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The Enchanted Tiki Rumors

Cinderella CastleThat ol’ Rumor Mill is a funny thing. Long, long droughts can occur and it seems like nothing new will ever come over the transom. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a flash flood of new speculation to sift through. Such is the case now, as the rumors concerning Walt Disney World’s impending 40th anniversary celebration have reached the boiling point. There are a whole slew of possibilities being discussed at this point, but precious few details of any of the planned changes.

What is intriguing about this celebration is the fact that, unlike recent anniversaries or resort-wide marketing events, the focus is not entirely on new park additions but also includes several legacy attractions. This is similar to Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, which focused a great deal on the restoration and revitalization of several classic Disney attractions that had fallen into disrepair under the shameful mismanagement of Paul Pressler. It seems at this point that the Magic Kingdom will receive a bit of much-needed TLC to revive it from its own current state of decay; the not-so-benign neglect of current management has left Florida’s park a poor shadow of the refurbished Anaheim original.

Thankfully, we’ve already seen some improvements come to the Magic Kingdom. The Pirates of the Caribbean rehab which added Jack Sparrow actually improved the attraction, something which couldn’t be said for the Disneyland iteration. Last year the Haunted Mansion received a massive overhaul which not only fixed its rickety audio system but actually plussed the attraction beyond all expectation. We’ve also reported on the Country Bear Jamboree, which goes down for a critically needed rehab this fall. After that, though, things start to get speculative.

One thing we do know is that the Hall of Presidents will be closing on the first of November for an incredibly long rehab. Disney’s public refurbishment calendar is only available up to February, but reputable message board sources report that the rehab will actually extend until early next July. With the presidential election looming in November of 2008, it was expected that the attraction would eventually go dark in order to mercifully remove the animatronic of the current child-king from his speaking role and to add the animatronic of our new commander-in-chief. What is unexpected is the apparent length of the upcoming rehab and the scope of the changes it indicates.

The Hall of PresidentsUlytheth Eth. Grant

There has been a lot of speculation recently that the new president, no matter who wins, would not receive a speaking role like the current inhabitant or Bill Clinton before him. This would reduce the risk of polarization in the current political climate, as well as avoiding uncomfortable undertones due to things like marital infidelities or being a war criminal with a 20% approval rating. The predominant rumor is that the focus of the show will return to Abraham Lincoln himself, and while no one yet knows what the tone of this new presentation will be, one hopes that it will resemble the scope of the original 1971 show rather than the slavery-centric storyline that was tacked on in 1993 to appease historians critical of Disney’s efforts to build a theme park in Virginia. I could elaborate on what else needs to be done to restore this impressive attraction to its original status, but thankfully Foxx at Passport to Dreams has already done it for me. Hopefully we’ll find out more about this long and hopefully significant rehab soon.

This brings us to the final attraction currently rumored to be destined for rehab – the Enchanted Tiki Room. Unlike the two previously mentioned show upgrades, this refurbishment currently resides only in the realm of rumor and hearsay. Yet multiple sources continue to say that, at some point before 2011, something will happen to the Tiki Room. This stands to reason; after all, aside from Journey into YOUR Imagination, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management! has to be the most reviled attraction overhaul in Walt Disney World history. Disney fans have bemoaned the attraction since it opened in 1998, and mostly tend to stay away these days. Meanwhile, in California, the original Tropical Serenade show was fully restored for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and plays daily to happy and entertained guests. So what’s to happen in Orlando after Iago and Zazu get the boot?

The Enchanted Tiki Room - Under New ManagementLOUD = FUNNY

Here opinions differ; so far there seem to be two versions of the story. The first says that for Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary the show will be returned to its original program for a short time while preparations are made for the installation of an entirely new show. The other version omits this return of the Tropical Serenade and says that WDI will just skip to the new attraction. Both versions agree on what this new show will be – after all, it’s already playing in Tokyo.

Earlier this year WDI debuted the third show to play in Japan’s Tiki Room, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha e Komo Mai”. The new show, which is completely different from the original, adds Stitch to the mix and incorporates music from his film Lilo and Stitch. Rather than have me tell you about it, take a look below:

As a fan of the original Tiki Room, I have several thoughts about this. First, it’s not all that bad. It’s definitely a darn sight better than the current Under New Management show. The addition of Stitch makes far more sense thematically than Zazu and Iago, and the music from the film is a nice match as well. Hopefully the English script would be punched up a bit; in the version above there’s a bit too much “saying what’s happening” going on. The dialogue is a tad redundant as well, and needs a bit of that original Tiki Room charm. I’d also dial down the confusion and loudness factor, and let things play out a little bit more. The current version of the show is way too in-your-face; after all, isn’t the tiki lifestyle all about relaxation? Most importantly, though, is the cardinal importance of returning the original theme song. People going to the Tiki Room expect to hear The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room and should be able to get it without Gilbert Gottfried screaming or Stitch blowing an airhorn. Throw in the Hawaiian War Chant from the original show as well, and I’ll be a happy camper.

Tahitian TerraceNote to management: Build time machine ASAP!

Again, this is all hearsay at the moment but hopefully some change is on the way to Adventureland. Sources say that the addition of the Stitch show depends on its success in Tokyo, but that seems assured. Less certain is the supply of money or willpower from management, but we can always hope. Hopefully the Tiki Gods will smile on us and come 2011 the birds will sing words and the flowers will croon once more.

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16 comments to The Enchanted Tiki Rumors

  • puntagordabob

    I hope the Disneyland show is brought to WDW Orlando… then if they want different shows, they should redesign the room to run multiple versions side by side and one after another on the same day… Disneyland version at 10am 10:18am Stitch, 10:36 UNM (sigh :( ), 11:00 Fever and so on and so on

    It might be complicated but with Disney’s Never say never, and technological savy, they can do anything they set out to do! They CAN do this…and it could be a pattern for other animatronic shows… imagine people getting in line for each individual show, one at a time, and all in one location :)

  • My preference would be to restore the original show as well, but I don’t know if they’d ever do it. I too have wished in the past that they’d somehow work out a way to rotate the shows, but that would require a huge overhaul of the building to allow the different show elements to switch out and I know they’d never put that much money into the Tiki Room. Even the current rumors of getting rid of “Under New Management” are, at best, sketchy. Many believe that nothing is going to happen at all, which would be a real shame. That show has got to go!

    The good news is that it’s looking like we’ll be seeing shiny new restorations of the Bears, Presidents, and even the Carousel of Progress. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll hit the Tiki Room while they’re at it…

  • disneylover

    Maybe you could follow Disney’s plan for the Presidnets and leave politics out of your Disney info. Your bitter feelings toward our current commander-in-chief are really offputting. I go to Disney and read about Disney to escape the real world and its politics.

    Otherwise, thanks for the info.

  • Aww, surely you can forgive this off-putter his indulgence – after all, my bitter bretheren and I only have to scratch this itch for five more months. And I’ve been too busy to set up my political blog so there you go. At least I waited for Hall of Presidents… I scrapped the five part series about Dole Whip and the imperative for impeachment.

  • So we’ll have Stitch’s Great Escape -and- the Tiki Room featuring Stitch? Then the Hall of Presidents featuring Stitch, followed by the Carousel of Progress featuring Stitch?

  • I thing the plan is to first start phasing Stitch into the Fantasyland attractions one by one, and then work him into the Mansion before they get to the CoP.

    In actuality, though, the story is that if Stitch does come to the Tiki Room then something new will go into SGE. I have no idea what, though. I think the Tiki show could be great if done right, though keeping elements of the original show is important to me. Just keep it classy, funny, and tikilicious. And loud != funny.

    And we’d be rid of SGE. As someone I used to admire once said, “phase one of the process has begun.”

  • puntagordabob

    Stitch’s popularity in Japan is a unique situation…rom all that I have read and heard, they have had a lot more ongoing exposure to Stitch in the Japanese market, and that he has become a popular icon there much like Mickey Mouse is here. The truth is, adding the Stitch show in the USA that they just released at Tokyo Disney will be akin to dumping Disney money down the “drain”. The Disneyland Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room upgrade to the attractions physical and technological properties of the show, added with the shortening of the show to make it better for modern audiences is a glorious success ……the show is running with full shows again, with minimal walkouts (come on people do have bathroom issues, or woops I am supposed to be in “insert location in opposite side of MK” in 3 minutes)… a lesson is learned here: Two totally different “update” options were employed and the results are in…Walt’s personal favorite attraction is still beloved by a large silent majority of people…and the seond thing to learn here is while truly many things can and should be changed or deleted, there are some that simply should NOT be and Jose’s show is one that should evolve BUT NEVER CHANGE.

    IMHO, Walt Disney is in heaven now, smiling that his beloved Jose and his show are not only living on, but that they are so loved by so many 40+ years after they were first introduced….

  • I tend to agree with you. I think the original show is as entertaining as ever and would love to see it come back. If they have to change, though, I much prefer a tasteful Stitch attraction to the current fiasco. But make no mistake – my #1 choice would definitely be to bring back the original attraction! Make the entrance face the main path from Jungle Cruise to Pirates and – very important – bring back the barker bird!

  • And I would add as evidence that not only is the Tiki Room beloved but also relevant the fact that this story is by far the most widely linked, read and discussed story I’ve ever posted on the site. I think Disney really doesn’t quite understand how popular this attraction really is.

  • puntagordabob

    Yep… Also appears that Disney itself always seems amazed at the number of people that show up for events at Disneyland that have some tie-in with our Beloved Enchanted Tiki Room! 500 fountains….they could have sold 5,000! The lines were endless… and the recent Tiki Room Gallery of light piece is another example of limited Enchanted Tiki Room merchandise flying out the door at incredible prices!!!

    Looks like the idea of the Disneyland show is a verifiable Winner in California…. so WDW Orlando should benefit from this by bringing it here!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I like the Under New Management version and think that it should stay and that the original show must remain unique to DL.

  • While switching out the WDW’s Oh-oa AA with a Stitch AA wouldn’t pose too much of a technological hurdle, I wonder how feasible it would be to reinstall the Magic Fountain for “a short time.”

    The Tropical Serenade was also one of the last shows that ran out of DACS using looped film to control the show (CBJ being the other). Was the old show’s programming ever switched over to the tapeless system, or would the transfer also be an expense that would have to be paid?

    I’m in the crowd that would love to see the old show back or maybe something new with less attitude and more aloha.

  • To Anonymous: I do realize that there is a segment of fandom that do enjoy the current show, but to me it’s far too hectic and randomly themed, and misses that ineffable feeling of Tikiliciousness that the original show had. The original was funny, relaxing and … incredibly atmospheric, I would say. That being said, I do love the line, “If you mess with Polynesia, the tiki gods will squeeze ya.” It’s just so ridiculous that it works. I don’t mind having the original stay unique to DL, but I do want WDW’s to be a little more “aloha.”

    To Hot Lava: You point out the reasons why I’ve been pretty skeptical about the rumors of the original show returning for a limited run. The investment of returning the Tropical Serenade to its original form would be probably pretty pricey to just turn around and change it again. You’d have to remove Iago and Zazu, remove Uh-Oa and replace her with a water feature, and then remove that and put Stitch back. Of course, I guess they could do without the Magical Fountain but where’s the aloha in that?

    While I can dream, I doubt we’ll see the old show in WDW again. The good news is that everything I hear indicates that the new show will not be a carbon copy of the Tokyo show and will actually include at least some music from the original show. Judging from what we’ve seen over the years Lasseter and company are huge fans of midcentury island mystique so hopefully they’ll insist that this project gets the tone right.

  • […] mentioned already several of the rumors regarding the next few years as Disney ramps up for the Magic […]

  • jonnjud

    As a child, I fell in love with the Tiki Room on my first visit to WDW in 1972. Our parents let us each pick out one “large” souvenir on that trip and my choice was the Tiki Room book/album. I played it incessantly on our little Fisher Price player in the basement after Mom got tired of it on the upstairs stereo. On a repeat visit in 1978-ish, it was still a favorite attraction and I made the family sit through it a few more times! Later, I loaned it to my high school synch.swim club so they could use the chant for a black light number. (note to self- hunt through boxes of stuff and see if I still have that)

    We just took our 6 year old twins last month and I was looking forward to introducing them to one of my childhood favorites. I’d heard about the update but was keeping an open mind. I thought 2 more birds would be okay since at most places, managers are usually behind the scenes or a backdrop to the show. What a shock to have the show high-jacked by an obnoxiously loud, screechingly difficult to understand, and visually unappetizing Iago. Zazu was more subtle, but still didn’t quite fit. And I really missed both the drums/chanting and the girls/fountain. After the excitement of the my stories and the promis of the courtyard greeting, Dear Hubby quickly lost interest and fell asleep while the kids got bored & fidgety after the first 5 minutes. I left deeply disappointed.

    Since we’re already planning our next visit, I’m hopeful they’ll do make some decisions and fix the show. To have less than 50 “guests” for a mid-day show in a crowded park (where there were 30-60 minute waits for the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, etc) was rather sad. We’ll skip this on the next trip unless they do SOMETHING.

  • WDWLocal

    HEY! Not all of us hate the Under New Management show. I love it, for one, so please don’t overgeneralize!

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