Aloha, and welcome to a new feature on The Atomic Grog spotlighting the latest news and information on the Polynesian Pop revival and wide world of retro-themed entertainment. Every Monday, look for a new blog post that previews what’s coming up and looks back at the highlights of the previous week. The Week in Tiki will attempt to cover all the major happenings across the world, with a focus on our home base, Florida and the U.S. East Coast. In keeping with the theme of the blog, look for updates on events, music, art, cocktails and culture, along with our obsession with Disney World. We’ll also celebrate our favorite spirit, rum, and spotlight a different cocktail recipe every week. Sit back, relax … and enjoy!
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* Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS (Feb. 2-8, 2015)
Los Straitjackets to headline Ohana: Luau at the Lake
Event tickets are scheduled to go on sale today (Feb. 2) for the seventh annual Ohana: Luau at the Lake at The Tiki Resort in Lake George, N.Y. Featuring three days of music, cocktails and ‘ohana in a classic Polynesian setting, the June 25-28 event has become the biggest Tiki gathering in the Northeast and one of the signature events of the Fraternal Order of Moai. The 1950s era Polynesian-themed motor inn will be transformed into a weekend Tiki party featuring carvers, artists and vendors plus room parties and an authentic luau. Last week, it was announced that Los Straitjackets, the Lucha Libre-masked surf-rock stalwarts, will be headlining this year’s entertainment lineup. Other bands scheduled to perform include The Neanderthals, Waitiki, The Outta Sites and 9th Wave. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for further updates.
Tickets are now on sale for The Hukilau, the June 10-14 gathering of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts in Fort Lauderdale that boasts an impressive lineup of six symposiums by noted authors, artists and filmmakers. The 14th annual event will also include more live music, artists and vendors than ever before, plus a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience.
The five days of activities will be headquartered at a new host hotel, the iconic Pier 66, a mid-century landmark that towers 17 stories above the south end of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Events will also be held at The Mai-Kai, the historic Tiki restaurant that has been home base for The Hukilau since 2003.
The Hukilau: June 10-14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Musical guests and performers: Alika Lyman Group, The Intoxicators, Gold Dust Lounge, Pablus, Slip and the Spinouts, Kinky Waikiki, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, King Kukulele. Symposium presenters: Arthur Dong, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brian Miller, Domenic Priore, Jeff Chenault, Jon Bortles and Tiki Gardener.
* Latest updates:The Hukilau on Facebook | The Atomic Grog: The Week in Tiki
Tiki history is the focus of six special symposiums just announced for The Hukilau this year. Topics include idolized mid-century attractions such as Disney World’s original Polynesian Village Resort, Florida’s Tiki Gardens, Southern California’s Pacific Ocean Park, and The Kahiki supper club in Ohio.
As usual, an eclectic lineup of musical acts has been assembled to keep the party lively. The Alika Lyman Group features the Hawaii-born nephew of exotica legend Arthur Lyman, performing a musical tribute that ranges from exotica to jazz to classic Hawaiian. Also performing will be Tallahassee instrumental surf stalwarts The Intoxicators, Miami surf-spy-jazz combo Gold Dust Lounge, Georgia’s loungy Hawaiian music group Kinky Waikiki, Tiki-inspired singer-songwriter Pablus from Tampa, and South Florida roots rockers Slip and the Spinouts. And it wouldn’t’ be The Hukilau without master of ceremonies King Kukulele and a performance or two by Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid.
At the colorful crossroads where Disneyphiles and Tikiphiles meet, there’s a new date to be honored and celebrated annually with a rum-fueled fervor. May 2 will forever be known as the day that Trader Sam packed up his collection of curios and headed to Disney World.
His final destination: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the reimagined flagship hotel that has been rechristened with its original name from 1971’s grand opening, the day Disney World opened its gates in Orlando. More than 42 years later, the vintage South Seas-themed luxury hotel is in the midst of one of its largest refurbishments ever.
And what a name he has chosen for his newest Tiki lounge: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which promises to expand on the Adventureland-meets-Adventurer’s Club vibe of his original location, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel. To celebrate Sam’s imminent arrival, we’ve concocted a welcome-to-Florida grog, which you can find below.
After years of speculation and unconfirmed reports, Walt Disney World Resort President George A. Kalogridis made the announcement on Friday, May 2, confirming what everyone could see happening at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and putting all rumors to rest: “This year, we started reimagining the feature pool, and the centerpiece of the iconic resort, the Great Ceremonial House. We’re also adding Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, inspired by the guest favorite at Disneyland. Trader Sam’s will continue the evolution of food and beverage offerings across our parks and resorts.”
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.
The creators of a new documentary on the rise, fall and resurgence of Tiki culture have announced that artist Kevin Kidney has been hired as art director.
Much of Plastic Paradise was filmed last June at The Hukilau and the historic Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and there are plans to show a sneak preview during next year’s Polynesian Pop extravaganza, scheduled for April 19-22. Plastic Paradise is then slated to hit the festival circuit, followed by airings nationwide on PBS affiliates.
The documentary, an hour-long chronicle of Tiki culture, was commissioned by PBS. The filmmakers, known as Common Machine, had previously provided PBS with an award-winning film about Cuban artists living in Miami, Hecho a Mano: Creativity in Exile.
* Click here to see a preview of Plastic Paradise
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.
Walt Disney World has come a long way since Oct. 1, 1971. The resort celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday with a 15-hour celebration at the iconic Magic Kingdom park, where it all started.
In 1971, there was just the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness campground and two hotels (the Contemporary and Polynesian) connected by the Monorail. Now, there are four theme parks, two water parks, 30 themed resort hotels and much more. Whether or not the sprawling, 30,000-acre complex southwest of Orlando is the true realization of Walt Disney’s vision (see video below) is debatable, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
My first visit was in late 1972, and I still remember the joy and wonder of that day. I’m looking forward to the surprises Disney says are in store for guests on its birthday, although I’ve grown to appreciate Disney World for many different reasons.
If you missed the Tiki fine art show at The Hukilau last month, you have another chance to check out some great work by artists such as Kevin Kidney, Jody Daily, Shag, Skot Olsen and many more at the Harold Golen Gallery, Miami’s premiere pop surrealist art gallery.
The gallery’s annual Fine Art Tiki show has its grand opening this Saturday as part of the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk in the Wynwood Art District of Miami. The area features more than 70 galleries, museums and collections. Many of them host parties and special events during the monthly art walk.