Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

by Barbara Burnett Brock

Opening on June 23, 1963, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room brought the world’s first ‘Audio-Animatronics’ figures to life. Borrowing heavily from the technology developed by the U.S. Missile Program that launched the Polaris missile, Walt and his team at WED Enterprises (now named Walt Disney Imagineering) created a raucous and memorable Pacific-Island-inspired attraction. As Walt said, “If the government hadn’t done all the research, it would have cost us a fortune to develop this system!”

When thinking of a venue with moving characters, Walt had originally envisioned a Chinese restaurant, complete with an ‘Audio-Animatronics’ Confucius character who would impart wisdom to diners. When that didn’t work out as planned, Walt turned to the very popular Polynesian culture of the day. However, while developing the colorful and dynamic restaurant, Walt soon realized Guests would be so fascinated, they would never want to leave their tables! And so, the idea of a show was born.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room was not only unique in that it was the first attraction to feature ‘Audio-Animatronics’, but also in that a separate, higher fee was charged to see the show (25 cents higher than the “E” attractions!). And since it was funded and owned solely by Walt Disney, the attraction bore his name, and is the only attraction at Disneyland to carry his name.

At the attraction, once Guests have been entertained by the pre-Show area that features talking tiki gods and, perhaps, have enjoyed a refreshing ‘Dole Whip‘ treat from the Tiki Juice Bar, it’s on to the main theater. The show is filled with 225 ‘Audio-Animatronics’ life-like birds, flowers, tiki drummers and tiki totem poles, as well as a magical fountain (featuring the Birdmobile) at the center of the attraction. Four large macaws – José, Michael, Fritz and Pierre, act as the stars of the show, sharing the stage with a chorus of six beautiful white cockatoos named Collette, Suzette, Mimi, Fifi, Gigi and Josephine. The show opens with the iconic song, written by Richard and Robert Sherman, “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.” Feeling inspired by the talented chorus, the entire theater erupts in song as Guests are invited to join in singing, “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing.”

Today, the attraction can also be found at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and at Tokyo Disneyland.