you didn’t know about Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
* Exotic Tiki Island Podcast
Related Atomic Grog links
* Trader Sam’s one of many changes likely at Polynesian Resort
* Modern Retro Disney World: Walt Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room
* Artists shine amid copious crowds at Walt Disney World’s 40th birthday party
* Disney World is still cool at 40 thanks to retro artists Shag, Kevin & Jody
* Is Trader Sam’s in the mix for re-imagined Downtown Disney?