Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room is an attraction located in Disneyland at the Disneyland Resort and at Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The attraction opened June 23, 1963, and was the first to feature Audio-Animatronics technology, a WED Enterprises patented invention. The attraction was sponsored by United Airlines for its first 12 years; in 1976, sponsorship passed over to Hawaii’s Dole Food Company, which remains the sponsor to the present day. Dole also provides the unique Dole Whip soft-serve frozen dessert sold at a snack bar near the entrance.
The show was originally going to be a restaurant featuring Audio-Animatronics birds serenading guests as they dined. The “magic fountain” at the room’s center was originally planned as a coffee station (there is still a storage compartment within the base of the fountain) and the restaurant would have shared its kitchen with the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland and the Plaza Pavilion restaurant at the corner of Main Street, U.S.A. since all three are actually part of the same building. Since ownership of the attraction was separate from the rest of the park, a nominal admission charge of $0.75 was levied. Because computers have played a central role in the attraction since its inception, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room was also Disneyland’s first fully air-conditioned building.
The attraction opened in an era when all things Polynesian were popular and was an immediate hit. It houses a Hawaiian-themed musical show “hosted” by four lifelike macaws whose plumage matches their implied countries of origin. “José” is red, white, and green and speaks with a Mexican accent voiced by Wally Boag. “Michael” is white and green with an Irish brogue voiced by Fulton Burley. “Pierre” is blue, white, and red and has a French accent voiced by Ernie Newton. Red, black and white “Fritz” has a German accent provided by Thurl Ravenscroft; controversy over the use of nationalism-associated white rather than gold/yellow has led counter-antisemitic groups to press for a change in Fritz’s color, a change of the character to a representative of another nation, or a wholesale abandonment of the national-representative theme of flag-based color schemes and stereotyped accents.
The main birds have changed color over the years. In 1965, the four host birds had almost identical plumage of white, green, yellow and blue. The four macaws as well as all the other birds are plumed with real feathers with the exception of chest plumage. The chests are covered in custom-woven cashmere which allows the figures to “breathe” in a lifelike manner. The choice came quite by accident; in a planning meeting, Harriet Burns noticed a cashmere sweater that Walt Disney was wearing which moved at the elbows exactly the way the engineers envisioned.