The Orange Bird returns to Walt Disney World as Disney fans welcome back the nostalgic ’70s advertising icon

in Disney, Entertainment, Food, Magic Kingdom, Merchandise, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

During a special early-morning tweet-up hosted by Disney’s official fan club D23, a small group of D23 members (71 to be exact, a meaningful number in Walt Disney World history) and their guests joined Disney Imagineer Jason Grandt in commemorating the return of the Orange Bird, a classic advertising icon invented when the Orlando resort was in its infancy.

According to the history of the Orange Bird posted today on the D23 web site, a few months before Walt Disney World first opened in 1971 (yep, there’s that number), the Orange Bird was cooked up as an “icon both of Florida heritage and of the timeless appeal of the Vacation Kingdom of the World.” The cute character was created along with a catchy tune written by Disney’s famous Sherman brothers songwriting duo.

Though the Orange Bird officially left Walt Disney World in 1987, those who had been attending Walt Disney World since its inception had fond memories of the character and were happy to officially mark its return this morning.

The poster above now welcomes all guests into the Magic Kingdom, framed underneath the Main Street USA Train Station alongside others representing classic Disney attractions. A new line of merchandise featuring the Orange Bird has been released, including T-shirts, pins, and Mickey Mouse ear hats – some for a limited time only.

The Sunshine Tree Terrace eatery in Adventureland has been given a retro makeover, now featuring the Orange Bird on its marquee, plastic cups in the shape of the character’s head, and offers the return of the popular Citrus Swirl sweet treat.

For those who aren’t old enough to remember Walt Disney World in the ’70s and early ’80s (like me), D23’s “Armchair Archivist” offers a further exploration of the history of the Orange Bird and why he’s a meaningful part of Disney history.

Video: D23’s “Armchair Archivist” on the Orange Bird

The return of the Orange Bird began last year at Epcot’s “Florida Project” event, featuring an assortment of throwback Disney elements, also including the Skyway and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Though those two aren’t likely to return to Walt Disney World any time soon, fans of the Orange Bird welcomed his reappearance at that event and are delighted to find him in the Magic Kingdom today.

Video: Florida Project event at Epcot featuring the Orange Bird

It’s all part of a recent long line of nostalgic returns for Disney’s theme parks that spans both United States coasts. Nearby the Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World recently returned the Enchanted Tiki Room to something close to its original “Tropical Serenade” version. During the Destination D: Walt Disney World event in May 2011, D23 brought back the beloved Epcot character Dreamfinder for one night only.

At Disneyland in California, a recent Disneyland Hotel makeover has received a variety of nostalgic tributes, the most obvious of which is a pair of giant retro-themed monorail water slides over its newly renovated pool, complete with the return of the classic Disneyland sign. During the 2011 D23 Expo, Disneyland Resort president George Kalogridis announced they are working on a way for guests to experience select extinct attractions once again.

Though Disney fans are always eager to see the next incredible new technology and attractions, sometimes a trip to the past is the strongest new attraction that can be created. Nostalgia and memories of childhood trips to Disney theme parks are often more powerful than experiences the latest and greatest ride and the Orange Bird captures that spirit for those who remember him from the early days of Walt Disney World.

What would you like to see make a triumphant comeback to the parks? Comment below! (I vote for the Penny Arcade, Magic Shop, above-mentioned Dreamfinder, Horizons, and Alien Encounter to return… but I’ll keep dreaming.)


  1. John

    Having Dreamfinder come back would make me a happy camper.

  2. Jessica

    Oh, I would just adore it if Dreamfinder came back. And Cranium Command – that was seriously one of the best attractions.

  3. Jeff Lynch

    I love this Orange Bird. I used to have a little toy version of him…it was smallish, maybe two inches high, and made of a rubber kind of thing. It was not posable or anything, he just stood there. My parents bought him for me at WDW along with a Mickey, a Minnie, a Donald, and a Pluto toy like that. They were super cute and I used to play with them for hours. And then my mom gave them all away to the church when I turned 13 because she said I was too big for toys and poor kids needed them now.

  4. little leota

    The hatbox ghost.He certainly would fit in with Constance’s attic.Wishful thinking, but maybe we will see him soon.

  5. frostysnowman

    My family and I also miss Cranium Command, Jessica.

  6. EricJ

    When did the Citrus Swirl go away? I remember having one on the first solo trip in ’01 but it’s been Dole Whips after that. 🙂

  7. Nicky

    Hey Ricky I agree with all you select for a return but you forgot three other 20,000 leagues under the sea, Mr. Toad and the Main Street Cinema!!!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Definitely 20,000 Leagues and Mr. Toad!

  8. KarenW

    Eric, The Citrus Swirl has been gone for a while. The original was replaced with a new version, but even that has been gone for a few years now. The original was vanilla soft serve swirled with frozen orange juice concentrate. The replacement was vanilla soft serve swirled with orange flavored soft serve. It just wasn’t the same.

    1. EricJ

      That must’ve been what I had.
      (Orange juice concentrate…Wow. Expensive to mass-produce, but decadent.) 🙂

  9. Nadeen

    it saddens me each time we go that my daughter will not get to experience Mr Toad. we did it in Cali but its just not the same and we do WDW almost every year. I miss that ride SO MUCH! if Carousel of Progress ever goes, it will be hard to keep going….

  10. Lisa

    I would LOVE to see “If You Had Wings” come back. That was what used to be a “free” ride back when you paid for rides with the Ticket system.

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