The Complete History of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Tom Corless

The Complete History of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

An antique mechanical, singing, toy bird was purchased by Walt Disney while he was in New Orleans, Louisiana. He gave the bird to his Imagineers and encouraged them to improve upon the device that animated the bird. From there, Lee Adams, an electrician at the Burbank studio, along with Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers, were a few of the Imagineers that were credited with the initial development of this form of robotics that would forever change the genre of theme parks.

As early as 1949, Walt was determined to make a moving three-dimensional figure. The “Dancing Man” prototype figure was developed at this time. Performer Buddy Epson was filmed against a background grid as reference for this early figure, one you can see displayed today at Walt Disney Presents at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Walt built the elaborate opera house set himself, guided by a design by Imagineer Ken Anderson. The dancing figure itself was created by Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers.

The term “Audio-Animatronics” would not be first used commercially by Disney until 1961, was filed as a trademark in 1964, and was registered in 1967.

Before birds took flight as the animated Space Age pioneers, however, the attraction was originally intended to be something quite different than a swinging South Seas show. According to Disney Studio machinist Roger Broggie, Walt told his Imagineers, “I want to have a Chinese restaurant at the park. Out in the lobby will be an old Chinese fellow like Confucius—not an actor, but a figure. Now the customers will ask him questions, and he’ll reply with words of wisdom.” The restaurant was also to feature a dinner show, accompanied by an assortment of animals real and imagined, including birds and a fire-breathing, joke-telling dragon. The burgeoning Audio-Animatronics technology had a ways to go before a human figure could be convincingly portrayed—although amazingly, the ultra-sophisticated Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was unveiled only a year after Tiki Room’s 1963 debut… so the Chinese philosopher (and the dragon) were abandoned.

Walt Disney instead chased the idea of a tea room.

“We were sitting in one of those little rooms and Walt told us “We’re making some changes to Adventureland, and I think I’d like to put a Tiki Room there, just a little Tiki, Tiki Room.”

“Sure, Walt”, we all said, “that sounds just fine.”

“And I want it to be a restaurant.”

We assured Walt that a restaurant would be just fine, too.

Imagineer Rolly Crump

It would eventually be a room full of tropical creatures with eye and facial actions synchronized to a musical score entirely by electromechanical means. The “cast” of the musical revue 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 a part of the figure’s body. Other than this, the animation is a digital system, with only on/off moves, such as an open or closed eyes.

Tiki Room Restaurant Concept Art

John Hench, who wore many hats as artist, animator, imagineer, and eventually Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering, went to work on an initial sketch of the Tiki Room. His rendition was exquisite, but it included birds in cages above the tables. Walt assumed the birds were real.

“You can’t put birds in there, John”, he said.

John wasn’t sure why not, but Walt was emphatic about not having birds in the Tiki Room.

Finally, Walt came out with it: “The birds will poop in the food.” (Except he didn’t say ‘poop’.)

John explained: “They’re not real birds, Walt. They’re stuffed birds.”

To Walt, that was almost as bad as ‘poop’ in the food. “We don’t stuff birds here.”

“They only look stuffed,” John told him. They’re mechanical. And they cheep.”

“Maybe”, Walt said, “they can move a little. And sing.”

As told by Imagineer John Hench

And that’s how the Tiki Room began: as a restaurant with birds that looked stuffed but were actually mechanical and could cheep. Of course, the Tiki Room isn’t a restaurant, and it never was, but it did come close.

Tables and chairs were made, all while Imagineers worked on a knock-out show with the mechanical birds, complete with cheeping, narration, singing, and music. Walt reportedly loved the show and knew that everyone who came to eat in the Tiki Room would too, but that became a problem. People might come in for a meal, eat it, but then not want to leave because they loved the show and wanted to keep watching it. A restaurant with people reluctant to leave wouldn’t be very profitable.

As a test, the “Legends of the Enchanted Tiki” (the working title of the attraction) was mocked up in Stage 2 at the Disney Studio. Walt invited his virtuoso tunesmiths, the Sherman Brothers, to view the show. Richard speculated that the hit song “Pineapple Princess” that he and his brother Robert wrote for Annette in 1960 is probably what made Walt think of the Shermans when it came time for a Tiki song. When he asked the songwriting siblings if they had any ideas, they recalled a calypso song they had composed for a Disney TV show about the production of Swiss Family Robinson. “So,” recalled the Shermans, “we suggested that the song could be done in a calypso beat: ‘the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room.’ It had a sound you could remember. And Walt bought the idea, just like that. We wrote the lengthy, gag-filled calypso ‘Tiki Room’ song, which performs the all-important task of explaining to the audience what they are about to see and hear.”

“The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” not only gave the show a focus, it also gave it a name. Additionally, the four famous spokesbirds had yet to be designed. To add a sense of continuity to the show, Richard and Robert suggested that a colorful parrot with a personality serve as emcee. Walt liked the idea so much, he built on their inspiration. “Instead of one parrot emcee, we’ll have four, with French, Spanish, German. and Irish accents.” As the Shermans noted, “Walt always had a way of plussing a good idea.” With the cast firmly in place—and with more jokes and birdbrained fun contributed by writers Larry Clemmons and Marty Sklar, as well as Wally Boag and Fulton Burley—the Enchanted Tiki Room was ready to fly.

In a Destination D presentation called “Lost on the Way to the World’s Fair”, Archivist Becky Cline revealed the script and concept art (long misattributed to the Tiki Room) for a theater show pitched for the Coke Pavilion, entitled “Legends of the Enchanted Island.” Much of this show would become the Enchanted Tiki Room, with rival Pepsi opting to enlist Disney to build “it’s a small world” instead.

Walt decided to keep the idea alive and turn the Tiki Room into a restaurant for his park in Anaheim. Several vestiges of the concept remained when the show opened at Disneyland, including the restaurant chairs now instead used for show seating. Eventually, though, the chairs were replaced with long benches to better to accommodate larger numbers of people, and rumors of the restaurant concept slowly faded away.

It was intended to share a kitchen with the Plaza Pavilion and Tahitian Terrace. If you ever wondered why the Tiki Room is the only attraction to include its own restrooms, it’s because it was supposed to be a dining venue. Another mark of the planned restaurant, the magic fountain in the center of the room, was originally planned to be a coffee station –which is why there is a storage compartment built into the base.

Walt Disney Tiki Room Color Photo

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opened on June 22, 1963 sponsored by United Airlines. Does this sponsor make sense? Well, consider that Hawaii was just recently made a state at the time, and people were flocking to the Islands like crazy. United was doing a special Hawaiian promotion, and partnership was perfect.

Tiki Room United poster

Tiki Room was the first Disney attraction to feature Audio-Animatronics and since it required the use of computers (the operations room is located under the attraction), this also meant that it was the first attraction to offer air conditioning –a factor that has continued to add to its popularity during hot Southern California summers.

In order to make the birds look as realistic as possible, designers opted to use real feathers on their bodies. They didn’t think the feathers looked quite right on the bird’s chests through, so they continued to brainstorm on what to use until Imagineer Harriet Burns had lunch with Walt one day. He was wearing a cashmere sweater and Harriet noticed that the fabric moved on his elbows the exact way the team had envisioned the bird’s chests to move.

When the attraction opened, the four host birds all had the same colored feathers, white, green, yellow and blue. But as time progressed, the designers decided that each bird’s coloring should represent his country of origin: Jose is red, white and green, Michael is white and green, Pierre is blue, white and red, and Fritz is black, red and white.

Strangely, Walt decided to put ownership of the attraction under his own company, WED Enterprises, rather than the Walt Disney Company, which owned the rest of the park. This meant guests had to pay a small admission fee of $.75 when the ride opened in June of 1963.

Unsurprisingly, the Tiki Room was an instant success. In fact, the show was so popular that crowds would block up the entire entrance of Adventureland just to catch glimpse of the talking “Barker Bird” outside the attraction – he was soon removed.

Before entering, guests are entertained by talking tiki statues that each represent Polynesian gods. A few years after opening (once the sponsorship changed) guests would view a Dole-sponsored video about pineapples. Eventually, the doors open and you are invited inside. Once everyone is seated, the cast member taps on Jose’s perch with a bamboo cane and the show begins. While it is not common knowledge, the show doesn’t have to be started by a cast member, so if you ask if you can wake up Jose as the audience filters in, you just might get to kick off the festivities.

The show kicks off with a little banter and then the birds and flowers start to sing “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” which was written by the Sherman Brothers.

Next would be he “Barcarolle” from Jacques Offenbach’s opera Tales of Hoffmann and the final verse of “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room”. While this was later removed, the show has remains mostly unchanged since its 1963 inception due to a stipulation in the sponsorship contract with Dole that the attraction remain unchanged. The same could not be said for the other two iterations of the attraction that were built later.

The fountain then opens up, revealing a chorus line of beautiful cockatoos, the birds then perform “Let’s All Sing Like The Birdies Sing.”

The next song is the “Hawaiian War Chant,” stars the tiki carvings who sing and play drums. Interestingly, the song wasn’t actually written as a war chant, but as a love song.

The chant suddenly results in thunder, lightning and rain appearing on the windows. The host birds promise to show guests a magic trick by making the audience “disappear.” While everyone leaves, they sing a modified version of Heigh-Ho, that exclaims, “Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s out the door you go.”

If certain voices from the Tiki Room sound familiar, there’s a reason for that. Fritz and the Hawaiian god Tangaroa are both voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft –the same man who voiced Tony The Tiger, sang “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and performed the lead vocals for “Grim Grinning Ghosts” in the Haunted Mansion.

As for some of the lesser known voice talents in the attraction, Jose is voiced by Wally Boag, who was the star actor in the Golden Horseshoe Revue all the way up until 1986. Boag also helped write a lot of the script for the Haunted Mansion. Wally was honored as a Disney Legend in 1995 and was even given his own window on Main Street that reads, “Theatrical Agency – Golden Vaudeville Routines – Wally Boag, Prop.” Boag’s comedy was also a big influence on comedian Steve Martin, who worked at the park in his younger days.

Michael is voiced by Fulton Burley who also worked on the Golden Horseshoe Revue. Pierre was performed by Ernie Newton who also did the singing vocals for Boo-Boo Bear in “Hey There It’s Yogi Bear.” Most of the other bird’s vocals were done by Purvis Pullen, aka Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath, who was best known for his work with the satirical band Spike Jones and his City Slickers.

Walt Disney World

When plans were forming for Walt Disney World, the Enchanted Tiki Room was still one of the headlining attractions at Disneyland. It was an easy decision that Adventureland should include the attraction in Florida. A new building called the Sunshine Pavilion was constructed, a far cry from the very tiny theater attached to the back of a Main Street building with the “world’s smallest restroom”. This time around, an entirely new pre-show was developed since the queue had to be covered to protect guests from the Florida sun, and also because there would be a different sponsor here. Opening as the Tropical Serenade on October 1, 1971, the Enchanted Tiki Room headlined opening day at the Magic Kingdom.

Tropical Serenade Attraction Sign

The unique pre-show featuring two toucans named Clyde and Claude voiced by Dallas McKennon and Sebastian Cabot. After introducing themselves, they begin telling a story of how they found the Sunshine Pavillion and Tiki Room within when escaping from various animals on the Jungle Cruise. A cast member stops their story to tell them the show inside is about to start and guests enter the room for a copy of Disneyland’s show. This template was again used for Tokyo Disneyland’s Tiki Room.

Also worth noting would be the “barker bird,” whose ludicrous Spanish accent was provided by Disneyland’s Wally Boag. This toucan spat out ridiculous noises and sang for passing guests to their amusement, beckoning them to “come to the Tiki Room.” He was perched on an upper level of the building facing out onto the path which now leads to Pirates of the Caribbean.

New Sponsor

Dole took over as a sponsor of the attraction at Disneyland in 1976. Not only did Dole enhance the show by offering delicious pineapple treats like the Dole Whip, they also put a stipulation in their contract that the attraction remain unchanged.

Tokyo Disneyland

The Tokyo attraction opened with the park on April 15, 1983 and is almost identical to The Walt Disney World version with the exception of some added themed elements in the queue including all of the tiki god statues.

Adventureland Changes at Magic Kingdom

1992 brought the introduction of a new “Barker Bird” at the attraction’s entrance, this one with a Caribbean and the name Artemus. He would remain until 1997 when the attraction closed. This was part of the overall theme changes for the land at the time.

Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management

However, by the 1990s, plummeting attendance and guest satisfaction lead to a complete overhaul of the attraction in Florida. On September 1, 1997, the Tropical Serenade closed to be updated. It re-opened in April 1998 as The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management, featuring Iago and Zazu from Aladdin and The Lion King, respectively, as the new owners of the legendary establishment. The show featured all of the same audio-animatronic birds, flowers and tiki gods, but now included new, state-of-the-art audio-animatronics figures of Iago and Zazu, plus a new Tiki goddess named Uh-Oa.

The pre-show’s two audio-animatronic toucans Clyde and Claude were recast as William (voiced by Don Rickles) and Morris (voiced by Phil Hartman). William and Morris would entertain the waiting guests by discussing their positions as agents of the new Tiki Room’s new “co-owners”. Morris says that he has to leave because he’s about to sign Donald Duck, while William brags that he’s got the Mighty Ducks. The cylinder would close with the two birds yelling and arguing.

After the guests had entered the theater, the human Cast Member would proceed to “wake up” José with help from the audience, just like the original show. The 4 Tiki Bird hosts- José, Michael, Pierre (in this version, voiced by Jerry Orbach, the voice of Lumière from Beauty and the Beast) and Fritz would begin things the traditional way. They start singing “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” as they have for the last 30 years, but in the middle of their song, an audio-animatronic Iago, the red, cranky, loud-mouthed parrot from Disney’s Aladdin, descends from a hole in the ceiling.

Iago sits on a pillow holding a small megaphone, yelling that the Tiki Birds need to stop the music. Iago complains that the show’s outdated songs make him want to “toss his crackers.” The birds say that they are in the middle of a show. From another hole in the ceiling comes a perch bearing an audio-animatronic Zazu, the proper blue hornbill from Disney’s The Lion King. Zazu pleads with Iago not to toy with the Tiki Room. Pierre tells Iago that “his friend” is right and that he should not anger the Room’s inhabitants. Iago ignores Zazu’s warnings and replies that Zazu isn’t his friend.

José, Michael, Piere and Fritz are confused — they don’t know Iago and Zazu because they never “fly to the movies.” To give them an example of how the songs should be sung, Iago begins singing a song to the tune of “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. He says that since the Tiki Birds are ancient history and he’s a big “cele-birdy,” he’s going to change the show so that a more modern audience can appreciate it, warning the birds that they’d better get hip or their audience will disappear.

Zazu tells Iago to knock it off — the Tiki Gods can hear him. Iago then begins to blatantly insult the Gods, soon after which “lightning” strikes and the lights go out. The Tiki Birds begin singing that the atmosphere in the theater has suddenly gotten “Hot! Hot Hot!” and the carved faces on the Tiki Poles begin chanting “Uh-Oa!”

From the center of the fountain in the middle of the room, smoke bubbles and fumes and Uh-Oa, the green and evil audio-animatronic “Tiki Goddess of Disaster” (Voiced by Armelia McQueen), emerges. Uh-Oa wants to know who dares to defame the Tiki Gods and Zazu tells her it was Iago. Uh-Oa then sings about how unwise Iago was to have messed with her. She claims that he “Can’t fly away because [he’s] stuck, [she] has cursed [him] for pushing [his] luck and it won’t help to yell — [he’s] under [her] spell!” Uh-Oa then uses her magic Tiki powers and Iago shoots up from his perch. In a big, dark explosion of smoke, the loud-mouthed parrot is gone. Uh-Oa laughs evilly, then, in a cloud of smoke, disappears back into the fountain.

The Tiki Birds and Zazu feel that they should let the Tiki Gods have their say and Zazu introduces the one and only musical sensation: The Tiki Gods. The faces on the Tiki Poles begin to sing “In the Still of the Night” (which is sung in the style of slow doo-wop), then the flowers join in by singing a crazy rap song using lyrics from the original Tiki Room show and some of the birds begin singing along. At this point, over the exit doors, a small compartment on the wall opens. And who else should be in the compartment but Iago. Iago is burnt, smoking, carrying a crutch and has bandages all over his body. He tells them all how the Tiki Gods are the greatest act he’s ever heard and that they’re going to make a gold mine on this show, no more worries.

Zazu tells Iago that where he comes from, no worries is “Hakuna Matata,” which Iago misinterprets as “Hunky-Tuna Tostada”. However, he seems to like it, declaring that Zazu is now his friend and that they should party. All the birds start to sing their own rendition of “Conga” as the Bird Mobile descends from the ceiling. Zazu sings about how Iago learned his lesson and will no doubt be more discreet in the future. Iago decides to show Zazu that he won’t be discreet, telling everybody to get on their feet. “That’s right — everybody stand up!”

As the audience prepares to leave, the Tiki Birds begin singing “Get On Your Feet!” The birds declare that they’re going to do a magic trick and make the audience face the door and disappear. The exit doors open and the guests start walking out as the Tiki Birds continue to sing “Get On Your Feet!”, followed by “Heigh-Ho”. Zazu bids farewell to the guests, while Iago keeps up a barrage of comments and insults designed to get the guests to leave as they walk under him. Once the majority of the guests have left the theater, Iago says that he’s tired and plans to go take a nap in the Hall of Presidents. He then says good-bye to Zazu, turns around and enters the compartment over the exit. José laughs that nobody “laid an egg”… except him.

The new show’s attendance instantly began to drop after the first year. With the 9/11 downturn, the Tiki Room’s hours were cut from full park hours to just from 10-5 every day.

Tokyo Disney Gets The Fever

The Tokyo Disneyland version of the Tiki Room would go under a contemporary overhaul as well in 1999, with The Enchanted Tiki Room: Get the Fever!. The show utilized new hosts and more contemporary and eclectic music choices with a story of waking the long dormant Tiki Gods with a party. The four new “lounge host” birds were Danno, Scats, Buddy, and Lava (the first female host bird).

Tiki Room Get the Fever Poster

The opening number was the tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room, is a sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy room, perhaps a way of Imagineers referencing why they were asked by management to shake up these classic shows.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room “Re-coups” at Disneyland

After years of neglect under less-than-stellar management, the Enchanted Tiki Room started a lengthy refurbishment on July 30, 2004. Previous park management had let standards all over the park (and, in fact, the entire resort) slip; feathers were regularly falling out of the Audio-Animatronics, the thatched roof of the building was breaking away in broad daylight, and the movements of the Audio-Animatronics were noisy and slow.

Almost as soon as the refurbishment started, a section of the Tiki Room’s roof collapsed. If the attraction had been open, there is no telling what could have happened.

The show re-opened in March 2005 to standing-room-only crowds after a seven-month refurbishment, commissioned by new Disneyland management in a bid to restore the park to its former glory for its “Happiest Homecoming on Earth” 50th Anniversary Celebration. After the renovation, virtually all of the original show and storyline remained but with a digitally remastered audio track. The attraction also received a new sound system both indoors and out and completely new Audio-Animatronics; they look identical to the previous ones but have state-of-the-art equipment inside. Updates in technology allowed Walt Disney Imagineering to create a show for the heightened expectations of 21st Century audiences while retaining the elements of the classic presentation.

Stitch Invades Tokyo

Get the Fever closed in January 2008. The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai! opened on July 25, 2008, incorporating Stitch and music from the film and television series into the show.

Stitch Tiki room

The show begins with the Cast Member introducing the four Birds of Paradise: Hanoli, Manu, Mahina, and Waha Nui. The birds welcome the audience to the Tiki Room and start off by singing “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride.” Just as they finish the first verse, however, the lights go out, interrupting the song. When the lights come back on, the birds see that someone has painted messages and written pictures all over the walls and windows of the Tiki Room.

Manu suspects that one of the drawings is of the Big Kahuna, the leader of the Enchanted Tiki. If he is angered, they will be doomed. Mahina points out that the messages also say “Aloha e komo mai”, which is Hawaiian for “Hello, welcome.” Hanoli is amused that the phrase also happens to be the name of their next song, and wonders how the vandal knew that. Mahina guesses that the Tiki Gods know all, and proceeds to sing “Aloha E Komo Mai” from Lilo and Stitch: The Series.

At the end of the song, Waha Nui suspects that the Tiki Gods are anxious because they are singing out of tune. The paranoid Manu tells him to watch his words, or he could make the Big Kahuna angry. Waha Nui tells him, “Kahuna Matata” and starts the next number, which is part of the Hawaiian War Chant from the original Tiki Room show.

However, Stitch disrupts the song by sticking his arms out of the flower beds and sounding various air horns. Waha Nui tries to stop him by shouting at him whenever he reaches out of the flower beds, but Stitch gets the upper hand by sounding a large foghorn blast at the end.

Manu decides to ask the cute birds he met at Waikiki about the Big Kahuna. The girls come down on the Birdmobile, wearing plastic Stitch ears. He asks why they are wearing them, and they tell him that some blue creature put the ears on them. Manu tells them they were lucky and that their bodies could have turned blue when Stitch throws down blue paint on the girls (this effect is achieved by using a blue light). The girls run off, saying they won’t come back until the blue creature leaves.

The lights go out, and lightning cracks. Stitch comes out of the fountain in the center of the room, obscured by the low red lighting in the Tiki Room. He pretends to be the Big Kahuna at first but soon reveals himself. He says he did the things he did so he could be in the show, but the Birds of Paradise scold him, telling him he should have said so before the show started.

They let Stitch perform in the show, on the condition that he not interfere with the show anymore. Stitch agrees, asking the Birds of Paradise and the audience if they want to join his ohana. Stitch and the Birds of Paradise then close the show with a reprise of “Aloha E Komo Mai”. Stitch declares, “Everyone… ‘Ohana!” and the show ends with him spitting out of the fountain.

Trader Sam’s 

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is a tiki bar located at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California, that opened in May 2011. Trader Sam’s incorporates elements of traditional tiki bars (glass floats, bamboo, tiki carvings) combined with memorabilia from Disney rides and movies like Indiana Jones and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. According to Brandon Kleyla, Disney Imagineer and head decorator for Trader Sam’s, there are more than 1600 items decorating the interior.


In addition to classic tiki bar details, Trader Sam’s contains references to many elements of the Adventureland area of Disneyland. The Jungle Cruise ride introduces Trader Sam as the “head salesman” of the Jungle Cruise Navigational Company, which explains all the tiki memorabilia throughout the bar. Also, in keeping with the bar’s Jungle Cruise theme, bartenders are all referred to as “Skippers,” and one of the drinks is called “Schweitzer Falls”, one of the landmarks pointed out in the Jungle Cruise ride. As a nod to the influences of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, there is a drink called “Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum” and carved tiki figures with slowly-moving eyes on each end of the bar that are identical to the ones in the Enchanted Tiki Room attraction. The tiki drummers above the bar near the ceiling are also from the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Many references to various Disney franchises are scattered throughout the bar as well. Indiana Jones’ bullwhip, a letter from Short Round, a map of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye from Indiana Jones Adventure, and the voodoo doll from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom can all be found. The harpoon from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is also present. A few references to the Adventurers Club at Walt Disney World in Florida are also present: a postcard from Samantha Sterling (a cabaret singer at the Adventurers Club) and a letter from Pamela Perkins (club president) on Adventurers Club letterhead. You can also get a Kungaloosh cocktail at Trader Sam’s, named after the Adventurer’s Club official greeting.

Trader Sam’s is unique amongst any other tiki bar in the world in its use of animatronics, lighting, sound effects, and employee interaction when certain drinks are ordered. While most tiki bars have a static interior that changes infrequently, if ever, Trader Sam’s was designed by Disney Imagineers whose great attention to detail went into the creation of tiki carvings with moving eyes that slowly move back and forth, an animated shipwreck in a bottle, erupting volcanoes, and bar stools that sink slowly into the floor. Though not all drinks cause something to happen, the following is a list of drinks that do:

  • Shipwreck on the Rocks → The ship in a bottle above the bar encounters stormy seas and begins to sink.
  • Krakatoa Punch → The serene Polynesian scene outside the faux window shows a storm gathering as the volcano begins to erupt.
  • Shrunken Zombie Head → Certain barstools will begin lowering toward the floor. (Bartenders can also just mess with customers by doing this independently of drink orders.)
  • Uh Oa! → The bartender rings a bell, and people begin chanting, “Uh OA! Uh OA! Uh OA OA OA!” and Cast Members spray water into the air so it feels like it’s beginning to rain.

A second Disney tiki bar, called Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, opened in 2015 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in Walt Disney World. While the Anaheim location draws its inspiration from the Enchanted Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise attractions at Disneyland, the Grog Grotto incorporates themes from the classic film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in addition to the aforementioned attractions.

The Uh-Oa audio-animatronic character from Under New Management found a new home above the dining room at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, but, sadly no longer moves.

It could be said that these bars are the culmination of Walt’s original vision, creating a version of the Tiki Room in which guests can dine and drink while enjoying a “show”.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room Returns

The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management was approaching its 13th anniversary when fire struck on January 12, 2011. The Orlando Sentinel described what happened:

Firefighters were called to a small fire at an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park on Wednesday, officials said.

According to the Reedy Creek Fire Department, firefighters were called to the park’s The Enchanted Tiki Room—Under New Management attraction in the Adventureland section of Magic Kingdom about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Fire Department spokesman Bo Jones said a small fire in the attic of the attraction was extinguished by fire sprinklers. Firefighters worked to evacuate the area and to check to make sure the fire was completely out, Jones said.

Orlando Sentinel

It is rumored that the Iago figure (that first interrupts the show) was severely damaged by the small blaze, but the cause of the fire and extent of damage was kept quiet under investigation. Other show elements experienced minor damage when the sprinkler system went off to extinguish the flames.

With the 40th anniversary of the Magic Kingdom approaching on October 1, 2011, Disney viewed it as a perfect time to restore a version of the original show.

On April 7, the daily Magic Kingdom calendar at the official Walt Disney World website said the refurbishment would go through June 30. The next day, on April 8, the date changed to August 15. The website still called it “The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management.” Finally, at D23’s Destination D: Walt Disney World 40, it was officially announced that a show reminiscent of the original called “Enchanted Tiki Room” would open in August. As August approached, the name was changed to “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room” to match Disneyland.

An updated and fairly shorter version of the original show re-opened on August 15, 2011. The show is now an almost identical copy of Disneyland’s original 1963 show, with some audio cuts that bring the show closer to the runtime of Under New Management. Most noticeably missing, though, was mention of the enchanted fountain since the middle section now sports a smoke effect, the Offenbach selection, the sing-along portion of “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing”, and one verse of the Hawaiian War Chant. Regardless, the return was well-received.

Tropical Hideaway

On February 22nd, 2018, Disney announced the Tropical Hideaway: “Calling all adventurers! There will soon be a new area of Adventureland to explore at Disneyland park.”

The former Aladdin’s Oasis (originally the Tahitian Terrace restaurant) would be transformed to The Tropical Hideaway, a reference to the lyrics of the Tiki Room’s titular song. Starting in December 2018, guests could enjoy Dole Whip’s and other treats wheel Jungle Cruise boats sail by. The homes of the show’s birds can be found high above the serving area, and guests would finally find out “what happened to Rosita” as the female cockatoo would be featured in animatronic form along the shores of the restaurant.


  • Tom Corless

    Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World. Contact Tom at