Saturday, January 15, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Tiki Room

First of all, you may have noticed that the blog has acquired a glowy new TRONified look. Although I enjoyed TRON: Legacy, the main impetus behind the visual overhaul was making it look better on larger monitors.  If you’re using a monitor that runs higher than 1600x1800, you’ll notice that the background image is no longer tiled, meaning that the blog no longer looks like a GeoCities website from 1995. Please let me know what you think of the new look by voting in the poll to the right. Thanks!

Now, on to the Tiki Room. On Wednesday, January 12th a fire broke out in the Tiki Room’s attic and damaged several animatronics before it was extinguished by the sprinkler system. The Disney fan community reacted with shock and dismay, until we learned that no one had been hurt, and the fire was in the “Under New Management” Tiki Room at Walt Disney World. Then we reacted by dancing the Funky Chicken of Joy in front of our computers. This created problems if we happened to be in a public place.

Michael Crawford over at Progress City U.S.A. has written an excellent article about the fire and what changes may come to the Tiki Room as a result. Like many of us, Michael hopes that Disney might decide to go ahead and bring back the original show for the park’s 40th anniversary. After all, they’ve already done it at Disneyland, and the current show is disliked by both hardcore fans and casual vacationers. However, the way I see it there’s just one teeny tiny little problem: the reason the old show went away in the first place was that it became unpopular. People were staying away from it, or getting up and leaving in the middle of the show. If it were brought back, mightn’t the same thing happen again?

I’ve never been to Disneyland, so I have no way of knowing how popular the show is with audiences there. However, it’s a well-known fact that a larger percentage of Disneyland’s visitors are Annual Passholding locals who are quite intolerant of classic attractions being replaced by crass commercials for current Disney franchises. By way of contrast, the vast majority of Walt Disney World’s customers are one-time-only casual vacationers who can’t  tell the difference between a classic Disney attraction and a hole in the ground. Many of these folks have never seen the original Tiki Room and have no warm, fuzzy memories of it. Sure, in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and even into the ‘80s, singing Animatronic birds were kind of impressive. Now, not so much. Modern audiences might very well turn their noses up at the classic Tiki Room, just like they did in the ‘90s. (Although many of these same people think reality television is entertaining. The world is stupid.)

On the other hand, Captain EO seems to have picked up a whole new generation of fans who weren’t even born yet when it debuted in 1986, and that show lacks the timeless quality of the original Tiki Room. Maybe the same thing could happen in Adventureland.  Personally, I think that the best-case scenario would be a “remastered” version of the original show. Make the Animatronics a little more lifelike, with the smooth, fluid movements you see on the newer models. And, although it pains me to say this, the show may need to be condensed a little to hold the attention of modern A.D.D.-addled audiences.

And those are my thoughts on the Tiki Room. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. I hope the new look doesn’t hurt your eyes.


  1. How about this for thought... Instead of just updating the animatronics -- what if -- the birds could actually, you know, fly?

  2. While you may think that the majority of visitors are casual vacationers...take a scan of the parking lot sometime...90-95% of the tags in the parking lot are Florida tags OUTSIDE of Orange/Seminole counties. That implies a lot of RETURNING Floridians that visit quite often. (and annual passholders for 23 years like me)

  3. Do Florida plates identify cars by counties? I've seen that in some states but in Illinois our plates do not do so.

  4. Are we at the point where we can't be impressed with the animatronic technology? I mean, I'm knocked out by the animatronics in the Hall of Presidents and in the American Adventure, but part of it is that they're part of a much larger and very powerful story. But the animals on Jungle Crusie, for example, do very little for me. Too much exposure to special effects in other forms of entertainment?

  5. I grew up going to WDW every summer and now that I live on the west coast I have visited Disneyland. Reading how my childhood memories had been destroyed in central Florida I was worried about taking the kids to Disneyland. I was happily surprised. It was like it was decided by Corporate that Disneyland be the home to "classic" Disney attractions. Not only was I able to see the orignal Tiki Room show, I was able to ride Mr. Toad's Wild ride again and ride a submarine ride again (not as good as 20K, but encompassing some of its best parts!). It was like revisiting childhood and it sparked in me a renewed love of Disney parks which started me looking at blogs such as this one and others devoted to WDW rides past. Disneyland still manages to keep these great rides while still branding the newer films in other parts of the park. The fact that Disneyland is smaller than WDW makes you wonder why WDW couldn't try a little harder to do the same. I would recomend you visit Disneyland before even these old attractions disappear and are delegated to our minds eye.


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