I review rides only when they are new or after they have changed, on the theory that first time visitors ought to try them all and hence don’t need reviews.
(For those without the time or energy to try them all, there’s a
comprehensive guide to Disney World rides and attractions here and also a list of Disney World rides that might be skipped here.)
The Tiki Room has re-opened after a fire with a number of changes. These changes improve its presentation and bring it closer to Walt Disney’s original vision.
As an homage to that vision and to nostalgia, the name of the ride has had “Walt Disney” added to it–sharing that honor with Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. So it’s now “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.”
WALT DISNEY’S ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM
For little ones the appeal is all the small-scale action…the show is like a singing mobile. For older kids and adults, the focus is on the “small-scale.” There just isn’t a lot here, other than air-conditioning and great historical interest.
The original version of the Tiki Room opened at Disneyland in 1963 and was a sensation. It remained an “E” Ticket ride into the 70s, and a similar attraction was present at the opening of Walt Disney World.
The sensation–which is hard to understand on seeing the show now–came from the way the birds in the Tiki Room moved, the first full implementation of “audio-animatronics.” Such had not been seen before at this detail, scale and precision.
In retrospect, it’s easy to trace the unfolding of the audio-animatronic concept in Walt Disney’s life–his fascination with the mechanicals of trains, his development of the original “Dancing Man,” and of course animation itself.
But this is in retrospect. At the time, it was unimaginable–except to Walt. As with the innovations of Edwin Land and Steve Jobs, for Walt, “it always existed, just waiting to be discovered.”
THE MOST RECENT CHANGES TO THE TIKI ROOM
- Simply leaving the ride, with its small capacity and modest appeal, closed until a new idea was developed for this part of Adventureland
- Rebuilding it as it was–the ride had been “plussed” in 1998 in a way that mattered little to most but was highly annoying to a few
- Doing a new “plus”
- Heading back to the roots of the ride, before its 1998 revisions
They chose the last, and the attraction re-opened with a show much closer to the one that opened the Magic Kingdom forty years ago than the one that burned.
At the same time mechanicals, sound and lighting were all updated as well.
The choice is interesting.
The Magic Kingdom is now getting guests whose grandparents were little kids when they themselves first visited forty years ago. And there’s a set of rides there–the Tiki Room is one, others include the Swiss Family Treehouse, Carousel of Progress, and Peoplemover–that on their own just aren’t going to capture much attention from today’s kids.
…Unless they are introduced, with excitement, by their parents or grandparents…
So for a certain set of attractions, nostalgia is the right answer. Nostalgia both honors the recollected emotions of parents and grandparents, and gives them a way to communicate excitement to their kids and grandchildren.
This worked for my younger son, who is in his early 20s. The Carousel of Progress is his favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom–because I told him ten years ago that it was the only ride in all of Disney World that Walt Disney had touched.
So for some of these oldies, so long as the Magic Kingdom needs the capacity and Disney doesn’t have a better concept for their footprint, “new” will mean “old,” and updates will mean deeper nostalgia for Walt Disney’s personal involvement and for parents’ and grandparents’ memories of their own childhood visits.