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The Enchanted Tiki Room
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"In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room . . ."
The Tiki Room was Walt's first use of WED Enterprises new technology, Audio-Animatronics. A large cast of birds, flowers, and tikis serenade the audience. The Tiki room characters make simple motions--mouths opening and closing, wings flapping--to match the music and action of the show. All motion and audio elements are pre-recorded and adjusted to work together. Walt and his team of imagineers at WED Enterprise began development of this technology in 1961. In 1963 the Enchanted Tiki Room opened in Disneyland. And in 1964 Disney created 4 Audio-Animatronic shows for the New York World's Fair; It's a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The Magic Skyway, and The Carousel of Progress. Here is Walt Disney in a Disneyland TV show talking about the World's Fair:
The World's Fair was only the beginning of Audio-Animatronics. Countless Disney attractions now utilize Audio-Animatronics to make show characters move. Think Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, etc. So how does an Audio-Animatronic figure work? Try this definition (from wikipedia) on for size:
Audio-Animatronics uses tones recorded on tape to vibrate a metal reed, that closes a circuit, to trigger a relay, which sends a pulse of electricity to a mechanism, that causes a pneumatic valve to move part of the figure. (You might have to read that sentence again. LOL.)
Or you can try the definition given by Magic Kingdom's barker bird that sat above the attractions entrance until 1997: (Think silly Spanish accent.) "It is time for me, to tell you all about the Tiki room. It is a show brought to you by Audio-Animatronics. Which is a big word. But believe you me it is even hard to explain; but let me try. First of all the resistor is connected to the capacitor. The capacitor is connected to the transformer. The Transformer's connected to the toggle switch. The toggle switch's connected to the antenna. The antenna's connected to the control track. The control track's connected to the bird brain. The bird brain's... bbbbbb. Squawk. I blow a fuse. Blow a fuse." This was state of the art technology for its time. Under the floor of the Tiki room was a large room of floor to ceiling cabinets filled with audio recordings on magnetic tape, all needed to run the 15 minute show. Current technology has brought updates to the Audio-Animatronic figures both mechanically and computing wise.
So, Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room opened in 1963. Originally the Tiki room was going to be a restaurant where birds would serenade guests as they ate. The restaurant would have shared a kitchen with Plaza Pavilion restaurant; the two building are adjoining. But the restaurant gave way to a full Animatronic attraction. The Tiki room was a hit do in part to a new love affair with Polynesian culture. Disneyland's Tiki room has had two corporate sponsors: United Airlines until 1976 and then Dole Food Company up through the present.
When Magic Kingdom park opened in 1971 its Tiki room attraction was called Tropical Serenade; which also had a corporate sponsor, Florida Citrus Growers, until 1986. Even though the attraction did not have the same name as its Disneyland counterpart, it was an identical show. That is until 1997 when the Tropical Serenade closed for refurbishment and re-opened in 1998 with a few new cast members--Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from The Lion King--new songs, and a new story line. The attraction was now called The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management. While the original Tiki room birds and flowers remained, the songs were changed to include modern pop-dance classics (Hot, Hot, Hot. Get On Your Feet.) and a Tiki pole serenade of In the Still of the Night. All of these reflected the wants of Iago, one of the Tiki room's new owners, who wanted a new modern show. Zazu warns Iago that this modernization might upset the Tiki Gods, which is of course true. The show ends as guests are sent back into the park to the refrains of "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's out the door you go".
In February of 2011 the Magic Kingdom's Tiki room suffered the ill effects of a small attic fire. It is rumored that some of the Animatronic figures suffered damage from either fire or water from the sprinkler system. This prompted Disney to refurbish the Tiki room, which re-opened in August of 2011 as--surprise, surprise, pretty surprise--Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room. The Tiki room was once again back to original with a presentation of Walt's original Enchanted Tiki Room. Once again guests can "all sing like the birdies sing".
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