This June marked the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and while it was a celebration, the Tiki Room birds definitely don’t need an anniversary to celebrate- they celebrate every show! The idea for the attraction initially came about after Walt Disney traveled to New Orleans and discovered a mechanical bird in a small shop there. Disney was enthralled by the idea of using mechanical birds to entertain guests and created the concept of a dinner show called Tropical Serenade. The show consisted of numerous birds handing above and entertaining guests while they dined below. While the dinner show never came to be, the Enchanted Tiki Room instead was created and it has been delighting guests for fifty years.
In Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom opened October 1, 1971 and one of the attractions featured opening day was the Enchanted Tiki Room. While the original version was a guest favorite, the attraction was refurbished in 1997 and renamed The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. This new version featured Zazu from the Lion King and Iago from Aladdin coming in as the new owners of the Tiki Room and stirring up some trouble with the Polynesian gods (“if you mess with Polynesia, the tiki gods will squeeze ya!”). While this version offered more modern takes on music and entertainment, the original version of the attraction was restored to its full glory in 2011.
After passing through the turnstiles, you enter the preshow area where you will encounter the first two birds of the attraction. Clyde and Claude offer some witty banter which is both amusing and entertaining. Try and time entering the attraction so that you are able to enjoy the whole preshow. One of my favorite parts of the preshow and queue area is the background music featuring exotic sounding drum beats. Anytime I hear this, I immediately can picture myself standing there and waiting for the show to begin!
Once you enter into the main theater, don’t worry about getting a front row seat. Since the birds are situated above, every seat in the house offers great views of the show. Leading the cast of over 225 audio-animatronics are Fritz (voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft who is also one of the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion), Jose (voiced by Wally Boag), Pierre (voiced by Ernie Newton), and Michael (voiced by Fulton Burley). Joining the four main birds are various other birds, singing orchids, drumming tikis, and crooning wooden masks. The wooden masks are by far my favorite characters in the attraction, so be sure to look behind you to catch them in action!
The birds can really throw a party, and sometimes they might even get a little too worked up and cause the Polynesian gods to become angry. However, there is always a song to be sung to please the gods, and you will definitely have some of them stuck in your head after leaving. At the end of the show listen for the tiki birds’ own version of “Heigh Ho” from the Disney animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
While both versions of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room were wonderful, I am truly happy that the original version was restored as the music, script, and overall experience are classic. No matter what your schedule, you should always make time for the tiki birds as they truly do put on a great show. So until next time- “farewell and aloha to you.”
Do you love Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room? Anyone know whatever happened to Rosita? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.