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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Enchanted Tiki Room

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management ran at Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland (after a seven month transformation of the original version of the Enchanted Tiki Room) from April 1998 to January 2011.

“The new management” were audio-animatronics figures of Iago (voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) from the animated feature Aladdin and Zazu (voiced by Michael Gough rather than the film’s Rowan Atkinson) from the animated feature The Lion King, who had “been given the deed to the WDW Tiki Room as part of their bonuses for starring in hit movies as negotiated by their agents William and Morris (voices by Don Rickles and Phil Hartman)”.

In particular, Iago sought to update the show and make it more hip for a modern audience but his approach is cynical and jarring and angers Uh-Oa, the green audio-animatronics “Tiki Goddess of Disaster” (voiced by Armelia Audrey McQueen) who emerges in smoke from the center fountain to punish him. Iago later appears at the end of the show bandaged, burnt and with a crutch, yet not humbled by the experience.

(C) Disney

The revamped show was done by senior concept designer Jeff Burke and senior concept writer Kevin Rafferty. “It was kind of demoralizing to see guests leave in the middle of the (original) show,” said Burke. “So we wanted to infuse new life into it. We wanted to bring out the Disney magic that current audiences would relate to. People who have seen the show before will wonder ‘What is going on around here?””

For the recording session, three of the four original voices for the Tiki Bird hosts were brought back: Wally Boag (Jose), Fulton Burley (Michael), and Thurl Ravenscroft (Fritz). Ernie Newton, who had done Pierre, had passed away in 1996 and was replaced by Jerry Orbach.

Associate show producer Kate Zovich took pride in the creation of the two new audio-animatronics characters, “The work that (Imagineering in) Tujunga (California) did on the A-A figures is absolutely amazing. To fit all of that wiring and mechanics inside these teeny birds is an incredible accomplishment and they were very successful at making these figures more like cartoon characters.”

Many guests were appalled that the lighthearted original show had been replaced by the newer snarkier version that eliminated familiar songs and had too many in-jokes like Iago commenting at the end of the show, “Boy, I’m tired! I think I’ll head over to the Hall of Presidents and take a nap.” While curious enough to visit, enough guests didn’t revisit to defeat the purpose for the drastic changes.

On January 12, 2011, a small fire broke out in the attic of the attraction, damaging the figure of Iago as well as other show elements when the automatic sprinkler system went off to extinguish the flames.

The decision was made to replace the show with a newly shortened version of the original show now dubbed Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room that opened August 15, 2011.

However, a reminder of the ill-fated new management attraction exists at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto in the Polynesian Village Resort. One of its signature drinks is the Uh-Oa. Above the bar is the Uh-Oa goddess figure from the attraction. If a guest orders the drink, a storm begins outside with winds and heavy rains.

The bartenders lead guests in the chant of “Uh-Oa, Uh-Oa, Uh Oa-aaaa!” and the Krakatoa volcano erupts and lightning flashes illuminate the goddess figure who opens her eyes to reveal their glowing redness and she cackles, just as she did in the attraction.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, The Unofficial Walt Disney World 1971 Companion: Stories of How the World Began, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.



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