Disney World's awful Tiki Room catches fire

Walt Disney World's Enchanted Tiki Room has shut down after sprinklers extinguished a fire in its attic last night. It's hard to contain my schadenfreude here: the Disney World version of the Tiki Room (the watershed in audio-animatronics and lineal ancestor of all contemporary themepark robots) was gutted in 1998 and replaced with an indescribably awful, unfunny update featuring the Lion King's Zazu and Aladdin's Iago. I took my two-year-old daughter to the Tiki Room last week and within seconds, she was whimpering and saying, "These are the bad tikis. Don't like them. Where are the real birds?"

In my secret heart, I hope that there's some kind of serious barrier to immediately reopening the Tiki Room and that the refractory period is hijacked by bold Imagineers who come up with something that honors the original show.

For the record, the Tiki Room in Disneyland California is very faithful to the original and remains one of my favorite theme-park attractions of all time.

Fire Reported at Magic Kingdom Tiki Room

(Image: The Enchanted Tiki Room, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from disneyworldsecets's photostream)


  1. I, too, despaired at the passing of the original Tiki Room. Can’t say I feel the same about this, though I wish it had been decisively closed instead of ignited.

  2. Wow, I haven’t been to Disney World since 1987, and the Tiki Room was one of my favorite things. I didn’t know it had been revamped. What a bummer. Thanks for ruining my day, a**hole! No, seriously, thanks for saving me the disappointment of ending up back in the Tiki Room and having a horrible surprise.


  3. I must have seen it soon after it reopened in 1998.

    What disturbed me a bit was Phil Hartman as one of the voices, he’d apparently recorded the voice shortly before he died, and the exhibit opened after he had died.

    Not saying they should have changed the voice, just that it made me think: I miss Phil Hartman!

  4. I don’t remember ever liking the original Tiki Room, but I do get irritated by some of the “updates.”

    I’m nostalgic for “If You Had Wings” — “Dreamflight” was just lame.

    The original “Mission To Mars” was all kinds of geeky fun, where “Alien Encounter” was amusing once but not something I’d ride obsessively.

    I haven’t been since well before the release of the Pirates movies, but am still not too happy they messed with one of the greatest rides in the park :P

    1. Yeah, why’d they have to change the theme song for “Carousel of Progress”? The new one sucks.

      I’ve been to DW at least four times and spent 99% of my time in the Magic Kingdom on every visit, but I never saw the Tiki Room. I wonder how I managed that.

      1. um they actaully didn’t change the carousel of progress to anythign new, they change the main song from Now is the Time back to the orginal song from the 1964 worlds fair. The orignal song is now the currant song and is called ,”There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

    2. I’m kinda on the fence about the PotC changes as a whole, but I will say those new Johnny Depp Audio-Animatronic characters they installed are freaking incredible.

  5. On my vacation to play some Orlando Golf, I decided to visit Disney world. I was just in this Tiki room, and it was very comfortable.. Disney is a kids theme park however, I’ve grown up with it and will continue to take my kids on each vacation.

  6. My husband and I went to WDW for our Honeymoon in 2005. I’m a huge Disneyland fan and I thought it’d be a fun thing to do, and it was, except for the abomination that they called “the tiki room” I agree 100% with everything Cory wrote.

  7. Um, the Disneyland Tiki Room is not only faithful to the original, it IS the original. The only thing that’s changed of any substance is the enormous upgrade to the animatronics and susbsystems which were failing, back in ’05.

  8. You beat me to it! I was gonna say, the only worthwhile part of it is the Phil Hartman-voiced bird in the preshow. I find it best to just go watch that and then walk right through and exit the room with the crowd leaving the previous show.

  9. I actually like the Tiki Room. I got a seat in a dark corner and took a short nap. Quick naps are essential for a good theme park visit. There are several other places that you can nap in Disney World like Spaceship Earth (the Epcot ball ride) and Hall of Presidents.

  10. I go to Disneyland at least once a year but I haven’t been in the Tiki Room in about 5 years. The last time I was in there, so many of the animatronics were broken that it was just sad.

  11. Even the ‘original’ Tiki room show at Disneyland is not the ‘original’ Tiki Room show. Almost 6 years ago the Tiki Room itself went through a complete top to bottom refurb. In that process it was determined that the show ran a bit too long and almost 5 minutes were trimmed. These cuts include a verse snipped from the theme song (In The Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room), a few gags as well as an entire excerpt of the magic fountain birds performing an excerpt by Offenbach (along with ‘Michael’ uttering the immortal “You stay offen-my-bach, and I’ll stay offen yours”).
    The original show script was mostly written by Disneyland legend Wally Boag who not only supplied the voice of Jose’, but also started working for walt himsef in 1955 and wrote and starred in the original Golden Horseshoe review from July 1955 into the mid 1980’s.

  12. “For the record, the Tiki Room in Disneyland California is very faithful to the original and remains one of my favorite theme-park attractions of all time.”

    The original? The last time I was at the Tiki Room at DL, it seemed pretty much exactly the way remember from a kid. Racist-stereo-type birds and all.

  13. I haven’t been there in almost 10 years, but the Disneyland Tiki Room show is shorter than it was when I was a kid. They removed the Offenbach instrumental piece. Remember the lead in? “It is Offenbach. You stay offen my bach, and I’ll stay offen your bach!”

  14. Part of every show at the DL Tiki Room was a simulated tropical thunderstorm outside of the building. The sky outside darkened, thunder pealed, lightening flashed and rain pelted the windows and the roof.

    30 years ago I was amazed by this as a child, and, to this day, I still wish I could mod my bedroom like this so I could sleep in a thunderstorm every night. I don’t think my wife shares my vision, however.

    1. “Part of every show at the DL Tiki Room was a simulated tropical thunderstorm”

      Was? I’m pretty it still is.

    2. That still happens, even in the “new” version – and I’m with you. It was my favorite part of the show as a kid and I’m still enchanted by it. I looooove “outside-as-inside”. Long live the simulacrum!!!

  15. I haven’t had coffee yet, so my first thought was “NOOOO! Not the Tiki Room! *curl up in the foetal position and sob*”

    Then my second thought was, “Oh, DisneyWORLD. We don’t need no water, let the blanketyblanker burn.”

    (I was not fond of the Tiki Room in Tokyo Disneyland either. There was rapping involved, but too fast for my mediocre Japanese to pick up)

    1. Haha! I just emailed my wife about this and quoted the same song!

      We visited DisneyWorld last summer – first time for me – we absolutely HATED the Tiki Room. My wife and in-laws remembered it from 30 years ago; we all felt like we wasted our time on this attraction. Didn’t help that the Pirates ride was broken all day also. We went back to the hotel to watch World Cup Soccer.

  16. Even if you don’t like the revamp, you’ve got to feel bad for all those birds who were unable to escape the blaze due to being nailed to their perches.

  17. I didn’t know they’d ruined the original Enchanted Tiki Room at DW, nor that they’d gotten rid of “if You Had Wings.” Once I’d heard they’d torn out the 20,000 Leagues ride and Mister Toad’s Wild Ride (these two rides + the Haunted Mansion were all I cared about at Disney as a kid) I knew I was never going back.

    Hearing that the original Tiki Room is still in place at DL, though, is the first thing that’s ever made me want to go there.

    1. oh and by the way. they still have mr toad at disneyland. If yer a disney purist, you gotta go to california. They’ve made a lot of updates and gotten rid of a few classics, but they’ve kept a lot too. It’s a nice feeling to walk on the main street that walt personally supervised.

  18. The Tiki Gods must have been angered!

    I’m a Disney World purist, but I saw this version with my daughter when she was two, and she loved it, so it’s got a warm place in my heart.

  19. I’m cool with the updated Tiki Room. Disney needs to continualy refresh to stay current with the wee ones. And in it’s defense, the title is now Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. The name spells it out right there, “Hey, we’ve changed this, and the whole premise of the show is about those changes”.

    Truth be told, this update is now out-of-date, sine Aladdin and Lion King are pushing 20 yrs old. I was at WDW last week and they had a new Tangled stage tucked into a corner beside the castle – they’re always looking to incorporate the new stuff, so it seems odd to me that relics like the Swiss Family Robinson tree are kept around. 20,000 Leagues was dumped and rightly so – you can nostalgia hard for it, but it doesn’t mean it’s relevent anymore to a 5yr old. Even Ariel’s Grotto is gone. Little girl’s know who Ariel is still, sure, but she’s a golden oldie from 1989.

    My point is – don’t hate on the Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. Disney is a work of art in that it is always in flux. It doesn’t have to go away or go up in smoke to live on and become something great in it’s next incarnation. Give it time!

    1. Ariel’s Grotto closed to make way for the new Fantasyland expansion that is slated to open in 2013. The new expansion will include an E-ticket ride featuring Ariel. They gave Tangled the space that previously was home to Storytime with Belle because it looks to be the biggest hit they have had in a long time. Belle will gain her own castle and eateries in the expansion and Beauty and the Beast is still running live at Hollywood Studios.

      Disney doesn’t appear to view the new classics from the late 80’s and early 90’s as outdated. They have just been very cautious in adding large permanent fixtures. The meet and greets for the princesses and fairies currently have the longest wait times in Magic Kingdom and Disney is confident enough now to give them their own spaces that can’t easily be re-themed.

      Aladdin and Lion King are still hits for Disney, but the new Tiki Room attraction is kind of a miss. It will be interesting to see if they take this opportunity to refine it again.

  20. I was back (after many years) at Disneyland in Anaheim last year during the LA heat wave. It was over a 100 degrees and there were ~60,000 people in the park that day. I was taking a friend who had never been there before and she likened the experience to “a pig farm”. In an attempt to redeem the experience, I took her to the Enchanted Tiki Room.

    It was a pleasant, cheerful, cool, uncrowded experience. Still retaining that sense of innocence that so much of Disneyland has lost. Lost in the obsession to commodify and brand the living daylights out of everything in the park! Garrr!!!!

  21. yeah disneyland tiki room has the original characters and soundtrack (funny side note, when I went there was a male usher and the robot parrot wakes up and says “buenos dias seniorita”. I guess it was always a female usher in the past).

    I like it as it was at disneyland. It’s like branding. In the long term I think maintaining the original has more lasting power than changing with the times. like converse all stars. no one complains that they don’t change. they are appreciated for being exactly what they are.

    Of course the ridiculous accents in the attraction do make evident racial stereotypes of the time. I cringed a little at that. But i’d rather live with that, then an endless parade of “improvements” that seem just as dated over time.

  22. Must be nearly 20 years ago now that I went in the original Tiki Room just once and, to this day, I can still find myself singing on random occasions, “In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room…!”

    Also saw the newer version (just once). Such a disappointment. All the charm was sucked out and replaced with wise-ass irritation.

  23. The last time I saw the original Tiki Room, it struck me as tired and sad. I remember the crowd just sitting and silently groaning to themselves at all the bad jokes.

    Personally I preferred the revamp. I found it far more entertaining, possibly because I’m a fan of both Gilbert Gottfried and Rowan Atkinson.

    Obviously this makes me a bad person.

    1. No, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you someone who enjoys bitter, cynical, badly-dated humor delivered by two brilliant comedians voicing animatronic birds. Myself, I’d rather enjoy Gilbert Gottfried and Rowan Atkinson doing their own material, which is much, much funnier, rather than watch an awkward show in which the Tiki Birds try to do hip-hop.

  24. I loathe the “under new management” Tiki Room at WDW. It’s cynical, nasty, bitter, and epitomizes the Eisner years at Disney better than anything else I can think of.

    The last time I was at Disneyland, my friends and I saw the original Tiki Room show five times in one day, eating Dole Whip and signing along.

  25. Could it have been to much to ask for the fire to have jumped over to The Magic Carpets of Aladdin….

  26. I want a “These Are the Bad Tikis” t-shirt.

    (The newly-revamped Waldorf Hotel in East Vancouver has a stellar-yet-understated tiki bar; there’s also an outdoor microtiki bar behind a auto repair shop on Main Street)

  27. Oh, you had me scared for a minute (and wondering how you could hate the OG Tiki Room). I wasn’t even aware they had trashed the one at Disneyworld.

    I do wish that they’d serve tiki drinks at the Tiki Room. I probably wouldn’t leave though.

  28. I went to Disneyland in CA many times, when I lived less than ten miles away. I went on days when the place was so packed you could barely do anything, and on days when there was hardly anyone there (rode the Matterhorn six or seven times in a row one day, since there was no line).

    However, I never went in the Tiki Room. Not sure why, but it always seemed dark and imposing. The similar Country Bears show in Frontierland is the opposite – bright and inviting (the show is pretty miserable, but charming).

    In fact, the whole jungle area at Disneyland is dark and imposing, and confusingly designed and poorly-lit (it was hard for me to see *anything* there at night – can’t imagine what older people without good eyes would feel like) – not to mention extremely popular and crowded.

  29. My math might be bad but if it was renovated in 1998 and your daughter is 2, how would she know the good Tikis?

  30. It is never good to hear about fire or destruction…..however maybe the experts at Disneyworld will return to honoring the traditional things that made Disney what it…WAS….and try to return some inkling of charm that first made the parks and this attraction so endearing. The sick commercialism that has taken over and the crass, crude and sassy behavior of some of the characters is only a sad reflection of our society today that has no control over it’s children. Not only have parents given in to the whims of their demanding children now the theme parks are doing it. Sorry but last time I checked it was the Walt’s Vision that has kept these parks going for so many years. Quit screwing with things that don’t need to be altered. Put the tiki room back to the way it way. This is a sign from Walt!

  31. They should bring the Disneyland version to WDW…it is much better and is mostly the original show…..

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