Contribute to Our Research

An Enchanted Opportunity?

If you mess with Polynesia…

The collected interwebs lit up yesterday afternoon with the breaking news that the Magic Kingdom’s “The Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management” attraction had closed due to a small fire. Twitter immediately commenced with a torrent of snark poking fun at the unpopular attraction, and to all the scolds out there I’ll point out two things:

  1. No one was actively, actually, rooting for things to catch fire.
  2. I’m sure that no one would have been so jovial had the early reports not included the fact that the event had been a small blaze which had been extinguished quickly.

It’s even possible that some folks use extreme hyperbole for comedic effect, and don’t mean for every statement to be taken absolutely literally, but that’s beside the point.

In the end, the cascade of jokes about the incident (Did Jose do it? Was it the Orange Bird returning to kick a little tail? Could the elusive Rosita have been responsible?) revealed one thing – people dislike the Under New Management show just as surely as they love the original Tropical Serenade. This isn’t just a fanboy-exclusive gripe, either – the general public stays away in droves, leaving the attraction almost always abandoned. Amidst the puns, jokes, and barely-constrained glee in some quarters was a question: Could this somehow lead to the return of the original show?

I was skeptical. Fans can be a little over-optimistic, sometimes keen to dismiss potential roadblocks to a project, and this sounded like a fairly small-scale incident. Surely it would be up and operating within a few days, and there seemed to be nothing in the story that could reasonably lead to management randomly deciding to throw the fans a bone and go to the trouble of restoring this classic attraction.

Then the news emerged today from a trusted source that, in a twist that might lend credence to the “Tiki god vengeance” theory, the fire most severely damaged the Iago 1 animatronic. This is the Iago figure that hosts the majority of the show, not, ironically, the charred version of the character that appears for the finale. Damage was also done to the Zazu animatronic as well as the large, rotating “birdmobile” that descends during the show; again ironic is the fact that a lot of this collateral damage was done by the fire suppression system instead of the fire itself (although, of course, without the fire suppression system things would have been much worse). This damage, though, was apparently minor compared to Iago’s injuries.

In fact, a word that has popped up repeatedly from people that have seen the animatronic is “unsalvageable,” and the general gist is that our feathered host looks like he’s had a bad run-in with Sarah Connor. This sheds new light on the situation entirely – if there is now need to contract an outside company to manufacture a new Iago animatronic, is it suddenly now cost-effective to return the attraction to its original show? After all, this fire seemed to be an almost tactical strike against only the unpopular elements of the show. Could we actually get the Tiki Room back?

It depends. I have no insider information on this, but we can guess at what a retrofit of the attraction would entail. To restore the attraction to its original state, Imagineers would have to remove the Iago, Zazu, and “Uh-Oa” animatronics and the “magic fountain” would then need to be restored to the central planter. I assume that they would want to remove the fancy movable lighting rigs added for the more raucous Under New Management numbers, and it’s possible that they’d take the opportunity to upgrade the necessary lighting and audio systems. One other question mark would be the ride control system – I have no idea how current the original show’s control equipment was when it closed in 1997, or how easy it would be to port the original show’s commands over to current equipment.

That’s one option. If the show were to stay “as-is”, and the damage is as bad as we’ve heard, Disney will first have to purchase a new Iago animatronic as well as affecting repairs to Zazu. Repairs will have to be made to other damaged elements, including anything damaged by water from the sprinkler system. Add to the the fact that the show was already in very rough shape physically, and desperately in need of a complete refurbishment regardless of its content, and this suddenly becomes a lot of cash to throw into a show that you know no one is going to come to see.

So that’s the choice. I’m not even going to consider option #3, which is leaving the pavilion sitting closed for years at a time. That’s unacceptable. There’s always the outside shot that we’ll get an entirely new show, as was rumored years ago before the economic woes hit, but that would take some time to design and install. Of course, if they wanted to go crazy they could turn it into an elaborate supper club dining facility and show, but I’m trying to manage expectations here.

Wouldn’t it be better, my dear friends at Disney, to rush into production on a restoration of the Tiki Room to celebrate the resort’s 40th anniversary this October? To bring back a true Walt-inspired vintage Disney classic for the park’s birthday celebration? To do something that would not only make fans ecstatic, but would please “civilian” guests as well?

You’re going to have to do something, after all, so wouldn’t it be wonderful if this were both cost-effective and crowd pleasing? And all so cosmically perfect considering the 40th anniversary? Look at all that Tiki-inspired Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily and Shag art they sell at Disneyland! Don’t you want a little bit of that action? Wouldn’t you rather we drop our Tiki coin in your coffers instead of Anaheim’s?

This might just be your chance to do something awesome, oh Disney friends.

One thing is important, though. If you do restore the attraction you must move its entrance from its current concealed location to somewhere more visible – the promenade leading to Pirates of the Caribbean would be an obvious choice. A barker bird wouldn’t hurt, either. Just saying.

Do it for Jose, Fritz, Michael, Pierre, Rosita and the Orange Bird. Do it for the sake of doing incredibly awesome things just because you can. Do it because you can take the unfortunate circumstances of this fire and transmogrify it into something super-fantastico and crowd pleasing.

A give us a Tiki Garden, too? Pretty please?

Think how happy the Tiki gods would be…

Related Posts...

27 comments to An Enchanted Opportunity?

  • Justin

    From your mouth to Tangaroa’s ears.

  • Tim

    Is it possible that Under New Management would become a copy of the current Tokyo Disneyland Stitch-infused version of the show instead of reverting to the original?

  • Rob

    Thanks for the great article, Michael! Jeez, I know that Imagineering does a lot of “outsourcing” these days, but is the current state of the company really such that they have to subcontract out for new animaronic figures? Does Disney build any of its own AAs anymore? Sheesh… I join you in hoping that this sets the stage for an awesome return of the original classic!

  • sarah91182

    Michael, another great article. I loved reading everyone’s posts on Twitter. One of my favorites was “I saw ‘Fire’ and “Enchanted Tiki Room” and got worried. Then I saw “Magic Kingdom”.” I laughed at that one. I’d refused to see the Under New Management until I finally was forced to see it for the sake of seeing it last summer (if I’d seen it when it first opened, I had pushed it out of my memory). I wept until I went to Dinsyeland a few months later and got to see the original version again. I took more pictures of that attraction than anything else out there!

    Tim, I hadn’t thought of that… I doubt the lesson has been learned from SGE & Totally Tomorrowland…

  • Jack

    And one final wish… let us bring our Dole Whips in during the show, like they do at Anaheim.

  • Wait, you guys DIDN’T like “Under New Management?” What was wrong with it? It was a vast improvement over the original! I absolutely lov….

    OK. I’ll stop. I couldn’t even get through typing that sentence without laughing.

    Please oh please let them bring back the original show for the 40th.
    I tolerated “Under New Management” for years out of EXTREME loyalty & love for the original, and I really hope they wise up and bring it back. Fingers crossed. And toes.

  • Rob, in case you’re wondering, Under New Management amongst the first attractions to have outsourced figures – now you know why Iago and Zazu are so huge! I have no idea who built them or if the company even exists anymore, so this could prove to be a huge problem for Disney if Iago is as damaged as has been reported. Now you also know why we’ll never see an audio-animatronics spectacle on the scale of Horizons ever again… Disney doesn’t build that sort of thing anymore.

    In case anyone’s wondering, the new Barack Obama figure was built in China for Disney by a company that I suspect is their main supplier these days. Like it or not, he’s a lot better engineered than Disney could do these days!

  • Are you a Calvin and Hobbes fan? ‘Transmogrify’ is a pretty specific word! In other thoughts, Disney may decide to call it a run on this attraction.

  • […] of the Magic Kingdom. (I’m not the only one to have this idea, check out this article on ProgressCityUSA […]

  • Hoot Gibson

    Foxxy, Iago and Zazu were built by Entech Creative for use in some Disney parade. Entech was popular at the time for building Disney parade floats. When Disney built “Under New Management” they used these AA figures which is why they are out of scale to the rest of the birds.

    The Obama figure was built in Glendale. So was the new Abe Lincoln. Nothing was built in China.

    If I had one wish………….Under New Management and the entire Tiki building would have burned to the ground. I’d rather have NO Tiki Room than sit through the miserable experience they have now. Maybe it’ll never re-open and they’ll turn it into a chinese buffet.

  • puntagordabob

    GIVE JOSE BACK HIS SHOW! Put The Enchanted Tiki Room BACK “Under Walt’s Management”…..

  • beaglelady

    While we’re at it, let’s scrap the latest “journey into abomination” and bring back the old imagination attraction.

  • philphoggs

    Well who then is responsible for the dance star Mickey AA I heard they’ll be replacing Iago with?

  • […] of the blogs I read, Progress City, USA, brings up some good options. Of course, money will need to be spent in fixing the attraction. With […]

  • How Bowers

    Aren’t the Magic Carpets being moved out of the plaza to become the 2nd Dumbo… or am I imagining that this was said as part of the Fantasyland expansion announcements?

  • JeffH

    “the general public stays away in droves, leaving the attraction almost always abandoned.”
    What a bunch of bull…we attend this show often and this show always has a good attendance, it was the ‘original’ show that had these attendance problems…
    This show is much better than the ‘original’ which was plagued with people walking out on it in the middle of the show embarrassed how they were being subjected to a bunch of fake theme-less birds singing some songs…they had better things to do. Just because it was an ‘original’ didn’t mean it was good. The new show is upbeat and relatable with recognizable songs and characters from 2 of Disney’s most popular movies.
    For the record, I enjoyed the original show and was annoyed by those who walked out on it, but the original show simply took the old show added some recognizable characters and some upbeat music. The ONLY thing I think they need is to make it about 5 minutes longer.

  • Smaha

    I also thought of Calvin & Hobbes when I saw “Transmogrify.” Perhaps Disney could use some C&H wisdom when it comes to “Under New Management”….

    Calvin: The hard part for us avant-garde post-modern artists is deciding whether or not to embrace commercialism. Do we allow our work to be hyped and exploited by a market that’s simply hungry for the next new thing? Do we participate in a system that turns high art into low art so it’s better suited for mass consumption? Of course, when an artist goes commercial, he makes a mockery of his status as an outsider and free thinker. He buys into the crass and shallow values art should transcend. He trades the integrity of his art for riches and fame.

    Oh, what the heck. I’ll do it.

    Hobbes: (Rolling eyes) That wasn’t so hard.

  • steven strall

    tiki garden barking bird all good ideas i never seen the original ride but the new management is a very good show but iago is a little annoying i would love to see the original ( other then on youtube ) what ever you people do,DO NOT close it for good!

  • Thanks for all the great comments, guys. Wow – people really love the Tiki Room. It’s a great comment on the skills of the original Imagineers that a nearly 50 year old attraction commands so much allegiance.

    Tim: The rumor several years ago was that Stitch would be leaving Tomorrowland in favor of a new Tiki Room show (although I don’t know how similar it would have been to Tokyo’s show). I actually prefer the Tokyo show to UNM.

    Rob: WDI outsources a LOT of its animatronic work these days.

    Hoot: I had no idea that Iago and Zazu had been built for a parade, but that totally makes sense considering their design.

    How: Unfortunately, the Flying Carpets are staying where they are. One of the first questions I had for Eric Jacobson in September 2009 was about the rumor that the carpet spinner would become one of the Dumbos, and he said it wasn’t going anywhere. Bummer.

    Steven: Thankfully the original show still plays in Disneyland, but the WDW show theater is so much more grand and I’d love to see the original show there again! And yeah, I’d love to get that Tiki Garden in Florida…

  • puntagordabob

    Any updates on what is the situation with the Tiki Room…. and is IAGO truly beyond repair like the rumors are saying? If so, what is Disney going to do since the UNM show sorta has Iago as its annoying centerpiece. Any new info regarding if TDO might now be truly considering the option to bring the Disneyland show over to WDW?

  • Another Voice

    As much as I hate internet Imagineering, the solution seems rather obvious:

    WDW is desperate for “upsale” activities using existing facilities – basically being able to charge guests after they have already bought a ticket. It’s like hard ticket parties, Photo Pass, tours and alike. And also WDW will not approve any attraction without being able to show a substantial return on investment through additional merchandise and/or food sales.

    So – turn the Magic Kingdom’s Tiki Room into what Walt originally imagined: a dining show. Disney already has experience with running a ‘continuous performance’ operation with King Stephen’s and will get more with the new ‘Beauty and the Beast’ setting. Or they could go for the big bucks with a timed show. Granted the existing building isn’t all that large, but at ‘Disney Difference’ prices it won’t be hard to both reprogram the show and make some coin.

  • […] to wonder what’s happening to The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Managment since its fire last month. We’ve rooted, of course, for a return to the original show, but while Disney has neglected […]

  • […] WDWMAGIC.COM also reported that the reopening date for Magic Kingdom’s Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management has been moved back yet again. I continue to hope that the attraction will be restored to Walt Disney’s original Enchanted Tiki Room. In January, Michael Crawford at Progress City, U.S.A. shared his opinion on the matter in this article. […]

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, purists, but I concur with JeffH here.

    And Hoot Gibson, your last paragraph was REALLY stupid! How could you say something as DUMB as that?! Shame on you!

    Jeez, so many people are so stuck in the past that it really does make them look like nuisances!

  • puntagordabob

    Twitter, forums, blogs, etc everywhere seem to be pointing now to the Tiki Room reopening in July with the Disneyland version at WDW! I know the fire was the reason for movement…but still Huge Salutes to those at WDW who decided to do this…

  • puntagordabob

    Though we all knew it was coming… hearing it OFFICIALLY now from Disney is “WONDERFUL” news…….

    As many of you know for many many years now I have been a constant Cheerleader (Ok Ok maybe I have been a pain in the butt!!!!) for the bringing of the Disneyland version to WDW….many of you have read as to WHY (my earliest Magical memory of WDW was of the Tiki Room in 71/72 and it has always been my favorite Disney show with Jose as my alltime favorite character!) too….

    So many people told me I was wasting my time… that Disney would never ever do it…. but this was a personal Dream of mine (and I am sure some of you out there either share this dream or perhaps have some of your own that are similar)… but I followed my heart and always chased my Dream even when some people likely laughed at my posts for so long…. so when they say WDW is the place Where Dream’s Come True sometimes they DO!

    Thank you to all those at Disney who helped make this happen…. I dont care about all the politics etc that went on behind the scenes…… I am simply greatful and very very appreciative.

Leave a Reply