“Buenos días, señorita. My siestas are getting shorter and shorter.”-José Tiki
On June 23rd, 1963, Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room was opened to the public at Disney parks. It was an amazing event that featured the first Audio-Animatronic show. The new technology was brought about by Walt Disney’s love of animation, and his desire to bring the joy of animation into the real world.
The attraction opened at a time when tiki culture was flourishing, with Polynesian-themed bars, tiki art exhibits, and Hawaiian lounge music popping up all around the U.S. The excitement may have started almost two decades earlier, when the first known major exhibit representing island culture appeared in 1946, with the New York Museum of Modern Art showing “Arts of the South Seas.” It received a full five-page feature in LIFE magazine, bringing tiki culture into America’s spotlight (1).
By 1962, tiki culture was growing along the Pacific coast, particularly in Californian cities like Palm Springs, which was also an early adopter of modern American architecture movements, and as the two often go hand in hand, the city had fully embraced tiki culture as well. So when Disney opened the Enchanted Tiki Room in California’s Disneyland (as well as in Disney World) a year later, it was excellent timing and placement to bring the tiki attraction to large audiences.
This is a behind-the-scenes look at the 2011 re-opening of the Tiki Room.
And here’s a video that Disney re-released on the 50th anniversary of the Enchanted Tiki Room, where Disney imagineer Rolly Crump gives us some insight into how the attraction was created.
(1) Sven A. Kirsten. Tiki Modern. TASCHEN, 2007.