Rumors were swirling even before the official announcement March 14 about the planned massive renovation of the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando.
The multi-year expansion, expected to begin in April, will be the largest in Downtown Disney history. When it’s completed in 2016 (and perhaps earlier), the area will become known as Disney Springs, themed after a Florida waterfront town that sprang up in the 19th century. The back story will draw on both Disney and Florida history. Walt Disney’s parents were married in 1888 in Central Florida, an area replete with natural springs.
The online Disney community is abuzz about the plans, which also include major design and structural changes to the 120-acre lakefront site that will allow it to grow from 75 to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Images that feature logos of potential tenants leaked out on the WDW Magic message board, fueling the excitement about high-end retailers and new themed restaurants. Click here, here and here for more on the leaked images. WDW News Today also published leaked concept art.
But there’s one possible new venue that holds special interest to tikiphiles and old-school Disney fans alike. While we’re excited about the overall expansion and potential revival of what was the once-thriving Pleasure Island bar and restaurant district, we’re ecstatic about the possibility of Disney opening its second location of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.
This is the first in a series that will spotlight The Atomic Grog’s picks of the top “modern retro” features at the world’s top tourist mecca. Disney World is a vast ocean of fun and frolic for all ages, but it’s easy to overlook the classic, timeless elements that make the massive resort special. It can be enjoyed on many levels – from the totally immersive, escapist experience in the theme parks to the many unique restaurants, bars and hotels. But what makes the fantasy complete is the incredible innovation, artistry and attention to detail that spans more than 40 years. The Atomic Grog is dedicated to celebrating and preserving cool mid-century kitsch, and there’s much of this to admire and embrace in “the happiest place on earth.” Is Disney World hip? Hardly. But it can still be enjoyed by geeky hipsters (and hipster geeks) with not a shred of irony. We hope you enjoy the ride with us. Related:Disney World is still cool at 40 thanks to retro artists Shag, Kevin & Jody July 2013 update:Tiki Room celebrates 50 years of enchantment
Location: Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom theme park.
What is it? An indoor attraction themed to a Polynesian paradise featuring a colorful menagerie of flowers, Tikis and 200 performing Audio-Animatronic birds.
Origins: An opening-day attraction On Oct. 1, 1971, the Enchanted Tiki Room was originally known as Tropical Serenade. It was re-imagined and re-opened in 2011 under its current name with a show that pays tribute to the original Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland.
Claim to fame: The Disneyland attraction was the first to feature the Disney invention of Audio-Animatronics and was reportedly Walt Disney’s favorite.
Masses of mouse-minded fans flocked to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, Oct. 1, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World. And while initial crowd forecasts were low, interest in the birthday bash quickly grew among the Disney faithful and resulted in a sometimes overwhelming throng even though actual celebratory festivities were modest.
The Oct. 1 opening date was selected in 1971 because it was considered the slow season, and it typically remains so today. But Disneyphiles came out of the woodwork for the anniversary party last week and took advantage of the late park hours at the Magic Kingdom (it was open from 9 a.m. until midnight).
My wife and I combined this event with a visit to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on Sunday, and it’s a good thing we did. The overflowing crowd on Saturday made for a hectic day and not much time to relax and enjoy the Disney experience. That’s not to say it wasn’t memorable. Here are the highlights (and some lowlights):
We stayed at the Caribbean Beach, one of Disney’s moderate resort hotels, and were pleasantly surprised. We had previously enjoyed Port Orleans Riverside, and this was on par with that experience.
The rooms were spacious and clean (with the great details that Disney is known for), the grounds (200 acres, including the 45-acre Barefoot Bay) were huge and full of amenities (be sure to take a walk around the lake) and the theming was spot-on. It was closed when we wandered by early Sunday, but I’ve heard the pool bar makes a great Piña Colada.
With much fanfare, Walt Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room was back in business this week after being closed since January due to a mysterious fire that precipitated a full overhaul of the legendary attraction.
And, much to the glee of Disney fans and Tikiphiles, the Tiki Room officially reopened in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland with a new animatronic show that gives more than a nod to the original attraction, which has been a mainstay at California’s Disneyland since 1963.
We won’t be able to take a gander until October, but we’re happy to share some of the reviews, photos and video that have emerged this week. For a full recap of the Enchanted Tiki Room’s history and the story behind the renovations, check out our previous post.
Whatever (or whoever) started a fire in Walt Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room back in January may have inadvertently set off a chain of events that has corrected one of the biggest blunders in the history of theme park attraction renovations.
Closed for the past seven months, the iconic attraction is scheduled to reopen Aug. 15 with a new animatronic show that pays tribute to the original attraction, which was a pet project of Walt himself. To the delight of many hardcore fans, the oft-reviled “Under New Management” theme has been ditched (for good, hopefully). Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from The Lion King have been replaced by José, Fritz, Michael and Pierre – the four crooning parrot hosts who have been entertaining guests at California’s Disneyland since 1963.
The redesign of Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room was announced in May at Disney’s “D23 Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th Anniversary Conference,” a special event for members of Disney’s D23 fan club (D23 refers to Disney and 1923, the year the company was founded). The Aug. 15 date was officially announced by Disney World on Tuesday.