The Magic Kingdom – an iconic vacation destination, a world away from the real world, and one of my top four Walt Disney World Theme parks in Orlando, Florida. So many memories fill the mind and heart at the sheer mention of Cinderella Castle, Main Street, U.S.A., or Casey’s Corner. Now I will admit, the memories of the heart from Casey’s Corner are often heartburn and indigestion, but that’s an article for a different day.
When I think about the 50th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom Park, I do become nostalgic – not because I am old enough to remember opening day (I’m not), but because I am old enough to remember the first time I paid my entrance fee, left ‘today’ and entered the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.
I remember the first time I took my own kids and saw their faces light up like a nine-dollar bubble wand that breaks before returning to the Resort; I remember the first time we rode Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean; the first time we entered Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress and were entertained by the Country Bear Jamboree. It never ceases to amaze me that many of those attractions were there on day one and are still going strong….but there’s one I will never forget.
Do you remember the first time you entered Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room? Perhaps you were looking for a quiet place to sit in the Disney Park. Maybe you needed some overpowered air conditioning in the middle of the Florida summer. I do not know your reason for entering the ‘temple of doom’ as I not-so-affectionately call it, but I doubt you entered for the purpose posted on the attraction description.
Now, I recognize that these articles reach the Disney fan who has visited Walt Disney World Resort more times than they can count, but they also reach the Disney fan who has yet to visit ‘The World’ and is looking for any morsel of good news they can find as they joyfully await the day they meet Mickey Mouse in person. So, with that in mind, let’s briefly recap the Enchanted Tiki Room. According to the Walt Disney World website, The Enchanted Tiki Room boasts “An Animation First:”
The Audio-Animatronics technology that powers the show’s performers was introduced to the world when Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room debuted in 1963 at Disneyland Park. The groundbreaking technology allowed animators to synchronize movement, audio and visual effects, paving the way for other classic attractions like “it’s a small world,” Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.
No one can argue with the advanced technology for the time. I do not want to take anything away from the incredible work of really inventing this idea of audio-animatronics with a tropical serenade of “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” song. I have no issue with the brief history given to us in this section of the Walt Disney World website. Alas, not everything on the website is accurate. Here’s the description of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room:
A Polynesian Paradise […not quite]
Sing along with a lively menagerie of exotic birds, flowers and Tiki statues in this jubilant Disney classic. A feast for your eyes and ears […bull], this theatre-in-the-round show invites you to sit back, relax and experience the beauty of the South Pacific with a cast of over 225 choreographed audio-animatronic performers.
Sounds lovely, does it not? Listen, even Walt Disney World tried to update this attraction in 1998 when they added a certain one bird to the 225 audio-animatronic performers. Normally that would be ok, but the special one they added was the hard-to-love, Iago, from Disney’s Aladdin (1992).
For those who cringe at the character but cannot remember why let me ease (or intensify) your pain. Iago is voiced by the recently deceased comedian Gilbert Gottfried. Gottfried has an unmistakable voice like no other, and when you entered the Enchanted Tiki Room to relax, for your air conditioning, or to ‘experience the beauty of the South Pacific,’ that voice penetrated your eardrums in a way that would make your ears bleed.
Most other rides and attractions have warnings for those with high blood pressure and pregnant women; why does the Enchanted Tiki room fail to warn us?
Look, I know what you are thinking, “we can just remove the audio-animatronic Iago, and everything will be fine.” Wrong. Seriously, Iago is only one thing wrong with this attraction that is creepier than the Haunted Mansion. Even Walt Disney World finally realized how terrible Iago was and reverted the attraction back to its original setting way back in 2011.
No, this attraction can only be saved with a complete overhaul. I mean, I cannot even nap during this ‘show’ because of all of the singing birds and the Tiki god staring at me – not to mention the animatronic clicking and clacking that makes me think these robots are speaking in code. Nope. What the Enchanted Tiki Room needs is laser targets. Hear me out…
The best rides and attractions on a Disney vacation are ones that engage and allow me to participate in the action. Could you imagine if, when you entered the queue for the Enchanted Tiki Room, they handed out laser weapons similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin?
They could take out the bench seating, put targets on all of the Enchanted Tiki birds (especially that vocal violation Iago), and let us go nuts for 3-5 minutes. I have no doubt this would be the next option for individual Lightning Lane purchase… and I would happily hand over my money to make sure those birds don’t utter a single note while I am in ‘The Room.’
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Walt would roll over in his grave” if an update like this happened. If you are one of those people who get in the way of progress, I can assure you that as many times as you think Walt has rolled over, he would have struck oil by now. The only way to save the Enchanted Tiki Room is laser targets and challenge points.
Now, if you’ve read this far (or at least more than the article title), you recognize that I am having a bit of fun with this idea. Sure, it is ridiculous, but I cannot wait to see the comments.
Is this the greatest idea ever, or do you have a better way to update the Enchanted Tiki Room at Walt Disney World (and even the original attraction at Disneyland Resort)? Leave your comments below – and please know – I don’t take myself too seriously, so please don’t take this article too seriously. I am just having some fun and hopefully giving you one heck of a visual for the next time you partake of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.