The Orange Bird, mascot of the Florida Citrus Growers and one-time Adventureland icon from the opening days of the park, has been relaunched at Walt Disney World after a campaign by Disney parks fans and their sympathizers in the park. A source close to the company says, "People had to REALLY fight the system to make this happen, and were almost laughed out of the company for wanting to try. A lot rides on the success of this line." Disney parks management is in a perpetual three-sided war between engaging with its trufans, maintaining margins, and trying to engage people who visit rarely, if at all.
Soon after his unveiling and introduction in Magic Kingdom, the Orange Bird was recognized nationwide through his association with Florida citrus growers. The character was seen on billboards, television advertisements, and a wide assortment of Orange Bird products that could be found throughout Walt Disney World and the Sunshine State.
But the Orange Bird’s permanent home was in Adventureland, where he swung from a branch of the fabled Sunshine Tree. For many years, park guests could pose for pictures with a strolling character, designed by Disney Legend Bill Justice. Sadly, in 1987, the Orange Bird left the Magic Kingdom when the Sunshine contract with the Florida Citrus Commission expired.
Today, after a quarter century away from his Magic Kingdom home, the Orange Bird has returned, allowing a whole new generation of guests to experience this classic Disney character. “With the 40th Anniversary for Walt Disney World, we thought this was a nice way to bring a slice of 1971 back to the park… bringing back the original figure is a great way to do that,” Jason said. In honor of this milestone, several teams within The Walt Disney Company have come together to celebrate the Orange Bird’s return. At Magic Kingdom Park, the original Citrus Swirl—along with new refreshing offerings—is available once again at the Sunshine Tree Terrace. A whole new array of adorable Orange Bird merchandise will roll out in the months ahead. And the Walt Disney Archives has dug deep to uncover rare documents, photos, and stories that illuminate the character’s origins.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.