Sunday, April 02, 2006

When Birds Attack!

When Walt Disney World’s version of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room got a head to tail makeover in 1998 as ‘Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management’ little did those involved with the rewrite realize they were actually creating a potent metaphor for the management style of the entire Walt Disney Company.

It was from within this corporate culture of greed, cynicism and condescension that management stopped making any effort to understand the true Disney audience and instead kowtowed to those who actually despised those corny animatronic birds, indeed the entire Disney brand, as much as they did.

Enter Lion King’s Zazu and Aladdin’s Iago into the Tiki Room to actively trumpet the new corporate cynicism. Where the original was all charm and harmony, this once warm tropical oasis now became the setting of an ugly animatronic cock fight.

Iago doesn’t waste a moment to tow the new corporate line.

“If you’re gonna keep your jobs ya gotta get hip!” he shrieks down from his perch. “You are boring, Tiki Birds. That’s why I’m gonna change your show!”

“Can you birds sing in punk or rap?” he continues. “Can ya rock and roll? It’s a whole new world so you better get hip or your audience will disappear!”

One can easily imagine a similar speech at any Disney executive retreat.

Dutifully the birds in attendance get in lock step behind their new mandate. The now ‘down and funky’ Zazu introduces the, ‘pop idols of Polynesia’, the lady birds of the bird-mobile do the conga and the tiki chorus rap like good urban birds are supposed to rap.

It’s difficult to express the feelings of violation audiences who witness this bastardization of one of their favorite Disney classics feel as they exit. It’s not just that they’ve seen the heart and soul of this extraordinary show stomped on before their eyes, it’s that their very respect for the original has been dismissed; that they’re somehow second class citizens of the Magic Kingdom because their opinions are out of step with the Hip New Disney. Guests don’t come to the Disney parks to be lectured on how un-cool they are.

Surely even the most revered attractions at the Disney Parks are going to see dwindling numbers over time and difficult decisions will have to be made. But it’s at times like this that Imagineers need to take a deep breath, remove themselves from the corporate cacophony and then take careful stock of what it was about the original that enraptured audiences once upon a time before placating solely to the lowest common denominator. In staying true to the tone and spirit of the original vision Imagineers will not only embrace the faithful audiences that came before but garner new loyal converts to the Disney brand honestly and with all due respect.

For those wondering what venerable E-ticket attraction at Disney World might be next in line for a pop culture injection of cynicism and self mockery you may not need to look any further than Iago’s send off line in ‘Under New Management’:

“Boy, I’m tired! I think I’ll head over to The Hall of Presidents and take a nap.”


Epcot82 said...


Sadly, post-modern "irony" and sarcasm seem to have replaced wit and humor in much of the entertainment world.

In their zeal to "improve" entertainment that's considered "old," Hollywood suits forget the most important adage of all: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Excellent post!

Klark Kent 007 said...

I recently went to see the "new" Tiki Room, and was outraged and annoyed that this had happened. This was the first time I had returned to this attraction since I was a child (typically I would go to the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, or the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse instead), and it was the most pathetic experience I have had at WDW.

It is true that the "new" Tiki Room is the culmanation of what has been wrong with the most recent corporate structure, but hopefully the new, new management will realise the errors of their predecessors.

Diane Disney-Miller was was pleased about the Tiki Room at Disneyland during the 50th anniversary, too bad the one here in Orlando didn't get the same respect.

Merlin Jones said...

I almost cried when when I saw this cynically revised show at WDW - - not only because the enchantment of the Tiki Room had been so very violated, but because I had lived the real, hideous "New Management" changeover at the Studio! And here it was documented in animatronic splendor at the park... Poor Jose and Fritz! Poor Walt!

Who decided that screaming is funny?

Fortunately, I cried tears of joy when Disneyland's original Tiki Room was so lovingly restored last year - - and look at the heavy turnout and happy guests ever since!

Mr Banks said...

Parisinjune: If you're going to post to this blog the moderators would appreciate it if you refrained from using all caps. If you continue to post comments in all caps then they won't show up on this blog. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think one of the problems with the updated version at WDW is that a lot of people in the general public these days probably prefer it. There's a disturbing trend in society today to think of things only in the here and now. A few years ago I had to drag members of my family to go with me in the Tiki Room, and only after it was over did they realize how fresh it is. There seems to be an automatic rejection of anything "passe". Sometimes you need to just sit down and enjoy something, rather than analyzing how cool it is in relation to the present.

Disneyland isn't about Top 40 radio, or the latest trend on the streets. It's about taking you away from all that.

Klark Kent 007 said...

People still line up for 65+ minute waits for Petre Pan's flight, and it was there from the beginning. Classic is classic, hip is passe.

Epcot82 said...

To Michael's point about the public "liking" the new Tiki Room:

The public likes a lot of things that aren't good -- look at the box-office charts every weekend. If you give the public what they want, you'll make something momentary and meaningless. If you give them something creative that a visionary innovator has made, they may be confused by it, it may not match modern "standards" ... but it will stand the test of time.

Problem is, marketers are not visionaries. Just because they're so prevalent, doesn't make them creative!

Anonymous said...

I as a child never liked the Tiki Room back in 1980 when I saw at the age of 6. It became my mothers favorite show, and my sister and I always joked about that with her. I visited WDW numerous times after that and I seldom entered to see the Tiki Room while growing up. When I went to see the new version, I loved it. The new show said what numerous joung people were thinking about the show. However, I have to say that the new show is one show wonder because I wouldn't like to see it again. It made its point; know it's an old joke.
I own the original show on CD, and I can see know the greatness that my mom always saw on the show from the beginning. I guess I'm older and wiser, now. The new show was cute to have for a little bit, but it is not a classic and it will never be. It is a joke, and as all jokes, they get old very fast. That's the problem with the new animated movies and theme shows, they are just looking at the NOW, instead of the future.

Anonymous said...

The most unfortunate part of this is we now get to see Pirates of the Carribbean go hip with the addition of Johnny Depp. Why oh why? They should simply rename it Politically Correct Pirates Under New Management.

P.S. As much as I dislike all caps as well, I have to agree with the poster that selling that land in Florida is about fifty different kinds of stupid. How many small airports have been closed because a housing development chose to move in at the end of the runway. Here come the complaints from the homeowners north of the Magic Kingdom about fireworks noise.

Digital Jedi said...

Let me offer a completely different perspective, if I may.

I never saw the original Tiki Room, when I was younger. Not really sure why. Just never really knew it was there. I'm pretty sure when I was very young, I thought the Tiki Room was a restaurant or lounge so I never made my way towards it or showed any interest in it. Back in those days, before Fast Pass was a glimmer in anyone's eye, the majority of your park stay involved lining up for your more favored attractions, so the Tiki Room got left by the way side in liue of favored attractions.

But this last trip, I made an effort to see the "Under New Management" Tiki Room with my wife and 2 year-old daughter. My daughter fell asleep in line so there was no way to get a reaction from her. My wife watched somewhat amused, if not mildly bemused.

But me? There was one thing running through my head the whole time I was there. "This is the updated version of the Tiki Room? I hope it gets better form here on out." It didn't.

I was impressed by the Tiki Goddess who rose from the center of the room, but she was, what, two minutes of the show? Iago kept talking about how much more "animated" he was then all the other birds, but I kept waiting to see him do something impressive. He didn't.

I also LOVE Gilbert Godfrey. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to see this new version of the Tiki Room. Godfrey's characters, everything from Iago to the Aflac Duck to Mr. Mxyzptlk in the most recent Superman Animated Series, always make me laugh because he is one of those people who can truly give a two dimensional drawing, or inarticulate animal, character.

But Godfrey wasn't all that funny in this. The only joke I laughed at was the Presidents joke, and I that was another one of those attractions that had slipped by and that I had seen for the first time earlier that day, as well. I had no previous Tiki Room experience to draw upon and I was like "This is the best they could do?"

You know, after reading some of these blogs I discovered something. For years now, I had thought I was getting old. I had thought that I was not as fun loving and possibly more cynical now then I was even at twenty, because I couldn't seem to find the joy I once had at these theme parks now that I was in my thirties. I thought I couldn't enjoy the attractions because I had forgotten how to enjoy the "magic" and became obsessed with thinking about the guy behind the curtain. But I was wrong.

I didn't realize that Ellen's Jeopardy Adventure was taking me back to my house in front of the TV instead of taking me into the very realistic past of dinosaurs and volcanoes. I didn't realize that the big Mikey Wand or the giant Wizard hat was obscuring or diminishing the icons that used to fill me with awe. I didn't realize that the view of the giant hotel in plain view of one of the vistas in World Showcase was detaching me from the make believe tour of the world I used to love taking as a kid. I didn't realize that that race cars, and hang gliding and dancing on dance pads to a thugged out Mickey Mouse on the turn tables was just reminding me of the outside world instead of taking me into another world like it used to.

I didn't realize ANY of this, until I read this blog and articles with some the same spirit. I may have never known it. But you know what? I certainly felt it. It certainly was affecting my experience of the park. I didn't understand why I couldn't stop telling my wife and my guests with me on the trip who'd never been there before, about the history of every attraction and what "used to be there." And it was because I mised them. the park was missing significant portions of the old magic and inside I was missing it too.

But know I know why I felt the way I did. I just chalked it up to old age and cynicism. Turns out I wasn't the one being cynical.

My point? If it's bad, the public WILL be affected by it. I sort of liked Ellen's version of UoE. But something about it didn't quite sit right with me. I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but something was missing from the original attraction, even though the original had one severe flaw in that the end went on for too damn long. ;) Still does really.

Yes, I have to agree with this Bird post more then any other. You know there was nothing wrong with adding Zazu and Iago to the attraction, perse. Nothing wrong with giving the animatronics a face lift and some updated (if not dated) music. Honestly, there isn't a blessed thing wrong with change and new direction. But when taking a new direction, you really need to look where your going.

Your audience may crave a certain thing. Even the numbers may show a certain thing is more viable at the gien moment. But one thing about audiences, is that they are a lot smarter then even they reailze. The trend is to underetimate their intelligence and their attention span and their likes and dislikes. Don't do that. Please.

We've got a lot more sense then even we realize some times. I didn't have a clue what I was missing in the old Tiki Room. I wasn't the bigggest fan of the long winded portions of the Universe of Energy. I kinda liked hang gliding, and being spun around at a milion miles per hour and racing around buildings at top speed. But in spite of all that, I still felt like something was missing. I wasn't sure what, and didn't know all the insider details like I do now. But the feeling was still there. You were loosing me. And I'm a VERY loyal person to my likes and history. I hang on to things. But deep down inside, Disney, you were loosing me. Doesn't that disturb you as a company somewhat? It would if I was in in charge.

But like I always say, I'm just a nobody. I certainly feel like I used to be important. Now I just feel...well, less like a guest and more like a cash cow. Like one day all I love will be slaughtered for the "grater good" or the "greater doallar". Too melodramatic? That's the way I feel.

TW said...

Tiki rap? Hella no. I loved the enchanted Tiki Room as a kid at Disneyland -- also loved it as an adult. And, honestly, Rap Music sucks Eeyore butt. Nothing about Disneyland should reflect modern culture -- that isn't the point. The Tiki Room should be what it was. Not what they want it to be. Period.

Bring back the non-topical tropical birds of the past, please. Iago and friends can go suck Pooh, for all I'm concerned. Mm. Teriyaki chicken and retro-birds. That's worth more than an "E" Ticket, in my book...

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents: The orginal tiki room is one of my favorite attractions. My family goes to WDW every year for a week and we always stay in the Polynesian Resort because of our love for the romanticism of the islands and a love of Oceania. So by that you can see that the Tiki Room is one of our top attractions. To be honest I can hardly remember a time that the Tiki Room was packed. I can remember watching the pre-show and thinking this is it, no more people? I was a bit shocked when the Imagineers gave this attraction a facelift. But I can totally understand why. Yes, I know what you're saying! The Tiki Room is an orginal, a classic, it was the 1st attraction to use AA. Well in Disneyland that is very much true, not so much for Disney World. Do I hate the new version, no. Do I think it's cute? Yes, I do. Has attendence went up since the face lift? Well from my last visit it had and the one before that and the one before that. It's sad to see things change but I do believe it was Walt himself that said, "As long as there's Imagination left in the world, Disneyland would never be complete." I think the same goes for Disney World. Don't get me wrong I still miss the orginal.

annegirl said...

Thank you.

I hate the "new management" Tiki Room. I refused to see it for years, and only finally went to it on my honeymoon because my husband wanted to see it. It was painful.

Steve Barron said...

I have seen this bad new remake during my last few visits. I don't want to stop going entirely because the first minute is still good. :)

I was at the WDW Tiki Room on Saturday and certainly agree that is a sad shadow of what it used to be. The woman with whom I attended didn't recognize that the "bird or paradise" verse was still in the show because it was unintelligible!

I'm guessing little kids might like the new show better than the old because of the new characters. But lots of us grown ups (you know, the ones who actually have the money?) would prefer the classic.

There was no line at all and the show was only 50-60% full on a Saturday early afternoon. People wouldn't even go see it for the air-conditioning!

I wonder how hard it would be to have two shows in the same space, alternating versions - leaving Iago and Zazu parked in their tubes during every other show. Clocks outside could display time to each kind of show. Toggling the barker bird outside vs William and Morris might be more of a challenge, but not insurmountable for the imagineers!

I am so not looking forward to what they are going to do to Pirates of the Carribean - another classic favorite.

Dave said...

Rides and attractions dreamed of, designed, and created 30-40 years ago still bring in large crowds. Why? Because they didn't cater to any particular group. They simply went out and tried to make the best ride or attraction they could, and people have been coming back ever since. I guess it's true - you need to learn from the past to go forward into the future. Catering to the thrill-of-the-moment crowd will get you nowhere, but creating something with vision will get you far.

pariartspaul said...

Mr Banks, very clever the way you compare the show makeover to management of the day! I’m up in the air about re-doing classic attractions but I agree that if it is going to be done, it should be in the spirit of the original at least, and the changes should enhance the experience. One good example of this would be Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, where new animals and scenes have been successfully added over the years, but the theme remains the same. The idea is to take something that works and add to it. In the case of the Tiki Room if it were to be updated it should still retain the theme of a magical tropical serenade. I know Marty over the years has been adamant that Disneyland’s Tiki Room keep the original show as an homage to Walt as the first animatronic attraction.

Bob Gurr one of the original Imagineers on the attraction that me that one day after the show first opened he was in there checking it out during a show and Walt came in with some VIP’s to see it. Walt saw Bob during the show and pointed him out to his guests proudly whispering, “See that guy over there, he’s one of the guys that made all this work…” Bob was embarrassed! But it shows how very proud Walt Disney was of the show.

Anonymous said...

Ok... ok.... I have been hovering around this site and I can say that there have been some brilliant and innovatve new ideas here and there, but this article and the majoirty of others are simply empty complaints about the changes which have happened. Get over it.

This particular article is a whine-fest and has little value as to what Disney can do in the future.

Tiki was boring and dated and had little or no relevance to the youth who experienced it. The new version is actually funnier and way more interesting. Think about being a 10 year old kid who walks into this theatre and sees outdated audio animatronics, character-less birds and a lackluster story. This is not the type of thing that's going to make it an instant classic for any child, especially with visual masterpeices like "It's tough to be a Bug". It had to be updated. At it's time it was a masterpiece, but what can you do??? WDW is not a museum. It has to attract and inspire the adults and the kids. What worked in 1960...or 1973 is not going to work today.

I understand that there are a lot of emotions tied into these old attractions and these emotions and memories can cloud and distort your view of new enterprises and revisions of old attractions but change is going to occur.... accept it and try and focus this blog onto new ideas and new technologies (Walt's Dream, remember) and not just bashing any change which alters the Disney Parks from your childhood memories.

Anonymous said...

I stand with parisinjune.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid growing up in Disneyland's back yard, I would run from E-Ticket to E-Ticket. Now that I am much older and a lot wiser, I miss the charm of some of Disney's slower but greater works. The Mine Train, the People Mover, Even the motor boats. There is something to be said about charm is classic and classic is charm.

Anonymous said...

There is another example of management that maybe you didn't know about.
In the 80s I went to Imagineering and saw a concept for a new Tiki Room. (For all of the people that love the Tiki Room, in WDW they regularly had 1/2 of the audience getting up in the middle of the old show and leaving, so SOMETHING had to be done.)It had all of the birds becoming (in bird form) the cast of (at the time) current Disney actors (i.e. Bette Midler, Danny Devito, Siskel and Ebert, etc). Now the argument can be made that the show would become dated, but that's not the point.
The point is that "under new management" requires TWO new birds and new programming. The concept I saw required ALL new birds. Which one do you think is cheaper? Which one did Disney management go with?

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY agree with the comments about DL and WDW not being museums, BUT a balance needs to be found.
Is Great Moments of Mr Lincoln or the Tiki Room for that matter going to draw Space Mountain crowds? Or course not, but my parents or grandparents (heck not even my younger kids) can or will go on the BIG, "popular" E-tickets. That mix of attractions is what sets Disney parks apart from all the "amussment parks".
The Tiki Room in DL doesn't take up that much room. What else are you going to put there? Certainly not an E-Ticket.
What bothers me (and I'm sure many others) is when Disney removes an old attraction just to remove the attraction (think America Sings or Mission to Mars). Is any park better off with LESS attractions?

Mr Banks said...

Matt Gibbon: Lest you think this is a blog dedicated to just keeping the old and never addressing the needs for new, let me reiterate the point. I have absolutely nothing against updating rusty old attractions. The Tiki Room, for all its charm, wasn't bringing in the crowds like it once did and something needed to be done. But it's important, VERY important, to attend to the spirit of the previous incarnation rather than turning it into a self mocking parody of itself. There have been some five or six new incarnations of The Jungle Cruise, and each time it gets better.

The Disneyland version was doing poorly and some wise soul actually figured it wasn't the show, it was the show's upkeep. Sure enough their gamble paid off. The torn frayed birds were all replaced, the building was razed and then rebuilt, the soundtrack was cleaned up, the torches outside were lit, the original sign was replaced outside and for some strange reason....get this...the people came back. And in droves.

So to reiterate, if it's about rejiggering a show, do it with respect, make it bigger, better, more sophisticated, more charming. If it's about replacing wholesale, then make sure it surpasses the previous one on every level.

Digital Jedi said...

Well, I think a few of you might be missing the point of this particular blog entry. What this entry did was examine a symptom of an entire disease. By examining each symptom in detail, you can more accurately diagnose the disease and in turn, more accurately treat the illness.

Sure, some people may be content to simply say "I hated it". But don't you think that if they did the attraction correctly, if they actually created something bigger and better then the original that a side effect of the show would be lots and lots of people saying "I hated it"?

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I saw the show, there were only like fifteen to twenty people there. It was hot and in the middle of the day. Grabted, this was just one visit, but from what I saw, the show wasn't bringing them in in droves. And I have no fond memories of a classic Tiki Room to draw from. All I have is my child like sense of awe (which I haven't lost yet, contrary to what I may have thought.) And I was certainly not impressed by the shows delivery, story, music or animatronics; all of which were supposed to be better then the original. The only thing I personally liked was the Tiki Goddess, (and that was largely because she reminded me of my wife, don't ask) and even that was a just a small portion of the show.

So this blog entry and some of its replies weren't just empty whines. No more then the cries of a sick baby are just empty noise. She cries to let you know she's ill. We cry to let you know we are disappointed.

Will Robison said...

I've heard it said here that Disneyland isn't a museum. We have to remember that things are going to change. I can remember as a child being forced to go in and watch Tiki. I hated it. Hated it, hated it, hated it! My parents tolerated it because it was quiet, cool, and they got to have the Dole Pineapple Whip. That was a reason to go. But it was always a niche crowd - unlike Pirates or HM. Country Bears was another attraction that had a niche crowd. I loved Country Bears, but I could see why many people would not like it.

I enjoyed the new Tiki bird show, but its not a classic. I just think it took a niche show and opened it to a wider audience. That doesn't make it good, it just makes it different. That was the reason they kept the show the same in DL.

For DL and WDW to be successful they have to be allowed to change. I didn't like the change from Inner Space to Star Tours, but I liked the idea that I could see something different for a change. If they stopped changing things, there'd be no reason to go back so often. So we can remember Tiki birds or Country Bears the way we want to, but in the meantime, hit or miss, there are new things to see and do and new memories to be made.

Hrundi V. Bakshi said...

The Tiki Room @ Disneyland truly is a magical place and in some ways for me - a sort of time machine. It is one of the few places in the original park where I ALWAYS feel like I am in "Walt's Disneyland".

The Under New Management version has all the subtlety of a South Park episode. Yes, I enjoy South Park - in doses - in it's place. But the mean spirited attack on this classic attraction by other, newer Disney characters just seems out of place in "the Magic Kingdom". (Much like Alien Encounter seemed better suited for Disney MGM Studios than Tomorrowland)

And while it's true Disney theme parks should not be museums (even museums change and update their displays regularly) there is in our society, a place for historic preservation, buildings and sites that are kept in tact for later generations to appreciate. Perhaps Disneyland's Enchanted TIki Room is just such a place. In as much as Disneyland itself is an American original, THE theme park of theme parks - shouldn't some of it's original vision and magic be kept intact for future generations.

Afterall, these visions were guided by Walt Disney - this is not Las Vegas - bulldozing all traces of it's history and re-inventing itself every other decade.

WDW's Enchanted Tiki Room is gone forever and with it the likelihood that the mostly charmless Under New Management version will survive for many more years.

Wouldn't it be nice if the original Enchanted Tiki Room version could be re-installed somewhere off of the lobby area of The Polynesian or inside a restaurant at that resort as a variation of Walt had originally envisioned for the bird show? I'd love to eat upstairs at O'hana and then settle in for some Enchanted Tiki Room magic afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Spectacularly bad idea. A perfect example of what's gone wrong. "Poochy D." comes to mind.

Rocco said...

As I commented in the post about the Tahitian Terrace, I went to the Tiki Room at Disneyland the other day with my teenage daughters. The house was packed and, we all enjoyed the show. I always have, and my wife and kids like to joke that I love that place because I can go in there and take a nap. That's not completely untrue :)

The girls love it just as much as I do, and they especially commented on how much they love the music. They have that reaction whenever they hear classic Disney music. It's a large part of the Disney experience. To hear that that music is being stripped away to make way for whatever flavor was popular in whatever year of whatever decade they decided to change something is saddening.

The idea of "the lowest common denominator" and marketing to some one type of guest is also leaving the realm of reality. Of the millions of visitors to the park, can you actually minimize the diversity of age, culture, etc. to a specific demographic? This isn't like a TV show that attracts a narrow segment of the an audience. Disneyland's audience is as diverse as the world itself. There's sure to be more of one type of person there than another, but does that mean every attraction has to be geared toward that one person.

From what I've seen, the Tiki Room has a wider appeal than it's given credit for, but even if it were only enjoyed by lazy middle-aged people, shouldn't there be some things at Disneyland for us? Let the kids go run from mountain to mountain, getting queasy on their fast rides, while we relax at the Jungle Cruise, the Tiki Room and the Main Street Theater. Our money is just as green, (and peachy-colored), as theirs, and more plentiful.

My idea of updating the Tiki Room would be to make those heads on the totem poles sync up with the soundtrack for a change. But if you really want to get drastic, program in a couple of different routines using the same set and characters, (as long as they are in keeping with the original feel). That way when you go in, you're never sure which jokes and songs you are going to hear.

One last note: The night we went there, it was cold and drizzly out, (contrary to popular belief it does get that way out here), and the Tiki Room was the perfect place to get out of the weather and into the Wonderful World of Disney.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of something new...

I liked the idea of having the Tiki room in WDW alternate between shows. I'll see your two shows and raise you...more!

Why can't there be a number of songs so that everytime you go see it, you see a slightly different show? I have no problem updating the DL version, if what they did was add some more songs to their repertoire. You could keep some of the old show as "standard" then add new songs to keep it fresh. Let's see, songs about birds, songs about Polynesia, songs about flowers--I'll betcha we could find a few songs to add that might be more recognizable and fun for younger folks, and still keep the feel of the place.

These critters are programmable, right? Isn't the idea of programmable that it can be adapted? One thing that would get people to come back again and again is if they didn't see the same show each time!


Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree that the "Under New Management" version is awful. I don't like any attrction that is mean spirited, and that is the worst part of this version.

But, to follow from an earlier thread, I don't find the original version of the Tiki room timeless. Humor based on accents that are primarily European is badly outdated. In our 21st century world, who finds German, Irish, French, and Spanish accents funny? At best they are a throwback, and at worst they are insulting. So this (in my humble opinion) is a case where an attraction was designed to be "hip" in it's day and has failed the test of time.

So what sort of theme would work for the long-term? Maybe one that focuses on the beaty of far-away places, with exotic music and exotic flowers and birds. One that takes us into another place far away, and leaves us all a bit inspired in the end.

Just one person's thoughts....

Tocpe said...

While I'm not a fan of the "New Management" version, I do understand the need to update attractions. However, I do believe the spirit of the original should be respected and expanded upon, not gutted and mocked.

I do wonder if the Imagineers we're making a sly poke at the management at the time by mimicking/lampooning their short-sidedness and demands for a hip and edgy Disney. The same management who saw no wrong with DCA...

It makes me feel a little better to see the “Under New Management” version as a silent protest by the Imagineers. :)

Anonymous said...

In the tiki tiki tiki the disneyland version its like coming home , you know the song , you know Jose and Pierre and you gotta love it! The thrill factor for the young , watch small children bury into a parents shoulder or arms when the tropical storm invades and the lights go out and the lightning strikes the building, even as an adult who has sit thru the show numerous times for a few briel seconds I BELIEVE that there is a thunderstorm outside! I really think the guest enjoy being submersed in the tropics being entertained by birds , flower and totems that sing and play the conga drums. The beauty of this attraction is being transported to the Tiki world of adventure.

Anonymous said...

I understand the attachments to older attractions, but honestly... this type of attraction worship is starting to remind me of rabid Star Trek fans who wear their Starfleet uniforms at conventions and bow to the feet of actors who portrayed obscure extras in the 60's.
I thought the original was charming and quaint - sort of like my grandmother's bedroom. The new one is actually funny and the story interesting. My kids usually insist we go more than once per trip. My oldest loves looking at all the detail from the "outside" rain to the "living" carvings on the wall. My youngest covers her eyes when the mad goddess appears - but she peeks anyway. Could this version become a (GASP) classic itself?

c'mon guys. The reason the Star Trek fans became annoying was they couldn't poke fun at themselves. That is exactly what the "New Management" version is doing. Let's have some fun.

Patrick Johnson said...

Great observation.

Isn't the same thing happening to the submarine ride at Disneyland?

Merlin Jones said...

>>c'mon guys. The reason the Star Trek fans became annoying was they couldn't poke fun at themselves. That is exactly what the "New Management" version is doing. Let's have some fun.<<

MBA's and marketers are the new Star Trek geeks - - totally without self awareness or a sense of humor. They are the reason so much of entertainment is a drag. Loud and self-mocking is neither funny nor hip.

Give me Walt's corny sincerity anyday.

Anonymous said...

The good news is that the Tiki Room in Disneyland did not go "Under New Management". Instead, the animatronics now all work (well, mostly all work, we saw a few wilted flowers that didn't sing like they should have) and the music is the same.

It's a wonderful slice of Disney history and many of us in the courtyard before the show found ourselves remembering how we would eat cold pineapple on hot days while waiting to go inside.

It's one of the few places at Disneyland where you can still feel Walt's presence.

Roger Alford said...

I was excited when I learned that Iago and Zazu were going to be added to the Tiki Room in WDW -- I thought it was a good idea to update the show and make use of new Disney characters. But then I saw the show, and it was rather disappointing. What's more, it scared my daughter half to death. To this day, she still won't go into the Tiki Room, and she's 10 now. A few years ago, we went to Disneyland and she didn't want to go near the Tiki Room. After I assured her that this was the old version without the Tiki Goddess, she nervously agreed to go in, and she loved it. Now when we go to WDW, she wishes the old Tiki Room was still playing there.

I agree with Mr. Banks that the best way to update an attraction is to keep to the spirit. To update the Tiki Room, they should make the birds fly around the room. How would they do that? No idea. But it would really get people talking. As Walt said, "It's always fun to do the impossible."

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, I don't hate the "updated" Tiki Room at WDW. I would be really bummed if the DL version was similarly tampered with, but I take a step back and look at things differently. What happens in the new show? A crass interloper comes in and, with all the subtlety and sensitivity of Michael Eisner himself, tries to "hip-ify" the show and gets blown up at the end. Iago actually waves a white flag. Yes, the show has changed, but I kinda like the fact that the show incorporates the idea that tampering with tradition can get you into trouble. A wry commentary in the new post-Eisner era. Admittedly, it's only funny on that level to a few of us Disney Dweebs.

ChristianZ said...

Never seen the WDW version but have wanted to since I like Iago and Zazu but from what I am reading here they added those two birds in in an awful way. My family and friends tease me because I can never go to Disneyland without going to the Tiki Room. And it always seems like it is full and that people enjoy the show. Tasteful updating would be perfectly appropriate.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

Stepping into a tropical aviary where tiki gods have enchanted birds from around the world so that they are able to sing words is, and always will be, magical.

How can one expect unqualified imbecils, who are devoid of imagination, to maintain the artistic integrity of something that was the product of true genius?

kaicito said...

great post! i've always felt the enchanted tiki room was a very special place, with a unique and truly enchanting immersive experience. i rather than merely on misguided corporate greed, blame the (now happily retracted) "updating" on a spirit of postmodernism, where everything is ironically, even snidely commented on, where every expression has to include its own negation. or maybe i'm getting too philosophical here.

Anonymous said...

Well stated. I saw "Under New Management" once and only once. Whenever I return to WDW, visiting the attraction seldom enters my mind, though I make it a point to visit all the other classic attractions in the area. I imagine there are others who are not ones to complain who share the same attitude.

I recently received a copy of Extinct Attractions DVD on The Carousel of Progress where there was a brief scene of the Tiki Room barker bird. I don't recall seeing him out the last time I visited Disneyland last February, but I wonder how many more people would visit the Tiki Room if the barker bird were back out in front with either the classic or a fresh spiel. The Tiki Room doesn't lend it self to attracting a crowd, as it blends in so well with its surroundings. It needs the barker bird to help draw the crowd and add character to the area.

Andrew McFerrin said...

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Tiki room's makeover is that, for all the noise, the result is about as edgy as a box of Pampers. The show name-drops punk and rap, but doesn't supply either style in any meaningful way (Disney's concept of rock and rap music calcified somewhere around 1988, it seems).

Thus, they massacred the original attraction - which I've never seen, and now sadly never will - to present a newer, noisier one with no charm, no wit, and STILL no relevance to the hipster pop culture Disney's trying to connect with. They've failed to achieve their (ignoble) goal in overhauling the attraction in the first place.

I didn't walk out of "Under New Management" thinking Disney was hip - I walked out thinking Disney was desperate. These are not thoughts one should be having at WDW.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, H.P. Hovercraft!

Calling any of these "Under New Management"-esque changes "hip" or "edgy" is really a big joke. It ends up coming off as it truly is: a corporate, corny, watered-down version of what's supposedly cool.

I know their hearts are in the right place, but I still gotta wince whenever I hear from some of my fellow Disney fans who think that adding Johnny Depp to POTC is "hip," or having birds faux-rap is "hip."

The Disney - or any mainstream media monster - version of "hip" never is. Was the rock and roll portion of America Sings really "hip"? Come on now.

(But of course these false notions always give some people a reason to push their completely irrelevant "rap music sucks" agenda.)

But while some Disney fans are a bit mistaken about what "hip" really means, they're definitely not as bad as that old "New Management" who was absolutely certain they knew what "hip" is/was.

Anonymous said...

Oh horror. I'm suddenly having flashbacks to that episode of Star Trek where Spock jams on his Vulcan harp with the hippie space teens. It's a prime example of a misguided attempt to capitalize on pop culture. I haven't seen "Under New Management" but it sounds like a similar situation. Understanding what the public wants is an extremely fine talent. Not even Walt Disney himself was 100% on target all the time. But the more important talent is to recognize when one has produced a stinker, and to do someting about it.

I have to agree with the true premise of this posting....that there is a cynicism in a lot of today's entertainment that has been creeping into the Disney parks. It's present in the humor that puts-down and degrades others. It's part of a mentality that thinks the public isn't sophisticated enough to enjoy finely produced shows and will settle for a cheaply generated thrill instead. Mostly though it comes from an attitide that considers other to be "whiners" when they stand up for what they believe in -- an attitude that dismisses dreamers as silly.


Anonymous said...

Am I gonna get lynched if I say I actually liked the new Tiki Room? Because I did. I recall the old one actually boring me when I was little. Besides, you all act like it's gone forever. Isn't the original still in Disneyland?

Anonymous said...

reading thru some others posts, something came to mind. The problem with corporate america trying to do hip and edgy is simple....THEY ARE SUITS! not to mention, by the time they research it to death and have all their meetings about whats cool, the ship they were trying so hard to hop on, has already sailed. that "in" thing has run its course. In the end, it looks cheesey, it is cheesey, and those at the top with all the power look like idiots.
Today's society moves so fast, once you are done with your R&D on what's cool today, its already yesterday's news.
on another short note...kill the R&D dept. Bring back some story telling types, some movie making types, and let Imagineering do their jobs already PLEASE! i have not, and WILL not see "under new management" its just not my thing. its not the kind of "fun" i make my trek to disney for.

Nick Zegarac said...

Sick. Just sick. The unfortunate forward motion (though not forward thinking) of today's imagineers has resulted in a litany of attractions revised for the postmodern age, which of course means that they will be obsolete before you can say, M-I-C-K-E-Y...

Perhaps a few old cliches might better suffice: 1) A Classic Never Dies. 2)Everything old is new again. 3)Optimism requires no revision - it is eternal. 4) The birth of one new idea is the death of a million others. 5) Nothing beats a great pair of 'eggs! Tiki bird eggs, that is.

Klark Kent 007 said...

I guess the WDW Tiki Room should be called "The Disenchanted Tiki Room"

Anonymous said...

Noone mentioned the horrific pre-show! As I can remember, you see two money-greedy tropical birds with city accents squabbling over who's richer and who's gunna make a higher profit with their new feathered host (Iago or Zazu).

It's so awkward being welcomed in a beautiful waterfall/tiki oasis with two modern-day, painfully loud, screaming birds. It just doesn't transport you into the light, optimistic world that was once the Enchanted Tiki Room.

I clearly remember one of the pre-show birds yelling, "Beat this you hockey puck!! I just signed the Mighty Ducks!"

Oh how sad it is. . .

Anonymous said...

Having worked in the park from 1971 through 1978 at the Pendleton Exhibit (remember the leasees?), then as an engineering design consultant to WED a number of times since, I can truly state that the Disney corporate, under the fine leadership of Mr. Eisner and his ilk, has upheld the concept of "The Tragic Kingdom."
My only consolation is that the books will eventually balance, and the karmic debts that they have incurred will be called.

J. Dreher

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dawes,
What i actually meant was get rid of R&D as its own entity. Imagineering used to (as i believe another post in this blog mentions) a huge R&D department in and of itself. My comment, was basically stating that with the R&D seperate from the Imagineers....
hmm how to put this.
if there are say 10 folks in R&D and say 1000 Imagineers...what the heck are the rest imagining? i would think they are imagining what it must have been like to be there when EVERYONE was free thinking and the ideas flowed in and out of the place. Walt didnt create an actual R&D, he grabbed some craftsmen, some engineers, some artist, and others threw them together in a building, gave them lots of toys and space to come up with ideas and said...figure it out.
there is no need for a seperate R&D department. yes, thank goodness that other sect was torn apart and thrown on on their shoestring budgets.

Anonymous said...

This post perfectly explains why I felt the "Under New Management" show was so appalling. It was great to read (although it did get me riled up all over again).

It's possible to update an attraction without destroying the spirit of the original (and deriding the people who enjoyed it).

Thank you for another great post!

Anonymous said...

The new tiki room sucks.

That's exactly how I feel about it.

The tiki room used to be my favourite attraction and I was so disappointed in the remake when I first saw it, I almost cried. Really.

It's just so... crappy. It really stinks. I can't say that enough.

I just wish that, even if they wanted to add the annoying jerky movie birds, at least they could have alternated the two shows and shown the classic tiki room show sometimes? I don't know if this is practical but it would make me happy!

The tiki room was so magical at one point in time. I was excited and intrigued by it! As a child, seeing talking and singing birds was fascinating. They were never boring to me. This new show is disgusting to me.

I never go in anymore. My boyfriend has never been in the tiki room because I didn't want to waste our time there last year when we went on our first trip together. That makes me a little sad.

Anonymous said...

I hate the "new and improved" Tiki Room. My son, who is 7, never knew the original. When I played the song from the original in the car on our trip down there two weeks ago, he said "Come on, dad. Play the new version!" All he has known of the Tiki birds is the absurd version with Iago and Zazu and it's hard to get him to realize what a work of art the original was.

Anonymous said...

Could this be satire by imagineers who were forced into this. It seems to represent the dark side of Disney's corporate philosophy a little bit too well.

Anonymous said...

I reiterate the comment about 'I never go there anymore'. Iago was an annoying pain in Aladdin, why would I want to ever see him again? Oh, I know, because I've got a shot gun with a single bullet that his name on it and he's (as they say) bolted to the floor.

David H

Anonymous said...

It is brilliant on your part to have noted that this crass "makeover" is not ONLY Exhibit A, but also the apt metaphor, for the Krude Korporate Kulture. The "Takeover" is truly revolting!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Matt Gibbon.

Most of you folks seriously need to get lives!

Greg Manwaring said...

I was in shock to read this, but relieved when Merlin said it had been restored!!!!

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up...I went to Disneyworld 30+ times and Disneyland in California, Once... so I have a large heart full of magical memories at Walt Disney World in Orlando and of all those memories I cherish those of The Enchanted Tiki Room with Jose and company leading the show... even a 41 years of age I know all the song tunes and many of the words...I cannot tell you the many times I have even parodied the "Its time for you to Go" ending song to people visiting and its truly time for them to go :) lol .... In the mid 1990s I was forced to stop visiting WDW like I used to because I found out I needed two total hip replacement surgeries but that I needed to wait a few years before having them...NOW they are complete and I am ready to return to Disney again and the first place I intended to go was The Enchanted Tiki Room...I had heard there was an update at WDW so I wanted to preview it BUT after viewing a YOUTUBE version of Under New Management I must admit shedding a few tears of sadness... No more Jose leading the flock, No "In the Tiki tiki tiki room" no "When the Flowers Sing".. NONE OF IT IS IN THE WDW SHOW. What the Disney Imagineers were trying to do was Noble, BUT they missed the mark by a million miles... The show actually insults those of us (quite directly and verbally by the new characters) who enjoyed the old show... My brother just purchased a DVC (disney vacation club timeshare)membership for all of us to enjoy, so now I can see a long happy future of visits to Disney in our midst... And while yes the original Enchanted Tiki Room lives on in Disney Land, it is very expensive for us when you consider that we live on the West coast of Florida and only 2 1/2 hours now from Walt Disney World! The Enchanted Tiki Room has always been the first thing I see in my mind and feel in my heart when I think of WDW... Those birds are alive to me (and yes I understand the robotic technology).... If I had a chance to have my picture with any Disney character, I Love Mickey, Goofy, etc...BUT my choice always was and always will be with a picture of Jose...

If any Disney Imagineers read this... Please change it back or as a compromise perhaps design the show to alternate at different hours between the new show and the old show...I know it can be done with a little adjustment.

Disney wants to grant us a Million wishes...I do no want money, nor some special hat, or anything, Just PLEASE consider returning Jose and the Tiki Room to us at WDW before I get to go there in November (right after thanksgiving).

Bob from Punta Gorda, Florida

Anonymous said...

Well, this post is a bit old, but I'll post a comment, anyway.

I visited the "new" Tiki Room with my daughter a few months ago. It sucked.

Where is the classic song? The goofy fun? This attraction has Jeffrey Katzenberg written all over it. Now please return it to normal.