At Disneyland and Walt Disney World, there are many wonderful attractions that tend to get overlooked. One of these is Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, located in Adventureland in both California and Florida. The attraction is a show that transports guests into a world of singing birds, flowers, and Polynesian gods. While the show is not necessarily in a subtle building, it can be easy to rush past on one’s way to the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, or the mountains of Frontierland. The attraction opened in Disneyland in 1963, and Disney World in 1971.
The Tiki Room is a show in which hundreds of different talking birds, flowers, and totems serenade guests with songs, drumming, and various displays. Songs include “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” and “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing”.
Robert and Richard Sherman wrote “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” and it is one of many places in the parks where their music can be heard. Outside, different gods provide a pre-show in a nicely shaded area. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room was initially conceived as a restaurant, but there was concern that guests would not want to leave. Many soldiers who came back from the Pacific theatre in World War II returned with fond memories of the South Pacific, and Polynesian/Tiki culture was popular at the time. For the 60’s, the show required advanced technology, resulting in the Tiki Room becoming the first non-theater attraction with air conditioning. For more information about its history, please listen here.
I have not been to Disneyland as of this writing, but I can speak to the great value of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom. The show is a relaxing, entertaining journey into vintage Disney. The Pacific/Hawaiian theme is undeniably popular with Disney fans, as can be seen at the Polynesian Village Resort and Aulani.
With light but catchy music, and a fast pace, the theatre offers plenty to look at. I find that the shows are not empty, but certainly not full when attractions such as Peter Pan’s Flight or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train have waits of ninety minutes or more. The theatre is dark, and while the singing birds, flowers, and Tiki gods are not quiet, the show is not overly loud either. The show is accessible to all guests and is family friendly.
Therefore, it is quite easy to fit this attraction into one’s day. Much like other overlooked attractions, there is rarely any kind of queue and no concerted strategy needed to avoid a wait. A constantly running pre-show helps to make the wait more enjoyable. Rather than being overwhelmed with darkness, the queue allows one to adjust to a slower pace and get out of the sun, which can be really scorching in Adventureland. Its location is relatively central. The entrance is in the heart of Adventureland, near the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. However, it exits toward the entrance to Frontierland, and provides easy access to both that land and Liberty Square.
The Tiki Room can be a great way to recharge or cool off, however, I would certainly discourage using the show as simply a filler or last resort. While it is very simple by today’s standards, the show demonstrates an early use of audio-animatronics in the Disney parks, and provides nostalgia. It also has another strong legacy in the form of one of Disney’s most popular snacks. Dole Foods began sponsoring the Tiki Room in 1976, and Dole Whip was initially sold sporadically, but as it was so beloved by guests, it was decided to sell the dessert year-round. Dole Whip is a frozen pineapple soft-serve which is now also available at the Polynesian and Pop Century Resort.
With the proliferation of social media and the world wide web, many of the overlooked attractions are gaining traction. The Peoplemover will now often have a wait. When rumors of the Country Bear Jamboree closing circulated, the outcry was enormous. Disney quashed similar rumors about this attraction, and hopefully it is here to stay. While Walt Disney never saw a completed Magic Kingdom, he loved his Enchanted Tiki Room, and stepping into this attraction is a step into the past. Pleasant, cool, and charming, hopefully Disney is sincere in its proclamation that this attraction is here to stay.
What do you think about Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room? Is Dole Whip a must-do item on your vacation?
Spencer Wright is passionate about Walt Disney World, Disney Film, History, and Old Hollywood. He works in Center City Philadelphia and lives in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He looks forward to writing articles for The Dis Unplugged; currently focusing on Animal Kingdom and the creatures that live there.